You mentioned recently that a few of your friends are considering leaving Thailand. What, are they crazy? How can they leave a country full of friendly smiles, beautiful women, incredible nightlife and a reasonable cost of living?
I first visited in 1991 and the over the next 12 years I returned 47 times. My 48th trip was with a 1-way ticket and retirement visa in hand. For those 12 years my life was consumed by the prospect of living in a single man's paradise. Now having
been here more than 4 years, I realize that living here is a much different experience than vacationing for a few weeks. And my biggest problem is with the Thais themselves. I have come to the sad conclusion that 90% of Thais I've had personal
or business relationships with are liars, thieves, cheaters, con men – or worse. Unfortunately I have yet to meet the other 10%. I'm almost to the point where I want no interaction at all with Thais – unless it's necessary.
Please allow me to explain. I'm a golf hacker and I'm retired. I figured that since I'd be playing more now, golf lessons would be a good investment. A friend recommended a Thai pro who seemed to be on the level – a good teacher, a good guy. After a few months he approached me, told me he had lost a large amount of cash gambling on football. He couldn't pay it back and the "bad guys" were threatening his family. Can I help him out? Not wanting his family to pay for his screw up I lent him a fair amount of cash. He thanked me profusely, swore he'd pay it back. 3 years later he's dropped out of sight without repaying 1 baht. Yeah, I know you can say "som naam naa" but I was truly motivated to help him out. Lesson #1 learned – for a hefty price.
After renting in Bangkok for a year I decided it was time to buy a condo. The contract claimed the project would be complete in 2 years. It's now been 3 years, and though almost complete, it's still not finished. So I've been forced to pay rent for over 1 extra year. Yeah, I know you can say "you're lucky the place got built at all". But so much for contracts in Thailand – not worth the paper they're printed on. In June the project notified me to inspect my unit then sign off on it so I can start decorating – which frees them from any further responsibility for repairs. I found over 30 defects – from the warped floor to an air-conditioner installed at an angle to mislaid ceramic tile. The overall "finish" quality of the unit was HORRENDOUS, yet they wanted me to give them a pass, sign off on it. 3 months later all the defects still aren't corrected. Obviously neither the developer or the laborers gave a damn about the quality of the product. Sad. <This is just one reason why I would NEVER buy a condo off the plans in Bangkok – Stick>
My favorite story of Thai inefficiency, idiocy and insanity is the TOT. I now have True hi-speed internet via my TOT phone line and True IPTV which allows me to view foreign TV. The line goes from the phone to the computer to the TV. I'm completely satisfied with the service. I was happy when told that my new condo would have TOT. Just hook up the modems to the new TOT line. No problem, right? WRONG! True is only available for connections with phone numbers beginning with 02-6, 02-7, 02-8, or 02-9. My new number will be 02-252 so voila, True service is UNAVAILABLE. Time to start shopping for a satellite dish. Friggin' unbelievable.
Lastly, the coup de grace is the woman I had been living with for over 3 years. Unbeknownst to me, a few years ago some farang lent her family a large amount to purchase land and a house in Isaan. My ex and 2 of her siblings signed a promissory note (which I had just recently seen) to repay the loan over 10 years. Now mind you, some of the family had been living in the house for 10 years. After reading the document I asked her, "how much have you and the family repaid"? You know the answer – ZERO! Well apparently the farang has re-surfaced after 10 years and wants full payment plus interest or the house in payment. Guess who was expected to pick up the tab? You know the answer – ME! Not in this life. So out the door she goes. Didn't you say that you loved me tilac?
So yeah, I can relate to why some of your friends want to leave. Now all of these fiascos – plus many more which I haven't mentioned – have all occurred within the past 3 months. My friends are all telling me to "hang in there, it'll get better". My fear is that it'll only get worse. I heard that the Virgin Islands is a decent place to live. So much for "paradise". Mai aow eek!
Regarding the multiple problems I've encountered here lately – to quote the American journalist / humorist Dave Barry – "I am not making this up". I looked forward to retiring here for many years. I came with an open mind yet realized that I'm a guest in THEIR country and anticipated there might be some issues to deal with, cultural or otherwise. But I never expected the attempts to rip me off at every turn. For over 3 years I rented. Had some minor problems but easily dealt with. Then I started dealing with Thai business people on a regular basis. It's pitiful how incompetent, inefficient, uncaring most of them are. Only thing which concerns them – when they'll get paid. Is it because I'm a farang? Do they treat Thais the same way? I don't know. I should be moving into the new condo in mid-November. I hope this experience will fade over time. But I will NEVER trust a Thai again. And it really pains me to say that.
I have been meaning to write a column on the tricks to successfully living here and genuinely being happy, but frankly, I don't know if I am the right man for the job. (Marc Holt would do that topic justice, I believe.)
Thailand is a funny place in that you really do have to take the good with the bad – and there is, sadly, plenty of the bad, much of which is difficult to avoid. Unfortunately some of the bad things are so bad, so ridiculous and and at times so demoralizing, that it can make you seriously question your reason(s) for living here. And if one is not here for the girls or the drinking – and perhaps does not avail themselves of something that Thailand excels at, then one does have to consider their options very seriously indeed.