Cost of Living – Chiang Mai, Thailand

Can YOU Survive on $500 Per Month Pension in Thailand?

VIDEO I just made at the end of 2017:

A guy I know did a video of him and his wife going through groceries they bought in Thailand to give us an idea of the cost of living. I think it would be helpful for expats considering moving over to Thailand to see what kind of things are available in the markets – and how much they cost. This is in Chiang Mai, where the prices might be higher than a smaller city like Trang, Ubon, or similar city.

Matt moved over from the US with his wife and baby boy. They’re making a run at staying long-term, I wish them luck.


Comments on The Damage Done by Warren Fellows, (12 yrs of Hell in a Bangkok Prison)

I broke down and bought a paperback book last night at a used bookstore. My plan was to go and read as many books that were written about Thailand as they had – and get an idea what kind of writers are out there. I found a couple fiction writers that I liked, but overall I wasn’t excited about anything.

Then I went to the non-fiction side and saw this book that I’d read excerpts of over the years – a couple pages every time I picked it up in a bookstore. I decided last night that the price was right and it’d be good reading for a night. 180 THB for a used copy.

The book “The Damage Done” by Warren Fellows, was really well written. It was a very easy read and descriptive enough that I have a good picture what the guy went through. Well, a good snapshot of it anyway. There were huge parts missing that bothered me by the end – but, no matter. They must not have been important to the guy.

I thought about the heat of the prison. Wouldn’t it be sizzling all year round there? He barely mentioned the heat. I guess one gets used to that pretty quickly. He didn’t mention much about how he went about learning Thai except that he picked up a phrase or two here and there and he’d listen intently when Thais’ spoke.

I’ve been here 3 years and only now can I speak so that everyone understands 90% of what I’m saying… and that’s only in BKK and the South, not in Isaan where the tones still screw me up. Admittedly I’m slow in language acquisition but still I had to try from books for a couple years to really ‘get it’.

He didn’t say much about suicide except that a lot of guys OD’ed on drugs in the prison. Were those suicides for the most part? Surely there must be a couple hundred people per year killing themselves in those huge prisons.

The conditions in the prison were appalling, but they didn’t seem that bad really. He didn’t write much about the good things that happened – the positive things that must have happened, as he wanted to focus on the negative… but there had to be a little more than what he mentioned that kept him and others ‘going’ there for so long. He was there twelve years. Man! That’s a lifetime. No, 5 lifetimes when you spend it without freedom.

He tells a lot about the heroin that’s available within the prison. The same thing that he was trying to bring from Thailand to Australia and that he was sentenced to life for – was available at the prisons to buy. Is that nuts?

What was the Thai guard so angry about – the one who moonlighted as a taxi cab driver in BKK when he wasn’t at the prison? I’d like to know more about what he thought about that. I’ve never seen a cruel Thai person. They must exist… but where are they in general society? I’ve not met any. Sure I don’t dick people around as a rule, so maybe I’ve just been lucky.  I’ve met guys that have been in Thai jails and they seem respectful on the outside. Not angry. Not out to get me or anyone. They seem pretty calm. I’ve not been drinking with them… maybe that has something to do with it.

How many foreign prisoners were in the prison? I’d like to know how many from France, Germany, England, the USA, Canada, Mexico, all over… even Laos, Cambodia, China, etc. There was no mention of any guess at the total numbers but some guys where introduced from various countries as the book went on.

Anyway, overall the book was great reading. I think it took me over two hours to read the two-hundred pages. The book was so well worded that pages flew by. It wasn’t crammed full of extra information that makes reading a Tom Clancy book such an intensive effort. The nice size print on white pages helped quite a bit too. I hate grey type on off-color white pages.

It was just really nice reading about a most tragic experience.

Ok, if you want it – let me know I’ll send it out to you. Update – I don’t have it any longer.

Anybody read “Escape” yet? Richard Barrows told me about that one – and even interviewed the guy that wrote it. I’ve not read it yet.

Did you read THE DAMAGE DONE? What’d you think?

The Sky Is Falling! The Sky Is Falling!

Recent immigration changes have some expats screaming over at knob-forum that the sky is falling.

It won’t be that easy for a lot of expats to stay, but probably half the long-term expats or more are married to a Thai or have a child with a Thai national. Visas are not hard to get in that case.

There are even crackdowns on the ED visas. I’m sure they aren’t going away completely, they are just trying to get rid of the bogus schools. If you aren’t with a decent school that actually holds classes – get into one. Not that difficult.

If you’re working for a school and teaching English and they haven’t done the paperwork for the correct visa and work permit – get on them to do so, or change schools. Again, not that difficult. I never understood teachers that accept positions at schools like this. Then again, I haven’t looked much into how few have valid bachelor degrees either.

Anyway, the point of this post is not to tell you how easy it is now to get a valid visa. There are still plenty of people that cannot or will not get one.

The point is, though the sky is falling today, tomorrow may be another day altogether. Changes in immigration policy are flitty like the wind, and though it appears tough today, in a couple weeks or months something will change. It will all definitely change when a new government takes over – in a year? 18 months? Whenever.

So, it might be time for a vacation from LOS. Go see Malaysia, Singapore, or what the hell – the Philippines and see what they have. Stay a few months, a year or so and then return to Thailand for business as usual.

My buddy Lee, from The Philippines just emailed me about the visa situation there being easy for expats…

“Free 21 days when you land here. Before the 21 days are up go to the Philippine Bureau of Immigration. Fill out the paperwork and get your 59 day visa and continue to renew every 59 days and you’re safe here until Thailand wants expats back or bans all non citizens to make ‘The China’ happy.”

So, there’s an option for you (us) when we get desperate. I’ve not been to the Philippines, but there are something like a million Americans alone over there. I just don’t know what I would eat. I’d spend all my income on finding western food I fear.


Australia is Out, Indonesia is In…

Indonesia is probably the best place to move after Thailand. I’m saying that because I’m at my wits end… I just don’t know where in the world to go. I was thinking Australia – but I’m getting mixed reviews from people I know that have lived there and visited, and some expats that are staying there now. A mixed bag means I’ll probably not like it all that much.

Laos is completely out. China – no way. Japan – was never an option, now that tuna is fluorescing because of nuclear fallout – it is even less an option than it ever was. Cambodia – too little infrastructure in place… things I am used to… a feeling of safety for my family – just not there. Malaysia – I just don’t like. New Zealand – too cold. Singapore – too small and structured too much like the USA I absconded from. Hong Kong – too remote, small, expensive, crowded. Ditto that for Taiwan and anything else up that way. Philippines – I just never had the urge to even see it. The fact that a million Americans live there – is off-putting.

Indonesia is all that’s left in my mind.

Anybody living there now that wants to tell me what it’s like? Anybody have a guess as to what it’s like bringing a Thai wife, her mom, and our daughter over there?

Thailand Video of the Week – Cadel Evans Slaps Reporter

This is pretty good stuff, and once again this weeks Thailand video has little, ok – nothing at all, to do with Thailand.

Cadel Evans won the Tour de France this year, if you didn’t know. He’s an Aussie and seemed really likable in all the videos I’ve seen. He must have a thing about people, or maybe just reporters touching him. Watch the whole thing, the first push away is NOT the one I’m talking about… he really gets pissed.

I remember being a paparazzi in New York City for a few years, and I had people say things verbally – but nobody ever got physical about it. I did try to be less the ass than most – and still get the photos.

US Expats Given a Kick in the Ass?

This is a great article about China’s influence on Thailand versus what the USA would like to maintain. The Washington Times sure aren’t proofreading – as there are multiple errors where “spent” turned into “sent”. One of the world’s “great” newspapers right? You’d think they might have a proofreader on staff.

Anyway, here’s the article about Thailand and China buddying up, and the USA getting left in the cold. I think it’s already a foregone conclusion, there is nothing the USA could do to gain Thailand’s favor in face of what China can do – being so close, and with so many native Chinese-Thai citizens in the country.

China – Thailand – USA

As long as China doesn’t start scaring any of the southeast Asian countries with invasions – they’re going to increase their influence with all of them. China has lots of people that need fed. Thailand has a helluva lot of rice.

This is as far as I get on political talk, but the article did get me thinking much more seriously about whether Thailand gives a shit at all about foreign expats from USA, Canada, Australia, UK, Germany, etc. I think they’d rather have Chinese teaching Mandarin in the schools than westerners teaching English. What the hell good is English going to be in 30 years? If Thais spoke Mandarin – jesus, they’d be able to take part in the success of the next great world power – China.

Is that why we’re seeing an increase in hoops to jump through for English teachers to teach in Thailand? It also appears to me that there are less native English teachers in the country than there were 5 years ago.

Is this part of the master plan?

I don’t see things getting any better for western expats in Thailand – just worse.

Nah, Thailand is an Asian country, that needs to look at it’s own place in the world and decide what is good for it. Americans think Thailand owes us something… I don’t think that at all.

As much as I think about this topic – I just can’t come up with another ideal place. I’m going to make that a 30 day goal – come up with another place I can move, with my Thai wife and child – where we’d be just as happy, or nearly as happy if we decided Thailand wasn’t the right place to be any longer.

Anybody see the Thai sunshine shining out our backsides in the foreseeable future?

Anybody have a solid place we can all move to en masse – with greener grass?

Hacker Needed – Russian Preferred, Will Consider Anyone Capable

I need to find someone that can knock out a Tripod site. You know those stupid sites that were started 20 years ago and that are STILL hanging out in the search engine results?

Yeah, one of them.

The thing is not owned by anyone, it’s orphaned. I want it taken down. It’s an eye-sore, and it’s a pain in my ass every time I see it up there.


Thailand Blogs by Expats

There are a few Thailand blogs that I recommend you read, besides this one of course. Here is a short list of my favorites, and where to find them. If you’re not on this list, it means that I haven’t found you yet – or, that I haven’t remembered your blog. I just had a bottle of BeerLao, so I’ll blame that if I forget anyone I should have had on this list.

These are the Thailand blogs I recommend you subscribe to by RSS feed or just stop by often to see:

Joy’s Thai Food – I’m biased, OK? But, I’m not exaggerating when I say that she makes the best Thai food on the planet.

Thailand Musings – Steve and his lovely wife and daughter just moved to Thailand, so I expect he’s ready to do something big.

Paul Garrigan – Paul is an Irishman that I enjoy reading, and also listening to his podcasts when he puts one out.

Women Learning Thai – not just for women, Catherine has some very well done articles packed with information about learning Thai.

Isaan Style – Jason is an Aussie that teaches English in Isaan – Thailand’s northeast. He has probably posted more Thailand related articles than anyone over the last few years.

I-Nomad – always an interesting read.

Bangkok Pundit – for political goings on in Thailand.