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Thailand Take Two

05/01/2014

Preface

What is this book about?

It is an up-to-date and balanced exposé of Thais and Thailand.

A fresher look at the differences between the Thai and the Westerner.

A “no holds barred” take on the real Thailand that gives an authentic flavour of the country.

Who should read it?

The traveller to Thailand.

Readers who want to learn about the Thais from the comfort of their armchairs.

The expat who has made his home here.

Students studying on cross-cultural courses.

How is it different?

It “tells it as it is” and pulls no punches.

Thai society is explained through real life examples and genuine characters.

The book reveals what really makes the Thai tick.

It shows the Thailand that you may well miss while on holiday.

Often, tourist guidebooks and articles on retiring in Thailand are written with commissions and commercial interests in mind. This is no such book. We do not mislead you into tourist traps. We do not tell you the advantages of staying or retiring here without also discussing the downsides and pitfalls of such a decision.

The ten chapters of Thailand Take Two cover the essential differences between Thai and western values and ideas. There is a great deal of material to absorb. Through the characters that are introduced we see there are two distinct worldviews. Accepting that we do not always think the same way as a Thai does, and that we look at life differently sometimes, will help us understand this fascinating country.

Some foreigners assume that a way of life that does not conform to their own cultures or experiences must be deficient or even morally wrong. Such ethnocentric views are put in perspective when we look at how Thais think of corruption and prostitution. Observations about the Thai class system and the eastern concept of face can appear alien to our way of thinking.

Many aspects of what we describe may be familiar to you; some may be unexpected. You may find that you can associate yourself with some of the illustrations given, at other times your experiences may be quite different from what we express. Because things are not always what they first seem in Thailand you may find some opinions and observations contentious. Only careful scrutiny of Thai activity may allow you to consider the possibility that what you are seeing and hearing are indeed unusual cultural differences common to Thailand.

Although you can skip to the various topics of interest listed in the Table of Contents, it is probably best to read the book in chapter order as many features of Thai life are inter-related and depend on an understanding of the key aspects described.

Our sister volume, A Thailand Diary, complements this book and describes in a very light style the infinite variety of daily life in Thailand. You will see characteristics such as face, the laid-back lifestyle, and the class system described in detailed personal scenarios involving some of the personalities you have met in Thailand Take Two.

Some readers may find it useful to read Thailand Take Two and A Thailand Diary in parallel. Thailand Take Two for the descriptions of the main cultural differences, and A Thailand Diary for observing Thais in their day-to-day lives in a way that makes you feel you are actually present at some of the events and situations that are described. For a “fly on the wall” account of an expat’s early days in the kingdom, Escape to Thailand may be an interesting insight into expat life in the kingdom.

 

Characters in Order of Appearance

Ratchanee; a neighbour

Dao; a university undergraduate

Goong; a cashier at a photo shop

Tong; an employee with a problem with her boss

Geng; a drinking partner

Colonel Jaran; a Thai colonel, Bancha’s boss

Bancha; a labourer who became a soldier

Seri; a young lady who had died tragically

Somchai; a local builder

Suda; a young lady being interviewed for a job

Dta Sompet; an 83-year-old Thai

Suchart; a Thai businessman at LAX airport

Sakdee; a Thai landlord

Weelai; a retired Thai university lecturer

Somrak; a Thai girl married to a foreigner, farang in Thai

Fai; Dta Sompet’s divorced younger daughter

Renu; Faa’s youngest daughter, studying in university

Fon; the wife of Sompet

Faa; Sompet’s eldest daughter

Damrong; a teacher and relative of Sompet

Ning; Faa’s daughter, working in Bangkok

Adoon; a banker in Chiangmai

Lek; a bargirl

Somporn; a farang’s girlfriend

Pranom; a senior university lecturer

Mana; a Thai student caught cheating

   Names have been changed to protect individual privacy

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