This was the last week of research in Taiwan. On this occasion, the writer went to the Thai temple, the only Thai temple in Taichung. Generally, the majority of the Thai population believe in Buddha as their religion. On first impression, entry finds that there are many Thai labours within the temple. When some learn that the writer is a Thai, they are open and welcoming (as well as the Thai tradition). The writer spoke with a monk leader, he said, “Thai labourers always come here every Sunday. They have only this space as a spiritual anchor for them from the many problems of their working life, finance and family. Some of them might think the temple is like the second home.
However, this temple only opened on Sunday because all the monks here are students in universities in Taichung. Another job undertaken by the monks involves going to the hospital when a Thai worker passes away. It is very costly to send them back to Thailand, and it is also hard to do a formal funeral here. So one of monks told the writer that, “we will go to pray in attendance of deaths in hospital when we learn of the news. also, if Thai labour families have held a good station in life, the staff in the hospital will send bodies to be cremated, allowing their bone ashes will be sent back to Thailand by charging fee.”
Within this monk’s telling story, there is another small manner in which life here for migrant workers does not offer the same rights as other locals. Generally, Thailand is a country where people hold a strict belief in Buddha.
This another interview is the man who is a Thai working for the CNC (Computer Numerical Control) factory, and a volunteer staff member in this Thai temple on Sundays. Firstly, the writer began with general questions, such as “Where are you come from?”, “What do you do here?”, and “What is your point of working here?”
He said, “I am from Nakhon Ratchasima where is located between the North-east and middle parts of Thailand. I think here is easy to get to as it is just a matter of paying the amount of money to the agency and then you can come. Actually, this is my third time contact and for this I paid 60,000 Baht as an agency fee. It is a lot cheaper than 8 years ago. For my first time I paid 130,000 Baht. Now it's the case that you can just work for free for six months. After that I can save money at least 12,000-15,000 Baht per a month from my salary about 20,0000 to 30,000 Baht including overtime. Normally, I believe that Thai workers here save up money of at least 10,000 Baht per a month, if they do not play gamble. The money is still much more than Thailand, so that's why I come here. However, in the factory, we are also working very hard to get overtime payments so that we can keep more money. Moreover, if there's no work to do during work hours, the boss will find another job for us to do; such as cutting tree, cleaning, wall painting, it's whatever he orders. We have to do it until the work's over.”
Then the writer began to ask him about, what are Thai workers doing on their rest periods?
He said, “some of them have no day off because of overtime working but normally, most of Thai workers might go to Asean Square to buy private stuffs, Thai ingredients, mobiles, clothes, and taking a break in the karaoke restaurant or nightclub. Also, others might play football, drink beer from local Thai supermarkets or resting in their own rooms. I think the last group can keep much more of their money.”
The writer asked, “So how about you?”
He said, “Normally, I often come here to sleep, and go to work in the morning so, for this reason, my feelings are that this temple is like a second home. I think it's better then going to other places because it saves more money. That is really my reason for happiness here, money. The most important thing about the 3 years contact is that I have limited time to save money. So if I go somewhere to spend a lot of money, I am also losing that time. I don’t have many chances so I have to be patient with everything. I've already paid to come here.”
With this interview, it was really touching a reality that this man is telling, and so directly discussing the real story. He has a reason to come here, and he is proud to say that he always comes to the temple because it allows him to save more money. This underlines the prioritising of saving money, and as a result the temple becomes his answer to leisure time.