All posts by Taylor C Burke

Thai vs. American Consumerism

  1. imageThroughout our time here in Thailand so far, I’ve noticed how different the markets and interactions between consumers and vendors are from the United States. The most prevalent difference is the presence of open air markets. These take the form of food markets (mostly for those living here) and markets like the Night Bazaar catered to the tourism sector. By looking at the differences between these two markets, one can see a huge differentiator between American and Thai culture: materialism.

Although we all already know that we as Americans value material things, it’s amazing how the people of Thailand have come to not only accept this difference in the people who come to their country, they capitalize on it. The entire Night Bazaar is catered to the things that tourists buy and want in souvenirs. Tourists spend tons of time walking around and bartering with the vendors to buy the things they sell. In comparison, the food markets that people who live here shop at are for necessities. We also saw from the elderly home and the Hmong village that people live much more simply and with a lot less. The sociocultural aspects are much different between Thailand and the United States; and the Night Bazaar shows how Thailand has come to realize this difference and the people can use it to their advantage.

The human-built environment in the form of markets catering to tourists allow us to see the difference in business in general between the two countries. There are few regulations in Thailand, and prices aren’t fixed in stores or areas – you barter. The appeal of the products in Thailand (beyond the price) is that a lot of them are crafts also. This is a huge trend in the United States, so it’s also popular in other countries to bring back handmade trinkets. The United States has farmers markets, but they have tons of rules and specified times when they can take place in a specific area, so the markets here are very different overall.

Consumerism here in Thailand is very different from the United States; Thai people don’t shop or buy extra things like Americans do, they live much more simply and they don’t necessarily need as many rules and regulation on businesses because the vendors are not greedy in the same way American business owners are.

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  1. I’m glad we had the opportunity to visit the Wat Temple before heading off on our adventure because for me, and I’m sure for everyone else, this gave me great insight into the culture we will be immersing ourselves in. Learning how to interact in the presence of a monk was especially helpful because I would never have known how to act otherwise, and this is something that we will need to know during our time there. I know that the culture is conservative, but seeing it firsthand was very helpful. I also think that interacting with the people at the Wat Temple was interesting because they were so nice and welcoming. I know this is also a part of Thai culture, and it makes me so excited to be a part of it, even if for just a short time. Overall, this experience made me very excited to leave!
  2. I like to think I have an open mind for the most part, but my biggest goal is to learn how open my mind truly is and make it more open than before. I’ve immersed myself in new cultures before, but I think that I will experience more culture shock in Thailand than I have anywhere else. So overall, I’m hoping that this will allow me to have the greatest experience possible (and make new friends along the way)!