My Thai Experience
I met someone the first day I arrived in BKK-and got the electric "love at first sight" with a gorgeous Colombian looking Thai lady introduced to me by my brother as a holiday romance. After four years and her manipulations I broke up. She was from a poor farming community up north and her English was passable but not beyond concrete concepts. She lacked the usual self examination awareness and was there to charm me into parting very definitely with my money. An ex partner of hers, a German, advised me not to proceed with her, that there were many more up country like his lovely demur and intelligent wife he introduced me to. I did not know what to do then as I was only half way to the break up. I went to her home town and met the family.
I lived there, helped upgrade (and paid for) of bathroom (western toilet, tiles, shower) electrics (few power points) . The house was timber with a hot tin roof and cool space underneath but no mossie screens and there was a plague of them. They relied on fans to blow them away and get some cool going. Mosquito nets for sleeping on mattress on the floor.
The rallies lived shouting distance away. It was not peaceful as an unrelated neighbour would wake each morning with the sound system blaring some pop music. We used to walk along the road at night but not too far as the clan further down had disagreements with them! There was no swimming pool not even in the town 6km away. No hotels either. We could not swim in the river ("crocodiles") but it was muddy and fast flowing. I ended up swimming in the small irrigation concrete channels a bike ride away.
It was so hot.
So after 3 weeks of this I had had enough and we travelled to BKK Pattaya, Phuket, Chiang Mai or Chiang Rai often meeting up with my brother who was stationed in BKK.
After finally getting her to talk she promised but never did if it involved using her brain. No improvement in her English, no training for a proper job but lots of grand schemes to make money if only I would bankroll her. Never had a job, relied on foreigners for money and had had 2 marriages, 3 kids 3 grand kids. I paid for her medical bills and loans she had. I bought her a house in south BKK (the one she was renting), a second hand car and bought some land for her near her deceased mothers house up country. Set up a 7 Eleven-type store in the Bangkok house (her idea that previous one had been a raging success till she had to go up country to look after daughter after bike accident) but it didn't work apparently as people she knew "had moved away" as the economy declined. So I was counting the days to leave last time and left her. She had not changed in 4 years. She still rings me and asks for money.
I really liked it first time – idyllic ,friendly and I loved to hire the cheap new motorbikes and travel up and down the west coast – green lush hilly, great lookouts. But no big shopping centre and no cinemas unless drive over the tricky mountain road to Big C. Phuket Town was a let down with one nice park up on the highest hill was the only pretty thing. A 20-minute boat trip to one of the snorkelling islands off Phuket Town was great and the coral and colourful fish were only 25m from shore in shallow water.
Subsequent trips to Patong (2007) were less enjoyable and the number of tourists rising, hard to get past on the street, prices bad from accommodation to shopping.
Finally the tone had become aggressive and songtaew drivers routinely argued with tourists. That was it for me no more Phuket – as others have commented here. Never again!
It has become more sociable and family oriented even. Accommodation is not expensive and food cheap and great including European. Deli France right on the beach road was great every morning. Breakfast good at the Lek Hotel on Second Road.
Plenty of shopping and cinemas nearby and a clean feeling about it. Girlie bars slowly being replaced by other businesses. Jomtien was quieter and had a long beach but not much shade. Took many drives in a car or bike down to
Rayong and spots in between- even a vineyard and navy base. Quite pretty and not too crowded. Local Pattaya expat community is strong with a club and lots of advice and legal help. Tales of Thais being shot are numerous but seems to be the mafia infighting and rarely comes to actual experience for the tourist. I have heard nasty tales of moon festival deaths of tourists on the islands but they are remote from here.
An hour north of Phuket airport on the Indian ocean side: catch a bus / taxi from the airport and when you get to Khao Lak hire a bike or car.
If you want a tourist postcard idyll then this is it! Rebuilt after the tsunami (with warning devices now). It is low key (less than 4 storeys), no bar life, fewer tourists, beaches to die for – yellow sand progressing to pure white, little internet shops and also small restaurants right on the sand. Palm trees for kilometres and you can walk round from one beach to the next bare foot with tropical palms most of the way. National Park further north. On the beach not a deck chair in sight and often only half a dozen people on the whole beach. The water is blue and there are waves but it is quite safe to swim unlike Patong.
The Germans have discovered this place and often come here for 6 months till the rainy season although it is drier here than Patong. The local bread is European, Aussie wine is moderately priced in the supermarket and a great German restaurant with German chef is inexpensive too. There are Thai restaurants but not much of a market. It is a do nothing holiday, walk at early dawn or evening rest through the day or biking further north. Some waterfalls are good walks and you can swim in some of them.
Nice outside the town. A bit polluted now and traffic dense inside. Cooler and less humid than Bangkok and hill areas that are cool too. Good culture university and expats doing well there it seems.
Pretty drive from Chiang Mai through the mountains.
Quieter and more expensive hotels, quite pretty rural on a biggish river. Good memories of the hotel on the river and the song shows in the market. Off season very quiet. The centre of town much more accessible than Chiang maillots of temples. A university here too but a jail on outskirts. Not sure what impact that has here. Not a good effect in Ozzie towns with lot of drug related hangers on in surrounding town.
In a wind shadow from the westerlies due to the Burma mountain border it is stifling hot, the beaches are black coarse volcanic for the most part, the Thai sea black and shallow warm even. Nice western hotels but not much else.
Via Saraburi drive north east from BKK to escape the heat-high country resort popular with Thais as well getting more expensive and harder to book. not much to do.Town is small no big C but internet and markets. Hat Yai Nat park is nice drive from there hilly green but no tigers now.
Big city further north east from Pak Chong past a big water reservoir – lots of facilities and lots of expats apparently. Met one guy in the pizza hut married to Thai living outside on a farm and quite happy.
It was my fault to be tied to the first by reason of biology. I found it hard to meet better Thai ladies but some of the expats had managed to do so successfully marrying usually after a very long living together. But there were lots of crash and burn western softies sucked dry and dumped by the Thai ladies. It's a hard world! Again one US person I met in BKK said he slept on his own and was content and happy having rotating g/f's or no regular at all. Simpler uncomplicated ,no obligation no drama no regrets. It's all too difficult otherwise.
Different parts of Thailand can have a completely different flavour so getting around to check out various places and finding which is best for you is a very good idea if you plan to settle in the country.