Stickman Readers' Submissions July 6th, 2011

Raising Kids in Thailand

I'm writing this in response to your comment at the end of a recent submission by Old, Fat and Bald, that you were interested in hearing from people who had decided that raising their children in Thailand was better for them. It's taken me a few weeks to write this because most of the time I'm busy taking care of the children, but I think that there are pluses and minuses on both sides really so I'm going to try and outline how I see things as a parent here. Before I start though I should say that all of this is from my own personal experience and situation and it is how things have been for me. Another person could be in a totally different situation and also the comparison with the other country might not be valid because it's not the same country. But we all have a story to tell so this is mine.

I'm from London in the UK and I'm married to a Thai. We've been together about six years now and we have two boys. The oldest will be five in October and the youngest will be four in November. If you do the maths you'll see that they are only fifty-five weeks apart so if the first one wasn't exactly planned then the second one definitely wasn't planned. In fact, seeing how my wife (like most Thais) had a cesarian when Alex was born and we couldn't have sex for a few months after the baby was born, it must have been one of the first few or maybe the first time we had sex again that the baby was concieved. What can I say? My fish swim straight, I'm super potent. I don't know, but two kids it was.

He Clinic Bangkok

I'm going to start with the birth. At the time we were living in Isaan and all our dealings were done with the local government hospital in a medium sized town called Nang Rong which is sort of between Korat and Surin in Buriram province. Both times my wife had a cesarian and we stayed in a private room with TV, shower etc for three nights. The cost for the doctor who did the operation was 1500 baht and with the room, food, etc it came to about 7000 each time. Obviously if I compare things to the UK then back home under the NHS it would have been free but I thought the price was fair enough and the service was very good. I know that in Bangkok people pay about 40,000 for conception to birth care. I know people are going to say that government hospitals aren't very good and they're dirty etc but this wasn't my experience. They might not be the most appealing of places asthetically but they are definitely clean. I clearly remember a woman going round the edges of a window with a tootbrush to get right in those cracks and it seemed as if everl half hour there was someone coming round with one of those circular cleaning machines that disinfect the floor. I compare this to the UK where there is all this MRSA superbug stuff and it is no comparison. Thailand wins hands down on the cleanliness in hospital front. Also, in the UK you are in and out very quick. My wife couldn't really walk for days after the operation so having to go home the same day wouldn't have been that great. Funnily enough she still complains now about it hurting but I tend to think that's a woman getting back at the man kind of thing.

One of my funniest memories about the whole thing was when I was waiting outside the delivery room (I wasn't allowed inside), I'm sitting with assorted family members and the other expectant families and there was a man who came along selling big wooden pictures of the king. Just seemed a bit of a strange place to try and flog your wares. But this is Thailand and we did buy one so maybe not so strange after all.

The other funny moment was probably when Tawan was born. He was about two hours old at the time and my brother in law brought his older brother Alex into the room to see him. On seeing the new baby lying on the bed the first thing he did was to go and hit him on the head! Not exactly brotherly love and they still fight quite a lot now. It's good that they've always got a friend to play with, although it can get very nosiy and tiring sometimes.

CBD bangkok

Moving along a bit and the kids need to have a lot of injections, you can pay for these (maybe 800 a go) but we found out that where we live now in Nonthaburi, if the children are registered on a local house registration then they qaulified for free jabs. It was something like the second and fourth Tuesday every month at the local council office. Now I don't know how all of this compares to other countries but I found the service here to be very efficient and seeing how it was all free I've got no complaints there either.

Staying on the topic of health, at my sons' school they pay 300 baht a year for emergency medical insurance. Now if it's something like cancer they won't be covered but if they have an accident then they are. It works fine. A year or so ago my son was jumpimg around in the living room and he ended up cutting his head open on the edge of a shelf where he fell over. It split the skin on his forehead and I could see his skull. Pretty scary for us. When it happened there was blood just pissing out of his head and he was screaming and then the blood just stopped after a couple of minutes and there was this hole where I could see his skull. Jumped on the bike and straight to A+E of the hospital about a few minutes from our house. He was in and out in about forty minutes with eight stitches and the 4000 baht bill was paid for by the insurance a few weeks later. It was quite funny in the operating theatre because it took four of us to hold him down (my wife couldn't watch), me and three nurses, he was screaming uncontrollably and the doctor doing the stitching was still trying to practice his English with me. Got to laugh really, but he did a good job and there's only a very small scar that you probably won't be able to see when he's older. So on the whole I'm quite happy with the way things have panned out with healthcare.

Something that I must mention would be the nappies. I think they are about the same price in the UK but what we used to do was to use the ' pa om ', which is a square piece of cloth that would be folded into a triangle and then wrapped round the babies bottom with the three points of the triangle then being tied around the groin area. Wash and reuse as you need them. We only used to use actual nappies if we were going out somewhere. In the same vain, I must add how great it is that every house here is tiled and there aren't too many carpets to deal with. Without going into too much detail it can get very messy sometimes (especially with two), but with the tiles it is so easy to clean. I don't know how people do this in England where everything is carpet. It must either get dirty or very expensive with all the nappies. I could tell you about our trip to Laos when everyone got food poisoning but I think I'll save that one for another time. Needless to say it wasn't the best of holidays and it did get pretty messy.

So what about the money side of things? Well for me I'm comparing with London and London is not cheap and that is a big factor. Where we live in Nonthaburi we're quite out in the suburbs, it's nice. Sort of halfway betweem Bang Bua Thong and Bang Yai. Bang Yai is where the purple line from Bang Sue is going to end and believe me when I say that it is a long way out of town. We live on a nice housing estate with a swimming pool, exercise area and tennis courts. We rent a two bedroom townhouse in good condition with an extension at the back and it costs 5000 baht a month. I consider this an absolute bargain. When people tell me what they pay in Bangkok to have the right to stay in a box I think they are crazy. But it all comes down to what you want really, and at this time in my life with two kids I'm not too bothered about easy access to downtown. As it is it only takes 45 minutes on the expressway anyway. If I compared the house with London then something similar would probably cost 40,000 to 50,000 a month. That would be out of my price range, or just too much out of the salary every month. I have never had children in the UK, only in Thailand. When I was living there before or spending a few months there I would have been in a shared house or just renting a room. This would have been a lot cheaper.

wonderland clinic

The cost of clothes for good clothes is probably a bit cheaper in Thailand but not by much and milk and food is about the same. You get a lot of freebies here when you spend over a certain amount on the chidrens' milk. The strangest thing we ever had was an inflatable boxing ring when we spent 4000 with Dumex. The kids certainly did a few rounds in there. On an average month we get by on about 30,000 a month for us to spend as a family. This includes everything we eat, petrol, going out and anything else that might pop up. We don't go out much and my wife does all the cooking at home most of the time. After all the bills are paid as well then we can probably save about 30,000 to 40,000 baht a month. If we lived in the UK then there is no way we would be able to do this, because after rent, council tax and everything else there wouldn't be much, if anything left. So when I look at all this then my family has a better lifestyle here than we would in England so that is a factor. Everyone is different though in what they need. As I said before this is just relevant to me.

I cone from Southeast London and when I think of all the shitty places where I used to live and where I grew up then it really is no comparison for me. There is no way I would want my family to go back there. I used to live not far from the Old Kent Road, which if anyone has ever played Monopoly, they will know as the first property on the board. There is a good reason for that and not much has changed since the game was made either. It is a dump round there, and pretty dangerous too. I don't know about how things compare there with some places in America or elsewhere in the world but I lived there and every week there would be a shooting / stabbing etc. I remember going to my local pub The Swan on Peckham Park Road and there had been a shooting right outside. Some very nasty people down that way and a lot of bad things used to go down. I'm pretty sure that if you googled Old Kent Road, Peckham, New Cross and typed in gun crime, shootings, murder etc a lot of stuff would come up. I'm not saying I would never live in England because I think we will, which I'll come to later, but at this time if I was to do a direct comparison of where I have come from and where I am now then Thailand wins it for me.

I suppose that thus far I've been fairly positive about Thailand but it's not all rosy here. I would say to anyone thinking about having kids to have serious thoughts about the safety of your child. By that I don't mean that you have to watch out for a kidnapper or something like that, more that it is the littlest of things where you can never relax. Just walking down the road or in the market and you have people cooking food with loads of hot oil every where. It only takes a second for your child to be running and not looking where they are going and that's your kid possibly scarred for life. So you always have to be on your toes in Thailand as there are a lot of things to be on the lookout for. But in many ways I suppose that this is the same wherever you are. No one wants to see their child get hurt.

If you want your kid to be in a childseat with a seatbelt on every time they get into a car then Thailand probably isn't the place for you. Even if you insist on it, when you aren't there your wishes will probably be ignored and some one will look at you as if you are the strange one. " This is Thailand stupid foreigner, why do you have to make things so difficult all the time ". I remember being on a bus to Korat one time and one of my sons had a pen that had a light on the end of it. There was heavy rain and the bus broke down for some reason. After stopping for about twenty minutes the woman who serves the drinks came up and asked us if they could borrow the pen because they wanted to see what the problem was. What is wrong with these people? Don't any of them think beyond today. " Hmmmmmmm, the bus was fine yesterday Jidapa, it will be fine today. Satoo! "

In fact, if you are one of these people who is constantly complaining about the way that Thais are driving then you are going to give yourself a heart attack driving in Thailand because as we all know they drive in a totally selfish way at stupid speeds thinking that they are invincible because they have a lucky amulet hanging off their rear view mirror. "Oh it's raining, I had better go faster to get out of this rain! " Never mind that some poor pedestrian might get hurt either. There was an incident near where I live recently,where a 17 year old girl from Laos was actually cut in half with her torso going into the car that hit her. Just crossing the road here can be dodgy. And even when they build a nice bridge no one uses it because it takes too long. So Thais have only got themselves to blame in a lot of ways. No common sense about so many things.

But at the same time I do things with my children that in the West would be illegal. Every day I take my children to school on the motorbike. It's a back road through some rice fields and if I didn't feel comfortable doing it I wouldn't. I'm sure that some of you are saying I'm dicing with death and all that but at the end of the day it comes down to me and that is my responsibility as a parent. If something did happen then I would feel far worse than you are reading this. My oldest son was six weeks old when he first went on a motorbike. I wouldn't have done that in Bangkok but we were living in Isaan at the time and we didn't have a lot of choice. In fact when he was young and we couldn't get him to sleep at night we used to take him out for a drive around the village and something to do with the vibrations of the bike maybe, whatever it was, it just used to send him off to sleep straight away.

I can also remember another Thaistyle moment after we had moved to Nonthaburi. I think the children would have been one and two at the time. We were coming back from Carrefour in BangYai on the bike. All the shopping bags are either in the basket or hanging off the wing mirrors, Alex was sitting in the child's seats that we had fitted on the steering column, my wife and Tawan were sitting in the middle and my mother in law was sitting on the back. And to top it off my wife was breast feeding as we were going along! It was dark though so no one could see.

Like I said before, when my first child was born we were living in Isaan and then when the second was born we moved to Nonthaburi when he was about two weeks old. Partly because I needed to get some funds together but mainly (for me) because I just could not handle living there any more and I did not want my children to grow up there. We were in a small village in the middle of nowhere, the nearest ATM and 7-11 was thirty kilometres away, the nearest Tesco where I could get some decent bread was in Korat 80 kilometres away. It's a bit better now but for a city boy like me this was too much. Nice people and I do like going up there to visit but not too live, not until much later in life anyway.

A lot of my problems about being there came from my wife's family and how they were with my son, or children generally really. There is a word in Thai, " Dahmjai ". Literally it means follow the heart but basically when it somes to children it means to give them whatever they want to keep them happy and this is the way that most Thais bring up their children. They will do what ever it takes to keep that child from crying or throwing a fit in the supermarket. Little Somchai must have another ice-cream / donut / drinking yoghurt etc, never mind the fact that he hasn't had dinner yet. He must have that toy plane for twenty baht even though he got a car yesterday and he's been an annoying little brat all day. This little fucker of a kid knows that all he has to do is start throwing a tantrum and he will get whatever he wants. And how much do people change as they get older when this is all thay have known all their life. How many of you have had some woman throwing a fit because she can't get her own way. She's been that way since she was a little girl.

I still have problems with my wife over this but she just doesn't have the heart to say no, or she just can't stand the sound of kids screaming so she just gives them what they want to shut them up. I can understand where people are coming from on this because no one wants a whining kid with them but sometimes you just have to say NO. Thais just don't seem able to do this. It's anything to keep them quiet. I'm not like this. For starters I don't go around buying pointless crap for my children and when they're with me they don't even ask most of the time because they know they aren't going to get it. I've been with them before and we're at the checkout paying for stuff and they're trying it on saying they want some sweets or whatever. I say no, they start screaming, all the Thais are looking at me like I'm some kind of blackhearted foreign devil. Well I'm not blackhearted and I do this because I care about my kids and their teeth aren't black either. I'm not a cunt all the time, somtimes it's okay to buy stuff. But with Thais there is no sometimes, it's give them what they want all the time.

Another problem I had with the village was the whole extended family thing. I know now that when my children were born they were just doing what Thai village women do and in their own way they were trying to help, and it's good that they cared, but at the time it didn't feel like that. For me anyway, having kids was the hardest thing I have had to do and it was the steepest learning curve I have ever known. As someone who was pretty carefree all my life it was a big change. Thinking about it now, but there is never a good time to have kids, doesn't matter how much money you have or where you live, it is still going to be a fucking nightmare at first. So when the first was born it was like there was never any space for just me, my wife, and my son. There was always someone else there doing stuff. I felt like they didn't trust me to do anything right. Okay, this is my first time and you've all been there before but if you don't let me do this then how the fuck am I going to be able to do it. I think part of all this is that Thai men aren't expected to do that much at first, I don't know. Many times other women would ask my wife about how I was with the baby and a lot of the time they would be in shock that she would actually leave the baby alone with me and that I could do everything! After a while it's not that hard. Preparation is the key. Be ready for any eventuality when it comes to kids.

When he was about six months old I would start taking him out to the local shop in the afternoon and I would have a beer and he would have one of these flavoured milks. The amount of stuff you would need to take though. Spare pairs of shorts for when he pisses or shits himself, a spare shirt if he pukes, more of these ' pa om' cloth things to check the dribble. Bottle of milk made up, spare bottle of milk in case he gets hungry, bottle of water already cooked for making more milk, water for drinking, his little toy thing that he likes to hold onto. Like I said, preparation is the key, and if you forget any one of these things then it can turn into a real nightmare pretty fucking quick because you have got a screaming baby on your hands. Going to the local shop becomes a military operation almost and you're running off a checklist of stuff you have to have before you leave the door. I like to think I was quite hands on with it all and I wanted to be as well. My kids so I want to make sure everything is being done in the right way as I see it.

Which is why (getting back to extended family) it used to drive me up the wall when aunty or niece or grandmother comes along and just takes the kid off somewhere without the proper preparation. Then they would come back hours later and it would be dark and he's still in the same clothes which by now are dirty because there was no change of clothes taken. I didn't mind people wanting to take them away, it gave us a break, but why couldn't they have put a bit more thought into things and work out what they might have needed. Common sense and forward planning, something lacking with Thais.

Shoes. We're in a village in the middle of nowhere, there's no concrete except on the main road, there's broken glass everywhere and loads of stuff that might hurt a kid's feet, but do they put shoes on the kid. No. Because the kid doesn't like them and he starts crying. Dahmjai again. We just do what the kid wants even though he is just a fucking kid and he hasn't got a clue what is good for him. Then it's the ferrang " luang mahk "! Shoes used to really get to me because apart from all the stuff on the ground there were a lot of bugs there too. Some big ants that hurt when they bite. We built a very nice two bedroom house there. Before the house was built I remember driving down this track and seeing an absolutely huge scorpion crossing in front of me. This thing must have been nearly a foot long. Just make the children wear shoes pleas because you never know what is out there.

So then my second son was born, just when I thought I had got the hang of everything and I knew what I was doing number two comes along. Now as anyone with children will know, 1 + 1 does not equal two. It makes things so much harder for you, and I wasn't doing things the sensible way and spacing them apart either. Alex was just taking his first steps when Tawan was born so we had to be constantly on our gaurd to stop him falling over and at the same time take care of the newborn and deal with all of the things that that entailed.

By this time I had had enough of the way things were in Isaan and I was happy to be moving to Bangkok, even though it was just me and my wife, I was a lot happier with the situation and my wife was too. Even now she still prefers it when it is just us. Our Family. We were in full control of everything that they did. The next year was just a blur of work, sleep, and piss and shit. That's how it seems now anyway. I'm glad that we managed to do everything ourselves. I think that's the way it should be. None of this palming them off on someone else, so long as you've got the money to take care of them then as far as I am concerned they are your responsibilty. I think many people (not just Thais) have kids and then when it gets a bit tough they try to absolve themselves of their responsibilities. My mum found out she was having twin girls the day they were born, I came along three years later. She raised us on her own when my dad was at work and that was just what was expected no matter how tough it was.

When we lived in the village my children were (and are) little superstars. Everyone knows them and people are always making jokes about the ' little ferrang '. My kids look quite western too and the older one you wouldn't obviously see any Thai in him apart from his nose and I think he has got an Isaan shaped head. So on moving to Nonthaburi it was interesting to see how they became even bigger superstars because of the wider area we were out and about in. I'm not joking! Everywhere we go around Bang Bua Thong and Bang Yai people know my kids. Go into the market and people will be talking about us. Sometimes Thai people can be a bit annoying with all of this in that they tend to just gawp at you a lot. I can understand when it is a child staring at you because they don't know any better but when you get adults just staring at you like you are an exhibit in a freak show or something it can get a bit annoying. Especially when you are in the middle of some domestic shit.

In my last submission 'A Family Holiday In Cambodia' I wrote about how when crossing the border one of my kids nearly dropped
down off an edge and my wife went ballistic. All the locals at the border just stand there gawping at us. It's a bit offputting. Or there was the time at Korat bus station with a two week old baby, who when getting off the bus started puking
everywhere and we are trying to deal with it, but we are surrounded by Thais asking us stupid questions and not giving us any space. Can't these people see that you might be busy? Or do they just not care or think about how someone else might
be feeling? I know that if I saw a couple having a rough time with their baby I wouldn't go up to them and start asking the mum how old the baby was and where her husband was from.

The other day in the market I was having a minor argument with my wife and it's quite busy there and loads of people are just standing there looking at us to see what would happen. What do these people with the funny looking kids do? Are they like us? What language do they speak? What language do the kids speak? The gawpers get a bit annoying but you just have to get used to it because that is not going to change.

On the subject of language I have found Thai people to be sooooooooo stupid when it comes to my children speaking Thai. I know that we might have come on holiday from another country but the chances are that if I'm in my work clothes then we live here. They will hear my children speaking their perfect Thai and say stuff like, 'oooh,wow, they can speak Thai! ', or ' they speak Thai really well! '. What do these people expect. We live in Thailand. Their mum is Thai. They are surrounded by 65 million Thai people. Turn on the TV and the radio and, guess what, they are speaking Thai. Or you get Thai people trying to practice their shit English with them and then they wonder why they don't answer them in English. Children aren't stupid, if you look like a Thai then they will speak Thai to you. My son will switch from Thai to English as he speaks to my wife and me. I'll tell him to speak English and he will say that he was speaking to mummy. Even worse than the Thais speaking English would have to be the foreigners speaking their shit Thai to my children. Why the fuck would you do that. It is so hard to have to be constantly making them repeat things in English, translating what they have said and making them say the English. Where we live there aren't many foreigners really so they don't have much contact with English speakers apart from my friends. I would say to any foreigner, if you want to practice your Thai then go and do it with the 65,000,000 other Thai people in this country. Not my kids. That really annoys me.

I find that children here don't really play outside that much, not the way that I would have done when I was a kid. Part of that has got to be the weather because it is just too hot a lot of the time but the facilities in a lot of parks could be better. Depending on where you live there might not be too many parks either. Where we live our housing estate has a playground and for a big park we would go to Queen Sirikit park close to JJ Mall which is in great condition. Parks in the UK tend to be a place for whinos to get pissed or gangs of youths to smoke skunk. Too many kids nowadays are stay indoors types what with all the video games and they don't get enough interaction with other kids. I guess that that is the same everywhere though these days. Thais do seem to be a bit overprotective sometimes. Personally I think it's good to just let them run around for a while and burn off some energy. Then hopefully they will go to bed early because they are tired, and if they fall over it's not the end of the world.

I have issues here with the amount of crap food that people seem to give their kids and I've tried to stop my wife doing this. So much of the food you see on you average market is really unhealthy. A bit of moobing and sticky rice for dinner is not good enough. Where's the veg? All this fried food as well it can't be good. All the kanom and sweet stuff as well. It's got to be heaven for a kid but you can't give them this stuff all the time, it is bad for them. I suppose part of it comes from our eating at set times thing but it really pisses me off that my wife seems to have no concept of time and place when it comes to food. He doesn't need an ice-cream in the morning! Make him have his dinner and then he can have some khanom. It's just common sense to me, but not it would seem to a Thai. Don't think it changes when they get older though, as we all know a Thai can eat anything at any time of day.

As a foreigner with kids here then you will have to get used to total strangers touching and playing with your kids. Most of the time I don't mind this as it is normally a few sweet words, a bit of a tickle on the stomach or a ruffle of the hair and that is it. The children sometimes get annoyed with it though. I think it's quite nice when I compare it to the UK where no one would think of talking to someone's kids for fear of being branded a peado! As long as you are always there as the parent then I don't see the problem. Like I said though, sometimes the kids don't like it. I remember one time in Big C when Alex was about two and a half and he had just learnt the phrase ' fuck off ', although it came out more like ' bug bog '. I still knew what he was saying though. We were in the milk aisle and there was another woman there who wanted to speak to him. She starts touching him and I can hear him going 'Bug bog! Bug bog! '. I told the woman that he doen't really like that. But what do I know,I'm only his dad and a stupid foreigner as well. The next thing I know he has just swung for her and punched her in the face. That was funny. I just walked off and said something like, 'well I told you he didn't like that but you didn't listen '. Ha, na dehck!

When I compare the way that people are with children here to how they are in the UK then Thailand wins every time really. Thailand is such a children friendly country. When you go into a restaurant in the UK (if they actually let you in) you can see the staff inwardly groaning at the mess they may have to clean up or the chaos that may ensue. When you go to a restaurant in Thaialnd (and we all know there are all those staff members standing around doing nothing) it is like you have got five babysitters on tap all night. They will play with the kids while you have your meal and actually let you have a bit of piece.

I think Thai people just love kids and they just want them to be happy at the end of the day and that's where all my problems with ' dahmjai ' come from. But so many times we have had freebies and extras and add-ons, that extra bit of good service where people seem to generally want you to have a good time. And it's not just when you go out to eat or something like that. We might be walking down the street and you get talking to someone, a total stranger and they will buy something for the children. A little toy, some sweets or milk. People who I can see by looking at them, are a lot poorer than me will buy gifts for the children. I think that when it comes to kids Thais are very open hearted in a way that the people in the UK aren't and can never be.

In fact, having children here has done a lot to make me think differently about Thailand and its people. It has made me overwhelmingly positive about the place and if you don't have kids here then you just don't understand what I am talking about. I lived in Tailand for many years before I had children here and now I have been here for quite a few after so I have seen the difference. After x amount of years of being in Thailand, and x amount of proficiency at Thai language it is like you stop being interesting for Thais. You could walk down the street and it is all pretty boring, no one speaks to you apart from when you go into a shop and then it's only to make a transaction. You probably don't want to speak to them either. Bored of Thais and their silly little ways.

Well as soon as I had children here that all changed for me. I'm not the most chatty of people but when we go out now so many Thais want to have a chat with us, genuinely friendly, no hidden agendas. They're not tyring to sell us anything. It has totally changed the way I look at Thais. And probably changed the way that Thais look at me. I think the biggest way you can show a Thai that you love this country and want to be here is by having a child here and no amount of money can change that. When you are on your own here you're just another tourist really, doesn't matter where you are, that is how you will be seen. Have kids here and people see that you are here for a while and have probably been here for a while and you seem to get treated differently. It's a bit like you have become a shareholder in Thailand (a non voting one hahaha) somehow, and now you do have a stake in this country and who knows what your children might become when they grow up. One thing they will always be is Thai though so it sort of make you an honary Thai if that makes sense. Don't believe me, up to you. Have a kid and then see who's right. Quite simply, for me having kids here is brilliant most of the time and I've not really got any problems with it.

So now we come to the last point really. The big one that I've been saving till last. Education. Now so many people say that if they had kids then they would definitely leave Thailand because the schools are so shit or so expensive. My sons go to a bilingual school close to where we live and it works out at about 70,000 a year for each one. This is kind of middle range and I'm fairly happy with it. Half the lessons are in Thai and half the lessons are in English. The facilities are fine and it's in a lot better condition than my primary school.At the moment they're still young so they're only doing simple stuff like the alpabet anyway. As a parent I think that a lot of it has to come from you as well. you can't just rely on the teacher to do everything. You have to take an interest too. Personally, I think that generally speaking the only things you really need to get by in life are Maths and English. Anything else is secondary to where you are specialising. I also think that if a kid is clever then he's going to do well and the other side of this is that of a kid is stupid even at the best school in the world he is still going to be a stupid kid. I'm sure that at a bad school the clever kid might not fulfil his potential and at the good school the stupid kid might do better than he wolud have done. How far does this go? I don't know but at the moment I'm happy with my childrens' education.

So why then if everything is so rosy here are we leaving Thailand next year. Well it's got nothing to do with any negatives in Thailand per se but quite simply I don't make enough money here as I would like and I've been here a long time now as well. Our plan is to move to Middle East next year and start to do some serious saving for the future. For the sake of my sons' English as well I want them to be in a place where no one speaks Thai. I can see their English just shooting up once we leave here and they have to have that for the future no matter where they are. I also think that in the long run it will do them good to have lived in somewhere else other than Thailand and I would say that about anywhere. In this day and age people are moving around more and more so if I can give my kids a bit more of an awareness of the wider world then I think that's good. I mean how often do people complain about Thais not know or not caring about anything outside of Thailand. I don't want my kids to be like this.

The plan is to be in the Middle East for the next five to ten years, during which some serious cash will have been accumalated hopefully. After that then I think it will be England to finish off the kids' schooling. Now at the beginning of this I said that as things stood right now then Thailand was a better place for me and my family to be. However, if I had loads of cash then I think it would be the UK. Living in a nice area etc etc. I do want my children to have some sort of feel for being English as that is where I come from. The only problem with the UK, and London in particular, is that so much of it is not a nice place to live. One thing that does worry me about this is that my children would be spending their teenage years in the UK and this could be a problem. Kids in London where I grew up were pretty wild and I spent most of my teenage years and a lot of my twenties in one long drink and drugs binge. I do not want my children to do the same as me. I look at the kids around here and they are in no way as bad as the kids in London. Okay, I'm not living in a Klong Toey slum but even so. Drugs are an epeidemic in the UK and Thai kids just aren't doing them in the same proportions. When I was growing up everyone used to smoke puff, drop acid, and do ecstacy. These days they just do it more and do loads of cocaine as well. I don't think I did any cocaine until I was nineteen and that was a big thing. Last time I was back in the UK there were 16 year olds putting their money in for a gram on a Friday or Saturday night and that was pretty normal. Everyone smokes puff everywhere and the use of cocaine is rampant. I just do not see this in Thailand to the same degree. So bearing all this in mind I'm going to be keeping a close eye on things later on down the line.

So my decision to leave Thailand with my family isn't because of anything bad about Thailand really. I have been negative about some things but on the whole I find Thailand a great place to live and I'm very happy with my life here. At the end of the day it's all about what works for you, what you want, and how easily you can get it. I think that as long as the children are happy then that is the main thing. I also think that all the bad things about raising children in Thailand are the same sort of things that are bad about raising children wherever you are. It's the same stuff all over and if you are having a fucking nightmare day with it all then it will be the same in the UK or Madagascar. As long as they have clothes, are fed, go to school and have a warm family home then that's most if it really. The rest is just decoration..

Stickman's thoughts:

Sorry, no comments as I am currently outside of Bangkok.

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