Living in Thailand takes a special kind of person. If you’re open to trying it I encourage you to book a ticket and plan on staying in Thailand for a year to see if you can get along with Thai ways. Some stay a long time!
I was offered a free $30 coupon from a company in Bangkok, Thailand called GoGoPrint. I quickly ordered some ThailandSnakes.com stickers and the ordering process was really quite smooth. They have an automatic ordering process that was easy to follow.
They offer all sorts of printing. I just got 100 round stickers of black design on white background. They look good – and came to our house in quickly – much faster than expected.
This is a 6 Million Thai Baht house. Is it really worth $171,000 USD? Let me know what you think.
I’ve been meaning to do this video for so long now, for years really. Finally I got a fire under my butt, and shot the video yesterday. Took a full day to upload it.
If you’re thinking about buying a house in Thailand, you should see this video. It isn’t going to represent EVERY house in the country, of course, but, I’ve been here for 12 years and I’ve seen many homes – dozens – and they’re all built like this. Every one. I haven’t seen million dollar houses yet, but just at this price level – around 6 million Thai Baht – this is what you can expect.
We rent. Let me make that perfectly clear. There isn’t a snowball’s chance in hell we’d ever buy a home here. I honestly think, after a little internet study, I could BUILD a home better than any I’ve ever seen here.
Ok, I haven’t seen it all, but we must have lived in about 20 homes in Thailand over the last 12 years.
I’d estimate the quality of home building in the country to be around 20% of what it is in America.
I was a real estate agent with Century 21 in Tampa for a short while. During that time I also got certified as a Home Inspector. I’ve seen lots of houses. I’ve inspected many houses in the US. So, I know a little bit about what goes into a decent home construction.
If I could say ONE good thing about Thai home construction (and that’s literally ALL I could say), it’s that they sure know how to put tile floors in.
That’s it. I haven’t seen anything else impressive in 12 yrs. Sure, we haven’t lived in million dollar homes. I’m not comparing that level of construction. But, if I were, I suspect that the same issues would apply with our $200,000 USD home here in Thailand.
Where should I start?
Water leakage. There isn’t a roof in the COUNTRY that repels water 100%. I just haven’t seen it. Sure there’s wind here. Sure there’s heavy rains. Still, come on. Roofs here are like my 30 THB plastic raincoat that leaks water from four places. We have had leaks in every house we rented. If you have a home here, your roof leaks too. I just couldn’t imagine it being any other way. It’s the norm here, and Thais don’t even get too upset about it. In fact, we told our landlord about a year ago that her roof leaked. She came, had a look, judged it to be no big deal, and we haven’t had the maintenance guys here yet. We literally had water dripping out of our recessed light over the kitchen sink. Water dripped straight OUT OF IT, and it wasn’t a big enough problem to fix right away. Just gives you some idea.
Electricity… Every single light switch in this house, and our last twenty, had issues eventually. This house was brand new when we moved in. The switches worked for a while. Now, after just 18 months, they are deteriorating quickly. What happens, at least in some of them, because I saw an electrician clean some out at one of our old places, is that termites get in and chew through the concrete, dropping tiny bits into the electronic switches, and this fouls them up. It’s like someone dropping sand into your engine… eventually it seizes up, right? Same with light switches. Within a couple of years, most won’t work and they all need cleaning or replacing. Why they haven’t made termite proof switch receptacles, I can’t guess.
Light Bulbs Dying. Constantly. We have 32 recessed light bulbs in our ceiling downstairs and 12 outside. A quick check shows just 28 out of 44 lights working. There is no way in the world these lights have seen 10,000 hours of use, so I suspect something wrong with the electrical grid or the wiring here, or something. Is it possible that power fluctuations would pop lights? I think so. So far, my computer has been OK. Probably something to do with that bulbous rectangular doo-dad on the cord that plugs into the wall. Need to ask my electrician buddy Wayne that one. Noted.
Slippery Tiles. Not really a construction issue, but jesus god, when wet, the tiles on any part of your floor will send your feet sliding out from under you and a cracked-tailbone is waiting for you. I used to slip regularly, but now I just walk in my house like I’m on ice-skates, never knowing when exactly I’m going to hit a wet or even damp part of tile that sends me on my ass. To my credit, it has probably been a couple months since I had a good slip. Do be careful.
Structural Integrity? I have no idea. Everything is concrete, so it isn’t likely that could all be dorked up – could it? I haven’t had a house fall in on us yet. I have seen big cracks in concrete on the second floor of our last place, which didn’t seem to grow at all during our two year stay, so I think that’s typical of concrete construction.
Finishing. There isn’t any. It’s just as if kids had a go at it. Really. From far away, it looks OK. If you get close, you’ll be horrified. I’ve seen paint, varnish, putty, silicone gel, concrete, grouting, and everything else (is there anything else?) left sloppily on floors and walls, furniture, windows, etc. It’s an absolute horrorshow.
Anybody have any success stories?
Did I just choose twenty places to live which all sucked, by accident?
After 12 years, I’ve pretty well got this place dialed. But I still have some problems that I just cannot get over. Here are some of them.
PROBLEMS I HAVE IN THAILAND
Tailgaters. It is probably never going to change, but I keep hoping. I really don’t like driving the car, the motorbike is so much easier in many respects.
Waitresses that don’t listen. If you go tot he same restaurant over and over, and get the same thing most of the time, the waitress will see you and know what you want before you open your mouth. She won’t listen to your order, she’ll just give you what you’ve always ordered before.
Buses Keep Flipping Over. Overnight buses, white vans, and taxis all drive too fast to be safe for conditions. Some make no adjustment when it’s raining. So, we have buses crashing all the time – flipping. Burning. You couldn’t pay me to take an overnight bus in this country.
Wildlife Exploitation. Thais just don’t seem concerned about this on any level. It takes foreigners moving here to accomplish anything. Edwin Wiek is really doing an incredible job for elephants, slow loris, bears, gibbons, tigers, and many other species who have gone neglected for decades.
Bad Coffee. Come on man… Starbucks should be Starbucks and taste exactly the same wherever I order a Grande Latte with two extra shots. Starbucks is the only coffee I can stand, so when it’s bad, it is a very bad day indeed.
Random Restaurant – Store Hours. Small restaurants, which is what we eat at most often, are closed on a whim. It can be a Monday one week, and Thursday the next. Friday? Yep. Any day I want to eat at a particular restaurant, it can be closed. I used to try to remember which restaurants closed on which day. The days change all the time! Stores are the same, but for the most part the convenience stores owned by a family, are open all the time because they must not be making much money at all.
Why Is the Beer So Bad? I have yet to find a beer I like in the country. Beerlao is damn good if you can get it within a month or two of bottling, and without having sat in the blazing sun on an airconditionless truck.
Enter Yours Here – add to comments.
Oops, no comments. Not sure where they went. Disappeared with one of my WordPress plugins.
#1 Dual pricing (i know, falangs must pay more, but, come on, still a bitter aftertaste, i’m not feeling that at all);
#2 Still don’t know what’s better: saving your/other ppl’s face or telling the truth (i always speak my mind, but the face dilemma kills me all the time);
#3 Safety standards suck big time (everywhere in the country; for instance, elec. cables + running water.. etc… yeah, the buses, bikes… you name it…);
#4 Driving in Thailand, yes, unbelievable (red lights shouldn’t be confined to the red light districts only, better see more working red traffic lights and drivers playing by the rules rather than those sleazy areas;
#5 Sewers jammed with trash and garbage hence flooding in towns (get it fixed already);
#6 Lots of yaba/cocaine/marijuana dealers in the evening time and onward asking you if you need ‘one’;
#7 Good old scams for any taste and budget (this one i do understand, though… but, come on, do something already)…
Provided that i have more time to think about it, i could go a bit deeper and come up with more of what I’m just not feeling, if you want me to :)
Granted, there’s way more of what i do like about Thailand, so hopefully that ‘good part’ outweighs the bad one.
10. Water Issues – we have water only certain days of the week and times of the day. Nobody knows the schedule.
9. Electricity Issues – my UPS (battery) for the desktop computer fried, probably because of fluctuations in the electricity lines that it’s supposed to prevent from hitting my computer. It was 2,500 THB. I don’t want to buy another. So, I’ve been having electrical outages hit all the time now – and it’s gradually farking my operating system as it loses files when shut down. I’ve switched to using the notebook for most computing tasks but every time I turn on the desktop – ZAP! Power out. Files gone. Fun gone.
8. Internet Connection – Unless you’re living in Bangkok and you have 3G – which I’m not sure is more stable there, but I think so – then you are likely on the ADSL cable modems. Internet connections go out when the wind blows and when it rains. Not so nice.
7. Education – not sure I want to raise my daughter here, even in private school. Do you?
6. Out of the Business Loop – I feel like I’m living on another planet than back in the US. It’s very difficult to meet people interested in internet business type things here. I haven’t been to tech trade-shows or conferences in six years now. I feel like I’m missing a lot of the cutting edge stuff – and meeting people involved in cutting edge stuff.
5. Lack of Good Western Food – because I don’t live in Bangkok I don’t get to pay outrageous prices for decent western food. I live with what I’ve got which doesn’t amount to much. The best western food i’ve had here is when my wife cooks tacos, ground beef, and we get jalapenos, cheddar, and taco shells from Makro. I’m dying for a decent pizza, lasagne, Italian bread, sandwich, and grouper sandwich.
4. Need $. I need to make a couple thousand more per month to be happy now that I have a child. That’s easy to do in the states. Given a choice, I don’t want to teach. So, I’ll be hitting the online stuff really hard over the next few months to see what difference I can make.
3. Dengue Fever is Everywhere! There are a lot of diseases to watch out for in Thailand. I’ve had Chikungunra and it’s no picnic. I am STILL feeling the effects of it months later. In the US I know what to look out for… Flu. That’s about it.
2. Bicycling + Dogs = Bad Mix. I love cycling, but my mileage has dropped off the map since moving to Thailand. There are dogs to deal with on any country roads ride, and many in-city rides. Sure I carry a stick, but I’ve faced multiple dogs attacking from different directions. I need 3 sticks.
1. Miss Family. – I realized I haven’t seen my brother and sister’s kids grow up at all. I’m starting to miss being around them. They’re a cool bunch.
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.
There have been some changes with immigration recently and a whole lot of expats living in Thailand on Tourist Visas are screaming about it. Nobody ever thought it would happen, but Thailand is getting tough on back to back visa runs. I don’t expect it to last long at all, certainly not a year, but still it is causing heaps of grief for all sorts of people. Oh, and overstay? Wow, overstay without the proper visa and you’re going to be blacklisted from Thailand for some amount of time… years. It probably is best to clear up those overstays as fast as possible. I think there still might be time if you head over to the airport and book a flight out, then book one right back in. I could be wrong. It may already be too late.
Is Thailand the perfect expat destination for retirement or long-term living?
I don’t know anymore. I guess I never really accepted that it was ideal in any way. There are good points and bad points about living in the country. As an expat that has lived here for 10 years, I’m starting to feel like, to believe that, it just isn’t ideal for me and my situation. If I was a single guy it would be a whole lot better. I’ve been with the same girl for ten years now, I just don’t need to have girls available to me everywhere I go. I shave my head monthly so I don’t have to deal with girls much. Apparently I am not attractive at all without hair. That works for me. If you’re married, you might do the same. Who needs the aggravation?
Driving around the country flat-out sucks. The danger, I’m talking about. Driving and being driven in the country is the most dangerous activity you can do. It isn’t your wife or girlfriend or her spouse that will kill you, it’s driving to 7-11. I’m surprised I don’t have nightmares about it. Here in our small town we’ve had deaths every day for the past 3 days – 3 people the first day on the highway in front of Makro, one young girl the second day in town, and a guy on a motorbike yesterday – also in front of Makro. Roads are wide enough here. People are really unstressed. I don’t know what the problem is, but some people drive like 1. There’s no fucking tomorrow. 2. Like they never knew how to drive in the first place.
I think mostly it’s the latter.
Thailand has been, in the past, a relaxing and rather care-free sort of environment for most expats living outside the craziness of Pattaya, Bangkok, and Phuket.
To some degree, it still is. There are things coming up… unavoidable events, that will change the face of the country dramatically I believe. In the states they have a saying, “When shit hits the fan.” (SHTF) Well it will hit the fan in a short time in Thailand. It’s just a matter of time ticking away on the clock. Some of you will know what I’m referring to because I don’t want to flat-out say it. People are going to jail for mentioning the subject, and saying the wrong thing. I am not sure I will say the right thing, so I’ll just allude to the big change that will take place in the next few years, months, or days. Hell, some say it has already occurred. What do I know though?
Is Thailand’s military strong enough to keep the calm in the country once this event occurs? I don’t know.
Do we want to be here for it when it happens?
We’ll be getting our stuff in order so we can get out for a year, couple years, whatever is necessary.
People always ask me if I’m going to buy a house in the country. Not on your life. Nothing is that stable here. Thailand could turn upside down in a month. Own property I couldn’t sell? Nope, not interested. Own property in which the laws change and people that used to own property don’t any longer? Nope, not me.
I think there are other options for retirement, even having a Thai wife and our child, there are other places we could go that would be acceptable. Thailand isn’t looking as sweet as it once did, and as time goes on it looks less and less desirable to continue to stay. It is comfortable, but it feels like we’re comfortable in our ignorance of what is on the horizon. I think there are some horrible times coming up – especially in Bangkok. In the outer areas, they could also revert to fighting and madness, but it will probably be focused around Bangkok as usual.
As an expat you need to go to Bangkok sometimes. Flights, shopping, embassy visits, etc. That’s all a giant pain in the ass when there is fighting in the capital. Imagine if there was flooding at the same time!
Where are some alternatives to living in Thailand?
Malaysia – if you’re making good money, have pension, or have needed job skills
Cambodia – if you’re single and don’t mind it
Laos – if you can stand it
Mexico – dangerous?
Singapore – super crowded.
Hong Kong – ditto above
Taiwan – ditto that
There are many places that might work well for a retirement destination. Personally, I think if you can swing it, Australia is one of the best alternatives. New Zealand too – if you like the cold.
Lately I’ve been wondering about some other possibilities… more exotic locales:
Anybody reading this ever lived in one of these locations? Did you like it? Could you email me so I can ask you some questions?
Have any other ideas for alternatives when living in Thailand becomes unbearable?
Not what I wanted to read yesterday, the headline was shocking. I only know a couple of Americans in Krabi, but there was a chance I knew this one.
Bobby Carter, 51, was stabbed with either a metal rod, or a knife, depending on what news story you read. His son Adam, 27, was also stabbed and is recovering at Bangkok Hospital in Phuket, Thailand.
I won’t cover the details of the incident, because really, who in the hell knows what happened? It isn’t like we’re going to get an unbiased story from anyone. I do want to comment a bit about whether Thailand i a dangerous place or not. That’s the big question tourists have on their minds as they’re considering a visit.
Here are some things to chew on:
1. Getting drunk in a bar in Thailand greatly increases your chances of getting fucked, or fucked over.
2. Getting drunk in a bar with your friends is not as dangerous as getting drunk in a bar with Thai strangers, still, you’re much more likely to get into an altercation with someone because you or someone in your group is acting the ass.
3. If you’re a female, or a male, do not walk alone or with your partner on a beach at night unless there are large numbers of people around. Do not ever walk on an empty beach at night.
4. Driving a motorbike, car, in a tuk-tuk, in a songthaew, taxi, or on a boat is dangerous. At night it can be very dangerous. Women, alone or in a group, should take great care to ensure that the night out won’t end with a ride back to the hotel from a stranger, or a walk on near desolate streets.
In nine years of full-time living in the land of smiles I’ve never been knifed. I’ve not had a gun pulled on me, or seen someone experience it. I have seen a couple of people sliced wide open with broken bottles, both of them dying in the street. I have seen foreigners and Thais kicked in the head by a group of Thais until they are unconscious. I’ve then seen, in one instance, two guys take turns bouncing large beer bottles off the face of the unconscious victim.
Thais + Alcohol + Foreigners = Possible trouble. Remove any of the factors in the equation and it can be innocuous enough. Do keep in mind that Thailand is not only dangerous because of degenerate Thais, but, there are thousands upon thousands of idiots from all over the globe that come here to cause trouble. Foreigners are every bit as dangerous as Thais.
So, the recent incident of the tourist father and son that were stabbed is something that plays out in every country. It is not unique to Thailand. I’d go so far as to say that with the number of visitors to this country that lose self-control with alcohol involved or not, there are far less murders than there could be. Most Thais have remarkable self-restraint.
You should take some time to learn about the concept of “Thai face” from some of the expats that have spent a dozen years or so here. Google it.
Here is a video I did on the subject, “Is Thailand Safe?“ If you have any comments on it – leave them there on the video. I read them all. Cheers.
Troy Lee Pilkington, a 51 year old California native living in Bangkok and working for Caterpillar corporation in their customer service department was slaughtered today on Sukhumvit Road in Bangkok, Thailand over what looks to be a 15 THB taxi fare. In US Dollars, that is about 50 cents. Half of one dollar. In Thailand I frequently buy my daughter a popsicle for 15 THB.
Here’s what I read happened. This is from the online news reports at ThaiVisa.com and links out to other information sources. If you were there or heard conflicting information, let me know what you heard.
Troy was in a Thai cab driver’s cab. The fare seemed to jump from 35 THB to 50 THB, too quickly for Mr. Pilkington to believe the meter was above board. Another scenario is that the fare was 81 THB and the cabbie tried to add another 50 THB on to that, and Mr. Pilkington refused. He told the cabbie to drop him off right there. He and the cabby had a verbal fight about it, and at one point Mr. Pilkington may have thrown water from a waterbottle at the cab driver, or thrown the water bottle itself.
Mr. Pilkington exited the cab at a red light without paying the fare and walked away.
The cab driver chased him with a samurai sword and attacked him from behind. They fought for a very short time and Mr. Pilkington died from his injuries (stabbed).
Thai police say they have the cab driver in custody.
The reason I wanted to write about this today, having not written shit-else here for a long time, is that I just want to remind visitors and expats living in Thailand that Thais explode at a moment’s notice about some things. One of those things is…
Do not for any reason attempt to take justice into your own hands and stiff a Thai person over any amount of money, even fifteen fucking baht. It’s outrageous that two adult men could have such fury over 50 cents USD. I can’t comprehend it. I have been at the other end of what I sensed was a scam before – involving paying for a Thais drink at a bar that I never ordered for him. It was 150 THB. Five dollars USD. I swallowed my pride (sense of being fucked over), paid it and walked away, remembering to never drink or spit near that bar again.
Mr. Pilkington was American. I am too. In the states we have this idea that we are going to set shit straight no matter the cost. What’s right is right, and all else can get lost until we make it right. Was Troy about to get scammed out of fifteen baht? Probably. The meter moves slowly on a cab, it would be easy to see it jump too fast. Especially since Troy was an expat living in Bangkok, he had a good idea how fast the meters go in taxis.
But, it was fifteen baht.
I have seen a number of expats get upset when they were about to be scammed, or when they thought they were. Expats get enraged over a 20 THB fare on a songthaew in my city, versus 15 THB for Thais. Is it fair that we pay more? Doesn’t seem to be. Is 5 THB worth getting yourself worked up over? HELL NO it isn’t.
Though I am horrified at what happened to Mr. Pilkington, I understand that in Thailand, that shit doesn’t fly. Doesn’t fly for 15 THB, and it sure as hell doesn’t fly for a couple of thousand baht. What you are to do in a situation where you’re about to get screwed over, is pay what the Thai(s) say is owed, and then bring the tourist police back to the place and try to get some justice over it later if you care that much.
I’m trying to guess how many baht I’d have to be scammed for before I decided to scream at a Thai and throw water in his face, or hit him in the head. I can’t even conceive of that happening. Not for 100,000 THB, and not for a million. Pay it and live another day.
Sure it sucks. There are many things in Thailand that are not fair. Americans, and the rest of us, have to get over it. You gave up fairness when you arrived at the airport. Just assume that NOTHING is fair here, and go on living day to day as best you can. The key is to go on living.
Many Thais don’t seem to give a fuck about life. Not their own, not yours. If you don’t give one either, then keep trying to set shit straight – and see where it gets you. This is one area that you will be a sure loser. Pursuing perceived wrongs is almost never worth it here in Thailand. Learn your lesson, share it with all the expats you know so they aren’t duped too -and move on.
Rest in peace Troy Pilkington. You weren’t the first. You won’t be the last to die in a fight over something ludicrous like 15 THB.
We’re not in America anymore. We’re not in the UK or Australia. Thais play by an entirely different (and fucked, in my opinion) set of rules, but there’s nothing we’re going to do about that.
Don’t scream in a Thais face about any amount of money. Not about jealousy. Not about anything. Either get over it, or set the record straight in public or behind the scenes.
Nakhon is one of the harder places in Thailand. Apparently there are heaps of badass Thais in the city. When you visit, you’ll never likely see them. I never have, but it seems like a disproportionate number of crimes in the south are committed by guys from Nakhon. Could be my imagination.
What a horrible experience for this girl to have gone through.