Saturday, January 7, 2012

Happy New Year - thoughts on my time in Thailand

Happy 2012 to everyone! According to the Thai calendar, this is the year 2555, which is pronounced in Thai as Song-Ha-Ha-Ha. Everyone is hoping to laugh their way through the year, but if you ask me, it is highly unlikely to be a peaceful year here in the Land of Smiles. But it's always good to hope isn't it, and let's all continue to laugh when we can....

A lot has happened since my last Xmas post, business has picked up, Li Li's family has come and gone. We are now waiting for my own family to arrive for the Chinese New Year before our baby is born (and life will never be the same again). It is difficult to realise that I have been here for 2.5 years now, spanning over 4 calendar years.

There has to be a reason why Thailand is still the 3rd most visited country in the world and the most visited one in Asia despite all the instability and disasters. Sometimes it's unbelievable to think that tourists from every corner of the globe will voluntarily risk their lives to visit Thailand when they know that there are riots/floods/tsunamis. As I work with and interact with Thai people everyday, I start to understand why.

Much has been said about the Thai people's comparative laziness and lack of professionalism (and quite a bit of corruption) compared to where I came from (Singapore). I am not going to argue against that as I have had my fair share of related problems since I have been here, but I would like to flip the coin over and point everyone to the positives.

I have always told my friends that Thai people might not be the most driven, but they most certainly work for job satisfaction. In most of the banks/restaurants/eateries I frequent through my time here, the service staff have largely remained the same over the years, and because of this I could build a long-lasting camaraderie with them and enjoy every visit. In Singapore, most people treat similar jobs as temporary stepping stones as they bide their time before a "better" opportunity arises, resulting in high turnover of service staff which then leads to poor training and less-than-perfect service. If Thai people are happy with their job, they would rather earn 10% less and remain. On the other hand, if they are upset with their job, they will simply disappear the next day as they are resilient and resourceful. Even if the next job does not come soon, they can earn their living grilling meatballs along the streets or making dessert drinks and selling them at coffeeshops.

At major malls (in Thailand), personnel are hired to clean toilets every 20minutes (just a guess, but most toilets are squeaky clean all the time anyway). Ladies who clear the dishes at food courts frequently don uniforms that make them look like nurses in a private hospital. Smartly-dressed men hold glass doors open for every customer at every entrance of the mall. There is one thing in common - they always have a smile on their faces and greet every customer like a friend. Just imagine, you are not feeling very good but still have to go meet someone at a restaurant for dinner. You get greeted with a huge smile by the person giving you the carpark pass (and parking's often free!), only to be greeted again with the same enthusiasm at the mall entrance, and then again at the toilet. Wouldn't your day just get a wee bit better already? In Singapore and Malaysia, people holding the same jobs are more often and not, grumpy and bitter, as if the whole world has given up on them. If everyone can just take pride in their job and perform their duties (even if they don't enjoy it) with a bit of enthusiasm and dignity, the world will surely become a more beautiful place.

I am not good with words. I have a lot more to say but I don't seem to be able to express my respect for Thai people properly, so I think it's better to stop for now.

Last night, TES Power Equipment held our 2012 new year dinner. These are the people who have made my life so satisfying in Thailand. They are the ones who fought with me during the floods to protect the company's resources while their own homes faced uncertain prospects. They deserve every credit I give them, and I believe they enjoyed themselves last night.

Keng and Naa

Rit winning my gift for the second year running

After a lot of coaxing, they finally started singing

To many more years of success at TES!


  1. Hi Eddie, you just let me see a whole new side of Thai workers and a whole new respect for them. Hope you had a great new year celebration with your co-workers! Have fun and can't wait to see your newborn pics!

  2. Haha yeah well Summer, I think there are pros and cons to every country and every race, we just have to be forgiving to the cons and embrace the pros, only then can we really appreciate each and every human being.

    And yeah, the baby seems to be coming real soon, but before the newborn pics, i have maternity pics to share, stay tuned!


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