I once met some western european guy with an eager desire to immigrate to Thailand. He seemed to have a highly idealized vision of this south asian country, describing its people as less materialistic, more family oriented and friendly; in sheer contrast to his own west-european countrymen that he (for some reason) viciously criticized as self-centered, materialistic and individualistic. I grew somewhat suspicious about this and I asked him if there was a defect or a shortcoming of the thai culture that he personally disliked. Then he spouted that he didn’t like that the thais were leaving their rural villages and moving to the cities. For him, this was a doom to their traditional roots, since they were on a pathway to become just as the westerners.
Somehow the being rural and traditional was what made a thai a thai according to him. Moving to the cities on the search for a better life, was getting infected by civilization and thus it was a detriment to their pure nature.