Living In Thailand Blog
Saturday 31st January 2009
With February on our doorsteps there is still a plastic Christmas tree in my apartment building reception, complete with flashing fairy lights and boxes underneath made to look like Christmas presents.
In June or July, it isn't unusual to go into a shop in Thailand playing Christmas songs, or to hear 'Jingle Bells' set as a mobile phone ring tone.
Thais love all the paraphernalia associated with Christmas but don't seem to understand that it doesn't last all year. As every high street retailer in Britain knows, Christmas begins in late August and finishes in early January.
The other thing noticeable at this time of year is how the weather has suddenly changed. The end of last year was very wet in southern Thailand. It made getting around inconvenient but when it wasn't actually raining, the temperature was reasonably comfortable.
Now that the rain has stopped, the temperature has gone up another notch. I went out yesterday to get some photos for my reading Thai tutorials and it felt quite oppressive. They tell you the temperature peaks in April but it isn't so much a peak as a plateau.
From February until August it is just uncomfortably hot in the south. The rest of the country is ever hotter in the hot season but other regions do at least have a proper cool season. We don't have one in the south, it is either hot and wet or hot and dry.
I have knocked out another tutorial for my students (or 'student' to be more accurate). Well done Terence. At least someone can understand the importance of this: Learn to read Thai - Tutorial 18.
I think Ken's a nice guy. We have exchanged e-mails in the past and I would imagine that with his experience, knowledge and child-like energy his photo workshops would be a lot of fun.
I also happen to agree with a lot of his views - even some of the controversial ones. But what point is he trying to prove?
According to Ken, if you want the best quality TV available, you buy a Cathode Ray Tube model because these are the reference. The thing is, after the introduction of flat screen TVs, who wants a huge box in the corner of the room - especially when most people wouldn't be able to see any difference in quality?
With my digital SLR I can check exposure immediately and take another shot if need be. According to Ken, real photographers don't need to do this but I haven't reached that stage yet.
I can pop an 8GB CF card in and it is good for 604 shots in camera RAW. If I want, I can change the settings to small JPG images (which are fine for the web) and take so many shots I don't know how many because my display only goes up to 999 (I calculate somewhere in the region of 11,500). I don't want to carry loads of rolls of film around with me, and keep having to change film every 36 shots.
Neither do I want to argue with airport security guards when I don't want my film to go repeatedly through X-Ray scanners.
Often, I want a photo quickly for this web site. After taking the photo, I can have it on-line in seconds. I don't want to take a roll of film to a lab and wait for them to process it.
What about quality? If I was taking photos that needed ultra high quality and needed the maximum amount of definition, yes, I can see Ken's point. When I pixel peep at my digital images they aren't that great. But I DON'T pixel peep and for my purposes the quality from my humble Canon 40D is fine.
I get all the quality and convenience I need. I left a Canon T90 back in the UK when I came to Thailand along with some good Canon FD lenses. The T90 was arguably the best manual focus film camera ever made and my manual focus lenses are capable of very good results.
For me though, there is just no going back and I think it's the same for most people. Why, then, is Ken beating this to death when all he is doing is alienating the vast majority of people who disagree with him? I think that in his effort to be different from the crowd, he has missed the point completely on this one.
Thursday 29th January 2009
I've added another tutorial: Learn to read Thai - Tutorial 17.
Just looking around recently, about 80% of the signs, notices and menus I have seen can be read using what I have taught so far. Learning to read a little basic Thai requires a relatively small investment of time and effort yet the rewards are huge.
Wednesday 28th January 2009
Today's word is lifestyle.
Every cloud has a silver lining, so the saying goes, but are there any positives to come from the current economic nightmare?
For many years I have hated the word 'lifestyle', in the context of advertising. I hate it almost as much as I hate the word 'paradise'. In the same way that every Thai hotel within 100 yards of a palm tree is a 'paradise', every new shopping mall and apartment building that opens is a 'lifestyle' choice.
When the advertisers realised that 'lifestyle' was getting a bit overused, they started telling people they were 'redefining lifestyle' with their latest building. Yawn. It's just a stupid euphemism for conspicuous consumption. Hopefully, in light of the economic problems, we will start to hear less of this type of obnoxious advertising.
The BBC published an article 'Losing our jobs made us happier' which I found very interesting.
It's about people who wanted to change their lifestyle (I'm using the word in a more conventional manner) but were afraid of losing the security of their old job. When redundancy was forced upon them, they then had the opportunity to make a go at what they really wanted to do and - as a result - they ended up being happier.
This story touched lots of nerves.
In my previous existence I had wanted to change my lifestyle for a long time but was scared about losing the security of my job with its salary, private medical insurance, pension plan, etc.
However, the situation at work reached a nadir in 2002 and I became very, very unhappy. It was around that time that the company announced separation packages, and initially they were asking for volunteers.
I made some enquiries and then decided to leave. It wasn't easy. In fact, it was the toughest decision of my life and caused me immense stress which manifested itself in some very strange ways.
Because it was voluntary the decision was entirely mine, and I knew I would have to live with that decision. If I decided later it was the wrong decision there was no going back.
In many ways, a forced redundancy would have been a lot better because I would have been freed from the decision making process.
There were something like 70,000 layoffs announced around the globe today and the people affected will be feeling very stressed out. Security is a very basic human need; money can buy us security; and for most of us our money comes from our job.
All I can say is that since I left my job I have been happier, and the people in the first story I linked to are happier too since they were made redundant.
We probably all want to go and try something different but we never have the guts to do it. Being made redundant can be a devastating experience, but it can also open up a window of opportunity to fulfil any lifelong ambitions.
A visitor arrived yesterday after a very good search query: "Is it possible to live in Thailand if you can't speak or read Thai?"
It's perfectly possible and thousands of people do. Firstly though, we need to define what speaking and reading Thai means. I can't read or speak Thai as I define those terms. I know some Thai vocabulary and phrases, and I can ask and answer common questions. I can read signs, menus, destinations and most short notices.
I can't engage in a deep and meaningful conversation and detect nuances of meaning in spoken Thai. I can't pick up a magazine, newspaper or book as I could with an English magazine, newspaper or book and just read an article at will - not without a Thai-English dictionary, a lot of effort, and a Thai friend to help me.
I've heard many foreigners claiming to be able to speak Thai but their ability is normally the same - or worse - than mine; and in most cases they can't read anything. Thais tend to wildly exaggerate the language ability of foreigners. I have often heard Thais going on about the wonderful Thai language ability of another foreigner when all that foreigner can say is 'hello' and 'how are you?'
But back to the question, and if you know nothing it's still easy to live in Thailand. What you are though is mute, deaf and illiterate (those terms are probably politically incorrect but I don't know the PC terms).
You can't speak, can't hear, and can't read. How would you feel in your own country if you couldn't speak, hear, or read? Do you think life would be difficult?
For some reason many foreigners living in Thailand accept being mute, deaf and illiterate and make no effort to change anything. It's really a personal choice.
I'm quite independent; in fact, I'm stubbornly independent. That was another reason for making an effort to get to grips with the language. I don't want to be like the guy I saw the other day who had to ask every sawng-thaew driver where they were going because he couldn't read the destinations written on the sides of the vehicles.
Neither do I want to be like one of the guys who follows a Thai woman around the whole time while she deals with everything and he waits silently in the background only getting involved when money is required.
If you can't speak or read Thai it's perfectly possible to live in Thailand but being able to speak, understand, and read a little makes life so much better, and gives you more idependence. There is also something else.
The attitude of Thais towards foreigners who can't speak Thai varies considerably. Some don't expect foreigners to be able to speak their language regardless of how long they have lived in the country.
However, others have higher expectations. One group of people I have encountered that take a very dim view of foreigners who can't speak Thai after living here for some time are the people working in the immigration department. If you consider that all decisions they make are discretionary, it is in your interest if you can meet, or exceed, their expectations.
Thais are a fiercely patriotic race and love all things Thai. One thing they love is their language but outside of Thailand it isn't spoken very much (Lao is similar). If you want to impress and make friends with Thais, learn their language.
My students go crazy with delight if I write anything in Thai and I got a similar reaction when I read their school motto after they realised I could read Thai.
It's up to you but personally I couldn't imagine living in Thailand while making no attempt to learn the language.
What is it about old men and Pattaya? See Australian tourist found hung in Pattaya apartment and Supreme Court upholds 14-year sentence for British paedophile.
The lead singer of the band playing at Santika pub on New Year's Eve has been charged with starting the fire that killed over 60 people. The band's name was Burn.
Tuesday 27th January 2009
The tutorials I have written so far designed to teach new learners how to read Thai have been exceptionally easy but the latest (Learn to read Thai - Tutorial 16) adds an extra degree of difficulty.
If you have any problems, keep persevering and don't give up. If I haven't explained something very well, send me an e-mail and I will try to explain better. If three year-old Thai kids can learn this stuff, then it can't be that difficult.
Panama hit the news as an expat destination when the story broke of the missing canoeist, John Darwin, who faked his own death and ran off to Panama with his wife and the insurance money.
Up until then I hadn't considered the country as a place to retire, and I don't think many others had either. As more information was made available it seemed to be quite an attractive proposition; and the rules for retired expats seemed more relaxed than, for example, Thailand.
I did some training in Chicago 23 years ago with another UK guy and the pair of us hooked up with an American who was also on the course. He was an amazing character; a Vietnam veteran with a great sense of humour and he was a lot of fun. We got drunk on Rush and Division streets every night while in Chicago, and we have kept in touch all these years.
He has suffered various health, relationship and family problems and has become disillusioned with the United States so has been researching potential retirement destinations. He spent time in Southeast Asia with the US Navy but decided against retiring in this region as it is too far from home.
The result of his research was that Panama offered the best deal, and offered the best opportunities for expats. He has booked a trip there next month to take a look and I am looking forward very much to hearing his trip report.
I have been very cynical recently but I make no apologies. I think my cynicism is a backlash at the deceit and lies we are constantly fed. It is my way of balancing things up.
Readers of the BBC news web site viewing from outside the UK have to endure adverts these days because as non-UK residents we don't pay a TV licence, which is the primary funding for the BBC.
The Philippines tourist board is running an advertising campaign on the BBC site and it is exactly the type of thing that makes me want to hurl into a bucket.
I went to the Philippines in 1997 for a vacation. I had visited Thailand three times before that and was tempted to return to Thailand again, but wanted to experience somewhere different so I chose the Philippines.
Manila was a bit wild but I spent most of my time on the island of Boracay scuba-diving and it was very pleasant. In every country there are good aspects and bad aspects, and a beach holiday on Boracay island represents probably one of the better aspects of the Philippines. But there is another side.
There are huge slums in Manila with lots of very poor people. Crime is a problem and there is a Muslim insurgency in the south (that sounds familiar).
There are a huge number of Filipinos living and working abroad so that they can send money home because they can't find work in the Philippines. Singapore has thousands of Filipino maids, European countries employ lots of Filipino nurses, there are Filipinos teaching English in Thailand, and lots of Filipinos working in construction in the Middle East and elsewhere.
All these people working abroad sending money back has created a huge money remittance industry in the Philippines.
If they had a choice they would probably choose to live at home but they can't. I doubt therefore that they (or the people living in Manila's slums) consider the Philippines a 'paradise' but that is how the Philippines Tourist Board with their Live Your Dreams campaign tries to portray the country. They are trying to get foreigners to invest in property. "Why dream of a place in paradise when you can own one?"
At one of the small restaurants I eat at, they have tourist booklets about Thailand. Every page has pictures of sunsets, beaches, palm trees, and farangs reclined in a state of ecstatic bliss as a beautiful Thai masseuse works on their body. Every paragraph uses the word 'paradise'.
These places exist but Thailand - like every country on earth - also has problems. What I object to is how all the bad stuff is hushed up and hidden away from view, and how this vision of Thailand as a 'perfect paradise' is ceaselessly promoted.
Thailand has many things in its favour and it is a pleasant place to live but it isn't quite what the tourist board would have you believe. There is another side.
Obviously, I don't expect tourist brochures to describe all of a country's social problems but they could just stick with the facts and cut out all the hyperbole. Banning the word 'paradise' from all tourist publications would be a good start.
I realise that movies and soap operas aren't real life but they do reflect real life, and because they need to be dramatic they portray things in quite a direct way. Lots of unsavoury things are hidden in real Thailand but these things are very open in movies and on TV.
I don't have a TV and don't go to the cinema often but many restaurants have TVs so I watch TV and movies while eating. Last week I watched part of a Thai movie. The domestic movie industry is quite big and pushes out a lot of movies but there is only one basic storyline.
The movie was set in an old haunted hotel that was being renovated and it had all the ingredients that go to make up a Thai movie. People were being gruesomely murdered by supernatural powers (Thais love ghosts and the supernatural) and there were Thai monks with special suksit powers who understood and could predict the evil forces at work.
A girl on the run from her evil, abusive boyfriend seeks refuge in the hotel and although it isn't ready for guests yet, the owners let her stay because of the predicament she is in.
She's very beautiful - of course - and we are treated to a sexy shower scene as she lathers herself up (but not too sexy). However, by the next morning she is hanging by her neck from a rope attached to the light fitting in her room.
Thai censorship laws allow lots of gruesome close-ups of her dead body with blood running out of the corners of her mouth, but previously we weren't allowed to see any naughty bits in the shower scene, neither were we allowed to see the cigarette she was smoking nor the alcoholic drink she was drinking.
An earlier scene I thought was very telling was when her abusive boyfriend comes after her in the hotel threatening to kill her. She is protected by the people in the hotel but he says he will get her later.
He takes a big wad of bank notes out of his pocket and, waving the money around, tells everyone, "I'm rich and I can do anything I want." Mmmm, what an interesting comment.
Where's Pojaman now? She was sentenced to three years in jail while outside of the country but when she went back to Thailand no one was surprised that she wasn't arrested to start serving her sentence. It is a common belief amongst Thais that rich people don't get sent to jail and that laws don't apply to them.
As a teacher, some of the worst students I've had to teach have come from wealthy families. They know that their parents' money will get them into the best learning institutes, and that once there they will not fail. An education establishment charging high fees will not fail students.
Money will carry rich Thais through life and as a result they can be quite obnoxious. Not all, but some. A few years ago I went to Sangkhlaburi where there are lots of Mon refugees and they are really poor.
There is a school full of Mon kids (link opens pop-up image) and I stopped for a while to meet them. I imagine it would be very satisfying to teach there because the skills you could give the kids could really make a difference, unlike the spoilt rich kids whose path through life is already mapped out.
With the UK pound being roughly equivalent in value to the Euro now, my mother tells me that hard-up Brits are being told Thailand offers good value for tourists.
This is good news for the Thai economy if Thailand suddenly sees a big influx of British tourists but based on what I was saying recently about the pound to Baht exchange rate, I find this advice strangely puzzling.
It could be that I have gone a little too native and consider prices high whereas, compared to Britain (which is ridiculously expensive), prices in Thailand are still cheap regardless of a falling exchange rate? Either that, or the people giving this advice don't know what they are talking about.
In these dark, depressing times there is little to make me smile so I am grateful to the Internet surfers who continue to keep me amused with their searches.
We had a guy last week looking for 'Thai women offering tour guide service with extras'.
It is a well-known fact that you can get a massage 'with extras' in Thailand but did you know that all services in Thailand are available with extras? If you play golf, you get lots of women thrown in with the green fees just to provide extras. One is your caddy, one holds an umbrella to shade you from the fierce tropical sun, and one is there just to wipe your balls.
When I opened a bank account, I could have chosen a normal bank but instead I opted for a banking service 'with extras'. With a glint in my eye, I tell the cashier that I want to make a deposit and she knows exactly what I mean.
When I go shopping, I have to decide whether to shop at a normal supermarket or one that provides extras. The one that provides extras is a lot more fun but it can be painful removing the barcode sticker afterwards.
The reputation that Thailand - and Thai women, especially - have abroad is fascinating. It's as if the whole country is seen as one huge brothel, and that sex is freely available any time, any place, anywhere (as the old Martini advert used to go).
There is no doubt that sex is very easily available in the many places offering commercial sex throughout Thailand (and definitely not for free), but outside of those places it is a very different story. Believe me.
Monday 26th January 2009
Not a great start today. It's Chinese New Year and I don't know what significance 3:30am has but that was the time the Thais (many of whom are of Chinese extraction around these parts) decided to start celebrating.
The Chinese firecrackers that are banned in civilised countries around the world are freely available in Thailand and throughout Chinese New Year that is all you hear. Once lit, they go on for a long time and there is a really loud blast at the end. It sounds like being in a war zone and these things can easily shatter eardrums.
I was in a deep sleep when the first ones went off and of course I woke up straight away. Just as I got back to sleep again. more went off. Some sounded as if they were directly outside my window.
At least I don't have to work today. Having to stand up and teach when you haven't slept well the night before isn't much fun.
If you are trying to follow my tutorials, don't try to skip the boring bits and go straight to the meaty parts.
The tutorials might seem completely random but there is method to my madness, and what I am doing is based on almost five years of study. I have avoided covering all the consonants and vowels straight away because I think that approach scares people away.
I started off with one character (Learn to read Thai - Tutorial 1) and added a few more characters each time. The idea is to build things up gradually so as not to intimidate anyone. Each tutorial builds on the last so it is important that you understand and remember everything before moving on.
If you fail to do this you will run into problems that wouldn't have been a problem if you had followed everything the way I intended. There are still consonants and vowels I haven't covered yet but I will do so in good time.
Learning to read Thai isn't an overnight process. It can take a while and requires a lot of effort, especially if you live outside of Thailand. Patience and perseverance are the best qualities for a new learner.
Is a teacher's job to teach, or to inspire and motivate? I saw a report recently that said students in the UK were bored and that teachers have been advised not just to teach, but to inspire students so they become motivated to learn. It's an interesting topic.
Quite a few Thai students I have taught have not been interested in learning English. However, they want high paying jobs when they graduate, and there is no better skill for increasing earning power in Thailand than having a good grasp of English. What better motivation is there to learn English?
What is apparent with farangs in Thailand is that some think learning the local language is very important and some have no motivation to learn at all.
Last week, a reader sent me a suggestion on how to get foreigners in Thailand motivated to learn Thai. I appreciate suggestions but if you live in Thailand I cannot for the life of me understand why anyone would not be motivated to learn Thai. Let me tell you about two things today.
I saw a farang walking along a row of sawng-thaews knocking on the drivers' windows asking if they were going to wherever he wanted to go. All the sawng-thaews have their destinations written on the outside so if you can read basic Thai you don't need to keep asking Thais all the time.
Prior to that I was looking around an electronics store and while looking at a TV a young shop assistant told me in English, "Five colours." OK, she wants to speak English so I asked her in English, "Which colours do you have?"
Her reaction was a familiar one. Her face went blank and she just said, "No." Thais say this often when they don't understand. I asked her the question in Thai. She started smiling again and told me. We then got into quite a long conversation. She comes from Phattalung province (one of my favourites) and has an older brother who lives in London with his Thai wife.
I'm not being boastful but she was very keen. There are Thai girls who are no trouble at all and there are Thai girls who are big trouble, and she was one of the former.
The good thing about the troublesome girls is that they put out very clear warning signals. You can tell lots from their appearance, the way they dress, the way they speak and words they use, the things they say, and the way they act. Smoking and drinking alcohol are generally bad signs with Thai girls, and I am very wary of tattooed girls.
If a Thai girl approaches me it is a bad sign. It is also generally a bad sign if they speak a lot of English. If they speak good English because of education and from living abroad that means they must have money, and Thai girls with money aren't normally interested in farangs - especially old farangs.
If they don't have money, they probably honed their English speaking skills in beach resort beer bars and use that skill to extract money from foreigners.
It's a cynical view but I wasn't cynical when I came to Thailand. I am only cynical through experience. Therefore, to meet good girls, you have to make the first move and you need to be able to speak to them in their own language.
What better motivation is there to learn Thai?
Sunday 25th January 2009
I've added a guide to help you work out the tone of Thai words and syllables in a very simple and easy to understand way: Learn to read Thai - Tutorial 14
I've also added some information about consonants with a 't' sound: Learn to read Thai - Tutorial 15
Saturday 24th January 2009
One of my students sent an e-mail with the subject 'Totally Confused'.
For details of his problem, along with my answer see: Learn to read Thai - Tutorial 12
The Land of Smiles and happy, friendly people.
Thursday 22nd January 2009
There is no doubt that the economic problems are starting to hurt normal Thais now, but in a different way to how Westerners are being hurt.
The problems continue. The year started off well but banking shares went down the toilet again this week. I have read that 2009 will continue where 2008 left off, and that there will only be a slight improvement in 2010. Great.
I sent out a rather depressing letter with my Christmas cards last month to family and friends around the world, and the replies I have received say it is the same for everyone. My cousin in America has lost his job, an ex-girlfriend in the States who is now a flight attendant has had her investment portfolio wiped out, a good friend who is a UK osteopath tells me his patients aren't booking appointments because they want to save money, and savers are complaining about low interest rates.
Most Thais I know live day-to-day. They earn just enough to live on and life can be boring living like that. Any spare cash is used for things to brighten up life a little - such as mobile phones or motorbikes. I can't blame them.
Not many Thais I know have lots of savings or stock portfolios so, unlike Westerners, I don't hear many people complaining about the stock market or low interest rates. A certain Thai ex-Prime Minister was rumoured to have lost a fortune in stocks and oil futures but he is very much an exception.
I have been receiving lots of calls and SMS messages from massage girls recently. In the past it was me who called them to make sure they were free, but now they call me wanting some business.
The girl I have been going to the longest (about three-and-a-half years) called yesterday sounding quite desperate. She's a really sweet girl from Sukhothai and has never messed me around all the time I have known her. She's a good girl.
I had no plans to go but she did sound desperate so I went. I don't mind making these sacrifices if it will help to stimulate the economy. When I got there she said she hadn't had a customer for three days. In her line of work, no customers = no salary. There must have been 30 to 40 girls sitting around in the shop without a single customer.
Another thing I don't hear very much about here are stories about people losing their jobs. That's because it works a little differently where I am. Lots of Thais seem to work on a commission type basis, especially in beauty salons and massage shops.
Shops have an abundance of staff and the boss doesn't care about a lack of customers because the staff aren't being paid a fixed salary. Therefore, people don't lose their job - as such - they still have a job but they just don't earn any money. Same thing, or not?
A friend in Bangkok who works for a large international travel company told me about redundancies there, but working for a big international company in Bangkok is more like working in the West. Provincial Thailand tends to operate a little differently to the capital.
Even where I am there is a big dependency on tourism, but the dependency is much greater elsewhere in Thailand. In some parts of Thailand there is no other industry apart from tourism and I suspect those places will be suffering the most as a result of this downturn.
When will it all end? I can remember some tough times in the past but nothing like this; and there is still no end in sight.
After reading more bad stories about the UK pound today, I just checked the pound to Baht exchange rate at xe.com where I found it to be 48.66.
If this continues, we will soon be at pre-Asian financial crisis levels. Before the Asian financial crisis of 1997 the exchange rate was about Bt40 to the pound, but after the Baht was devalued it went to around Bt60.
It continued to creep up and at the end of 2004 was over Bt73. With all the troubles of the last 18 months it started to come down and eventually went below 50 at the end of last year.
This is bad news for lots of people. The cost of a holiday in Thailand is obviously a lot more expensive now for Brits, and some might be considering other destinations. I hear that countries such as Egypt and South Africa still offer good deals for Brits, and both are great places to visit.
Expats in Thailand living off a UK source of income will also be feeling the pinch, such as retirees drawing a company pension in the UK. Potential retirees will have to stump up a lot more money for the Bt800,000 they need to obtain a retirement visa.
Brits will either decide to stay away or, if they come, they will be more careful with their money - and neither of these situations are good for the locals.
I have had to cut back on my spending and I am trying not to use money from the UK. This is easy enough to do in a normal month but there are some things I want to buy that will involve using money from the UK.
With the exchange rate so low, I may just decide to postpone my purchases but this extended austerity drive is making life quite boring.
Thailand is an incredibly photogenic country, both for its landscapes and its people. Regardless of whether you enjoy large Asian cities, beaches and islands, or rice fields and mountains, Thailand has something for you and it is a dream destination for photographers.
One of the great things about visiting Thailand is that hotels are plentiful and a lot cheaper than in most other countries. Each link on the right will take you to the relevant page on the Agoda website where you can see photos, read reviews, and book on-line. I use Agoda to book all of my own hotels in Thailand and the Southeast Asia region. Agoda hotel rates are usually always the lowest and I have received good customer service, therefore I am happy to recommend the company to other people. Here is some analysis I did regarding booking hotels in Southeast Asia.
Booking.com used to be more expensive than Agoda, but when I have checked hotel prices recently I have found their rates to be quite competitive. Unlike Agoda, you don't need to pay at the time of booking with Booking.com - you can simply pay at the hotel when you check in. Also, Booking.com show you total prices whereas Agoda show you a price and then add on 17% for tax and service charge.
If you want to compare prices between different on-line travel agents (OTAs) for a specific hotel, you can use a company such as HotelsCombined.
Images of Thailand