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Thais and their statussymbols


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Showing of with flashy cars, jewelry, fancy clothes....it's sure the Thais don't have the monopoly on that, many westerners like to show off aswell, but during my time spent in LOS i've witnessed a couple of funny situations regarding to 'face' or statussymbols.


Visiting a bar on Kata beach in the 90's i bumped onto a familiar face, it was an former customer from my mom's restaurant and i remembered him from when i was a kid. Despite the agedifference, i was mid20's, he was 43, our shared passion for singha made us soon befriended. He told me it was his third visit in one year time and he was planning to sell his business in Belgium, put some properties for rent and move to Phuket to retire and be with his new found love. ( which he did, he is still living in Phuket, i'm so jealous!:-)


My friends GF was from a small, remote village near Nong Kai and they were planning a trip to meet her family for the first time. Being worried about not having someone, besides his GF, to communicate with upcountry he offered me to accompanying them. I have always been in for some new experiences so he didn't have a lot of work to convince me.On our way there we discussed what gift he would buy for her mother so that he would make a good impression. Suddenly he came up with the idea of buying a washingmachine.His GF had told him before how different life was in the village and that, when she stayed there, she has to walk to the river to do the laundry, so this new item from the modern world would definitely make her mom's life more comfortable.It seemed a good idea to everybody and his GF was pleased by his concern about her mom and his generousity in general.



Upon arrival in Nong Kai, we booked a room, rented 2 motorbikes and went out to purchase a washingmachine. We made a deal with the shopowner that 2 of his boys would transport the item with their pick up truck the next morning and they would install it while they were at it.After a few hours of riding through dusty, bumpy roads (i enjoyed that ride on the bike :-)the arrival at our destination was no less than glorious. (okay, i'm exaggerating this one a bit i'm afraid)But children ran out from their houses, neighbours gathered, i think by this time and in this faraway village, farangs were not yet an everyday thing to see. I'd have to say, especially by the women, the washingmachine attracted a few admiring glances aswell.


After everybody wai'd eachother, and the 'farang need apnam' question/demand..... while showering, i already got suspicious. To shower you had to pour water over yourself that you have to scoop out of a barrel filled with rainwater, there was nowhere, no tap to be seen. Coming back into the room, i foud out that i was right, there was no waterplumbing in this house!

We all thaught about what a bummer this was and neither my friend nor i understood why the boys from the shop were moving the washingmachine to different sides of the livingroom since there were no taps to attach it to in this house anyway. Seemed 'mama' was very pleased with the gift and wanted to keep it, didn't matter she couldn't use it! She would give it a prominent place in the livingroom, maybe put a flower on it and so. My friend thought that mom was just wellmannered and offered to buy her something else, something more appropriate considering the circumstances. But mom wouldn't take no for an answer, the washingmachine was there to stay!



On our way back, my friend and i were a bit puzzled about this situation and his girlfriend explaned to us that mom was genuinely happy with the gift since she now was the proud owner of the only washingmachine in the village! Without meaning to be disrespectfull, we couldn't figure it out to be just funny, ridiculous or plain silly.

I was wondering, do any of you have some odd experiences with Thais about their statussymbols you'd like to share?

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Thank for sharing your story mate. I wonder if its still there in the living room waiting for somebody to plug it in.

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Thank for sharing your story mate. I wonder if its still there in the living room waiting for somebody to plug it in.


my friend married the girl not long after this event and they still are together so i'm pretty sure he upgraded the house a bit so she can probably actually use it. We are more than 10 years later by now. But i'll ask them next time i see them.

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Actually i have a similar story.Two years ago now i bought my future mother-in-law (now ex) a washing machine.

They had electric and water hooked up so it was no big deal.

They thought i was the ducks nuts,and had a party every night for a week.

Come to think of it, maybe they were partying because i was coughing up for the whiskey and prawns every night.

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  • 3 months later...

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