Thailand – A Bit Bland?
Having enjoyed Thailand twice on holiday, it never occurred to me that one could actually live there. It was an overdose of a Stickman lecture that made me finally come up with the idea. At the time I had a very convenient and deadly boring IT job in
the west and was desperate for a change. One could argue that I gave up quite something in the west when I made the move to Thailand about one year ago. And an inquiry for personal advice from Stickman brought – quite surprisingly for me – strong
discouragement. Still I felt no loss at all when I left my home country and embarked to a new live in Thailand. You may have guessed it, my plan was to teach.
I've been well prepared – a fair amount of Thai language skills from self-study, some contacts in Thailand, a good amount of money on the bank (by Thai standards) and well paid job for a company back home aligned. Also my arrival to Thailand was scheduled just in time to apply for the new school year. And to make it perfect I visited Thailand 3 months before the final move for last preparations – which also brought me into a liaison with a Thai good-girl (in the sense of no bar background and also in the sense of her behaviour towards me; not in the sense of faithfulness I am afraid – but what do you expect in Thailand?).
Maybe it was over-planning what lead to a quite surprising outcome of the adventure. After 2 month of bliss and excitement, life in Thailand simply became unbearably dull. I didn't ride any of the rollercosters which are so frequently related on this site. At least none of my turmoils caught me unprepared. Well, I had my Thai girlfriend go back to my own home country without me to marry someone she knew from the time before we met, but having read about Thai girls I didn't choose her to be my future wife – even though there was no bar story involved. She didn't disappoint me (measured by my expectations) and in fact we are still good friends – just friends, something I never experienced with any girl in the West. We even met later on in my home country what was just pleasant.
Everything else went smooth as well, i.e. not against what I could reasonably expect. It was easy enough to land a teaching job with the standard salary (30k + apartment). It was pleasant if you ignored the combination of chaos and buracracy of the school's management and the Thai government. Weather was a bit warm at first, but it takes just a bit of fitness and acclimatisation (and avoiding the air cons where possible) to get used to it. My mates were inevitably other Westerners, most of them not the kind of people I would accept as friends at home. Looks like Thailand doesn't get the best of the crop (please don't reflect this to me …). Small cheating occurred everywhere, but it was easy (easier than in the West) to avoid getting really hurt if one keeps one's head on one's shoulders. Holidays were frequent and nice beaches abundant. Food was good, girls were pretty and easy to meet. But I didn't have any affairs but the 2 girlfriends I had during the time – bargirls just aren't worth it and I speak out of experience (from previous holidays).
Nothing bad happened to me that is worth mentioning here. Still, after just 2 month I felt that every day I continued to stay in Thailand was a wasted day. It was just bland and less convenient, healthy, interesting, … than in my home country. I am just 28 and felt that I could as well do something for my future rather than hanging around in Thailand.
What made me stay longer was my teaching job was that I initially felt I could contribute something to my student's life's. And after that idea evaporated for good, I stayed because of the second girlfriend I had during my time in Thailand. Actually she is not Thai and maybe that's the most important fact which made me trust her. We are still together and I feel pretty confident that we will have a joint future.
Even this could however not hold me in Thailand for more than a total of 8 months. Really, I do not understand what people find in this country – why would anybody want to stay there for longer than an extended holiday? I want to stress again that nothing really bad happened to me and that I have no reason to be cynical. It is just so that life in the west is infinitely more interesting and rewarding if you just put that little bit of effort into it.
As for me, I came back to my home country without a job, without an apartment, without my girlfriend and in the coldest time of the year (which is really cold in my country). And I loved it (apart from the girlfriend thing of course)! In fact it took me 10 days to find myself in a job with 20 times more salary than just a month before in Thailand, to find myself in a clean and nice apartment (compared to the neglected flats which are abundant in Thailand) and about the cold weather – it makes me feel alive, my brain & body work a lot better than before.
If you expect me to come back to Thailand anyway, you might be right. But the only reason is my girlfriend who decided to stay until her contract ends. She has a pretty good teaching job and I honour her decision. Still, we hope to meet in her or my home country rather than Thailand. It wouldn't be a problem for me to visit Thailand again, it is just that nothing attracts me either.
What moved me to make this submission is the observation that everybody seems to have a love and / or hate relationship with Thailand. I expected, I hoped for the same. At the beginning I loved to say: the only thing you can be sure about in Thailand is that things never are as they seem to be, every day something unexpected happens. I didn't fear the troubles, I just feared the boredom. But what I found was boredom. After a few weeks of adaptation to the exotic culture, the same ups and downs just kept repeating.
I am most keen to read if anybody else had the same experience. Did I just have the wrong perspective? Was Thailand more interesting in the past? Or do the people who left the country because it was too dull just not bother to write about their experience?
After all I said I wish to express my gratitude to Stickman and his readers. Some of the above might sound a bit derogatory. But it is a fact that my short time in Thailand provided great experience to me (at least initially) and I would have suffered a lot more with less outcome would I not have had Stickman's columns and articles and all of these reader's submissions as guidance.
It is nice to read something that goes against the trend. Any others have similar stories to share – not Thailand bashing, but just structured reasons why Thailand isn't or wasn't for you?