Thailand versus the world

Thailand versus the world

Think of when you last complained about Thailand. Don’t worry, take your time, I’ll wait. After all, my life consists of being stuck in traffic/lingering impatiently for an incompetent worker to help me/rolling my eyes at the never-ending political drama/cursing because no cab will take me where I want to go when it’s raining/sobbing hysterically because all my pretty shoes are ruined courtesy of Bangkok’s sidewalks.

When you spend the majority of your days in the same country, it’s easy to get caught up in the little things. To cope with such annoyances, common reactions may include comparing it to other seemingly more “advanced” nations, fantasizing about moving elsewhere, and, most importantly, sharing your irritation on social media.

Now, the two regular readers of this column may know that Thailand isn’t always my favourite place, even on a good day when I sweat a little less than usual.

However, I am mature enough to begrudgingly admit that life in these elephant-shaped borders could be worse.

The thought crossed my mind after speaking to a Bangkok-based friend who is spending a significant amount of time abroad in Switzerland for work. Compared to Thailand, some of the observations I heard about life in the famously neutral country sounded absurd.

For starters, many stores close around 6pm during the week, and they’re pretty much all closed on Sundays. Only pharmacies are open on the day of rest for emergencies.

Can you imagine if that was the case in Thailand? No Foodland, 7-Eleven, or shopping centres to feed and entertain us all day! Plus, how would we live if we couldn’t shop for essential items after work? I’m sure the Swiss have adapted to such a life, but I dare say there would be revolts here if that happened.

Continuing the craziness, doing laundry can be a huge source of contention in Switzerland. You can’t do laundry on Sundays, and many apartments even have strict laundry schedules (i.e. no laundry during lunchtime as to not disturb other tenants).

Well, I suppose that’s not a huge deal if you don’t live in a country where you have to change your shirt three times a day, but from a Thai perspective that would be treachery!

Of course, I’m not trying to pick on Switzerland, and depending on your point of view, these rules can also be seen positively. There are obviously many differences between first-and third-world cultures, ranging from etiquette to cost of living, lifestyle and education.

For example, I was also told that some supermarkets in Switzerland make you pay extra for a grocery bag. Thailand could benefit from such environmental initiatives, especially since we’re handed a plastic bag even if we just buy a pack of gum.

It wouldn’t hurt for Thailand to have some semblance of order, but then again we wouldn’t be the country we are if people couldn’t do whatever they wanted to at any time (I’m looking at you, construction workers who wake me up early on Sunday morning!).

On the other hand, countries that have strict rules on propriety can make us appreciate that we do have some sort of functioning chaos in Thailand.

So maybe for the moment, it’s good to know that life can be pretty convenient here among the daily nuisances, and it’s not always peachy elsewhere too.

Well, except for New York, where men and women are legally allowed to go topless anywhere in the city. Now that’s one custom worth comparing our seemingly good existence over!

Sumati Sivasiamphai

Former Guru Editor

Our Guru section former editor. She has writen numerous features the metro lifestyle section.

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