Losing My Innocence As an 18 Year-old in Thailand
I would wager that I'm not in the majority demographic here on Stickman, and actually take pride in not being of the 'overweight, balding, middle aged' group that it seems most frequent travelers to Thailand are. I can't pinpoint where the idea of going to Thailand first began, but once it started, it stuck with me. I was in my final year of high school studies in Sydney, Australia, when all of my friends began to suggest post-travel studies, known as a 'GAP Year' here in Australia, where those with the financial freedom to do so will go and discover themselves overseas. Most of my friends talked about drinking trips across Europe, however this didn't particularly interest me. I was more interested in a completely different experience to that which I had lived all my life in, and that meant going to Asia. I'm not proud to say that I was entirely dependent upon my parents for the 1 year trip I had planned. Both my parents are relatively successful doctors, and suggested that if I was successful in getting into Medicine then they would support my travels for the year. The travels may have been more beneficial to my development if I had saved and used my own money, however I certainly wasn't going to pass up that offer. Soon after finishing exams, I said goodbye to my family and friends and got on a one-way plane to BKK, with no plans whatsoever, and with my only concern being the few hundred dollars that my parents would put in my account every week.
When I first got to BKK, I was completely repulsed by the sex tourism, and preferred to consider myself a 'backpacker' as to not get confused with them. To keep myself busy I did some quite intensive Thai language study and also went to the gym a hell of a lot, to make sure I didn't 'stagnate', which was certainly a possibility in my circumstances. In the initial months, I went through the 'honeymoon period', wondering why all these were so attracted to my (quite average) appearance, why all the tuk-tuk drivers were so intent on hosting me, and why all the night bazaar workers thought I would look great in their paraphernalia. Luckily this facade fell about 3 months in, and I think from that point onward I began to understand Thai culture really well.. I had been adopted by an old Thai couple who I would sit with every day and practice my Thai, whilst learning more and more about the crazy culture of the LOS.
It wasn't until about 3 months in to the trip that I finally decided to let my moral guard down and see what all the fuss with Thai women was. I had actually managed to abstain from anything sexual, as firstly my sex life back home was not too bad, and because I wasn't particularly attracted to Thai women. I remember my first experience quite well, naturally with a bargirl. I need not go into details, as you've all read it before, but it was this experience that opened a whole new door in my Thai experience. After receiving the best show of my life, I went off to sleep, very content with life. I woke up to a bottle of cold water, some Paracetamol for my headache and a spotless room, all from this un-educated sex worker from backwater Isaan. I tried to wrestle with the moral side of it all, however it was just too enticing. From that point on I lost any inhibitions I had about Thai women. With every woman after her, from bar girls, later on to more normal girls, and eventually even on to hi-so girls when I had my Thai pickup game down to a fine art, I realised how hard it was going to be to return home.
Before I knew it, I only had one month left of my life of no responsibilities, no work, no money issues, and over indulgent sex life. It was fair to say, I hadn't missed home one bit in the entire 11 months that I was away, not even my family. The thought of returning back to demanding women, Australian wankers and study was completely and utterly horrifying. I talked at length with a number of my expat friends, and all of them told me about how difficult the transition was, especially considering the life that I had lived in Thailand.
It did cross my mind to drop the family legacy of medicine and just teach English, however over the entire year I had despised the young teachers who taught merely as means of staying in Thailand longer, and obviously had no real interest in 'teaching'. I remembered meeting farang 'teachers' in bars, who boasted of being severely under qualified for the job, having not even completed their own high school education, and now they were teaching in private schools for a (comparative to the Thai wage) ridiculous amount of money. They were in complete bliss, sleeping with whores every night and then doing some half-assed English lessons, probably teaching the poor children slang. In my entire year in the Kingdom, I didn't meet one 'young' farang teacher who struck me as a reasonable person, nor one who was teaching for legitimate reasons. However, when talking to these pricks I did find comfort in the fact that one day I could return to practice medicine, and get paid 100x the amount that they were, whilst doing more fulfilling work, and doing it out of passion for medicine, not the sex industry.
As the days counted down quickly, my fear that had gotten worse over the whole year finally came to a climax, and it was time to board a plane home. I remember waiting in the line to a flight back to Sydney, feeling severely depressed. I was surrounded by loud, obnoxious and overweight white women, loud and egotistical Australian men and little brat Australian kids. I had the entire 8-hour flight home to consider how difficult the next few months were going to be. Even at the airport I wasn't so overjoyed to be reunited with my parents, as I had to weigh up whether I would miss Thailand more than I had missed my family when I was over there… It was quite a confronting issue for me at the time.
I've been back some time now, and each month which has gone on has gotten easier and easier. Being back studying has certainly helped as well, as it has given me some routine and kept my busy, however I would be lying if I said I didn't long to be back in Thailand every second of every day that I spend here in Sydney. Initially I tried to relive Thailand in Australia, by getting Thai massages, going to Thai restaurants etc., but there was some sort of hostility from the Thai community there, as perhaps there was some presumption that anyone who had spent a considerable period of time in Thailand was a sex tourist who spent their days banging Isaan whores (however this is only partly true in my case). Luckily University is relatively flexible and I can return with relative ease each year of my studies. Although unfortunately it will never be sustainable to go there for an entire year again with no responsibilities – now I realise I have to get on with my life and make something of myself instead of bumming around South-East Asia. Hopefully when I finish my 8 or so years of study I can get back to the Kingdom and sort myself a comfy job in a hospital.
If I could turn back time, I probably wouldn't have gone to Thailand at all, as it has corrupted me so badly. I could never ever have a monogamous relationship ever again, as sleeping with 3 women a day became the norm, and having multiple ' gigs' (Thai f-ckbuddies) is acceptable to me now. Furthermore, my mind is never, ever focused anymore, and I go into a state of deep depression whenever I go through my photos of my trip. Funny to think that before I left Australia, I was wondering how I would cope with the homesickness of missing Australia… See you again soon, Thailand – hopefully on a permanent basis.
I think you captured what you felt nicely. I can very much relate to how you felt in Thailand and I am sure many readers can too.
Let me say that while I once loved my life in Thailand, these days I simply enjoy living in Thailand. The "honeymoon period" passed a long, long time ago! In fact I seem to enjoy myself more when I am back in my homeland. Whenever I am back in NZ I have a great time and it is VERY difficult to argue that Thailand offers more, apart from perhaps the availability of women.
Many eventually burn out on Thailand. It's a combination of factors. The love affair seldom lasts forever!
My advice to you is to study hard, become a doctor at which point you will find yourself in the most desirable 1% of males and will have a choice of many wonderful Aussie women who would be delighted to be your life partner. You'll have a great job with a great income and it will be immensely satisfying. Your future is rosy red!
Should you decide you wish to work abroad, being a doctor of medicine will open many doors. I am sure in time you will find other countries that appeal to you more than Thailand.
You've got your whole life ahead of you. Try and think of Thailand as an enjoyable chapter in your life from the past, rather than think about Thailand as part of your future.