Thailand’s Image, Thai Girls and Thais’ Ostrich Mentality
I am a foreigner living in Taiwan. There are substantial Thai laborers working in Taiwan, in construction, factory and the farming industry. They are generally unskilled workers. Taiwanese generally view them as second-grade human beings and they are looked down upon by the Taiwanese. Furthermore, in the Taiwanese mind, Thailand is widely viewed as a dirty, poor country, and a place for cheap sex.
I have taken numerous trip to Thailand. I have come to know a few upper-middle, middle-class and poor-class Thai girls. The Thailand I know, is more than a dirty, poor and cheapo country. Bangkok has its own unique vibrancy and dynamics of life. Some part of Bangkok is hip, rich, and creative. The offshore islands are marvelous, laid-back and friendly. I keep thinking why the Thailand I know is so much different than the average Taiwanese's view. In the process, I can't help but observe the relationship this question has to different classes of Thai girls. The Thai girl's mentality from upper-middle, middle-class and poor-class are all very much different.
What exactly are the differences? Firstly, their outlook of life is different. The upper-middle and middle class Thai girls may never visit Patpong as a tourist, and may not know what's going on there. Secondly, their circles of life/friends almost do not overlap with poor-class's. The friends of poor-class Thai girls are almost also poor-class. Thirdly, the level of English is obviously different, from the accent to the fluency. Upper-middle Thai girls tend to speak fluent American English. Middle-class speaks average Thai accent English. Poor-class Thai girls can only speak broken English. Upper-middle class Thai girls take a few overseas trip to Europe or America, sometimes funded by her parents. Middle class Thai girls travel within Thailand. Poor class Thai girls have no money to travel for holidays, etc. In one sense, Thais are like an ostrich. Each one burying its head in the sand, choosing to see what it wants to see, and blissfully ignorant of the unrelated happenings around him/her.
For sure most Thais only concern about his/her immediate family's well-being and oblivious to the welfare of other Thais. Certainly this applies to other countries and other races as well, as this is something like a universal truth. But in other progressive countries, like US or Taiwan, there is no (or very little) discrimination towards people from different family background. One can become successful based on one's education and one's effort in life. In Taiwan, there are rich people and there are poor folks. However, they do mix together socially. For example, the old folks from different background practice Taichi together in the public park, and different kinds of families mix together in family outings at the riverside park, organised by the government bureau. Rich young people do have friends from not-so-rich young people.
Now, looking back at the red-shirt protest that has just ended, it triggers me to deduce a link from the Thais' mentality to Thailand's image in Taiwan. The Taiwanese view Thailand as a backward country because they only received the unfavorable part of information about Thailand. Taiwanese see the uneducated Thai laborers in Taiwan, and Taiwan tour groups usually go to partake in the red-light related activities of Thailand. So why is Thailand only exporting its negative image to Taiwan? How about the positive image of generous Thai people, hippy and fun and creative culture? Why is it not exported to Taiwan?
The answer is caused by Thais' ostrich mentality. The rich Thai enjoys the luxuries of life that money can buy, and ignores poor Thais' suffering. The poor Thais struggle for life together with their peers and they cannot break into the circle of the rich Thais. Subsequently, the poor Thais are sent to Taiwan to work as laborers because there are no better opportunities available to them in Thailand. And then you have middle class Thais leading their middle class lifestyle, separately. They all happen to be born in the same land called Thailand, and call themselves Thai. However, their Thai citizenship comes in different degree of privileges (and suffering?). I do not understand enough about the government welfare policy in rural Thailand. But if one generation of poor Thai breeds another generation of poor Thai, and so on, then it means something is wrong. In Taiwan, government provides free education till high school. This could be quite useful in establishing a fair playground for the next generation.
In my opinion, there is not one Thailand in existence, but a few layers of Thailand, that happens to co-incide in the same piece of land. This is a thin veil between each layer of Thai society. And this veil is invisible to a casual visitor of Thailand. One needs to understand a bit of this country to feel it. Different perception/image of Thailand is caused by the social hierarchy of Thai society. And this social hierarchy of Thailand gives rise to the yellow-shirt and red-shirt conflict. This social hierarchy is somehow created by the ostrich mentality of the Thais.
In the end, it comes back to the ostrich mentality of Thais.
One of the first things I learned after moving to Thailand was just how dramatic the differences are between the classes and how the different strata just do not mix.