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Thailand | Hazards Page 5

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Me scuba diving at the Similan Islands

Me scuba diving at the Similan Islands

 

Hotels Deals

I live in Southeast Asia and have booked hundreds of hotels in this region. I have spent many hours researching hotel prices to get the best deal and I always end up booking through Agoda. Their rates are far lower compared to other companies or booking directly with hotels. Give them a try!

Thailand - Hazards Page 5

 

Internet Forums

I've mentioned Internet forums in these pages as a source of information but these should come with a warning too. There is some very good information on the Internet but there is also a lot of whingeing, misinformation and rumour-mongering by disgruntled and disaffected people. Such is the nature of the Internet.

This exists everywhere, whether the site is about teaching English in Thailand or getting visa information. In the past I have been looking for information online but have then got caught up reading negative comments in a forum and have come away feeling really bad about Thailand although nothing bad has happened to me. The bad feelings are due to other people's opinions that quite possibly are not based on any factual information.

The Internet is a wonderful medium for the expression of free speech but nothing you read should be accepted at face value, including anything written in these pages. Question everything and make your own decisions. That applies to life in general.

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Cultural Issues

Hill tribe woman, Chiang Rai - Click for larger image The guide books are pretty useless on this issue. What do you learn about Thai culture from guide books? All I ever read was not to touch a Thai persons head or point your feet at them. Anything else is fine apparently as long as you don't do either of these two things. After spending a fair amount of time in Thailand I have concluded that this advice is next to useless. It is not usual to touch someone's head anyway and if you do it will probably be quite intimately in which case there isn't an issue. With the feet thing I haven't noticed many Thais making a huge effort not to point their feet at someone else and I haven't noticed a Thai recoil in horror if I've sat down on the floor with them and my foot strays in the wrong direction. I have attempted to cover the subject of Culture on another page but it is a very complex subject and I myself am still at the bottom of a very steep learning curve.

Generally Thais are shy, non-confrontational and don't like making a scene. Their appearance and behaviour matches these attributes. I have been quite embarrassed at times in Thailand observing loud, aggressive foreigners covered with tattoos and whose attire is entirely inappropriate. They probably think this is fine though, as long as they don't point their feet at a Thai or touch a Thai person's head.

It seems obvious, but you have to remember that this is Thailand and not your home country. Dependent on your attitude to visiting Thailand you may just arrive, enjoy the weather, food and sights, and go home with a positive experience but leave feeling quite unaffected. On the other hand, what you witness on your visit may be quite upsetting especially if you are a sensitive, conscientious person.

Basic survival and the acquisition of money is what drives a lot of poor Thai people and what they will be prepared to do for an amount of money that is not sufficient to buy a decent used car in the West is way beyond the comprehension of Westerners. There are many, many girls prepared to marry for the equivalent of just a few thousand pounds to men 30 or more years older than themselves who they do not love. Of course there are also many girls prepared to offer their bodies for far less for a short time but this is not unique to Thailand.

After becoming a regular customer at a local restaurant and getting to know the family who run it quite well I found out that a young girl there who cooks and waits was almost sold at birth for Bt20,000. It was only the late intervention of her grandparents who took on the responsibility of her upbringing that prevented this. This trade in human lives is something that upsets me. We're not talking about people being abducted, chained to slave ships and sold abroad to work in cotton fields but people are doing things in life they do not want to do for a sum of money. It's difficult to understand from a western perspective.

The pursuit of money doesn't only affect lives but also the environment. Shops full of shark's fins upsets me when I know that the sharks are caught, have their fins hacked off and are then thrown back into the sea to die a slow death. Coral reefs are destroyed because fishermen use destructive methods with dynamite and cyanide to catch fish. I have watched beautiful natural habitats destroyed to make way for ugly bungalows so the owners can earn a few tourist dollars. It's easy for someone who will never have to worry about having a place to live or going hungry to be sensitive to these issues but not so easy to accept what poor people will do for money. Thailand is not the only country guilty of such behaviour but Asia seems to be worse in this respect than many other continents.

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Annoyances

Although not dangerous to one's health or wallet, there are a number of things in Thailand that I just find annoying. Here are a few.

  • The 'Bacon Sandwich' Look - I invented this term because it seemed to be the best way to explain what I am trying to describe. Let me explain.

    You are sitting in a restaurant that only serves bacon sandwiches. There isn't another item on the menu, just bacon sandwiches. One day you are tucking into a heavenly bacon sandwich made from fresh, fluffy, white bread with pieces of plump, succulent bacon inside and what bacon juices haven't soaked into the bread are running down your chin.

    You suddenly notice four Hasidic Jews come into the restaurant replete with big hats, black coats, beards and ringlets. You look across at other diners with a bemused look and gesture towards the four gentleman.

    You know that it isn't necessary to say anything; that any second now they will realise their error, get up hurriedly - maybe a little embarrassed - and leave. Well, I get exactly the same treatment from Thais occasionally.

    My Thai isn't great but I am quite confident in restaurant situations. It doesn't matter if they can't speak English or if there are no English menus because I can speak and read enough to figure out something I like and place an order.

    I like to go to places where foreigners don't usually go because I prefer a more authentic eating experience. The food is usually excellent and prices at these places are really cheap. However, more often than not I am greeted with the 'Bacon Sandwich' look.

    I spot waitresses grinning at each other as if to say, "Look at this stupid farang. Give him a few seconds, he will realise he has made a mistake and then leave. Doesn't he realise McDonalds is just down the road?" As they wait for me to realise my error and leave they don't speak to me or offer me a menu; I just get ignored.

    It is then up to me to ask to see a menu or to ask what they have. I'm pretty used to this now and don't mind most of the time but occasionally I just get so bored with the whole thing I start to get a bit grouchy.

  • Ventriloquism, Invisibility and Three-Way Conversations - Here's the scenario - and it happens fairly consistently. I am in a restaurant (or maybe somewhere else) with a Thai friend and I ask the waitress or assistant a question in Thai. The Thai replies to my friend who then tells me what was said but mostly it is unnecessary because I understood the answer. If the conversation continues it does so in a triangular fashion.

    Did I miraculously throw my voice so that my question appeared to come from the mouth of my friend? Or did I turn into the invisible man? I asked a friend about this one time just after it happened. She said the waitress probably didn't think I could understand which is why she didn't reply to me.

    My response was that if I had asked the question in Thai, wasn't that a clue that I might understand a little Thai? Apparently not. It's another thing in Thailand that is hardly serious but is bloody annoying at times.

  • Noise - Unless you are in a very secluded area, noise from a variety of sources can be most annoying. Some Thais seem to love making noise and most of the others seem oblivious to it - well, they don't appear to get irritated like I and other farangs do. Mai pen rai ....

    Motorbikes are a major source of noise and most people have one in Thailand. It's possible in some places to live on a main road used mainly by modern cars and hardly hear a sound but impossible to ignore the sound of motorbikes in Thailand.

    One of the main reasons for this is that young Thai males modify their exhaust systems to make them as loud as possible. This, combined with the way they thrash through the gears, is why fairly innocuous vehicles such as Honda Dreams make as much noise as fighter planes.

    A popular way for Thais to advertise shops and events is for pickup trucks with huge loudspeakers on the back to cruise around the street blaring out announcements.

    In shopping malls and even on the streets they will just set up a sound system and play music as loud as they can. It doesn't matter if the sound is totally distorted, it's the volume that counts.

    The Thais love loud noise - Click for larger image Some young Thai males will spend almost as much for a car audio system as they do for their cars. There are lots of car audio shops around and they do good business. Useful storage space will systematically be done away with by filling it up with huge speakers and amplifiers. This pickup truck with 20 speakers on the back and huge power amps housed underneath perspex covers is extreme though, even for Thailand.

    If you are unfortunate enough to have young Thais living next to you be prepared for noise, and lots of it. This is something I have experienced and they have very little consideration for their neighbours. They will play music or have the TV volume set as loud as they like, at whatever time, and not think anything of it.

    Thai kids are obsessed with on-line games such as Ragnarok. They sit at a computer screen hour after hour controlling computer characters with their mouse as they battle dragons and monsters and consult with wizards. If there are a few of them together they scream and yell to each other as they are playing. If you are unfortunate enough to be in the same place trying to get some information or check your e-mail the noise can be deafening to the extent where it is impossible to concentrate.

    Whistles in Thailand are worn out and need replacing about every two months - Click for larger image Thais with whistles are extremely annoying. Give a Thai a uniform and a whistle and the whistle will be blown incessantly for the duration of his shift. It serves no purpose. The idea is to assist and direct traffic in areas where vehicles stop to pick up and drop off passengers.

    The uniformed Thai will blow his whistle at every car but in most cases the driver can't do anything apart from what he is already doing and the guy with the whistle isn't doing anything to help. It's pointless and annoying.

    Thais with microphones are almost as annoying as Thais with whistles. The Thais are normally quite economical with their words. My students want to be able to speak English using the bare minimum of words and they abbreviate the hell out of their own language so that it is completely impossible to understand even if you have learnt some Thai. If they can save speaking a syllable they will do so which means that even simple words like yee-sip become yip.

    Pleasant enough to look at but girls, please put a sock or something in it - Click for larger image Give them a microphone to speak into though and everything changes. This Thai ability to ramble eternally into a microphone never ceases to amaze me. They instantly go from their normal pattern of speech into 'Rhetorical Thai' which is used for public speaking.

    Shove a microphone or video camera into a Westerner's face and ask him to speak a few words and he will likely mumble back, "I dunno what to say." But this is never a problem for the Thais.

    At a beauty pageant I attended, a guy grabbed the microphone after the first stage of the competition. He then proceeded to drone on and on for about 20 minutes when everyone was only there to gawp at the pretty contestants; not listen to him.

    I could pick out the odd word but didn't really have a clue what he was going on about. When I asked, I was told he was waxing lyrically about the province we were in; about how beautiful it was and how much culture it contained. Yes, thank you, very interesting but we'd all much rather be ogling the girls. Now bugger off.

    Demonstrating the amazing Thai ability to ramble on endlessly into a microphone - Click for larger image A common way to promote something in Thailand is to hire some pretty girls in skimpy clothes and give them microphones. It is not unusual to see a car or pickup truck parked inside one of the big supermarkets being promoted by a handful of Thai lovelies with short skirts, knee-length boots and microphones.

    Because they have microphones they are obliged to use them and they just ramble. These girls are not employed for their intellect, oratory skills (that's speaking) or knowledge of the product they are promoting, and five minutes of their verbal diarrhoea is about all I can stand before running for cover - even if they are fit young fillies.

    It doesn't matter if it's a beauty pageant host talking to the crowd, a headmaster delivering the morning assembly to his students, a politician addressing his constituents or some pretty PR girls trying to sell pickup trucks; if they have a microphone the result will be the same. Endless verbal drivel.

  • Mobile vendors and roving beggars - Most restaurants in Thailand outside of Bangkok are outdoors. The warm climate makes this arrangement comfortable, apart from at the height of the hot season when it can get a little too hot. There is a downside though.

    It starts as soon as you sit down to enjoy your meal. You hear a strange, yet familiar, sound but it doesn't make any sense in the context of being situated in a large, provincial city. Two minutes later a guy approaches you selling bananas and sugarcane. "Er, no thanks, I'm just about to eat gaeng kiew waan gai," you tell him.

    "No, not for you," he says and gesticulates to where his elephant is parked outside. Oh, I see the food is for the elephant, "No, thanks." He thinks you didn't understand so goes through his sales pitch again before realising you did understand and aren't interested.

    Next up are the little kids who get sent round restaurants selling roses. Poor little buggers. Some of them are younger than 10 and are doing this until after midnight. They've even asked me when I've been eating alone. I normally give them Bt10 without taking a rose.

    As soon as the kids leave, enter the blind singer being led by the arm by his wife. He has a mobile Karaoke system which amplifies his voice through a cheap loudspeaker. Sometimes he sings along to recorded music and sometimes he plays a homemade guitar.

    In some towns there are many such couples and they walk a familiar route each night calling in at restaurants. They stand by diners wailing away until they get some money or until it becomes obvious they won't get any money. I am told that some 'blind' singers aren't actually blind but it seems that many genuinely have no sight.

    At this stage I wait for the final distraction which is the lottery ticket seller. She carries a box in front of her which is supported by a strap around her neck containing lottery tickets. The superstitious Thais will ask what numbers she has and will only buy ones that are auspicious, based on what the local fortune teller has told them.

    Thai lottery draws take place twice a month on the 1st and 16th and the ticket sellers are at their most active just before each draw.

    On one particular occasion after mega relationship problems with the girlfriend we were trying to discuss our future at an outdoors restaurant. It was one of the most serious conversations we had attempted up until then and it was punctuated every five minutes by someone after money.

  • Touts - Mainly confined to tourist areas, they are not a problem elsewhere in Thailand. In places like Phuket expect to be stopped constantly by Thais trying to sell you something, tuk-tuk drivers trying to take you for a ride (in more ways than one) and Indian tailors trying to get you to buy clothes from them.
  • Inflexibility - Thais can be notoriously stubborn. What you find is that things are a certain way and that's it, there is no room for change or deviation. A couple of examples might help to explain the type of situation I am referring to.

    I wanted to move from a daily rate to a monthly rate where I was staying as I'd decided to stick around a bit longer and the monthly rate worked out at almost two-thirds cheaper per day even though electricity usage had to be paid for separately. They told me though that I would have to buy all of my own towels and bedding. This seemed crazy just for a month and I was dead against the idea. I said I'd prefer to use their towels and sheets and I would happily make some kind of rental payment. I was told this couldn't be done. "What do you mean, this can't be done - you can just leave what is in the room right at this minute"? "Sorry, we can't do that". In the end I gave up and went to the local department store to get what I needed. It worked out okay because I ended up staying longer and the items were actually quite cheap but it showed me how inflexible the Thais can be if something is done a certain way.

    Once I'd got settled I got a bit fed up keep going to the Internet café to go on-line. I bought some time with a Thai ISP so I could dial up from my room. However, my connection kept being cut. After spending ages trying to work out what the problem was I found out it was the switchboard where I stay which would automatically cut telephone calls (voice and data) after 10 minutes. By the time my modem had done it's handshaking routine with the modem at the other end and connected I'd get just over 9 minutes on-line before the plug was pulled. This was very annoying.

    Reception confirmed that the phone system did this but couldn't tell me why. I asked for it to be changed for my room but was told it couldn't be done. My take was that if it had been programmed to cut the line after 10 minutes it could be reprogrammed for longer. And how did the receptionist know it couldn't be done? She'd only know this after asking but it was obvious that there was absolute no intention of her finding out. Forget about logic and rational argument. The more you try to question their logic the more stubborn they get to the point where they stop talking and all you get is that blank 'mai pen rai' look and the Thai shoulder shrug that is body language for the same thing.

    You can also forget about assertiveness. When it became clear I was getting nowhere with reception I asked to speak with the manager but was told I couldn't. Where else in the world would you be prevented from speaking to the manager after requesting to do so? I was put firmly in my place and left with either nine minute Internet sessions from my room or continued trips to the Internet café.

  • Shop Assistants - Thai shop assistants cannot let anyone just browse. The minute you walk into a shop one will cling to you like a leech. The minute you show any interest in anything, say you pick up a shirt, they will then keep showing you other shirts. They are only trying to be helpful but don't realise this is one of the best ways to annoy Westerners.

    They can also be very inflexible (see above). Haggling for prices doesn't occur in department stores as prices are fixed but discounts are often available. If they've been told they can give a 10% discount they'll throw this in without even being prompted to lower the price but they won't go outside the bounds of what they have been told. An example:

    I was looking at a shirt I quite liked but thought I'd try to get the price down a bit. It was Bt670. I tried it on and like it then asked the assistant to confirm the price, which I already knew. Bt670. This time the discount wasn't offered immediately. The assistant wasn't going anywhere with the price but a supervisor got involved and told her junior that she could give a 10% discount. This was Bt67 so the new price was Bt603. I was happy with the new price but, just for a bit of sadistic fun, offered Bt600 and said it was my final offer. The poor girl looked mortified. Her boss had given her express permission to take off 10% but now I wanted a tiny bit more and she just couldn't do it. She flatly refused giving me another Bt3 off the price and at first (still in an impish mood) I made out I was about to leave without buying the shirt.

    Yes, she would have been prepared to lose the sale for just Bt3. When I realised this I gave her the Bt603 and bought the shirt. I think a lot of this has to do with Thai society being very hierarchical. Underlings in the workplace are kept in their place and not allowed to think for themselves. The fact that her boss had said a 10% discount could be applied was fine but beyond this, without direct authorisation from her boss, was a definite problem for her.

  • Waitresses - They give you a menu and then stand hovering with their order pad open and pen poised. "Please just give me two minutes alone to take a look and decide what I want, can you?" If the menu is written in Thai I will probably need a bit longer while I try to decipher it.
  • Blocked pavements - I have already mentioned some of the hazards of walking around but even when the situation doesn't pose any potential hazards it can just be downright annoying.

    Blocked pavements are normal in Thailand - Click for larger image As a pedestrian it is impossible to walk along the pavement (or sidewalk) very far without meeting some kind of an obstacle. The obstacles vary - cars, motorbikes, boxes, general rubbish, piles of sand and building materials, food stalls - but whatever it is doesn't really matter. It is then necessary to walk out into the road to get past. If it's raining and you haven't got an umbrella you get wet. If you don't get wait you face being hit by a speeding motorbike.

    I find this anti-social behaviour quite irritating. Two things I don't see here are people in wheelchairs or mothers pushing baby buggies. These two groups of people would have enormous difficulties and wouldn't get very far.

  • Dawdling - This is not unique to Thailand but seems to be an Asian trait. If you are trying to walk anywhere with any sense of purpose your progress will be hindered by Thais just getting in the way. On sidewalks blocked with motorbikes and food stalls there may be just enough room for one person to get through but I guarantee there will be a Thai standing there staring into space or moving at a snail's pace. They do it in shop doorways, on escalators, everywhere. If you're not in a hurry yourself it's no big deal but when you are it can just be an added frustration.
  • "Sit down, please" - Imagine. You have just got off the bus or train after an eight hour journey and your rear end is still numb from the experience. It feels good to walk around a little, stretch your legs and not to have any weight on your backside. And then it begins.

    "Sit down, please," is one of those English phrases that most Thais seem to know. If they don't, in Thai it sounds something like, "Nang gawn." You politely decline their request, trying to explain that you've been forced to sit for the last third of one day and that it's actually quite nice to be able to stand for a while, but of course they don't understand a word.

    They wander around and every time you make eye contact they tell you once more, "Sit down, please." After they have told you ten times to sit down your patience starts to wear a little thin. "Yes, I have seen the 30 empty seats, I understand their purpose and I fully realise that if I wanted to sit down I could. Please put a sock in it."

    After a while living in Thailand I began to realise there were other factors at play here and it wasn't just them worrying about my comfort. Most farangs are bigger than most Thais and the Thais find the sheer size of farangs quite intimidating.

    A few times while waiting for a Thai to do something as they are sitting down and I am standing up I have noticed they really do seem to be intimidated by my physical presence. The pleas for me to sit down are almost out of fear because they are clearly unsettled by my hovering over them.

    The other thing is the cultural business with heads and the relative positioning of them. In a Thai office the picture of the King and the Buddhist shrine are placed higher than anything else. If you are standing and they are sitting, your head is so far above theirs they get very uncomfortable.

    If they ask you to sit down, just sit. If you really don't want to sit down walk away but don't hover over them.

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Dual Pricing

Foreign visitors are special people so, accordingly, there are special prices for them - Click for larger image The practice of having one price for Thai nationals and another higher price for foreigners is widespread throughout Thailand. In fact, there are very few places that don't engage in this policy. Opinions on this seem to be divided among foreigners. Some naive foreigners say it is acceptable because foreigners are richer than Thais, while others are not so happy about the idea. Whatever your opinion, it is irrelevant because that's the way it is and nothing is going to change.

Some Thais try to justify this by saying foreign visitors don't pay any tax or that when they foreigners visit temples they don't donate any money to make merit. This is nonsense. Temporary visitors are subject to VAT and different kinds of hotel taxes, etc., and then there is the Bt500 arrival tax and the Bt500 airport tax when they go home. Many Thais don't pay any tax so, as The Nation pointed out, it is possible that a tourist will pay more tax in two weeks than a Thai pays in a year. I used to work a little (legally) and 5% of my salary was deducted each month which went to the Thai government. Certain Thai Prime Ministers in the past sold multi-billion Baht corporations which they owned privately and paid not a Baht in tax.

In National Parks the entrance fee for a Thai is Bt20. For a foreigner it is Bt200. Is this a problem for most foreigners who perhaps come to Thailand once a year and make only one visit to a National Park? The answer is probably not. I don't think that many foreigners object to paying more than the locals especially when the majority of Thais earn as little as Bt6,000 to Bt10,000 per month.

However, there is no differentiation between rich and poor Thais. The rich Thai businessman turning up in his new Mercedes also pays Bt20 but the foreign student backpacker who is trying to get by on a few hundred Baht each day still has to pay Bt200. Is this fair?

I wrote this originally after yet another dual pricing incident at a Thai boxing event. Two prices were posted outside the box office - Bt180 and Bt500. A Thai outside told me that the Bt500 tickets were for ringside but the Bt180 tickets gave a more than adequate view. I asked for a Bt180 ticket but all the girl kept saying was Bt500. I told her, in Thai, that I didn't want a Bt500 ticket and that I wanted a Bt180 ticket. I just received the famous Thai shoulder shrug and blank stare that you get in situations where they can give you no logical answer (because there isn't one).

The Thai I had spoken to earlier talked to the girl selling the tickets and it transpired that this was a dual pricing issue where the 'rule' is that foreigners can only buy the Bt500 tickets. It was then a case of coughing up or going home. As I'd come this far I coughed up but I wasn't happy. Inside I was the only person in the penned-off ringside enclosure, that is, the only person to have paid Bt500. My seat was below the level of the ring and to be honest the Bt180 seats that were elevated above the ring appeared to give a better view.

To prevent further 'confusion' in the event of more foreigners turning up, they removed the prices that had been displayed outside. This is not an uncommon Thai solution. If a foreigner doesn't like what he sees or is told, just don't show or tell him, thus removing the source of his dissatisfaction.

Dual pricing at Sukhothai - Click for larger image I was mad as hell and think the look on my face said it all. There was obviously some feeling of guilt because they brought me over a free beer. My girlfriend turned up later. The entrance fee for Thai women is Bt50 which meant I had paid ten times more than her to see the same thing. This is what happens when we visit national parks together. I pay Bt200 for myself and Bt20 for her - ten times as much. Is this fair? Maybe I should just consider myself lucky having a Thai girlfriend and not a farang one as that would cost me Bt400. As I said, regardless of what you think, fair or not, it is the reality of being a foreigner in Thailand.

(Since writing this I have read that the Lumpini Thai boxing stadium in Bangkok charges foreigners ten times more than locals so perhaps I did OK after all?)

I have given just two examples but there are countless more. At an unofficial level it is even more widespread. As a foreigner almost every tuk-tuk driver, taxi, shop owner will try to get more money out of you for the same service or product than he will charge a Thai. They get away with it in tourist areas because most tourists don't know any better. I know how much Thais pay for most things and insist on paying the same but more times than not a tuk-tuk driver will refuse to take me for the Thai price. They would rather not earn anything at all than take a foreigner for the standard fare.

Sometimes I fancy a burger and go to MacDonalds. One is in the centre of town and the other is out of town a little way. I noticed in the central branch that their prices were slightly higher and asked why.

The lady manager told me that the central branch gets a lot of foreigners so that is why they can justify charging more. She told me that the McDonalds branches in places such as Silom, Pattaya and Phuket all have higher prices. I have never come across this before in other countries and thought that McDonalds policy was to have one set of prices in a country regardless of how many tourists visit particularly restaurants. Not in Thailand apparently.

This isn't exactly dual pricing because Thais get charged the higher prices at the expensive locations but it's just another example of how Thais find it perfectly acceptable to jack up prices if they are dealing with foreign customers. Some may describe it as racism.

The extent of dual pricing goes further than I had previously imagined. I picked up a Thai version of 'The Da Vinci Code' and found that it was cheaper than the English language version I had bought in Thailand. Why?

The book was published in English originally and millions of copies have been printed in English. The fixed overhead of setting up an English language print run per copy is tiny. For a Thai version the book needed to be translated into Thai and a Thai-version print run set up. I would imagine that only a few hundred thousand Thai copies have been sold (if that) therefore the price of the Thai version should be a lot higher than the English version but not in Thailand. In Thailand there is a national discount for all Thai citizens.

 
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Dual pricing at Ayuthaya - Click for larger image Thai prices are hidden from foreigners by writing the Thai prices in Thai? I would guess that probably 99.99% of foreign visitors can't read Thai. In Ayuthaya signs are posted in English at the old temples saying the admission fee is Bt30. Nothing is said about this being a special admission fee for foreigners. And it's the same at Sukhothai and many other places.

There should at least be a policy of transparency so that foreigners can see exactly what is going on and then be able to choose whether they pay ten times the Thai price or walk away.

Many arrangements between different countries are reciprocal, such as visa requirements. Perhaps other countries need to consider a dual pricing policy for visiting Thais? The Thai way of thinking is that if a foreigner can afford to visit Thailand they must be rich. Well, if a Thai can afford to visit London they must be very rich. I certainly couldn't afford to visit London as a tourist.

A dual pricing factor of 10 would seem to be appropriate. As an approximate guide, I have looked into how such a policy would affect Thais on a sightseeing trip to London.

What would Thai tourists to London think of such a policy? They can all read Thai and they know what goes on in Thailand, but the arrangement at home suits them and they just keep quiet.

Exchange rates were obtained from xe.com - The Universal Currency Converter.

Tower Of London

Standard Price: £24.50

Standard Price in Baht: Bt1,179

Thai Price: £245

Thai Price in Baht: Bt11,790

Madam Tussauds

Standard Price: £33

Standard Price in Baht: Bt1,588

Thai Price: £330

Thai Price in Baht: Bt15,880

London Zoo

Standard Price: £22.50

Standard Price in Baht: Bt1,082

Thai Price: £225

Thai Price in Baht: Bt10,820

London Eye

Standard Price: £29.95

Standard Price in Baht: Bt1,441

Thai Price: £299.50

Thai Price in Baht: Bt14,410

I'm not serious about doing this, of course. It's a ridiculous suggestion but I do have a very serious point to make.

 

Visit Thailand

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 wish 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

Images of Thailand