The Thai Cultural Shock

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golferstu
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The Thai Cultural Shock

Post by golferstu » Mon Aug 07, 2017 2:40 am

For me personally, I believe every man, woman, and child that has lived and experienced Thailand to any extent at some point or another have experienced a cultural shock an order of magnitude greater than what they have back home.

That is not to say it has been dramatic for everyone and everybody. Only that it has been demanding at times. It is just like falling in love in a fresh relationship. At first there is a feeling of joy and excitement. After the initial tender wave has flown by there is the rebound.

Now this is a critical phase, and I think, the phase which sorts out the holidaymakers from the true expats.
I mean, any one can come here, spend a couple of weeks, have fun, and then go home again. It takes a true fighter to come and to stay permanently.

Don't you agree?
What is/was the biggest challenge facing you while coming and settling down here?

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Re: The Thai Cultural Shock

Post by RCer » Mon Aug 07, 2017 6:47 am

A very obvious divide between class.

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Re: The Thai Cultural Shock

Post by handdrummer » Mon Aug 07, 2017 1:07 pm

not being able to continue in my profession (musician) due to the govt. refusing a permit. in order to work the owner of the venue has to buy a work permit for me and every place I work would have to buy a separate permit. then there's the lack of skilled musicians but that's another story.

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Re: The Thai Cultural Shock

Post by 404cameljockey » Mon Aug 07, 2017 5:30 pm

golferstu wrote:
Mon Aug 07, 2017 2:40 am
For me personally, I believe every man, woman, and child that has lived and experienced Thailand to any extent at some point or another have experienced a cultural shock an order of magnitude greater than what they have back home.

That is not to say it has been dramatic for everyone and everybody. Only that it has been demanding at times. It is just like falling in love in a fresh relationship. At first there is a feeling of joy and excitement. After the initial tender wave has flown by there is the rebound.

Now this is a critical phase, and I think, the phase which sorts out the holidaymakers from the true expats.
I mean, any one can come here, spend a couple of weeks, have fun, and then go home again. It takes a true fighter to come and to stay permanently.

Don't you agree?
What is/was the biggest challenge facing you while coming and settling down here?
If you've already been an immigrant in another country outside of the 'First World' (poor phrase but genrally used, and not meant by me in any demeaning way) then I think the culture shock probably doesn't exist or is minimal. RCer has a point in that you may feel the divide between the haves and have nots is much bigger than in your country of origin. If you're a sensitive soul then guess that's the big challenge to accept, I definitely agree.

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Re: The Thai Cultural Shock

Post by Spitfire » Mon Aug 07, 2017 6:12 pm

The real test is whether you can immerse yourself in something wildly different to the extent of accepting the differences (even if you disagree) but still tolerating the reality to the point where you are OK with it in an attempt to further your experience. Places like Thailand require you to let the water flow over you as you join the alternative reality and many issues require acquiescence or acceptance, even if frustrating or possibly wrong in a western way of thinking...but you have to go with the flow of where you are or leave...or go mad.

I guess the biggest eye-opener for me was the grinding discrimination that is on open display on a class related level almost everywhere with the indifference shown to all on some petty/flimsy and disturbing grounds.

But hey, need a very tolerant and open mind to be an Expat. Often, I associate this phrase "culture shock" with late teens going on a gap year and reporting back to their contacts after a year when they get home in an attempt to sound adventurous...maybe just my cynicism though here.
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Re: The Thai Cultural Shock

Post by RCer » Mon Aug 07, 2017 6:35 pm

In the US we have the "haves and have nots". But a person can move up the chain through hard work.

Here it seems there is a hard barier that cannot be overcome. Like a caste system of sorts.

Haves eat meals that are healthy while the have nots eat rice with an added ingredient for flavoring.

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Re: The Thai Cultural Shock

Post by Spitfire » Mon Aug 07, 2017 6:45 pm

RCer,

Indeed you are correct when you mention a "glass ceiling" here, which has often been said as "no degree, no hope."

It's one of the disturbing things here that is obvious, but also extend to in a nutshell, if you are not a vitamin D/B deficiency type that works in an office under hospital lighting then you are somehow sub-human.

It's amazing that you need to have a degree to be a hotel receptionist here. It's brutal when it comes to "getting ahead" in Thailand...might as well forget it.

Although, we are wondering off topic...so back to "culture shock", if there is such a thing, outside of being a late teenager on their first trip outside Europe, North America and Ozzie Land etc. issue.
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Re: The Thai Cultural Shock

Post by Vital Spark » Mon Aug 07, 2017 7:35 pm

We certainly experienced culture shock when we first moved to Nakhon Pathom. After spending our first 18 months in Bangkok, with Villa Supermarket, western pubs, etc.,we then found a foreign country. Very few people spoke English, and I couldn't find peanut butter anywhere. It took us a couple of months to get used to a different kind of environment and lifestyle, and found out that we enjoyed it more. Even rural areas of Thailand have changed now, and we find we can buy almost anything we desire right on our doorstep.

You're right about the phases that any expat goes through (I teach it on my culture course at university). Some people can't cope with the 'adjustment' stage - when you have to accept this is the way it is, and you're not going to change it. If you can get through that stage, then life here becomes much easier. Those that can't usually end up going back home.

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Re: The Thai Cultural Shock

Post by caller » Mon Aug 07, 2017 8:33 pm

I think if you have been reasonably travelled before settling here, it helps. In my case, Thailand was the 6th Asian country I had visited and I had read up a lot before coming here and continued to do so even after becoming a regular visitor. But the biggest culture shock for me was my first ever visit to Hong Kong back in 1980. I loved it, but the sights, smells and witnessing of daily life was the real education and I found when I eventually got to Bangkok (pre-BTS), that I loved it as the first city that gave me the same buzz that HK did.

However, I also think it helped that Korat was my first place of residence after relocating here. Okay, you had the Mall, but even that didn't have half the farang foods to buy that they now sell and English still isn't really spoken much in most places in and around Korat. There's no real farang centre, so to speak, apart from the Mall and they're down to just 2 expat pubs in the 'centre' and one of those is pretty grim.

Hua Hin and Bangkok are really easy places for farangs to live, in comparison, in my opinion.

And I do find it hard to supress my anger at the idiots running the asylum here and the injustice that is everywhere, but you either bite the bullet, however hard, or you just have to leave.

When you see someone begging at a night market in Korat, you know it's the real deal (unless spitty teaches me other wise?).

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Re: The Thai Cultural Shock

Post by oakdale160 » Tue Aug 08, 2017 12:06 am

It seems like a house with no foundations, no underlying morality, no consistency, no sense of "if a job is worth doing it is worth doing well" no commitment to excellence.
These comments all apply much much much more to the men than the woman. Thai would be better off if the women ran everything and the men concentrated on being motor-bike taxi drivers.

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Re: The Thai Cultural Shock

Post by Takiap » Tue Aug 08, 2017 7:11 am

I'm not sure where I stand as far as this topic is concerned. Some would say I have not and do not integrate, while others would say I do integrate. I speak and understand very little Thai, but even so, I would much rather spend an evening drinking with a group of Thai workers just back from a building site than spend an evening drinking at any of the bars in town. A lot more fun in my opinion, and I have never yet encountered any problems.

On the other hand, the language barrier, although often overcome as a group effort, helps to shield me from hearing things which irritate to hell, namely Thai superstitions.

Anyway, I can't really say I have ever really experienced culture shock as such. As far as the wealth divide is concerned, I think this is apparent in most of the countries I have been to, but maybe not quite as blatant as it is here.

I also agree that it is very difficult for Thais to claw their way up the ladder to a better life, but if the rose tinted glasses are removed, then I think most of us would also see that a large percentage of the population has no "real" desire to fight/work for a better life. Okay, no doubt that the PC brigade is going to come down on me for that comment lol, but in my opinion, it is very true.

Climbing up the ladder usually requires a lot of hard work and determination, something which does not go down too well with many (not all) locals. It's a well known fact here that employees will walk out from their job if they get pushed or if they get reprimanded. In the west this is generally not the case. You take criticism on the chin, you learn from it, and you move on. Many locals are happy to live from one day to the next rather than sweat out all day.

I think there are many Thais who could improve their lives if they had a genuine desire. My wife/ex being one such example, and yes, she did so on her own steam.

Anyway, :offtopic:
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Re: The Thai Cultural Shock

Post by handdrummer » Tue Aug 08, 2017 7:46 am

then there's the culture shock of rich thais who, through one circumstance or another, lose their wealth and have to live at a lower level.

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