A few folks from the UK emailed me about a documentary they had seen broadcast on the BBC called Thailand: Tourism And The Truth.
At first I was like, Oh here we go, another representation of Thailand sensationalising random happenings to depict a distorted view of everyday life. Surprisingly though, this is actually a very good documentary, giving the tourist a real look behind the scenes at the way all those smiling service industry people really live.
For those of us already living here, the low wages and huge gulf between the rich and the poor may not come as any surprise, but then the plight of the sea gypsies is a story most won't have heard about, and the documentary is well worth watching just to follow the film crew as they take this case to the top of the Thai government.
It's that age old story really, the privileged enjoying the fruits of developing countries whilst being waited on hand and foot by the poor. It smacks of neo-colonialism, and hailing from the iron fist by heritage, I seldom feel comfortable in elitist establishments like the BanThai hotel featured in this documentary, albeit slightly ironic that it actually isn't that expensive at all.
Thing is, it isn't like we walk around thinking these workers are going home to a comfortable living; we know deep down we are taking advantage, yet many still grumble about tipping – if I had a dollar for every time I heard someone say, ‘Why are you tipping someone for just doing their job!”
This documentary really drives things home, giving us a sharp reminder of what a privilege it is just to see your kids or partner each day, and have a room of your own to sleep in.
I found the presenter, Stacey Dooley, a little annoying at first, if not a little patronising as well. But then her ditzy, naive persona grew on me and she became somewhat endearing after a while.
I would love to know what you think of the documentary. Just press play on the video below.