Nok works long and hard for very little money, as you may have gathered from last week’s article (See back issues: Talking to a restaurant worker–Part I: 05 August 2002: http://www.bangkokpost.net/kat/archives/050802a.html). My discussion with her now continues…
When asked if she is happy with her current job, to my surprise Nok replied, “Yes. It is pretty relaxing. I just want a day off sometimes! I am not always happy with my boss. He thinks I can make his business more successful than it is, but I can’t.”
When asked about her plans for the future, she responded, “I would like to get a job someday helping a chef cook. Or I would like to work for a television company doing anything they offer me. I like to write stories and songs and I keep a diary. My other idea is to become a policewoman but I would have to go back to school for that and I don’t like school at all.”
Working in an English establishment has exposed Nok to many foreigners. She is currently involved in a long-distance relationship with an Englishman who comes to see her once a year. When questioned about this relationship, she responded, “I would like to marry him because I love him and there is something special about him. I would prefer to marry a foreigner because Thai men usually have many wives. You realise that Thai men are just going to hurt your heart. This does not mean all Thai men are like this, actually all men are difficult. I want a boyfriend that can take care of my family. I want us to work together, build a house, and when we are ready, to have a baby. I hope that he will have a good job but it is not his money I want, it is his heart.”
When questioned as to whether or not she wishes to leave Thailand, she stated emphatically, “No! I don’t want to travel except maybe for a vacation. I don’t want to leave Chiang Mai, I don’t want to go to Bangkok. I like the trees, the birds and the gardens here.”
When asked about her thoughts on foreigners in Thailand, Nok explained, “I used to be so scared of farangs (foreigners) especially when I was younger. They looked funny to me and had so much hair on their bodies! I also had a difficult time learning English and used to hide my face when farangs talked to me. Now I know many people from different countries. You need time to get to know them, some are good and some are bad.”
When asked about backpackers and tourists and her opinion on how they often dress, she stated, “They wear shorts, sleeveless shirts, sport shoes, things like this. I don’t mind. How they dress is their business. If you are a good person, I will not care about your clothes but many Thai people do not like this way of dressing at all.”
When questioned about the difference between foreign and Thai mentality, she thought for a while before stating, “Foreigners talk much more directly. If they don’t like something, they say they don’t like it. Thais don’t talk straight like this.”
She sees the biggest problem facing her country as a financial one. “Everyone is very poor in Thailand. Too many people need money and not enough people have it.” When she sees a beggar on the street, she won’t give them money if they are physically able to work.; “If I have a lot of money, I give a lot of money. If I have little money, I give little money.” Nok enjoys spending time at temples and explained, “I believe in the Lord Buddha and I used to go to the temple often. Now I can’t because I am always at work.”
In her free time she enjoys listening to music, watching action or horror movies and enjoys television shows like Animal Planet. She looks a bit tired but always has the energy for a smile and a chat with her customers. “Most people that come here are nice. The only time I have a problem is when it is time to close and the customer does not want to leave the bar. Sometimes they yell,” she stated.
When asked if she is happy, Nok answered, “I don’t know. Every day I have to face a new situation.” When questioned whether or not she thinks her future will be happier, she responded, “I think it will continue to be the same. I am tired from working, but I have to do it.” After facing 105 hours of work week after week, I am indeed surprised at just how bright Nok’s smile still is.