There obviously is a big difference between being in Thailand as a Thai or as a foreigner.
Even if we take away all cultural and language differences (which only works in a hypothetical world) there still is another huge difference: a Thai, on average, earns around 8000 baht (depending upon which part of Thailand they live in).
That’s just about… let me get my calculator out… 260 US Dollars.
Now, you’ll spend that money in a week (or less) when you’re on a vacation in Thailand. A Thai however needs to spread the same amount of money out over a month.
And sure – as a Thai, there are some advantages: you don’t need to pay for a hotel or guesthouse, which is always more expensive than a flat or a house. As a Thai, I know my way around. I can get on a bus, or one of those funny looking remodelled pick-up tracks that we call songtaew, and get where I want to go for 16 baht, whereas you probably will take a cab for 70 baht.
But still – a normal Thai usually can’t afford to hang out in the kind of bar that is frequented by international tourists.
So what happens when a foreigner tries to live in Thailand on a Thai budget? Well, Talen tried it, and after seven days, he’s bored.
Can you live like a Thai?
No man is an island but for the month of May I sure felt like one. I spent a good part of the month still recovering from my bout of dengue fever and another bout of tonsillitis but I am happy to say that is all behind me now and I am again running at 100%, a claim that Rick from Behind the Noodle Curtain tested the veracity of just this past weekend when he came to Pattaya for a short holiday of sorts.
Rick and I have spent a considerable amount of time deliberating costs and finances in Thailand and this past weekend we touched on these things again, it’s very easy in a town like Pattaya to plan on going home early and spending less on a night out but but more often than not it’s easier to spend more and wondering where the time went as you are watching the sun come up. This isn’t a daily habit for either of us but it happens.
Both Rick and I have come to the conclusion that we can and will be doing some things cheaper such as living arrangements. When my lease is up I will be looking for a much cheaper condo which can be had in certain areas near me for around 5000 baht a month. Of course they aren’t up scale but some of these places are quite nice and actually roomier than what I am paying too much for now.
Our talks this weekend got me thinking back to a great post that Martyn from Beyond the Mango Juice wrote some time ago entitled Red Red Whine, this was an excellent article about what the average Thai makes in a days wages and how we as tourists and expats would be hard pressed to live within such means. At the end of his article Martyn challenged his readers to live like a Thai for just one day and the monetary amount allowed was 170 baht. As far as I know no one took him up on the challenge…until now.