A few folks from the UK emailed me about a documentary they had seen broadcast on the BBC – Thailand: Tourism And The Truth.
At first I thought, Oh here we go: another misrepresentation of Thailand, sensationalising topics in a bid to paint a distorted view of everyday life.
Surprisingly though, this is actually a good documentary that gives would-be tourists a genuine look behind the scenes at the way those smiley-faced service industry people really live.
For those of us already living here, the low wages and huge gulf between the rich and the poor will not come as any surprise.
The plight of the sea gypsies, however, is a story most won't have heard; the documentary is well worth watching just to follow the film crew as they take this case to the top brass.
A Holiday of Privilege Courtesy of the Poor
It's that age old story really: the privileged enjoying the fruits of developing countries while being waited on hand and foot by the poor.
Thing is: it isn't like we walk around thinking these workers are going home to a comfortable living. We know outside of work the majority have lives that we'd consider unlivable, yet many still grumble about tipping and complain at the slightest error in customer service.
If I had a dollar for every time I heard someone say; ‘Why are you tipping someone for just doing their job!”
Of course, while documentary is a stark reminder of how the “other half live”, the control of living standards and wages paid ultimately lie with the employers and the government – who are in charge of minimum wage setting and setting out employment standards and regulations.
We, as expats and tourists would most likely argue that the prices being charged in hotels such as those featured in the video should mean that the staff are paid a wage that would afford them a decent standard of living in Thailand.
I think we'd all agree that more should be done to ensure workers are rewarded with a wage that supports a fair standard of living. And this can be said for many countries the world over, I might add.
Anyway, this documentary really deliver 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 somewhat.
I've seen her present a number of documentaries since, and while she really annoys a lot of people, her approach always seems to get those being interviewed to open up and feel comfortable.
I'd love to know what you think of the documentary. Just press play on the video below.
Note: If you can't watch the video because the content is blocked in your country, you will need a VPN to pretend you are in another country. Find out how to get one of those by clicking here.