The recent hoohaa regarding S2000's sad tale coupled with Bangkok Barry's horror story gave me impetus to write this piece.
The basic tenet of this essay is to examine the best farang candidate for living and working in Thailand. Well, to start with, the expat who works for a multinational is a shoe in. Everything provided for including accommodation, regular trips home, education expenses and a foreign salary to boot. Game, set and match as Barry would say.
Thailand is a country where you can live extremely well if you have money. There could be a case made for those who lack a lot of money to come to Thailand as the cost of living is lower than in the West so your money will stretch further. You'll feel that you live a somewhat better lifestyle than back home. True as far as fundamentals go. Your basic necessities are easier to obtain.
A lot of these people in this category lived a very ordinary existence back home so they feel that living in Thailand is an improvement. Some of them may work as English teachers and possibly feel some prestige they missed back home.
A few think that they're now are part of an elite and held in higher esteem because they're “somebody” while back home they were “nobody”.
I'm talking about a mindset here which has more to do with self esteem or lack of it back home than tangibles.
Most of us who lived in Thailand or frequently visited know that it's a country where the yardstick of a person's status is measured by his wealth. This is apparent by how the local people relate to you whether you live in Bangkok or upcountry. They don't discriminate against you as a farang in this respect, they discriminate across the full spectrum of their own society. You then become part of the equation.
If you have money you get more and better service, preferential treatment, access to places where poor people can't, mixing with some higher echelon of society or at least the richer ones and more tolerance than for those farangs who are poor.
So in the beginning when you start living there you feel quite happy because the fundamentals are to your liking. This is the rose coloured glasses period of your stay. If you're rich and you don't have to work and you can buy your way to your heart's desire this period could last forever.
However if you're a working bloke eking out a living to have the good life in Thailand things might turn sour after a while.
You start to see things which didn't bother you in the first place because you focused on the fundamentals. Now you see things which you've taken for granted back home but here in Thailand you can't obtain. You can't obtain firstly because you don't have enough money and secondly because in Thailand they're simply unobtainable. The unobtainables I touched on before in previous submissions, like the environment, etc and I don't wish to elaborate once again.
I want to focus on your predicament if you're a salaried employee on the Thai labour market and you need the job to buy fundamentals. Well, you better be prepared to shut up and put up when the shit hits the fan. Or if you live in a house which you can't own and have no legal recourse in case of disputes. Because don't forget, your salary only buys the fundamentals. You can't have access to labour law protections like unfair dismissals similar to back home, you have no social security safety net like back home, you have no consumer protection laws, you don't have an ombudsman like back home to look after your interests, you can't have any citizens rights as you're an alien… Do you get my drift?
Ok, then…what to do? Well, S2000 gave you one alternative. Bangkok Barry highlighted the lack of medical expertise in small country hospitals, go to Bangkok to a major private hospital like Bumrungrad if you can make it before you cark and pay their exorbitant fees. Ah I see, that's not included in the fundamentals. Though titty. You die in the village. Luckily Bangkok Barry is not depended on a Thai salary.
Maybe Bangkok Barry has national health insurance cover in the UK which covers him overseas. Maybe he buys insurance privately, maybe he can pay out of his own resources to cover the non-fundamentals. Luckily he is still among us because he can pay.
Being reliant on a Thai job isn't going to make your life easy in Thailand. That much was apparent from S2000's story.
If that's going to be your position intending to live in Thailand, you had better think again. Give up your Western rights and become an exile in Thailand? Ok, be a masochist. Or go to Thailand with lots of money you made in the West. You can always try to buy your way out of tight spots. Tight spots you shouldn't have been in the first place.
Anyways I think I've got my message across, if you need to work in Thailand and it only covers fundamentals you're in a hard place. You're never going to be on a level playing field.
Fair point indeed. I often think that those who enjoy Thailand most are those who do not need to work here.