Have you got a bank account in Khon Kaen? For those that have, then some of these experiences will probably resonate with you. For a start you need to open a bank account. Easier said than done.
All the major Thai Banks have a policy which is not necessarily followed at branch level, like in Khon Kaen. One bank in Khon Kaen wanted my passport, visa, proof of residence, marriage certificate and work permit, whilst another only wanted proof of where my wife lived.
Even before you open the account most banks have an electronic number system for customers as they walk in. Since the options are all in Thai this is the 1st hurdle. You either press a number and hope for the best or ask someone. But as soon as you ask someone which number button to press, this brings on `The Look’.
All bank staff in Khon Kaen are trained in ‘The Look”. What is it? Well its many things – ‘Oh no, a falang!’ – ‘What did he just say?” – ‘Couldnt he ask someone else?’ – ‘what on earth does he want?’. A rabbit caught in headlights face. Made bearable as most female bank staff are very easy on the eye. But from the Security Guard to the Bank Manager, they`d all rather you ask someone else.
You have your ticket and are now gazing patiently at the screen waiting for your number to pop up. 260…261…262…getting close….388. Hold on! Where did that number come from? They`ve gone out of sync, whats happening? Have I been forgotten about? Should I ask someone? Deal with it. Because its a common occurrence. And another one, is the ‘known guy’ in Khon Kaen. He doesn`t need to get a number he can just stroll right to the front. Best left alone.
So you have your new account after filling in and signing reams of paper. Put your headlights on if you have any more questions about internet banking, loans, insurance, ATM cards, mortgages. The rabbits are waiting. Sometimes, however, you can strike gold. As you’ve been passed around you end up with the one member of staff with the best spoken English. We`ll call her Barbara and she’s a gem. Not perfect English but helpful and at least you can communicate. And Barabara can save you another hour explaining what it is you need. Barbara’s in Khon Kaen are rare, but they are out there.