Beneath The Surface
Dear Stick and Readers,
What is the mood in Thailand right now? What can we expect further out…?
I have been asking myself these questions over the last 18 months… As someone who has mostly always looked at Thailand in a positive light where pluses always outweighed the minuses by a good margin. Having visited on many occasions over 18 years, any issues I could turn a blind eye to-and move on… I have always known that beneath the surface all is not what it seems, but as long as you don't get mixed up with the wrong crowd everything is okay, right? I have always been wary of drinking and eating into the early hours – where there are mostly locals, especially the loud out of their heads type.
What is the value that the average traveller to Thailand brings to the Thai economy? Will the average Thai feel it in their own pockets? Probably not, and that is why most Thais don't see much value in foreigners as times past.
For example, if you were to ask a Thai how they feel about foreigners and ask the question whether they want you in their country, how many would say yes? Maybe 10% now, maybe years before 40%. Resentment, jealousy, superiority, what ever it is, it's no longer hidden. The savage attack in Hua Hin on a old couple who where out for a night out unaware of the dangers of drinking with locals has shown the bitter feelings towards foreigners. Yet, Chinese or Japanese visitors seem not to be attacked like Caucasians. Do they not frequent the same places or do they not stay out so late?
The future of Thailand depends now on ever increasing Chinese and Japanese tourists. The goose that kept on laying the solid golden eggs now looks to be laying golden eggs that have been painted yellow. The mirage is waning but the show must go on.
What factors come into play for someone to stay long-term in Thailand?
For some it might be availability of fresh girls, others the cost of rent, or an extended work contract coming to an end.
Like most things, inflation or deflation, over supply, demand, or lack of. It comes down to cycles – where are we in the cycle right now?
When things went wrong around the world in 2007 / 2008, China was still growing exports wise, and on a spending spree, fueled by cheap credit. Foreign direct investment in manufacturing – mainly in the automotive industry – from the big Japanese companies brought jobs to Thailand and consumer confidence rose. The Thais with this new disposable income spent, and exports to neighboring countries also increased exponentially. The big hotel chains seeing the growth in the region all wished to gain a footprint, luxury 5* hotels were built, construction boomed and land prices rose.
Where will the growth come from next when the middle classes are being squeezed, they have diminishing spending power, and there are stricter rules around lending. Discontent is bred.
Figures for tourism show increases mainly from the Chinese mainland. Many are on package holidays with meals included in the hotel. The airlines do all right, so does the hotel, and the coach operator too. Does the average Thai see anything in his or her pocket? Will the Chinese tourist buy souvenirs, or eat on food stall on the street, or buy clothing from the street vendor who has done the 8+ hours shift seven days a week.
Talking of the bar scene – p4 looking and no barfining – will this really bring in customers from the land of the samurai who don't fly over just to look. Do a 4 week trial with no barfining and see how long the bar lasts.
If barfining was no more there is always Sukhumvit 4 up to Sukhumvit 22 to form an orderly line for freelancers.
China being the main engine of growth in the region, when they catch a cold so do neighbouring countries.
As for the girls preference for younger guys, she is just waiting for you to leave. She has already surveyed the landscape….