This issue of
Citylife

This is Thailand

For those of you with any questions regarding Thailand, Thai culture, history, tourism, laws, rules, food, nightlife, sub-cultures, dating; generally anything as long as it is relevant,
we have a panel of three experts who will respond to your enquiries.
Email: [email protected]

1. What do they call Thailand: Developing World, Second World? And, if you don’t mind, what are the average wages here?

James:
The correct term is Newly Industrialised Country. NICs are countries in limbo, not quite first world but out of the ‘developing’ stranglehold. Other NICs: Philippines, China, India, Mexico, South Africa, Turkey.

Hard to say as people get a lot more if they stay with a place a long time, the old timers get good bonuses, teachers start with little but can earn well if they stay many years, and of course take on extra tutorials. This is the info I found for median salaries: Programmers B400,000 p/a. IT B800,000 p/a (though these numbers would apply more to Bangkok and Phuket while provinces such as Chiang Mai can pay less than half that amount. GM Hotel 2,500,000 p/a. Teachers/Educators B400,000 p/a. Of course people live with much much less. Minimum wage differs per province, as of Jan 2008 the Chiang Mai minimum is 159 baht a day, that’s 57,600 p/a if you work every day. School teachers will start at around 96,000 p/a. Non ranking police start close to that, not including extras. Wages for foreigners start at around 264,000 p/a in Chiang Mai.

2. I want to volunteer, just teach a few hours helping monks with English, do I need to register myself?

James:
Even to work one hour a week as a volunteer is illegal without a permit. You need to be working for a registered company who can give you the necessary document so you might get a non-immigrant visa and then a work permit. Still, I doubt anyone would care if you worked without a visa in a temple.

Hugh:
If you do volunteer work without a work permit (you can not work or volunteer on a retirement visa) keep it very low key and as much to yourself as possible. One possible urban legend is the story of an expat doing volunteer work who made an enemy, who then reported him to immigration. Let’s hope that this is not a true story and that it never does come true. Or that no one takes it upon themselves to do something like this to another. The Chiang Mai Friends Club has had some volunteer opportunities but they have always gotten special waivers first.

3. Where can I buy certain toys here for women, even men . . . do we have a sex shop in Chiang Mai?

James:
Paradoxically, sex shops or sex toys are illegal in Thailand, though sex services are a boom industry _ I suppose servicing yourself might bite into their profits. If you take a trip to Singapore or Taiwan you can find those shops everywhere, otherwise just order from the net (but be careful, if intercepted you stand the chance of being arrested. I am told women (perhaps some men) might buy a device called the ‘G-2’ at most health/massage equipment shops in Thailand. The G-2 is a multipurpose, multifaceted, tool and does the job for those ladies with time on their hands. And of course there’s always fruit and kitchenware.

4. What happens in Thailand when the police find a foreign body with no ID?

John:
The police would take the body to the morgue at Suan Dork Hospital and arrange for an autopsy. Eventually, if no one claimed the body, the hospital would have the body cremated.

5. Is there any way of keeping your bread from going mouldy so quickly here?

James:
The cheap bread has loads of additives so that will last for ages, but if you want to buy fresh bread you’ve probably only got 1 or 2 days. Keep it in the fridge, the fridge is the only safe place in the kitchen. If you don’t like how tough the bread gets in there try this: put the bread in the microwave for just a few seconds, not so it warms up, but so it becomes slightly softer. It’s the best alternative.