7 Things I STILL Don’t Understand About Thailand

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

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. Enter Yours Here – add to comments.

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If you send in yours, I’ll post them below.


From Alex Sanders –  Alex Sanders

Thanks for the article.
Well, here are my major gripes:
#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 Reasons I’m Leaving Thailand

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.

Driving in Surat Thani, Thailand

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.

 

Living in Thailand – Perfect Expat Retirement Destination?

Walking on Beach - Thailand

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?

Probably not.

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?
  • Peru
  • Uruguay
  • Argentina
  • New Zealand
  • Australia
  • 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:

  • Tahiti
  • Fiji
  • Samoa
  • Guam
  • Christmas Islands
  • Puerto Rico

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?

 

 

American Tourist Murdered Outside Bar in Ao Nang, Krabi, Thailand

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.

Rape in Nakhon Si Thammarat, Thailand – Scottish Girl, 20

A chilling story. A young Scottish tourist / teacher raped in Nakhon si Thammarat by four men in a pickup truck that took her to a room.

FULL STORY ->

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.

When Is It Time to Leave Thailand? Yesterday…

I’ve been here 8 years now. Little things are starting to drive me postal.

You know how they say when you marry someone that it’s the little shit that will get you in the end? Yeah, it’s just exactly that… but I’m not talking about my lovely wife – I can deal with all our differences, and still love her to death. I cannot give other Thais the break though. I cannot accept after 8 years that people are being so continuously disrespectful to me and to others. I see it daily. It’s wrecking my mood every time I get in a car to go out. It’s wrecking my mood every time I go to the post office and some assmonkey jumps in front of me. It is wrecking my mood to think that my daughter is going to grow up in one of the most ugly places – socially – on the planet.

I’m uploading a 10 minute video that I’m sure I’ll not make public, but I just needed to get off my chest today. Thais can’t drive for fuck, and I’m probably living in the worst area of the country for this… in Bangkok – people drive better than here. More respectful. Less dangerously.

I saw a motorbike get squeezed between a parked car and some ass in a car that just wasn’t paying attention. Saw the woman get thrown WAY over her handlebars and into the street where she was promptly run over by the same fucking car. I saw this in my side mirror. I passed the woman myself first – she wasn’t driving crazily on the motorbike, slow and carefully. I thought – fuck me – that could have been my wife, who is VERY careful when driving. It’s the idiot drivers that have never had a car in their lives, their parents never had one, and they think they’re driving a tractor around the pineapple plantation or something. I don’t know what excuse there could possibly be for the atrocious level of driving here in this city. It’s beyond all conjecture. I can’t even come up with any reason that would make sense. Maybe one of you know?

When I first arrived in Thailand’s northeast, I had the misfortune to meet a 60 year old American expat that I am 99% sure was molesting kids. Before I’d come to that conclusion we had a lunch together and he told me that within 7 years, I’d be nearly or as jaded as he was about living in Thailand. I said, nah, I can see it for all that it is. I have a masters in psychology – that counts for something, I thought. So did he though, a fact I repressed at the time.

So, it has taken me 8 years. I wish he wasn’t right, but it has definitely happened for me. It’s time for a change. A big change. It is time to get the fuck out of Dodge, or, change the entire country. Which might be easier? I ask myself daily.

I don’t want to be one of those expats that hangs on for a couple years, bitching about life in Thailand – and continuing to live here. When I first arrived I avoided those expats like they had the HIV. I could definitely see me getting very outspoken about the way Thailand functions in the next couple of months, or even up to a year if we stay that long. I could definitely see me putting out heaps of videos about the negative things going on in the country that will eventually turn your stomach too if you live here for long.

I could definitely see me writing a joke book about the country, oh wait, I already did. I could see me finally publishing it after sitting on it for 6 years.

I could see me being turned away at the border for having thoroughly torqued off everyone who is anyone in the country.

I could see all that happening, or nothing at all as I just try to stay under the wire and get the hell out cleanly without burning any bridges.

Not sure which it will be…

Anybody loving Thailand with all your heart? Maybe we need some point-counterpoint type response?

Nobody – huh?

OK, then chime in and lets beat this to death… either way, I’m OK with it…

 

What Thailand Doesn’t Have, That I Wish For…

This is what Thailand doesn't have - waves.Over nearly 8 years I’ve had a helluva time in The Land of Smiles. Great, amazing times… The contrast with living life in the USA is remarkable, and favorable in most ways. Though Thailand has a LOT – there are still some things I wish we had here…

1. Waves. I haven’t gone this long without riding big waves – or any waves – ever.

2. Good Pizza. Though there are numerous Italian-owned pizza places in big cities across Thailand, they seem to all be working with Thai cheese, or maybe cheese from Belgium or somewhere. It doesn’t taste like New York Pizza made by Italians… New Yorkians like to say it’s the water – who knows? I just know that I haven’t had an amazing pizza for a very long time.

3. Shore Fishing. Redfish, trout, flounder, snook, cobia, jack crevalle, ulua, sheepshead… there isn’t anything like this in Thailand’s shallow water. I’ve replaced fishing with snake hunting, but it isn’t quite the same.

4. Live Music. Whether jazz in the park in St. Petersburg, a good Irish Band in Ybor City, Tampa, or Hawaiian music at a Waikiki beach bar – I miss it. I haven’t even heard anything marginally acceptable in Thailand. Have you?

5. Decent Healthcare Nationwide. If you need emergency services and you are in a place like Sisaket, Thailand – good luck to you. You have to go with what is there. There is a city hospital and a private hospital – a lot of private clinics. Guess what? You’re probably not going to be satisfied with them. It would be great to have a decent hospital within 100km of wherever we are.

6. 3G Mobile Internet. Come on now… Laos is going to get 3G and 4G before Thailand. It’s to the point of being scandalous.

7. Size 11+ Shoes. It is always difficult to find shoes that fit in this country outside of Bangkok or Pattaya.

8. A Better Justice System. When our home was broken into and things stolen there were fingerprints all over the house – there were prints all over the glass slats on the outside of our window he broke through. There must have been prints everywhere… in the USA someone would process the crime scene… here? You might as well just “mai pen rai” it, and get on with your life. We had to insist they pull fingerprints off the windows. We had to insist the police talk to neighbors that might have seen something. It’s like Laurel and Hardy over here. No wait, I’d prefer them to what we have in Thailand.

9. Jobs. Though I wouldn’t get one, it would be great for expats that are having trouble surviving on a teacher’s salary – to be able to easily work and stay in the country. There are so few jobs open to foreigners.

10. Shopping Variety. If you don’t live in Pattaya, Bangkok, Chiang Mai, or on Phuket,  – your shopping experience is limited to: Big C, Tesco, Makro, Robinson, and Carre 4. Besides that, everyone carries the same stuff. There is a real lack of variety in most areas of Thailand. The mail system is so expensive to have items sent internationally – and with things like electronics there is a huge tax – it just doesn’t make sense to use mail-order as a substitute.

11. Better Post Service. Family has sent me some packages from the USA – some get here, some don’t. I’ve sent packages from Thailand… some arrive, some don’t. If you are sending within Thailand – send EMS or you have a chance of losing whatever it is. I can’t remember EVER losing a package sent through the mail in America – no matter how it was sent. It just doesn’t happen.

That’s what I came up with in a few minutes – anybody else have something to add?

Australian Travel Agent – a 60 Year Old Woman Stabbed in Heart in Bag Snatch – Phuket

A very unfortunate incident just happened in Phuket… a 60 year old travel agent from Australia was with a group of 9 others, on a tour… and had thugs try to snatch her bag. One stabbed her in the heart and she died.

Full story:

Australian travel agent stabbed to death in Thailand

2 Canadian Sisters Die in Phi Phi Palms Residence, Krabi, Thailand Hotel

I rarely post any more here, but just wanted to get this up so more people will be aware of it.

Two sisters, Noemi Belanger, 26 and Audrey Belanger, 20, just died in their hotel room at Phi Phi Palms Residence on the island of Phi Phi in Krabi province, Thailand this week. An autopsy for both girls is planned – of course, hopefully done in Canada.

Bangkok Post Article ->

There have been a number of people dying in hotel rooms on Phi Phi island in Krabi over the past couple years. Whether it is bed-bug pesticide, or someone spiking their drinks with GHB or something else – is unknown. The last 3 people to die there before these sisters – cause of death – inconclusive.

Here are some of the possibilities – this isn’t an exhaustive list, but a start…

1. Someone is spiking tourists’ drinks at nightlife venues. They use too much drug / poison. Some die, some just are knocked unconscious and figure it was a bad night of drinking. Maybe some are raped. Maybe some are robbed.
2. Too much pesticide being used to control bed-bugs or other pests. Many believe this to be the case with deaths in a Chiang Mai hotel not long ago.
3. Cleaning agents or some other toxic chemicals being used in close proximity to the rooms – or in the rooms of tourists.
4. Carbon Monoxide poisoning.
5. A bug in the air conditioning system. Remember Legionairres Disease?
6. Unintentional drug overdose.
7. Blowfish – Pufferfish poisoning. The symptoms cause paralysis of muscles, throwing up… and can kill you within 24 hours. Eventually death is caused by the diaphragm muscle refusing to move, causing asphyxiation.
8. Suicide.
9. A serial killer is targeting women on Phi Phi.

There are so many possibilities – but most of them would be found during an autopsy. Hantavirus and a hundred other killer viruses could be culprit. Those work fast and are devastating on the body. These two Canadian girls were found to have bled from the gums. Viper snakes have bites that cause bleeding of the gums, eye sockets, ears, any orifice… but don’t cause throwing up or rash that I know of. Both of the victims in this case had rash and there was evidence of vomiting having taken place in the room.

I can’t think of another animal in Thailand that might cause those symptoms. The pufferfish is a good possibility, though with slightly different symptoms, and I don’t think gums bleed.

Any other possibilities you can come up with that might make sense?