No, no, no and No its not even going to be about Thai bashing, it’s just a revaluation of expectations (realistic and unrealistic) and reality I never came here many moons ago expecting it to be the answer to all my life’s goals, it been an experience and one that I am delighted to have done, but now many years later and my objectives have changed like many people as they get older. I’m thinking is Thailand the answer to the Autumn days of my life?
First up… if I was going to leave, there is one group that would be a major factor… It’s the “If you don’t like it leave” brigade… You know the one’s… head in the sand arse in the air that think nothing is wrong… I’d call it Ostrich Syndrome. There is not a place in the world that is perfect and everywhere has its problems both big and small and to ignore or deny that Thailand has problems… says more about them than me.
In a funny sort of way, I buck the trend, if I left I’d leave with more than what I came with, now that is an exception for a farang in Thailand, I don’t consider myself rich and that was never the objective in the first place, I did not come here to make money or hide from a previous life, I came to get a better balance on life, hopefully learn something, experience new things.
So what are those factors that cause my review?. Driving a pet hate of almost everyone, well we can say driving in Thailand is one hell of an experience, but in reality if you have driven, in Rome, Paris, Athens, Deli (any Indian city) Rio or most of Africa, Thailand is not really that much different, its clogged, jammed and can be hell on earth for any motorist. I’m not even going to single out Taxi’s, Pick-Up’s or buses, every major city has its twats or Buffalo’s. However I will acknowledge there is a special kind of stupid that considers charging around at crazy speeds, lane changing, cutting people up, tail gating, using a phone, at night with no lights is a combination that is of Olympian standards….. Maybe its a gold medal not to be proud of?
Before I continue…. let’s balance up some of the wonderful things about Thai life…. Open all hours shopping, to be able to buy almost anything 24/7 is a wonderful facility, the local food is amongst the best in the world, the climate is fantastic, (but too hot in March to May) but we have air con and escapes. Cost of living is excellent even if it has gone up noticeably in recent years. Public transport… I’d consider the BTS and MRT one of the best in the world, and in a few years’ time when all the new lines are complete, I’d say it could be the best. Facilities, we have parks, entertainment venues, a wide variety of choice for those “free time hours”….. Maybe also one of the most important factors, its safe… well ok maybe that’s up for discussion in certain places and the annual rise of unexplained farang deaths is cause for concern, but in general speaking in normal day to day situations I feel safe…. but that does exclude crossing roads… which is a lemming run at the best of times.
I would go as far to say that Thai ladies are amongst the most pretty in the world, impossible to understand, or reason with as I’m sure they are from Venus and us men are from Mars, then how many of us men understand women anyway? there is also the special kind of stalker and witch with I’ve not noticed anywhere else, and the legendary ” Thai Girl Network of spying on men….. I’d agree with some men do need it, as they are as reliable motor manufactures car test emissions data, but really… if a Thai lady has a nice boyfriend or man, there are a dozen or so others that would do anything to destroy the relationship!!!
Important part here….. I’ve never been a religious type, can say I neither agree or disagree, being a scientist of old, I can be sceptical about much of it, and if nothing else some of these holy books give us some amazing stories, however I am very open to any new way of thinking… there must be something spiritual out there don’t you think? Well I can say I have embraced Buddhism, …. No, I’ve not go all Hari Krishna in a monkish sort of way, but just taken to the Buddhist way of life style, I have very much enjoyed visits to temples throughout the kingdom, and can say I have a few places I like to visit for a bit of meditation…. that’s something I’ve never had a calling to do in the past.
Okay let’s look a bit on controversial aspects…. This is Thailand, and as far as I’m concerned it’s for the Thai’s themselves to run, rule, govern and administrate how they see fit, it’s their country, and I wish not to be involved in and politics or laws, but I do value free speech ( not gossip or false information or lies) and a voice to say when something is obviously wrong. I value the rights of the normal man, and rights of a person to go about their daily business without fear or repercussions as long as they are law abiding. I value the aspect of human rights…. Maybe here as a farang I am concerned that it feels maybe I don’t have any rights, civil or human, I am only a minor incident away from being introduced to hell, the law does not appear to protect or look after me if such an incident happened.
Okay… another topic. the Police… yes yes we all know it happens in one way or another… tea money or support for their family is as common as a sunrise and sunset, to be fair, if I was paid as little as them, with all the risks, I’d like some fringe benefits too. A few baht for a minor error okay my fault then so be it, most of these life’s little extras are normally to do with usage of the road, and in real terms a few hundred baht is better that the big fine and points on my licence that I would get back at home. Sure they control many aspects of life, which will effect locals more than me, we all know that the selling of alcohol is managed very carefully, and several restaurants I like to visit have the local bill sitting at tables by the entrance, of course I show respect in a wai, it’s one of the most important aspect of Thailand, I can’t say I get right 100% of the time, but have a fair grasp of how and why and whom too…. However, for right or wrong there is often the option to pay for a problem to go away regardless of how big that problem might be.
One of the aspects of being here that makes me smile and what I do really enjoy, is the politeness of service staff… salutes, bow and wai’s…. my grandparents would have loved that aspect of life, we have lost the plot back home, manners are a rare occurrence and whilst we can consider Thais can also be ignorant, I feel it not in a malice sort way but, they just don’t know, and us English are a strange kind of folk. I love the aspect of service station attendants filling the car up so you don’t have to get out, in the heat of summer here its a refreshing service.
Thai people….. their smiles, their wai, their culture…. overall its great, in most cases they are friendly and welcoming, they have their own twats, as we all have to suffer our own. There are plenty of scams, and I’d be bold enough to say its because the laws allows it to happen, its changing, and oh boy is it changing. However, I touched on it earlier… why have I fallen out of love for Thailand?
I would have to say, some of the changes feel that they are not for the better, in the past I have always felt welcome and happy to stay as long as I like (as long as I follow the rules)….. today I feel less so. I’m not a fan of any Junta…. a Junta has a bad reputation… well 99% of them worldwide have yielded negative results…. this one I feel is doing plenty of good but makes us foreigners feel less welcome, there appears to be use of a bigger stick and less carrot. We don’t need a stick to follow the rules and fear is not the way to control people, I bring in a reasonable amount of foreign currency and look after quite a few Thais, which are my extended family….. however, I have grave concerns on my civil rights and liberties and my actual rights of a human… this is not the place to have a problem small or large!
Another important aspect to the future, is the old question of land and property, many countries don’t allow foreigners to own land, or have some sort of property, sure there are exceptions for companies, but do we all want to run a company and employ one or more Thai’s to qualify for the rest of my life, and then what happens after my death, do my dependants get my assets? In not being able to buy a home of my own ( ie house) it’s a big negative, I like a place to be mine ( Englishman’s home is his castle) maybe not a common concept worldwide, but it’s my security my little plot, my own kingdom. We see so many property scams here, even with a good lawyer it’s a minefield and not worth the risk under any circumstances, and I’m not keen on renting for ever.
However, the one big thing that changed everything… were just a few words from law makers over the disgrace of the Koh Tao murders… comments made by the most high of high people, those that most respected and are the law…. and I’m not going to repeat them here… It sent a shiver so cold down my spine it could have come direct from the Antarctic……. It was in my view a total game changer…. if those are the thoughts and beliefs of the most powerful people in the land, then this is not a place where I feel safe to be….. it gives a very clear indication of a “them and us attitude” and whatever shred of comfort I could feel about the future vanished there and then.
So did I fall out of love with Thailand?…. No I think not… I think Thailand has fallen out of love for me….you…. and us farangs.