Thailand draws a lot of hippie westerners. This week in Chiang Mai, one American man took the carefree lifestyle a step too far when he appeared to ignore the law in Thailand and persisted in his attempt to rob a local 7/11 convenience store until staff were forced to call in the Thai police. He was arrested and later featured on a Thai Channel 7 news reports smiling into the camera for the Thai TV audience. He has already been charged with theft and may face other charges. In February, a western women although not infringing any law, caused a lot of online attention when she used a local Mc Donald’s outlet as the stage for her yoga workout while astonished Thai citizens munched on their Big Macs.
Thailand attracts it’s fair share of hippies from western countries. The relaxed lifestyle, the authentic Buddhist culture and the generally nice character of Thai people are all reasons for this. The north of Thailand is a particularly favoured destination. Away from the big city environment of Bangkok and the sex for sale reputation of places such as Pattaya or Phuket, it is renowned for its scenery and its ancient culture. Chiang Mai is the biggest city in the north of Thailand with a population of over 130,000 people and was once the seat of an ancient kingdom. In the last few weeks however, the Thai citizens of Chiang Mai have been left a little bemused by western foreigners. First by reports of a western woman practicing yoga at a popular McDonalds outlet in February and then, this week, a 54 year old American featured on Thailand’s Channel 7 TV News beaming and smiling as police charged him with the brazen theft of a local 7/11 convenience store, quite a serious matter with potentially serious consequences.
A middle aged American has been arrested in Chiang Mai for shoplifting at a local convenience store in the city. Shocked staff at the popular 7/11 store in the historic city’s Khotchasan Road came upon 54 year old Gregory Paul Burke as he attempted to conceal bags of instant coffee, chewing gum and a sushi container into his clothing.
American charged with theft of 7/11 store in Chiang Mai beams for Thai TV audiences
The story of a western ‘farang’ or foreigner committing the crime brought the attention of Thailand’s popular Channel 7 TV news which filed a report on the TV network. Channel 7 is Thailand’s top TV news station as it is a network of small stations with very strong news coverage in the north of Thailand. The American was filmed beaming for the camera as he awaited questioning by Thai police at the local police station. His visage was distinctly unkempt and wild. It was reported that Thai police are now checking CCTV footage throughout the area as they suspect the American may have carried other thefts.
American was carrying a knife
Staff at the store reported that they initially approached the American and requested that he pay for the items he had pocketed in his pants and shirt. He refused to do so and Thai police had to be called to the scene. It is now reported that, following his arrest, Thai police have charged him with theft. A subsequent criminal conviction could see Burke facing a Thai prison sentence. He will also be required to post bail.
Channel 7 TV news also reported that when police apprehended the man, he was carrying a knife which could lead to further charges.
Western woman conducts yoga routine on the floor of Chiang Mai McDonalds
In early February, bemused Thai citizens witnessed another foreigner making waves at a local McDonalds branch, this time without breaking any laws. Thai people, enjoying their Big Macs and Chicken McNuggets, were distracted to see what looked like a western women sitting on the floor of the restaurant involved in an extensive yoga workout. The incident occurred at the Star Avenue Lifestyle Mall in the centre of the city.
Images of the western woman were beamed across websites across Thailand. ‘I was eating a Big Mac and saw her break out the mat and go through a little namaste then go into a full routine,’ reported Hilla Hatt on a popular Facebook forum used by Bangkok expats in Bangkok.
The woman was accompanied by a friend and people in the restaurant did not interfere with her routine which is reported to have lasted over 10 minutes. However, they were certainly left wondering at the bizarre behavior.