Stickman Readers' Submissions December 24th, 2012

Our Day Is Over

Why is the West stuck in recession? Millions of our jobs have gone to Asia. That is from the U.S. and Europe and they ain't coming back. Why, God why do I have to do this, so many guys with PHDs can't say it. Because in China someone can do our jobs for a 15th of the cost. No pensions, no unions. They started on the coast of China where access to ports meant cost effectiveness. When wages rose, they didn't have to change country, just move inland. They have 1.3 billion people to eat through. They have no unions.

Why is this a Stickman mail? Cos it's why Chiang Mai, my city is filling up with Chinese. Rude, loud, no social graces I recognize. They are now the biggest visitors to Thailand. On that alone I say this post is worth it. Do they go to Nana or Pattaya? I doubt it. They come with 2 IPhones, not one. They spend, spend, spend what we used to spend. The takeover has begun.

He Clinic Bangkok

The Chinese are also investing all over South-East Asia. There is now a 'road' from China to Chiang Mai. It does not stop, it is continuous up to Kunming. In the Golden Triangle the Chinese have leased an island as the British used to lease Hong Kong. They have established casinos and the currency is Chinese RMB. Thailand is fast becoming a Chinese playground.

Is it a bad thing? Don't know. Inevitable? Yes.

I'm afraid the days of the western man being the man in Thailand are numbered. Chinese visitors to Thailand are increasing by 60% a year and that number will probably rise via word or mouth. The rich Chinese are not penny pinchers, they just like to spend. See this video on Beijing.

CBD bangkok

China is communist. Yeah, right. China is autocratic with now a Western economy. I don't want to politic but China is virtual slavery. Bosses run factories of thousands of un-unionised workers. No health and safety, just see the reports on Apple factories where workers ingested fumes from a bad paint and were crippled for months.

So where does this leave us, the man from the US or Europe? It leaves us a declining race.

A post recently on young people from the West making up more of the bar zone and warning about not spending too long in Thailand. Sorry, but it's an out of date view. Many people I know work online with businesses and make Western wages. Example, a Russian web programmer I know in Chiang Mai. Does what she used to do in Russia from here. Her clients are all Russian. She has been able to relocate from freezing Moscow to Chiang Mai. Same money and she loves Chiang Mai.

I studied economics for 2 years before dropping out of uni through boredom. God, what a load of tripe. Old economic models where China didn't exist because they closed their borders are gone. Welcome 1.3 billion poor striving people to the world economy, India 1 billion ditto. We just expanded the labour market by 500%…maybe wages will go down.

wonderland clinic

When will we get back to balance? Not in my lifetime. We just have to face now we are in a truly global market.

Two friends have moved to Cambodia. I always think when that is happening something is wrong. With them, not the world. The reasons for moving? More freedom. My 10 cents. How much freedom do you need? Marijuana and opportunity seem to be the buzz words. I don't like their chances on either.

Sorry, fellow Westerners, but our day is over. We gotta compete, so we'd better learn Chinese. I have lived in China and I would say I know what I'm talking about but the statistics speak louder than a Chinese Great Wall.

Flight of the Gibbon is one of the biggest businesses in Chiang Mai. One of the directors was last year telling me Russians were his target market. Now it's the Chinese. They are the biggest customers.

On the plus side it wouldn't hurt us to learn a little Chinese as it's quite easy to learn to speak it. Chinese writing could give you something to do for the rest of your life. I plan to master Chinese, Japanese and Thai by 50. I think I can do that. 10 years ago I was sat in a UK office aged 25. Since then I have been to and lived in China and Thailand. Visited the US, OZ, Australia, Japan, India. In fact one of my final work projects was to send 4,000 UK jobs to India.

I think the rich in the UK will always do OK but the former middle class, well, they might have a problem. My advice to England for a few years has been become a theme park for the Chinese. We have Shakespeare. They can visit Anne Hathaway's house. We have London and although I could never live there unless I had the million you need to enjoy it, it's an amazing city with an incredible history. We might in the future become what Spain became to Brits in the 60's – in place of sun we'll provide history. We have our own Great Wall, Hadrian's Wall. All Brits should know this but others may not. It is a wall a Roman general built from the East to West coast of England to keep out the Scots 'Bravehearts' they just couldn't beat in the same way the Chinese couldn't beat the Mongol hordes. It begins in Newcastle where my father was born and ends in Solway Firth.

I think the next few years will be flux.

One other thing I'll say is, if you're staying here long-term learn to read and write Thai. It's not that hard. Learn as I have by getting a dictionary and looking up words you use often and just copying them down. Then look at the Thai characters to see what they are. The best dictionary I know of is by Benjawan Poomsman Becker. It's red white and blue and better than anything I've seen. After 16 months I can now translate a Thai article from The Thai National Geographic without many problems. And I do this sat in a Thai coffee shop. After a while one regular Thai guy came up and helped me correct anything which was wrong.

Let me say that it opens a new world. The respect you will get from Thais if you can read and write is huge. You can also start to read what they're thinking. The actually have a negative word in Thai which describes a foreigner who can speak but can't read and write. <And what would that word be…?Stick>

And look at it this way, there are a lot of immigrants in my home town and probably yours. How would you look at them if after living say 5 years in your country they couldn't speak, read and write, I'm not being harsh probably to say you'd class them as backwards.

A lot of guys come to my coffee shop in the morning – Yanks, Ozzies, Japs, but they are often gone after 30 minutes, nothing to do but eat and go and fill all the other holes in the day. Why not sit and enjoy a 2-hour, 3-hour breakfast doing a bit of brain work and enjoying it. If nothing else you can watch the pretty girls come and go. And what pretty girl does not like a man with a brain.

I went to a school when I first got here, AUA in Chiang Mai which was really good for speaking but..when I did reading and writing I switched off so now I study alone. This is a free activity with no negative downside. When I hear people say it's better not to know what they're saying I think 'urm.'

Thai is actually fascinating. It comes from India, Cambodia and Bali if I'm not wrong. Trust me, it is not that hard. For 5 years I said ok speaking enough is ok but I found I had time on my hands, I love a mental challenge and this one is great. I learned to speak basic Chinese in China but this is the first time I have learned a new alphabet. Trust me, it's great. You don't need a teacher as Thai people will be happy to help when they see what you are doing. They just whip out an Iphone or Samsung Galaxy with a dictionary and show you what you need to know.

I am not currently in the market for a lady but this might be like buying a small puppy dog. It makes you cute. 'Arrr the farang is trying to write Thai.' A year later the Thais are saying 'Shit, the farang can read our double priced menu.'

My other freebie tip is exercise. I know guys who go to high priced gyms to meet girls, 'urm' again. I don't do it for that reason. I used to Muay Thai box now I box in a free gym. Foreigners often pay $200 or more. I don't need any guidance, just a bag. And I'll tell you what I can't find one of those in any of Chiang Mai's paying gyms. I run outside not on a treadmill, which allows me to find new things and meet new people and get fresh air. I do push ups, pull ups and sit ups. I am in 3x the shape I was at 25. And then I hit the bag, boom, boom, boom. I never get into fights, it's not about that it's just the best workout I have ever found. Cardio, strength and stamina in one blast.

I can tell you this also cos I don't live in Bangkok. I was there for 10 days 2 years ago. I ran and cycled everyday. I found a boxing gym at the stadium next to MBK where the trainer said it was free if I didn't need a trainer. I also ran through Thonburi and found a gym that I'd be training at now if I was in Bangkok. Below a flyover it was spit and sawdust my kind of place, totally outdoors.

One thing I have learned in Thailand having a good time depends on knowing how to spend time. Try meeting a bar girl and moving to Isaan. I just met a man who got back. Try being an alcoholic or try fitting in. Learn language, exercise (100% a must) control your diet and cook for yourself a bit. Get a job. Even if you don't need the money.

Stickman's thoughts:

It would be nice to see some effort to attempt to join the dots on the different points you made...

With Chinese visitors go, what is their average stay? Where are they going and what are they doing? You might find a lot of the things they do and the places they go are rather different to your average Westerner. Ditto with some of the Russians. As far as the future goes, I reckon Indians will become more visible than the Chinese and I have a hunch that Thailand will appeal more to the average Indian than it does to the Chinese.

On the subject of learning to read and write Thai, it is very useful *if* you wish to reach a higher level in the language. That would be the primary reason to learn to read and write, in my opinion.

nana plaza