Why am I still in Thailand?
I have just returned from a “visit” to the U.S. and have found two recent articles on this site most interesting regarding life in the U.S. vs. Thailand.
BKKSW wrote his “Expectations in USA Realized” and I thought they were very accurate from his perspective and experience. I have absolutely no quarrel with his findings and observations (except one—see below). If I were in his age group after living so many years in Asia, I might feel the same as he does. One thing that BKKSW surely has is an income or sources of income that will allow him a very comfortable lifestyle wherever he lives.
Now Caveman “SEA Incountry 11.17 (and others)” sounds like he has lived in another world from BKKSW as he can say little if anything good about the U.S., only complaining about the “oppressive” life in the U.S. He is even an expert at knowing all about government spending on infrastructure and how flawed and unnecessary it is. All this from someone who has spent only 20 years in his “profession” (soldier) working for the government and for those (only) 20 years of service has been provided a pension that has allowed him to retire in his early 40s. How many people do you know that can work in a job for only 20 years and be provided with a pension that will allow you to live well for the rest of your life? I am also sure he will be eligible for Social Security benefits when he turns 66 so more income from the government that he bad mouths. I have to wonder if he will ever figure out which side his bread is buttered on?
It is interesting that BKKSW and Caveman call the same country “home” but have such divergent views of their “home” country.
Having just returned from a 10-day trip to the U.S., I have some observations that, in my case, really say why I have chosen to live here in Thailand. I have lived in Thailand now for 5 years after having lived in the U.S. (Southern California) for 67 years. I am mostly retired but still do some work for the company I used to own. One of the main reasons I live here is the cost of living here vs. cost of living in the U.S. I could not have lived as well in the U.S. as I do here on the income I currently receive. When I retired, my retirement income dropped nearly in half. On that income, I could not continue to live where I was living then. Here in Thailand I am living very comfortably on almost half of my retirement income.
When I leave the country and return to the U.S. I pass through Customs and Immigration and have to say to BKKSW that I have never had any of his negative experiences there. I have almost always been processed at LAX in the Bradley Terminal which can be a nightmare for incoming non U.S. citizens but has never been so for me as a U.S. citizen (and now with my Thai wife). The only negative experiences I have had there are a few TSA jerks that apparently have no idea what it is like to not speak English, shouting instructions to the non-English speaking person by TSA agents who have no idea how to communicate with them other than yelling and berating them. I have seen this on leaving the country and most recently on the trip entering. On this last trip I observed two “hardened looking” officers scowling and barking commands at all who passed by them with their blue customs form. If the person didn’t speak English the commands just got louder and repeated even louder until they finally barked at the unfortunate individual to report to “line 8” pointing in the direction and repeated barking the instructions several times. I told my Thai wife to just be quiet and smile when we had to clear their station. What a way to greet visitors to your country!
Next observation was by far the most lasting one. When I drove out of the rental car parking lot, within minutes I was almost shocked at the orderliness of the traffic (aside from being once again on the “right” side of the road). I have owned a car in Thailand for 4 years and can agree with BKKSW and Caveman that it is a very interesting and challenging experience to drive in Thailand. Yes, it is the law of the jungle here and every meter you travel is totally different than my previous 67 years in the U.S. In the U.S. making turns were easy, people stayed in their lanes and everyone traveled close to the same speed. WOW this was great as I expressed to my wife after I traveled a mile or two on the freeway. It’s so much easier to drive in the U.S. than in Thailand and could almost drive there in my sleep. No problems in parking lots either as people head into the parking spot rather than stop and attempt the very difficult maneuver of backing up into the parking space and holding up everyone else behind or in front of them.
That U.S. driving experience was the single most impressive experience I brought “home” from the trip. In fact as the days wore on and the trip came to an end I began to yearn to return to Thailand and the interesting “challenges” driving here. Just driving the 6 km from my home in Hua Hin over the hill and down into town provides me with a very exciting driving experience. Always am thinking of the driver education classes I used to teach and how interesting it would have been to show the students a film of the real life driving experiences one faces in foreign countries. I am sure some of those students would be horrified but others (teenagers) would just lick their lips at the challenges of bobbing and weaving all over the street to miss the MC drivers going every which way, the cratered streets, double parked cars and who knows what else thrown into the mix. At 72 driving is still an exhilarating experience for me here.
I cannot foresee my becoming disenchanted with Thailand despite all the potential negative experiences that lurk here for me as a farang. When I moved here I made a break with my former life in the states. I left behind all the experiences of my 67 years there. I am enjoying my “new life” here. I think it all boils down to how you look at life. My glass of water here is half full and I am always looking at ways to make it fuller.