As the burning sun rises into the Asian sky the temperature once again rises to 100F in Bangkok. I have been here for just about three weeks and am beginning to feel comfortable with the city and my language skills are improving everyday.
Yesterday I gave directions to some Russian tourists and now I can enter a taxi and not need to speak a word of English, but it did not start this way.
For five days last week I was washing my body with what I thought was body wash but was infact conditioner. This language is so hard to live with, exspecially since most vendors cant speak English and I am left trying to figure out (more like guessing) what I am buying or eating.
The hourly wage for a McDonald’s worker in Thailand is 23 baht (roughly .60 USD) an hour. The gap between poor and wealthy is so great that most kids who are actually wealthy enough to go to college don’t bother to have a part-time job.
In the fifth century King Brommatrailokanat created Sakdi Na, a numbered caste system that laid out Thai hierarchy precisely. Slaves were ranked 5, craftmen employed by the government were 50, and lower officials were anywhere from 50 to 400. 400 started leaders of minor departments and lead up to 10,000 for leaders of the state. 10,000 started the rank of nobility and the royal blood line that finally concluded with the King at 100,000.
Although the principle of Sakdi Na is mostly forgotten the element of hierarchy can still be heard in the language and by the Thai’s use of body language. When Thai’s first meet each other they begin measuring each other up and about one minute into the conversation they can address each other with the appropriate title that will uniquely specify there place in society.