Piracy in Paradise

The Borneo coastline

There are many unique ways to support oneself on an exotic tropical island. Some are actually legal. Dale Taylor /iStockphoto hide caption

itoggle caption Dale Taylor /iStockphoto

Let me say upfront that this is one of those stories that I will put serious money on is not a "trend," a "growing problem" or likely to cost U.S. companies "billions." What I will say is that a bunch of stoners who don't want to leave a permanent beach party in Thailand have found a unique way of funding their hedonism. And while I obviously officially do not approve, and even unofficially think they sound kind of sad, hats off to 'em.

Wired is reporting that a number (again, I'm betting on a really small number) of expats in Thailand are supporting themselves by buying cheap knockoffs of designer label clothing and then selling them on eBay. Here's one uplifting story:

"Then there's Aaron, also unwilling to give his last name, a 28-year-old native New Yorker who's been living in Thailand for several years. Unable to hold down a job in the United States, he fled overseas and found a Thai girlfriend who would eventually break his heart. Two years later, bitter toward the "uncivilized" locals yet still unwilling to return to America, he sells fake Diesels to pay for expensive meals and trips to the whorehouse."

Apparently he walks into the mall, buys a bunch of fakes, and sells them for a 30-80 dollar markup online, plus shipping. He says he makes about a grand a week on twenty or so auctions, not bad money for Thailand, I bet.

But, forget the whole premise of the piece, because I don't think this is the modern day equivalent of drug dealing. What I find really interesting are the people who have chucked it all and live in what they consider paradise. You'll find them on every South Pacific island giving kayaking lessons or waiting tables or dealing drugs. I've also run across the type in Mexico and up and down the West Coast. These aren't the college students who have gone off track for six months or so, but the people who have made it a life. I'd be interested to hear if any readers have run across these kind of folk.

There's a certain commonality to them I can't quite put my finger on... a certain arrogance, the posed disdain for the norms, a certain adolescent certainty in the rightness of their path, and uninformed pseudo-revolutionary political beliefs that always startle me by the consistency — down to the very wording — of their expression, while they seem to believe strongly in their originality. I once threatened to do a radio series on these folk, but it never quite materialized. I'm not sure why I find them so fascinating, but I do.

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