If you have money then you can live a comfortable life here. Of course, if you have money, you can live a comfortable life anywhere. But one of the reasons why expats like Thailand is you don’t need a lot of money to live well.
As I was shopping at Pantip Plaza, an electronics mall, and Siam TV, a kind of Best Buy, I took note of the foreigners also perusing electronic products and appliances in a pristine showroom, which led me to the idea of how money insulates you from Thai culture.
Sure, shopping is a culture in itself, as is money. But there are a fair number of expats and their families who enjoy the same kind of comforts as they do back in their home country, contrary to popular belief. It’s probably safe to say that some enjoy an even better standard of living because they can afford to.
And while there is a language barrier and a cultural-this-is-how-we-do-things here hoola hoop, a certain amount of cash, will more likely put you in contact with those who speak English. Then you are able to move through the culture with relative ease, and so I wonder, how much of Thailand are you experiencing?
This phenomena is not unlike US military bases around the world. Families and folks who live in these compounds don’t really interact with the locals, unless they are at Church’s Chicken ordering dinner. Some people prefer it this way because what is different than us makes us uncomfortable. I mean, it’s fascinating to see how people act and react when language is a problem.
Hey, I’m not saying I’m some grand poobah of politeness and perfection. My mom’s Thai, so growing up, I got all my teasing, yelling and frustration out on her. My brother and I laughed at the way she said purple or I would go out of my mind trying to figure out that she wanted the scissors.
So I think you can eliminate most of these conversation clashes when you have money. Money has a habit of putting you above the rest of society, and this occurs in all countries I would imagine. This makes me think, Is “ethnic” culture a mid to lower class thing?
What is culture? is a question I tried to tackle when I first got here. If we talk about Thai culture, not hill-tribe culture, but Thai culture, how much culture are expats getting? Just because we reside in a different country, are we living in the culture? Are we even supposed to?
High society Thais, in my observation, do the same things and have the same things as Westerners. And Westerners seem to lack culture, unless we associate the West with Apple products and fast food. Of course we can argue that hi-so Thais are modern Thais, like modern culture. And as modern culture takes over the globe one Subway sandwich, one Starbucks coffee, one SUV, at a time, where does ethnic, local, regional culture fit in?
Mono-culture is before our eyes, one world, one internet, one language and I’m not saying this is bad or good, it’s just what I see. It’s funny, because one of the most common things I heard from people visiting Hawaii for the first time was, it’s a lot more developed than I thought it would be. I think the same thing can be said about Thailand.
What makes a culture unique? The differences from yours to theirs, and when those differences become obsolete? Will we create the sci-fi movies of our nightmares or dreams?