Living in Thailand

by Vern on May 11, 2010

Many visitors that stay for a week or so start asking themselves about living in Thailand.

Can you live in Thailand and be OK? For how long?

Years back there were estimates by some Thailand expats that suggested there were well over 100,000 expats from around the world living in Thailand at any one time. I’m not sure that number has any validity considering there have been some sweeping visa restrictions across the board that probably took expats living in Siam to Indonesia, Cambodia, Japan, Korea, and Philippines. Personally I know a number of expats that were living in Bangkok, Nakhon Ratchasima, Ubon, and Chiang Mai that have left Thailand in search of greener grass.

To me the grass is still green and I’d not rather live elsewhere and deal with an entirely different culture. Thai culture suits me pretty well. Very well really. Living Thailand style is different than in the west – way different, but it’s not a bad way of life at all.

What might you think about when deciding to move to Thailand?

Visiting first. Many people, myself included, just hop on a plane all set to live in Thailand for a year or so, not knowing at all what they’re getting into. I researched Thailand for months before deciding on it over the other Asian countries nearby. Despite how much you look into it – you’ll be surprised at many things when you arrive. You can’t be TOO prepared when it comes to moving to a foreign country to live. My best advice is to find someone that can answer some of your questions for you. I found a guy that did that for me and it helped immensely give me a good feel for what I’d be getting into. I took a chance by not visiting Thailand first – I wouldn’t suggest it for most people. You’ve got to be adventurous, but there’s something else – you have to be committed to staying because you will face some things that put you off. It’s inevitable. So, if you can, visit first and see if it’s really something you could deal with. It’s a world different than your home country. I guarantee that!

Cash bailout money. I’m not going to tell exactly what happened to me shortly after I arrived, but I do want to stress the importance of having a few thousand dollars bailout money at the ready – easy to get to, and yet secure. For me – I had cash, which wasn’t smart, but $6,000 USD did get me out of a serious jam. It’s important to have as much as possible saved before you arrive. I used to recommend less, but since what happened to me could happen to almost anyone, I’m recommending you have minimum 10,000 to 15,000 usd available not only for your basic needs until you find a teaching job or whatever it is you’ll do here (even retire)… but, also for emergencies… like plainclothed officers showing up in your hotel room accusing you of things… Enough said.

Touring around the country and choosing a spot to live. Bangkok is the only place for many people. For me it’s the only place I’d never consider living. I’ve stayed in New York City, Honolulu, Miami, and Tampa – all big cities and besides Honolulu I really don’t enjoy living in a big city at all. Give me Thailand’s out of the way towns of less than 50,000 people and I’m in the right spot. Thailand has many different styles of life – and you should see some of them before deciding where to live. Nothing will predict whether you can stay a year or not like choosing the wrong location to stay. You might last 2 months in such a situation. Take 6 months to travel the country and see Chiang Mai, Trat, Nakhon Ratchasima (Korat), Nong Khai, Bangkok, Hua Hin, and some of the south. Each Thailand location has a much different style of living.

Thailand food. Sure you like it at the restaurant, but, can you eat it nearly every meal for a year? This is one area that kills expats’ dreams quickly. If you don’t like spicy food – don’t live in the northeast, and maybe not the south either. In the northeast I can’t imagine someone being able to find and order non-spicy food continually day after day unless eating the same foods everyday. How fun is that? Do some research into what Thais eat for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Be ready to have your beliefs challenged… like, hot noodle soup for breakfast. Breakfast for me was the hardest thing to get over about living in Thailand. Finally I’m fine with it- and love it, but it did take some getting used to no pancakes, no cereal, no good coffee to drink.

Coffee. I think this deserves a separate mention because if you’re considering moving to live in Thailand and you drink coffee… well. I have had about 3 good cups of coffee while in the country. I’ve tried coffee at all the Starbucks, Black Canyons, everywhere that offers coffee and you know what? Laos Coffee in Ubon Ratchathani was the best I’ve found. There is a little shop there on a cross street back behind Tung C Muang park that is really nice. I guess I’ve had about 50 cups there, not 3. I tend to exaggerate. If coffee fuels your mind, your creativity, your good mood… you may have a SERIOUS issue finding decent coffee in this country. I’ve had Nescafe Red Cup instant coffee now for about 4 years. It sucks, but, I just don’t think about it as I drink it… and then it’s fine. It’s just a way to ingest some caffeine, and not a religious experience like it used to be in Hawaii drinking Kona coffee at $50 a lb.

Living in Thailand ebook for expats considering moving to Thailand to live.

Click the book to see more information and to order

There are a whole lot of things to consider before moving from your country to begin living in Thailand… one of the best things you can do is read more about actual experiences while living in the country. “Living in Thailand” by Pete Mees is a $2.99 ebook that is filled with such experiences and I highly recommend it. Cheers!

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Driving in Surat Thani, Thailand

by Vern on July 20, 2014

We drove up this weekend to pick someone up at the train station in Surat at the Phunpin train station. The drive up is really nice, very little traffic and the road is now in decent condition on the way here. It’s a really enjoyable 2 hour drive.

But, arriving in Surat the horrorshow begins. If you haven’t been to Surat for any length of time, you might not have noticed the nearly 6 million young tech school kids running around the town. There are  a number of tech schools here and some of the kids that ride the motorbikes here must be sniffing glue. I don’t think some of them have enough brain cells for their brains to be telling them to keep breathing, let alone driving a motorbike through town.

Just in the 4 hours we’ve been here we’ve seen about 9 nutty pre-adults (under 21) driving irresponsibly, dangerously, and even maliciously. The roads in the city are narrow. This is another of those cities where the roads are too narrow for the population that moved here. The city has swelled to a large population and there are new buildings everywhere you turn. Just like in Ubon, Sisaket, Khon Kaen, Korat, and other cities. It’s like all the farmers have moved to the cities and the city planners – if there is any such thing – were not expecting such an influx.

The result is the roads in Surat are VERY narrow for all this traffic.

Then you have people getting upset because they can’t as fast as they want because we’re all waiting for guy’s pushing watermelons on cars ON THE HIGHWAY in the wrong direction. We’re waiting for a multitude of tuk-tuks and songthaews which bus the kids and anyone else that doesn’t feel safe driving their car or motorbike – which means a LOT of people. The tuk tuks and songthaews all drive exceedingly slow and erratically, as they pick up and drop off people without any forethought at all – just make a decision to swerve at the last second. This cuts off the motorbike drivers trying to pass traffic on the left side.

It’s just a nightmare.

The one good thing is that the drivers in Surat are millenia more evolved than the brain-dead club down in Krabi. You know how it isn’t really THAT bad when everyone drives like idiots, but they are all good drivers because they’re used to it? That’s Surat, Bangkok, and Phuket. Though there are a lot of knobs in Phuket – of those three places.

Krabi is where a growing group of knob drivers are completely at a loss for how to drive a vehicle, so it makes it considerably worse.

If I had to pick one, I’d choose driving in Surat over Krabi, but still, I don’t want to be driving here either.

So, be careful if you find yourself tooling around the too-narrow streets of Surat Thani town. The country roads are great. The city is so dangerous.

 

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