In Equal Measure
First of all, I would like to thank Stick and the many authors of this site who have provided the impetus for me to write my own piece. I have thoroughly enjoyed reading about many of the (mis)adventures of expats and visitors to Thailand, and I can only hope that more such tales are published long into the future.
Being only 22 now, I will be the first to acknowledge my experiences are limited, and I hope my discussion does not come across as pretentious or ill-informed. I have travelled to Thailand just three times; all trips were back in 2009. When over there, I made a number of observations that others have no doubt mentioned, and I think they generally hold true.
I have been lucky enough to study science at uni in Australia for three years, and over this period I have developed the ability to analyse things critically and question the true nature of my surroundings. Of course, this is both a blessing and a curse. However, I cannot go along with the idea that ‘ignorance is bliss’. After my first trip to Thailand, it did not take too long before I started seeing through the illusion that has enslaved many a man before myself. Nonetheless, I fell for it too (forgive me for my naїvety). I am a shy person by nature and I still manage to receive a bit of attention from women in Australia, but the contrast could not have been more extreme in the gogos. I remember the total buzz I felt, the confidence boost from my first trip to the bars. Naturally, I got involved with one of the girls, and found out the hard way how ruthless these girls can be. I thought that being young and in shape, I would be exempt from becoming a walking ATM, I was wrong.
From this initial experience, things quickly stopped being fun as I learned the true nature of the scene, yet I also noticed certain traits of other Thai people I met outside the bars. Many of the submissions I have read comment that a lot of aspects of Thai society in general tend to be superficial; it is all about making money, shopping, chatting about pop stars, and using skin creams. The result seems to be many cynical farang whose original preconceptions about Thailand get cast aside. Indeed, I encountered this superficiality in many Thais I met. Yet it is unfair to single out one country. Last time I looked, this is not something endemic to Thai society.
Think about the younger population, have you heard what people my age talk about in Australia?
“Hey man you got so smashed last nite bro, I’m totally gonna post that shit up on Facebook”.
“Yeah let’s pick up that bitch Mike was talkin’ about I bet she’s up for it.”
Believe me when I say young women are not a whole lot classier: “Oh my god that guy from Twilight is so hot, I need him on my iPhone right now”.
Again, these are my observations, but I think it is justifiable to make the generalisation that being superficial is the norm in Western nations for young people, not just in Thailand. Maybe such attitudes come about through globalisation; we all want the same shit and talk the same shit, I have no idea.
Given my personality and ways of thinking, this shallowness is not conducive to my happiness. That is why I struggle to maintain meaningful friendships with many people my age, and why I found it hard to enjoy some aspects of Thailand. I can only respect those who have been able to embrace Thais (but not only Thais) in spite of such personalities. On the other hand, I would not wish for everyone I met to be esoteric and intellectual. How dry would that be? So to an extent, I can see the simple, care-free, day-to-day vibe of Thailand as being quite attractive. In fact, I thought such a life would be a pleasant alternative to the complex and somewhat monotonous world of academia. I guess I think finding that balance in life between the simple, fun and superficial, and the meaningful and challenging is crucial. I have only ever experienced both extremes so far, but I know to have either perpetually is not ideal. Maybe you never get to find that middle ground wherever you live or whatever you do?
I do not know what I really want regarding life plans like relationships, where I want to settle down etc., but I hope overall I can find equal measures of simplicity, fun, substance, and complexity. In any case, I should expect to experience a lot more, as one perceptive girl down at the soi 7 Biergarten told me: “Oi David you young man, not think too much ok? Maybe one day you happy and fun, maybe you work too much and today too hard for you, but no problem in your life sure!”
Finding a balance in life is important. Be very conscious of your health and put staying healthy at the top of the list. After that, try to seek out and do things that make you happy. That's how I try to live and it works for me!