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.

Living in Thailand

Many visitors that stay for a week or so start asking themselves about whether or not they could live in Thailand.

Can you handle living in Thailand? For a year or a lifetime??

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. Recently in 2014 there has been another major immigration overhaul and the tourist visa appears to have lost its life. Personally I already 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. 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 plain-clothed police officers showing up in your hotel room accusing you of things… Or any sort of scam. Ideally you can make money as you travel. If you’re a digital nomad, or have considered learning a skill to become one, here’s some information about it.

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 six 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 8 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. Update: I started buying Suzuki espresso ground coffee at Makro and I found a very expensive coffee press for sale at Starbucks. I now have excellent coffee daily.

 

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?

 

 

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?

Thailand’s Tourists CLUELESS About Thai Culture

Here’s what I routinely see in Thailand… regarding tourists acting ignorantly about Thai culture

Watch the video above. This guy is stripped down to his sweaty underwear at a Buddhist temple – in front of Thai kids. If I was a Thai person, I’d have pushed this putz over the railing. Buddhists are generally non-violent, and, while it’s not my place to police the temples either – I had to shoot this video and get it out there.

Frequently tourist women climb the steps up this hill in their bikinis with just a t-shirt over them. Sometimes they wear their bikini tops! Many guys remove their shirts for the climb.

I have yet to see someone give a donation at the temple I’ve been going to for more than 5 years. There are donation boxes everywhere. There are some really amazing things to see at the temple – and thousands of photos are taken each day by tourists – and yet, nobody gives a damn to give 10 THB. Really, it’s quite unbelievable. The tourists that arrive at the Buddhist temples are there to take – and only to take. They give nothing.

I have seen dozens of people over the years walking with shoes on at the top of the mountain shrine. Can they not read the simple English and Thai sign that says – remove shoes? They’re just too lazy to do it. They see piles of shoes there on the steps, must be for someone else they think.

Thailand’s Buddhist temple visitors from outside the country don’t understand much – if anything, about Thai culture. Even in our town you routinely can see tourist guys riding their motorbikes around town with their shirts off. It never dawns on them that not one Thai person they’ll see that day – does the same. It’s not a wakeup call because they’re just not looking for the right thing to do. They just don’t care. They’re takers, and not givers.

Thai people, by nature are givers. If you haven’t experienced the amazing hospitality of Thais welcoming a visitor – complete strangers even – then I suggest you travel to Isaan and see it first-hand.

Don’t come to Thailand with your hand out. Don’t come with your brain shut-off. Research the culture and what not to do before you arrive. There’s a reason so many expats get their head kicked in… they raise their voices and get verbally aggressive with Thais. Other Thais standing around – won’t go for that, and put you in your place. Don’t get put in intensive care because you’re adamant about getting your 99 THB back for a CDROM that doesn’t work, that some streetside vendor sold to you. Post it online… tell other expats about it… and forget your 99 THB. It’s not worth a good ass-kicking. Is it?

Is Peru the BEST Thailand Alternative? Video Shows Americans on Rafts.

My pal Steve is telling me that South America (at first I thought he was talking Texas) – is the best alternative to living in Thailand if it all goes topsy turvy here in the next few years (months?).

No, he’s talking about Peru, Chile, and other places like that.

Yeah, I know. The first thing I think of when I think of Americans running off to Spanish-speaking countries is kidnapping.

I have this idea that anywhere they speak Spanish – is unsafe for Americans. I don’t know where I got this idea, it’s just implanted in my subconscious and I’ve not been able to rid myself of it yet. I think about Mexicans coming across the borders of the southern USA, either illegal immigrants, or running drugs. I lived in Florida for 11+ years. There are Cubans, Ricans, Dominicans, and the rest of ’em – all up to no good. LOL. I’m being facetious here… but, still, I have this idea in my head that it just isn’t safe to bring my whole family to someplace like Peru, to live out our fairy tale lives.

On the other hand, I am well-prepared to go to a Spanish speaking country and begin picking up the language. I had 3 years of Spanish in High School. Two years in College. Eleven years of hearing it in Florida. When I first arrived in Thailand – I spoke to the Thais in Spanish, it was just natural. I don’t know why it came out that way, it was ridiculous – but it came out all the time. When I try to speak Spanish now after years in Thailand – it comes out Thai.

I Google Mapped Peru and was ecstatic to see – they have universities there. Nice. That’s a sign of something good. Then I Youtubed it and found this awesome video to show that Americans are doing anything they can to get into Peru. Apparently there is a huge influx of Americans overwhelming Peru – and they interview locals that are not taking kindly to the gringos arriving illegally on rafts. The Americans are happy as pigs in slop as they hit the shore though… you gotta see this video.

Is Living in Malaysia an Alternative to Thailand?

I had to go to Malaysia for a visa run – Kuala Lumpur, to be exact. I was interested in going since I’d not been yet, and I heard they had better prices than Thailand for electronics. Here is what I liked and didn’t like about KL, Malaysia.

What I Liked about Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia:

  • more people spoke English than in Thailand
  • Indian / Paki food everywhere you turn
  • walking around the streets, the sidewalks, crossing roads – seems much safer in Kuala Lumpur than Bangkok or anywhere in Thailand
  • prices were cheaper for Nikons – and they even had the as yet to be released underwater Nikon AW100 I’ve been frothing at the mouth over
  • I met some amazing people that were great conversationalists…. in English
  • wasn’t as hard to find my way around as I thought it might be

 

What I didn’t Like about Kuala Lumpur:

  • though more people spoke English – there’s still a LOT that didn’t at all
  • Indian / Paki people everywhere you turn. Out of all the people of the world that I’ve met – these guys rub me the wrong way – often.
  • most restaurants – the ones I found anyway, didn’t serve alcohol – nor did most stores except 7-11
  • the sidewalks had many uneven spots and strange pieces of metal sticking up to catch your foot – just like Thailand
  • though Nikon prices were cheaper, my “Visa” and “MC” debit cards from Siam Commercial bank were virtually worthless
  • it’s an entirely new language to get over
  • hotels are more expensive – for less value
  • some sections ONLY had Indian / Paki food, that’s it – nothing else for an alternative (I ate a lot of Indian food in 3 days due to the location of my hotel.)
  • local Malay food doesn’t compare to Thai food
  • picking up Western Union money takes an act of god – Mohammed – whoever is on duty – it’s a nightmare compared to doing it in Thailand
  • locals told me the corruption in Malaysia makes Thailand look like it’s well-run
  • the same caveman-like business mentality exists in Malaysia as it does in Thailand (see below for more on this…)
  • the coffee sucked just like in Thailand – I tried Dunkin Donuts, Starbucks and some other place in the KLCC – the shopping place at the giant twin towers

 

Will we be moving to Malaysia anytime soon?

No, I just crossed if off the list during and after this trip. Though there were some positives, there were too many negatives and I just couldn’t see it as a place that I could spend any length of time. Maybe in the smaller areas – possible. However, all I’ve been to is Penang, and Kota Baru… neither of which were appealing either. Another thing… having great food – is necessary. I don’t want to go searching for great food – I just want to walk out the door – and it’s there in my face. Malay food is OK, and I could live on it if I had to, but I’m not really a fan.

One thing that irked me, because I was hoping it would be different from Thailand was how things are run in a business… One thing that got me… I walked into a hotel, there was a gay kid with a bright pink blazer on flirting with me as I tried to book into the hotel. He worked there, and was booking me in. They had 2 rooms – one 7 feet by 7 feet + a restroom – for 75 RM (about 750 THB). It was ridiculous… and so I took the other room – about 5 times that size for 1,250 THB – which was still 500 too much, but whatever, I was only staying a couple days.

They showed me room 214. I said I’ll take it. He puts me in 414. There was maintenance going on on 4th floor and the smell of glue permeated everything, but I didn’t notice until well after I’d destroyed the room with a shower and returned from dinner. Before I get in the door to 414 I tried the lock. It’s like a camera battery – round – on the end of a plastic keyholder type deal. It doesn’t work. I try 8 times. Doesn’t work. I go down the lift to the front desk. I tell him. He puts the battery thing on a charger and takes it off – says – it’s charged. WTF?

I go back up – it doesn’t work. I try many times. I go back down and tell him – fix it. He sends a maintenance guy up with me who uses his card to get me in my room, and takes my other card. I get in the room – the sheets are dirty – I’ve got Mohammed’s pubic hair on my sheets and there are dark stains on the white sheets. I call the front desk – can you send someone up to change the sheets – they’re dirty.

“Yes, sure,” they say.

I don’t see the guy with my key again, nor do they come to change my sheets.

I leave to go eat – they ask for my room key. I told him the maintenance guy has it. He didn’t give it to them. I don’t care I told them – go find it – and fix my key so I can get in.

I return from dinner. They give me a new key. I go upstairs – try it – broken.

I go downstairs… “Listen, fix this key, I’m tired of not getting into my room.” They fudge with it and try 5 different things. They give me the key and send a maid up with me. The key doesn’t work. Maid uses hers to let me in the room. I take the key for the room and keep it. My sheets are still not changed. I call them on the phone – “Listen, I told the girl 4 hours ago – my sheets need changed, can you send someone to change them?”

“Yes, sure!” The guy comes to change them in 2.5 hours.

I leave the next morning and return just before noon – they give me the same damn key and told me it works. I go upstairs to my room – try it – it doesn’t work. I go back down – they send a maid up with me – who uses her key to let me in.  And finally I checked out and found a different hotel to stay.

Oh, I forgot to mention – the squirter for the toilet had the handle part removed – in both the rooms in that place. The TV had 4 channels. There was NO refrigerator in any of the 3 rooms I stayed in.

So, that was a bit about my adventure in Kuala Lumpur. I think I had a bad experience, it’s probably better than what I saw of it. I did get the visa from the Thai Embassy – so that was cool enough. I did see a camera before it was even released. I did meet some amazing people. I did eat great Indian food.

What about you – ever venture to Malaysia and like it? What did you like or dislike?

German Beaten by Patong Beach Phuket Tuk Tuk Drivers – Is Thailand Safe?

You probably think I’m going to rant and rave about how Thais are beating the hell out of a farang that didn’t deserve it.

Nope.

I don’t know what happened in this latest incident, and neither do you. Do you realize how dorked up information can get by the time it reaches the press?

It’s 11pm in Patong Beach. The German guy that was beat up – and his wife, were both drunk (so the story says). They refused to pay a 200 baht fare for going about 800 meters in a tuk-tuk. The German guy insisted he was only paying 100 THB. Now, maybe that’s what they had agreed to before they got into the tuk-tuk, and maybe not. Maybe the German guy said – 100 THB – the tuk-tuk driver said, “OK”.

They took off, the tuk-tuk guy dropped them off where they wanted (Tai Pan Disco) and said – “200 Baht”. The German guy, not understanding that this is a typical Tuk-Tuk ploy, telling each passenger at the end of the ride that it was agreed upon to give 100 THB for EACH passenger, not both. The German guy insists he’s not giving more than 100 THB. He pushes the Thai guy down supposedly – and well, that’s a real dumb move when in Thailand and surrounded by Thais in Patong Beach at 11 pm at night. Actually, that’s a dumb fucking move anywhere you are in the world over 3 dollars. You’d have to be a complete idiot to do something like that over 100 THB. If it’s true, how that guy ever made it into his 50’s is well beyond me.

This German guy is in the hospital with a bleeding brain because of $3 fucking dollars USD. Hello? Anybody home?

Not to call the German guy a dumbass – because I don’t know how the deal really went down, but, when you come to Thailand you can expect to:

1. Have differences of opinion.

2. Have misunderstandings.

3. Pay more than you want to sometimes because you don’t understand the country and how things work.

That’s just the reality of it. If the German guy had said, loudly – 100 THB for both my wife and myself to go to Tai Pan. The Thai guy probably wouldn’t have tried to get 200 THB. That’s just my experience. I’ve never had a problem in this area… guys I know that have lived in Thailand for some time – also understand the game, and they don’t leave the deal hanging in the air – they clarify – and make it very clear – it’s 100 THB for “ALL OF US” or me and my friend, or whatever it is.

Because this German couple didn’t understand the game, it isn’t their fault either. The Tuk-Tuk guy could have explained – or tried – and that’s the best he could do. Do tuk-tuk guys try to get 100 THB off tourists when they can – sure they do sometimes.

Farangs that get violent with Thais first – never cease to amaze me. Just what the hell do you have to be smoking or shooting up to hit a Thai person first and then think you’re going to walk away a winner?

Not going to happen, not in this lifetime, and this German guy may yet find that out.

It’s a sad state of things in Patong Beach, Pattaya, for sure. These kinds of stupid interactions between tourists and taxi-drivers don’t need to be happening. Someone should straighten shit out down there. For the ultimate resource on the island, read more about Phuket here.

Will it happen?

Hell no.

Not in my lifetime, or yours.

Is Thailand safe?

You’re safe as a kitten here if you’re not foolish and take a lot of time to study up on how things work in Thailand. You’re safe as a kitten if you’re not prone to overheating over $3 USD. You’re safe as a kitten if you’re not taking chicks, ladyboys or guys back to your hotel, condo, or house. You’re safe as a kitten if you’re not marrying a bargirl or someone else to whom money is everything. You’re safe as a kitten if you’re watching your drink at all times. You’re safe as a kitten if you understand how Thais drive – as  a fellow driver, and a pedestrian. You’re safe as a kitten if you don’t drink the water. You’re safe as a kitten if you watch out for exposed electrical boxes and wires. You’re safe as a kitten if you don’t overdo the Viagra or Kamagra. You’re safe as a kitten if you’re not walking with your purse exposed to motorbike thieves. You’re safe as a kitten if you…

The story – >