Millions of Thais live on less than $300 a month, and my friend Nan is no exception. Two weeks ago, I was privileged to visit her sister’s home in Phitsanulok, which was a very basic 2-story, with little furniture and few appliances. Nan’s place is even more basic.
Today was the third day of the Mucha Bucha religious holiday and she had it off from work, so she finally invited me to visit her Hua Hin home. After the usual scary back-of-the-motorcyle ride, we arrived at an area of older, low-slung concrete buildings. There was a smitten of enterprise along the “main” road before we turned off to her place. The new, very upscale Bluport Mall is maybe three blocks away, providing quite a contrast with Nan’s neighborhood.
Her 2-bedroom apartment is one of more than a dozen hidden off the road. Mama was there waiting on us.
It’s very typical here for people to sleep on thin mattresses on the floor, and to keep clothing in cheap storage containers or hanging on the walls. Refrigerators are not common. Nan does not have one.
Furniture itself does not seem to be common. Nan had none.
In the kitchen there was a rice cooker (of course) and a small LPG container with a cooking tray on top. The wok she was using for cooking has definitely had better days; but she received a new one for Valentine’s Day (I know, not romantic, but well received.)
The bathroom did have a western toilet, without flushing. There was the typical barrel of water next to the toilet to wash down your waste. No heater for the shower.
The three of us sat around trying to have a conversation using phone and laptop translators. Nan does have a Wifi router so I was able to set up my laptop. A small ironing board was provided as a table to work on as I sat on the wooden floor.
Finally, I had to take a walk. I was hungry anyway but I also have this compulsion to explore any neighborhood I happen to be in. Nan wasn’t sure I would find anything to eat, but I knew better. There’s always someone selling food somewhere here.
There were actually several small food places along the road and I chose one for no particular reason. They had my pork and noodles staple, although it turned out to be pork balls instead of regular meat. I bought an extra one for Nan’s mother, as Nan had already eaten. Two lunches, 60 baht, $1.80 total. The prices really come down when you exit the tourist areas, and we definitely were not in a tourist area.
There was a 7-11 next door. These places are everywhere. It’s amazing how much 7-11 has infiltrated Asian markets.