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Chapter 08 The Economics of Chicken Rice

posted May 9, 2017, 8:44 AM by Ratinan Lee   [ updated Jul 8, 2017, 10:28 AM ]


The Economics of Chicken Rice

—Mík Jansìrì—

"Phī̂![1] Now, I get forty thousand dollars a month already, why should I come back to get your forty thousand baht? Have you done feasibility studies? This project is not feasible at all and I'm not joining because I don't see any opportunity to win in the market."

"Calm down first, Kèng!"

"Phī̂, my life is much better over there. I work there, I earn enough for everything I need, and for what I want. Working here, do you think that your forty thousand baht will be enough for my lifestyle? Everything in Bangkok is very expensive, much more expensive than in Hong Kong. Do you really want me to leave my better life and come back to struggle here?"

I just broke up with Pɔ̄i, and now I needed to listen to other people yelling at each other about their living and working in Bangkok. My dinner at this street-side chicken rice stall was fulfilled so strangely. My allowance was cut. My parents wanted me to stop paying too much for a girlfriend. And now I thought I understood why they said I had to manage my wallet well. Living expenses in Bangkok were very expensive. But how could it be expensive? The price of this regular-size chicken rice was just 25 baht, and the large-size was 30 baht. A bottle of coke was just eight baht, and a glass of ice was two baht. The price of the same regular chicken rice in foreign countries could be a hundred baht. This chicken rice must be much cheaper here in Thailand. What was wrong with my understanding?

"To go to work in downtown, I just can't make it within forty minutes, paying only a hundred baht. In Hong Kong, everything is much better. Transportation is fast and reliable, and relatively cheap. Although paying more, I could save more money over there. While over here, I barely have enough to eat using only your forty thousand baht."

The younger one, whose name was Kèng, said after he finally calmed down. He already finished his chicken rice.

When compared, I found out that although many things in developed countries, or developed cities like Hong Kong, were more expensive. But when we divided that prices by monthly salary, we could see that we could save much more money in Hong Kong than Bangkok.

"Things are slightly more expensive, some are even cheaper, but my salary now is five times higher than the amount you offer. You really want me to work for you and suffer here?"

I also quickly finished my chicken rice. I had so many questions to ask that guy.

"But this project is my dream." The older person said. "Please..."

"No, phī̂, if you want me to work for you, then you have to move to Hong Kong and start your business there, paying forty-thousand Hong Kong dollars a month for me," Kèng demanded. "I'll pay for this meal, and please think carefully about what I said about your project's feasibility."

Kèng walked to the stall owner. He passed the thousand-baht bill to her, "for that table."

"Two chicken rice, two coke, it's just eighty baht. I have no change."

"Eighty baht for this street food, very expensive when compared to the price-per-income in Hong Kong... but well, since my salary is not in Thai baht, you keep the change!"

His voice was so loud, I believe he wanted to let his senior friend listen clearly. Then he walked away.

"Kèng! Without your help, how could it be feasible?!"

"If I help you that much, then it will be my project, not yours!" Kèng turned back to him. "If your situation is stable enough and your project is more survivable, you must have taken me to a shopping mall in downtown already."

That was true. Why would the rich person like that guy come to eat here? That was not reasonable. This place is only for poor people like me. And well... This chicken rice is very expensive? I asked myself.

"Phī̂! I wanna ask you some questions!" I stood up and yelled at him.

"Thailand's latest GNI per capita is 3,000 US dollar, that's less than 10,000 baht monthly salary." He turned back to me. His voice was loud enough for everyone to hear it clearly. "Divide this meal of yours by this mean salary and compare to the division of the same thing in other countries. You do the math yourself! You'll find that Hong Kong, US, Singapore, and many other countries offer you a much cheaper chicken rice than this stall offers you. F*** Thailand, everything's so expensive!"

He really left this time.

I walked back home. Turned on my computer. Logged in MSN. And started typing the new status message: I'm single... again... And the status message was always shown on the screen with the song that I was listening... นี่แหละความเสียใจ, ขอบฟ้า, ปลายทาง...[2] Then, I started working on my homework assignments. There were a lot, and from now on, I will be able to concentrate on my homework and music practice without interference from any girls. I should be happy for this freedom.

"Pɔ̄i was not that pretty," I told myself.

"Forget her."

And finally, I finished my Physics homework. Then I moved on to my English homework. And at the same time, Thī sent me a message.

Hey! Already broke up with Pɔ̄i?

Don't mention anything about her, please.

Ok, bro! Well, have you done your English homework?

I'm starting.

Good! I'm asking Phûeng, wanna join us in group chat?

With that Phûeng? I'd better stay away!

Haha! Up to you. See you tomorrow.

Then he sent me a water ball... BOOM! Luckily it was just an animation feature in MSN. If it was real, I must had already been wet.


[1] Phī̂ (พี่) is used to call the man who is older, i.e. older brothers, senior students. No gender is associated.

[2] Artist: Potato; Title: นี่แหละความเสียใจ (Nī̂ Làe Khwām Sī̌a Jai; This is sadness), 2007; Artist: Bodyslam; Title: ขอบฟ้า (Khɔ̄̀p Fā́; Horizon), 2005 and ปลายทาง (Plāi Thāng; Destination), 2003.

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