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Money and Gossip in Thailand

Money in Thailand is as important to a Thai as face. They never have enough and you as a farang have too much. You should never be flashy with your money; it will only lead to trouble. Don’t come to Thailand draped in gold or diamonds because you will be asking to be scammed or robbed. The Thais will always ask you about your salary, how much money you have or how much did you pay for this or that. The polite answer is just to say you as a farang keep things like that private, they will understand but if you have a Thai partner they will ask them.

Some Thais believe you are a walking ATM or that you have a money tree growing in your garden and will try to exploit this. Some Thais will want you just as a friend and so long as you don’t put them down because they may not be as wealthy as you, then they will be a friend for life. Some Thais see you as a threat, because you may have a bigger house or a smarter car than them. Money in Thailand can buy you almost everything. Love, friends and respect but most of the time it’s a falsehood.

The Thais love to keep up with the latest fads, such as mobile phones, computers, blah, blah, sometimes at the detriment of their own families. I know of several Thai women who have spent their monthly salary on the latest Samsung or Apple phone and then asking someone for a loan so they buy food for their family. Never lend a Thai person money, unless you absolutely trust them to pay you back. Thais will borrow money with the soul intention of never paying it back. Credit is fast and furious here and easily got for a Thai person. We farangs cannot get credit that easily. Repossessions are a common thing in Thailand. So are money sharks, who charge ridiculous amounts for loans. If you see 2 men riding a motorcycle with darkened visors, chances are they are armed money collectors.

When you go out at any time, take only what you think you will need or maybe just a little extra, and don’t go out with wads of cash or all your money. There are countless stories of holiday makers losing all their money on the first night because they got drunk and were over charged or mugged. It’s the same story the world over and yet so many still end up pot less. The Thais love to barter for items, they expect you to do it, so don’t be afraid, they set their prices higher in tourist areas and chances are you think you have got a bargain, but they probably have made money off you in the process.

Expect to pay more as a farang than the Thais do, this is normal but compared to where you are from it will still be cheaper. If you have a Thai partner let them do the shopping in tourist areas, give them the money and they will get things at the normal rate. Never keep the money you take out all in the same place, as with everywhere else in the world there are pick pockets or opportunist thieves ready to relieve someone of their money. Always keep an eye on your bar bills and check restaurant bills. If you think you’ve been over charged then question it politely, chances are they will realise their mistake and compensate you.  

Gossip

If you live in Thailand, you will become the subject of gossip at least once, more likely many times, but the secret is to ignore it. If I believed half of what people have said about me here then my sex life would be on overload. The Thais love to gossip, the men as much as the women, its normality.

Within two weeks of moving to the town I am presently at everyone knew my life story in Thailand and my living situation with my wife. They know where I go, when I go, who I go with and what I eat. I am lucky in the respect that many people here are friends with my wife; they have her phone number or are Facebook friends, so I rarely step out of line.

Gossip helps the world spin and if you allow it to become a part of your life then you are in trouble. So long as you and those people who are important to you know the truth, then no-one else or nothing else said matters?

Stories will always be made up about you. You should remember if you live and work in Thailand the Thais see everything you do and what you do is important. I am a teacher here, I smoke and I drink alcohol. But I never walk around my town smoking; it is confined to either my apartment or places that are not frequented by my students or if my students happen to be there I do not smoke. I have my local 7Eleven and Tesco never to ask me if I want cigarettes if my students are in the shop.

I only drink alcohol in front of my students at school parties or evening meals with teacher friends and I never drink during the day. I carry strong mints and strong deodorant around in my car, so if I do have a cigarette at lunch times I do not smell of smoke. This all helps to cut down any bad talk about me and with numerous other things I don’t do, it prevents too much gossip. It doesn’t stop it 100% but nothing I do will.

Most of the time the gossip is just talk, harmless banter between people who have nothing better to do in their day. I suffered more in the UK than I do here now. So don’t be fazed by it. Whether it’s true or not some will believe it, you just have to live with it.

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