One thing you quickly realize, or I did rather, is that you want to distinguish yourself as a local and not a tourist in Surat. There are quite a few tourists wandering through Surat waiting on a bus or ferry to their next destination. If the locals confuse you, a teacher, with one of them, you’re very likely to get treated differently.
If you want the local price and the local treatment, you’ve gotta make it known that you aren’t a tourist. What’s the best way to do that? Well, it isn’t saying “hey! I live here!” or “I’m not a tourist!” Usually, speaking a bit of Thai, frequenting the same shops/food stalls, and not dressing like a backpacker will help.
Once you’ve lived here for awhile it’s pretty easy to pick out the backpackers. If you see a guy walking around town with his shirt off, which is exceptionally rude in Thai culture, you know he’s not a foreign teacher and you want to distance yourself from this guy as much as possible. If you see someone paying a tuk tuk driver 400 baht for a quick ride down the road, you know they’re a tourist.
I once got a tuk tuk home after getting off a night boat and had an interesting experience. In the little Thai I can speak, I told the driver where I wanted to go and didn’t ask the price. Typically, if you don’t ask the price for a tuk tuk and you speak in Thai, they know you know the ropes. After telling the tuk tuk driver where I needed to go, I watched him haggle with 3 Swedish girls, who he ended up charging 400 baht for roughly a 1km ride. How much did he charge me for my ride that was easily 3 times as far? Well, I gave him 30baht when I got out of the tuk tuk and he knew that he couldn’t argue; I was a local.