"This is Thailand," is a common phrase used by Thais that was popularized the expat community in Thailand by Bernard Trink in the 80s. Trink was a columnist for the Bangkok Post that covered nightlife in Thailand, primarily in the red light districts. This is Thailand was used as a sarcastic response between foreigners in Thailand when trying to explain something that seemed to be illogical. In many respects, the expression was used in a condescending manner, to both Thais and to the listener. It can be infuriating to hear, no matter who says it when there is a genuine explanation needed.
Our friend Brendan has lived in Thailand for over a decade and he is fluent in Thai language. Every day, Brendan travels throughout Bangkok and its outskirts on bike rides. Yesterday, he went to Saphan Phut Night Market and took this photo there:
When the police were alerted to this their reply was evasive but also ended in, "This is Thailand." There is a law in Thailand that prohibits the degradation of any religion, but they were either unaware of the law or did not understand how this symbol violates that law or did not care. While Brendan caused a fuss, ultimately the vendors and police wanted him to go away without having to do anything about the problem.
We will let you know if there are any updates to this story and we plan on visiting the market as well. If you visit or you see this anywhere else, please send us an email!
By the way, if you encounter a similar situation we encourage people to post the image with a QR code that explains the issues in Thai and English here: http://www.historyaction.org/qr.html
This is Thailand should be a positive affirmation of the positive things in Thailand, not a statement that proclaims pride in low expectations.