Readers' Submissions

Money, Money, Money

  • Written by Anonymous
  • October 8th, 2004
  • 4 min read

Anonymous submission

After reading some more contributors’ submissions, I would like to try to clarify one recurring issue, based upon some of my own experiences.

It appears that most of the foreigners living in or visiting Thailand make the mistake of looking at Thailand and its associated issues from their own perspective. I’m not pretending to be any different, I’m writing this as much for my own benefit as anyone else’s.

Although the contributions deal with many varied aspects of Thais / farangs, bargirls / heartaches, good times / short times, rip-offs / retributions, one recurring theme is the testy subject of money.

Coming from a typical (atypical?) Western background, I have also been guilty of prejudice against the way that Thai people think about money. I have always considered money to be a necessary evil, something that, although cannot be done without, causes more problems than it could ever hope to solve.

Some of you may differ with my opinion, particularly those with more money than I. However, looking at it from my point of view, I’m probably in as good a position as anyone to make an educated evaluation.

What one must remember is that although Bangkok appears (on the outside at least) to be relatively modern, both in business and way of life, it is in fact, only beginning its journey into the global economy and modern, international society.

Whilst the above can be said of Bangkok, it certainly is not true of the rest of Thailand. Although most Thai people would admit to wanting the trappings of Western materialism, resistance to change, particularly evident in this country, is ingrained. Thais consider themselves, rightly or wrongly, to be better than pretty much everybody else (though doesn’t everyone?), and certainly consider Thailand to be considerably better than most of the other countries in the region. In fact, most visitors to Thailand would probably agree. Why else would so many choose Thailand above other options?

To give you a little perspective, I left home at 17 and joined the RAF. I never, ever, made any financial contributions to my parents. It was never expected, although I fully expected to be able to return to them if and when I needed their assistance, which was not infrequent and always available. Thus, it was with some difficulty that I came to terms with the way that Thais regard money.

From what I can gather (indeed is common knowledge), there is no state social system, which would care for members of the community, who had fallen on hard times. Little or no Social Services available to aid people with even the most basic survival needs. It has, apparently, been like this for some time. Only the rich are in a position to avail themselves of that which we consider to be ours by right in the West.

If, for just a moment, you could put yourself in the same position, how would you feel? No access to free medical treatment, unemployment benefit or even (one of our holy of holies) free education for all. In fact, your whole existence is based around obtaining money, which would gain you access to some, maybe not all, of the above. I believe that most of the people who may be reading this would be intelligent enough to put themselves in those shoes.

I have absolutely no intention of getting on my high horse (I don’t own one) with respect to the morality (or lack thereof) of prostitution or whatever you wish to call it (yes, I have partaken). The reasons (justifiable or not), for girls to enter this profession are as many and varied as the kinds of people who do it. However, of the girls I have known and talked to about this, the overwhelming majority entered the profession for monetary reasons.

It is not just professional workers whose main concern is making money. Everyone in this country needs money above all else. From the boys at the petrol station or the girls at the 7-11, whose principles reward them with a precious few thousand Baht (and precious little else) every month, to the Mercedes driving entrepreneur, because, it has, unfortunately, become the be all and end all for survival in this country.

So, bearing the above in mind, those of you who are in a relationship but having problems with the money to the family issue, worried that the girl you are interested in just wants your money or you are just plain tight with it, please rest assured, yes they do need money, yes they do need to contribute to their family, yes they want as much as they can get (but many will settle for less) and yes, unless you are very wealthy, money will very likely be an issue again and again.

What I am most certainly not trying to do is to convince that Thai people (and) ladies in particular, are immoral, miserly or in any way bad people, all I was trying to do was to bring to the attention of prospective farang boyfriends or spouses, that money is the single most important factor in 99% of Thai peoples’ lives and that, once we all are aware of it, we will be in a much better frame of mind to deal with it when it, inevitably, rears its ugly head.

Stickman's thoughts:

The point you make is fair, but there are cases when some of the locals ARE money hungry, unnecessarily so. One has to make a judgement call on each occasion.