Is Europe a third world country?

Before you leave a comment criticizing my geographical knowledge, I know that Europe is not a country. But did you know that there are countries in Europe that are poorer than countries in Southeast Asia? I guess I sort of did, but I didn’t totally understand the extent of it until I really started digging in.

I’m not only talking about Eastern Europe either. That part of the world has been poor for quite a while. What I am saying here applies to a lot of the EU too. For example, the per capita GDP of Bulgaria is just $8031. That’s significantly less than Malaysia’s $9994! This number doesn’t mean everything, but it does mean a lot.

Focus Economics says, “GDP per capita is often considered an indicator of the standard of living of a given country, as it reflects the average wealth of each person residing in a country. It is therefore the standard method used to compare how poor or wealthy countries are in relation to each other.”

Outside of the EU the situation is even more extreme. Not counting the city states and disputed regions of Europe, there are at least nine European countries with lower GDP per capita than Thailand! The GDP per capita of Moldova is even lower than that of Vietnam! Obviously I have been to Europe a few times. And obviously I have spent a lot of time in Southeast Asia. But researching these facts did surprise me.

What exactly is the third world?

Does income make a place a third world country? It depends who you ask. People come up with their own labels and ways of using them. These days most people will fight you if you say Thailand is a third world country. There are also things like development. For example, there are still people in Thailand and Malaysia living in tin shacks. I never saw that in Europe, but I did see lots of people on the streets or living in vehicles. Even in the middle of rich European cities. Yet there are some really poor cities in Southeast Asia where I never saw a single beggar.

third world Europe

First world Europe

I definitely feel safer in Ho Chi Minh City or Vientiane than I do in South Chicago or the East Side of Detroit, and for very good reason. But on the other hand, I don’t have to worry much about getting chronic diarrhea from brushing my teeth in the tap water in Illinois. And I’ve never met anyone in Michigan trying to make it on 2 grand a year.

The funny thing is that you can see more wealth and development on display in third world cities like Phnom Penh or American ghettos than you can in some of the richest European cities. Really basic stuff is sometimes hard to find even in the middle of Europe. You can check into an expensive hotel in Vienna or Berlin only to find that it’s a cramped box with a tiny mattress and no air conditioner in sight. Poor people in the housing projects of the US at least have AC. The $3 guest houses of Phnom Penh also have air conditioners. Even the famously small hotel rooms in Japan come with climate control, and they have as long as I’ve been alive.

Cambodia luxury

Third world Cambodia

There’s also a question of growth. Parts of Asia are absolutely booming. Meanwhile parts of the west look like they’re in a downward spiral of doom. This can be seen in the sex industry too. It’s reflected in many ways. Like when you see a bus load of Chinese tourists show up at a Thai soapy massage and book every high priced prostitute inside, then you cross the street and find a bunch of hard scrabble old Western guys nursing happy hour beers at Porn’s beer bar for hours on end. Complaints about the price of sex sometimes have more to do with the complainer’s home country and currency than they do with the homeland of the hookers.

Income and the price of sex

What does GDP, development, or even the average income have to do with the price of sex? Not very much. I learned that a long time ago from traveling and keeping my eyes open. It still seems to shock many people to find prostitutes in Cambodia routinely getting $100 for sex while it goes for half as much in Germany where the per capita GDP is 34 times higher. I am used to this state of things.

Ever since I began comparing Germany and Thailand for sex, I have been paying more attention. Things keep going in a certain direction too. The dollar strengthened against the Euro and fell against the Baht. And more than a few people in Thailand just keep on raising their prices regardless.

Some people won’t accept facts, no matter how they are proven or presented. So you still do meet a lot of guys who will argue about the “great value” in Bangkok or wherever. I am sure a few of them have an interest in a bar or hotel or something. But plenty of others just take up the argument for no perceivable reason. Maybe they want to defend their decisions to move to cities like Pattaya permanently. Maybe they like Thailand more than Europe or prefer Southeast Asian to European women. That is all totally fine. But it doesn’t change the fact that in terms of sheer prices, and especially in terms of price versus the local economy, sex in some “lesser developed” places like Thailand is now much more expensive than it is even in the richest parts of Europe.

I’ve been to some real dumps in my life. And some of them were even in “the first world.” Often this was all to find sex, if I am being totally honest. So I understand the urge guys have to look for pussy wherever they are. But it is kind of strange that guys would be okay with cramming themselves into a small economy seat on an airplane and flying half way around the world, then crawling through open sewage and trash, to bang a middle aged mom on a dirty mattress for more than they could pay in some of the most “livable” and esteemed places on earth. What do you think?

Comments
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