Dao suffers instant culture shock. She finds the village so underdeveloped, full of pigs, dogs, cows and chickens. The villagers are uneducated, and eat fermented fish, frogs, lizards, and even beetles picked out of buffalo dung. The boys drink local liquor, ride motorcycles and groove to country music. In Bangkok, Dao prefers a Benz or latest-model BMW, and modern pop stars with cute farang names likes Golf and Mike. Back in the village there's just the sound of the birds.
In Bangkok she can stroll around the shopping malls. Back in Big Pond there's only the occasional market where you have to dodge between the cows and water buffaloes. The stalls sell only shirts at Bt199. "How can people wear this stuff? " Dao just can't adjust.
It gets worse. She goes out to the field to help with the harvest. Still wearing her high heels, she falls flat on her face, and comes face-to-face with a slobbering buffalo. After a bone-shaking ride home on a local tractor, she collapses with a fever. "This is not me. This is not the real Dao." In Bangkok she's "a cheerleader, a pretty, a presenter. You want me to be a farmer?"
Dao is bored with the village, the food, the stench of the animals. She wants to go back to Bangkok and be the star of the university again. "That matches the concept that Dao has set for herself." But her mother can't take it. Studying has no product. Farming does. Mother knows how to till a field, but what on earth is Dao going to do when she finishes college? At this challenge, Dao's language takes flight into outer space. Her mother's criticisms "demean the prestige of a star of the university".
The song's theme is nothing new. Boys and girls have been migrating from the village to the city forever, and have been coming from the Northeast to Bangkok in huge numbers for three decades. They come to get educated, to make some money, to have fun, to broaden their world, to become modern. There have been countless songs on this theme.
But this one stands out, partly because of the viewpoint. The song and the band are right in the middle of the spectrum between Dao and her mother. The lilt and the speak-over style of singing are classic country music. But the driving rhythm comes straight from urban rock, and the delivery has a touch of hip-hop.
The very name of the band, Saomat Megadance, starts out in the village and ends up in the global disco. The singer is neither a clean-cut, assembly-line pop star nor a classic country singer but a bubbly girl-next-door with a belting voice. The song mocks both Dao and her mother, but mocks them with great warmth. This is the way things are.
The real triumph of the song lies in the lyrics and language. Dao reels off the names and brandnames of capital culture, which are all in English: Benz, Centrepoint, The Mall, Big C, Central, Seven [Eleven], Academia Fantasia. She litters her language with English words (summer, country, city), especially some favoured in the media world (concept, pretty, presenter), and especially complex words (pasteurised, sensitive, university) which have style value in contrast to Thai's usual monosyllables.
Her mother talks the language of Isaan. As the song slides into its squabbling conclusion, the contrast is acute. Mother delivers a curse in language so broad it is barely comprehensible, and so earthly crude that it is distinctively rural. Dao responds with the song's signature line, "Mother doesn't understand Dao, mother is not sensitive", with "sensitive" spoken twice in English, and delivered in its distinctive, sniffy Bangkok pronunciation.
The gap between Dao and her mother is not just one of generations or even just cultures. If language is the bedrock of nationhood, then they belong to different nations. What's more, neither tongue is the standard Thai of the official imagination. Mother talks in Isaan Lao. Dao uses Bangkokspeak, the polyglot dialect of the globalised city.
The song arrives as the urban economy is again tipping over a cliff. It's no coincidence that the last song which was couched in a similar style and achieved the same hit status was Ploen Phromdaen's "The Floating Baht", which appeared in the teeth of the 1997 financial crisis.
In 1997, when employment collapsed, two million Daos and her friends had to go back to Big Pond, at least for a short time. The song hints that this time such a movement could be more difficult, and not for economic reasons. The carrying capacity of the agrarian economy is pretty good. Low oil prices have brought down input costs far more than prices. Margins are healthy. The problem is that the cultural gap has got wider. The two nations have eased further apart in the past decade. That's the song's stunning message.
Still, Dao may just have to ditch her high heels, steel herself for the culture shock, relearn the language - and get herself a passport to travel from one nation to the other.