Confessions of an Expat in Thailand

Thailand Living | 14 comments

I have lived in Thailand for about six years, and although that is nothing compared to some, for me it is quite a long time. You see, I am still rather young compared to most of the expatriates that find themselves living in the Land of Smiles, so six years is a large portion of what I consider my adult life. As a few of you may know, I am from California, born and bred, and before moving to Thailand, that was the only place that I had ever called home.

Often times, when people find out that I live in Thailand, their first impression is that my life is quite the adventure! I really don’t know what type of adventure people think my life consists of. When I hear adventure I think, riding on the back of elephants through the jungle as monkey’s swing in the trees above my head like some modern day Tarzan. I have to admit, my life isn’t entirely like that.

Thai Elephants are the Best of Friends

Thai Elephants are the Best of Friends

Same, Same but Different

In reality, after enough time, Thailand just becomes another place as common as the last. With enough exposure to the exotic, it just becomes mundane. What before would be a surge of euphoria at the site of wild monkeys, now comes with a sense of dread (I can’t stand monkeys anymore, the thieving bastards). Those elephants standing on the side of the road have become just a part of the daily commute. The only real adventure I experience is cultural. The clash of Western and Eastern ideas and ideals is a constant struggle, no matter how many years you have lived here.

Very few Westerner’s will ever agree with the Thai way of doing things. Just as well, as few Thai’s will ever agree with the Western way of doing something. We can sit here all day shaking our heads at the Thai workers constructing high-rise buildings in their sandals. Or the family of seven all crammed onto a single motorcycle. We can judge and ridicule all day long, but it works for Thai’s, so it’s really not our place to say they are wrong. We are visitors in a foreign country, the rules here were set a long time ago, it is not our place to try and change them.

It is all well and good when Thai’s are going on their merry way and we are in no way affected by what they are doing. However, as every expat in Thailand knows, the day will come where you will need to deal directly with a Thai person, and that’s when the headache begins. No matter how badly you want something your way, there will always be resistance and in the end, it will never be what you had hoped for. For many years I struggled with this, wanting things my way, until finally I just gave up. Accepting things done the ‘Thai Way’ or ‘Thai Style’ was just the reality of my life, and I could either accept it or constantly be disappointed. It’s not all bad; it gives us locals something to joke about, albeit with a defeated sigh.Confessions of an Expat in Thailand

Chang Beer, a different kind of Elephant adventure

Chang Beer, a different kind of Elephant adventure | Photo by: fummel

Time Keeps a Rollin

The majority of my time is trying to break up the monotony of life. It is quite easy to get stuck in a rut and suddenly realize that yesterday was February but today is April. The flow of time doesn’t seem to abide by the same universal rules here in Thailand. Boredom and a lack of motivation is an epidemic that plagues most expats living here. Then again, the majority of expats living here are retirees. They have put in their work and are now deserving of some peace and quiet. But even retirees need something to occupy their time.

Unfortunately, for a lot of people living here, that time is spent boozing. You thought the passage of time in Thailand was screwy before, try figuring out the day after being drunk every day for the past 6 months. I admit that I have fallen victim to this vice from time to time; it’s very easy to do. The trick is to find something to do outside of the bottle to occupy your time. Some pursue hobbies, others start families, and even fewer explore this beautiful country. I choose to do a little bit of each and it has managed to keep me relatively sane these past six years.

I Can’t Complain but I Love To

With all that being said, I don’t regret living in Thailand. Although I, like most people who have lived here for a length of time, love to bitch and moan about the country to some extent, I have nothing real to complain about. Living here has opened up a much better life than I could have ever lived in the West. It’s just not as glamorous and exciting as most people think it is. In Thailand, the weather is nice, things are cheap and the stress levels are way down. I love this country, and I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.

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Confessions of an Expat in Thailand