My Reasons For Moving To Bangkok
I'm not a resident of Thailand, but I plan on retiring to the LOS within the next year or so. After my first trip, I wanted to move there immediately but, thankfully, sanity prevailed. However, over the past ten years I've had a chance to visit
about 15 times, and I always leave reluctantly. The idea that I could be happy living here never really disappeared from my thoughts.
Most of the pitfalls to living in Thailand presented in this and other web sites really don't concern me. I'm not looking for a mate — I've lived most of my life on my own and actually prefer it that way. I've had a few long-term relationships, but they were all over long before the actual end. As one bartender acutely tuned to the human psyche has observed, "Everything ends badly … otherwise it wouldn't end." <Tom Cruise as the barman in the movie "Cocktail", released in 1988, if I am not mistaken – Stick>
I'll have a modest pension and a similarly modest nest egg to live on. While my background is in engineering and computer systems administration, the last 13 years working for a government entity has provided some preparation for the seemingly illogical "Thai Way".
The traffic won't really bother me (aside from the choking pollution), as I really hope to avoid deadlines and meetings. I've had enough of those in my 50+ years to last a lifetime. I think one of the easier things to accept will be the casual approach to appointments — "Thai Time". And I don't plan to own a car — public transport and taxis have always served me well enough in Thailand.
I do worry about the air quality, crime, and weather. I can't imagine the air quality improving in my lifetime, so I guess that's just something to accept. Or I could live outside Bangkok. As far as crime goes, like other contributors to this site Bangkok always seemed safe to me, but I guess ignorance is bliss. I'll be more circumspect from here on out, and try to avoid situations that look dodgy. Crime is everywhere. Living in the U.S. is dangerous, too, especially with the laissez-faire attitude towards firearms. To quote a columnist looking back on his school days:
"When I was in elementary school, we had the kid who threw chairs, the kid who stuttered, and the kid who went to the bathroom on himself … but we never had the kid who came in one day and started shooting everyone."
I hope to adjust to the weather. I've lived in the desert for the past decade, and getting used to the heat and the sun took about six months. Plus, not having a fixed schedule should make it easier to walk outside, feel the April-in-Bangkok heat slap me in the face, and think "f— it" and go back inside.
My friends often ask me, in wonderment, why in the world I would want to move to Thailand (or Taiwan, as they often incorrectly hear it)? And since I usually leave out the attraction of Thai womanhood, I'll explain my other reasons:
1. I can AFFORD to retire to Thailand and live relatively well. I'm still in good health, but who knows five or ten or twenty years from now? I'm truly tired of the daily grind. It doesn't mean I'm fancying a future of bargirls and idleness, but it certainly means a slowing of the pace and (hopefully) a significant reduction of stress. I'd also like to travel to other Asian countries, and Thailand would make a good home base.
2. I'm a U.S. native, and I'm truly disgusted with my homeland's government and arrogance, and have been for decades. Let me explain this, and I don't apologize for any views I offer. After all, these are my personal views — you are free to disagree. If you are easily put off by politically observations, skip down to Reason No. 3.
Akulka stated (and I concur) in "Splitting an Atom" (22/9/2005) that we are indoctrinated into a world view that mirrors our family and friends. Children are easily molded, so to speak. Up until my late teens, I couldn't understand why anyone in the world wouldn't wish to live in the U.S. We were big, powerful, rich, etc., etc. We were the "Land of the Free", the "Home of the Brave". Other countries were suspect because…well, they were OTHER COUNTRIES!
I grew up in the Sixties, and the demonstrations of the time against the warmongers and "Big Government" would ultimately turn the tide. We banished the old regime, and ushered in a new era. We WON! The status quo was CHANGED! How utterly naive I was.
As the years rolled by, it didn't take a genius to observe that much of the U.S.'s "Liberty" and "Justice" were really just jingoistic catch phrases to convince people that they were living in the closest thing to paradise. Behind the scenes, the rich got richer, the politicians favored their buddies, and politicians practicing dirty tricks polished through regular use masked their activities with idealistic slogans. Common sense was relegated to a back seat, while lawyers, with their obscure and byzantine interpretations of what was legal and what was illegal, created a Frankenstein-like legal system that rewarded evil and punished virtue. Today, it's all a farce. And on the world stage, the U.S. tries to buy friendship, then wonders why their "purchased" friends show them little loyalty.
Another thing that galls me is the way the U.S. tries to dictate how other countries should behave. The U.S. is right, and everyone else is wrong. Maybe it's inevitable that when a single country achieves so much wealth and power, they assume their methods are the "right way" to do things. But, heaven forbid, should another country use U.S. methods AGAINST the U.S. In the last few months, a Chinese oil company tried to purchase a U.S. oil company. You would have though the invaders had landed on U.S. shores. Congress was up in arms. Surely there was a law we could use to prevent this? How DARE they attempt such a thing. The bid was ultimately blocked by worried stockholders — I wonder what went on behind the scenes?
Now, I agree that Thailand's government is corrupt — a corruption even more deeply ingrained due to the class system that defines Thai society. However, it's easier for me to accept these deficiencies for the simple reasons that my eyes were open from the beginning. I knew about them before ever visiting Thailand — I wasn't misled or indoctrinated to believe otherwise. I can accept reality, but betrayal is a bitter pill to swallow. I may not LIKE the fact that I'm charged more than a Thai to enter a temple, I may not LIKE the fact that I'm expected to bribe a policeman to avoid trouble, I may not LIKE the fact that trust is an elusive commodity, but I UNDERSTAND how the system works. Learning acceptance takes time, but eventually you can accomplish it. Fight the battles that are truly worthy — the other ones are just background noise. If you can't learn acceptance, well I guess you need to rethink your choice of residence. You certainly won't change things with rants and complaints.
3. I enjoy the Thai people. For all the complaining I read and hear about the ways they differ, they are FAR friendlier than anywhere I've been in the U.S. While this might be merely superficial, most of the interaction we have with the general population is superficial, and friendly beats surly by a long shot. Even when I cringe at their often bizarre solutions to problems, I marvel at their ingenuity and resiliency. And the complaints about Thai workmanship? It seems the Thais have developed something I call the "good enough" level of workmanship. If it's good enough for them, that's all they are really concerned with. You might think it's awful, but it suits them.
Some people might consider my reasons to simply be “rationalizations”, and they can (with reason) point out that annual three-week stays over ten years hardly provide a true experience. That may be. But part of the fun is in the adventure, the discovery. Good and bad, they can be exhilarating regardless. And I truly look forward to my "new life".