Woke Up This Morning and Found Myself Dead
One morning early this year this song by Jimi Hendrix came to haunt me again. I have had three separate occasions in my life when the emptiness and separation made me feel like the options were to die or to be born once again. So far I've been reborn three times. How many times more I could survive is anybody's guess.
It was due to so many things. There was a long period of work and little fun. There were days of loneliness due to us working apart from each other. It all came close to final goodbyes but somehow we managed to get over it. It took a lot of talking, tears, agreeing and sleepless nights. The cloud of distrust was there as thick as ever. Before I never had many doubts. Now they were the only thing that surrounded my thoughts. How long? With who? How many times? Since when?
The moment was about infidelity, about cheating, about lies and deceit. Anyone who has been there knows it hurts. All those meaningless songs about breaking ones heart came alive.
How did we get there? Was is my fault? Or who's? In my desperation, unable to sleep for a couple of weeks as my mind circulated in a never-ending loop of questions and rage, I turned to reading Psychology Today and similar sites about cheating and how to deal with it. Their message was the same. It has to end now, all contact with the third party has to end there and then. Easier to give advice than to live by it. One relationship column was interesting and somehow I found it helpful. It stated that we should try to relax and be loose and ask ourselves what we really want. The author claimed that we know deep inside the answer. I decided to fight and somehow felt that we were not through yet.
It took a lot of talking and walking and adjusting. I lived through all the possible mood swings possible. Hate, indifference, anger to name a few, and even love. A quote from Mother Teresa popped up in my mind. When there is no hate left, there is only more love to give. Or something to that affect.
The time for decisions came. We talked and agreed to continue but also decided it was time to quit living in Thailand. I'd had enough of the so called Thai way or Thai culture or call it whatever it is. Basically it is you against them. You are never going to be part of it. Try or not, you are the eternal outsider. After 14 years it was time to call it quits. So that was our agreement. After such a time in LOS it was also scary. My last visit to my native country was years ago. Half a decade had passed and I was not sure what to expect.
I had my old house and things in order when returning. Note to self: Never burn bridges! I quickly established contact with people I had last spoken to a decade ago stating that I needed a job. Anything would be okay as long as it was paying my dues. I haven't still found a day job but several little jobs and tasks give me enough to pay my way. I have visited the doctor and national health insurance pays for those encounters. To be honest, it's rather boring here after Thailand and the weather is just plain awful but everything works. People on the street look like black and grey wrapped zombies but that's probably to protect themselves from Mother Nature.
I noticed a significant drop in stress levels when getting adapted to the local ways of life that I know so well from the past. After being here couple of months I miss tasty spicy food but that I have somehow managed with visits to the local supermarket which has most of the ingredients of an Asian kitchen available. Somehow the chili just seems to be a bit less hot here. Don't know how but it just is. Another thing I miss is the buzz that surrounds us in the streets of Thai citizens. But that's about all I miss. I thought it would be much harder but it's not. The whole country is fading in my memory rapidly and I believe that after my next visit to settle few remaining things that need to be dealt with I will look for other sceneries. I already booked my trip to the Spanish sun coast for a quick holiday and am planning to visit London in the near future. I haven't been looking forward to this kind of activity in a long time. It's Europe! It's culture and things I like and enjoy. Not that Thai culture that I grew more and more varyingly suspicious of like what they want from me now in the name of Thai culture?
There are so many things that I feel less stress about. My other half is excited all the time about the new things to see and look at. We had more than a few things to do before exiting Thailand but now everything is legally settled and we can carry on with our lives without visits every 3 months to neighbouring countries or other kind of nonsense if we so decide. We can CHOOSE to go when we feel like it, not when we are supposed to jump the hola hoops set by some bureaucrat.
I think I understand partly the reasons that Stick and so many others have decided to leave after trying so hard and long to be part of something. I also thought I would never leave and I still did. A decision that I believe I will never regret. I think I would have regretted staying. Somehow everything felt like I was repeating a never-ending circle of events that more and more reminded me of the last lap. As bad and rude the awakening was, it was much needed.
A quote from Starky: "It gets old, it gets stale and you start noticing flaws that weren't there before. It's not always the place that has changed and more than likely it's you. Familiarity breeds contempt".
I could have written those words. I've been around Thailand and seen probably everything worthwhile to be seen. Only the Southern areas with ongoing killings have not tempted me to visit. And to be honest, I have never felt that Thailand in itself has much to offer when it comes to culture. And I don't mean those tourist dancing shows or elephant football games. To me they are attractions, not serious cultural events. In that regard Europe wins 10:0. And this feeling does not stop to culture. There are so many things more to do – and participate in – which are not present in the Kingdom.
Since I had no idea what points to pick, I sort of stumbled upon this submission about Philippines and since the issues seemed much the same as in LOS, I just copied the lines and will comment them regarding my one and a half decades in the Kingdom. You may or may not agree but this is how I see it.
"The polarisation of views on living in the Thailand is particularly striking".
Yep. As we can see from expat sites, many feel that the fellow mate and expat is completely wrong in his experiences. I feel more and more that we all see the various things in a different light and time casts its shadows on the way we see them.
‘People who come to live in Thailand either leave after a short time or stay for life in my experience.’
In my case, I thought I would shuffle my way through forever but that was not to be. My real pet hate is the bureaucracy and the corruption. It wears one down, especially if one refuses to pay on demand. All these little annoyances become so clear and the feeling towards them stronger when one has to live with them. As a tourist, what seems like another life long ago, I was truly wearing pink eyeware. That wears off and somehow it all becomes not just realistic but boring, unfulfilling, thin. It is like what Norman Mailer once said about modern culture. It is like plastic. It is very useful, very practical but how does it feel like? Wood feels like wood, metal like metal, stone like stone but what does plastic feel like? That is the feeling when I try to describe what I feel nowadays towards a place that I once praised with glowing adjectives. It somehow has become as important to me as a used bag of plastic. Best kept in some drawer.
‘I would advise all not to move here. … They want your money but they don’t want you here’, ‘
As sad as it is, I believe this to be the truth. It doesn't matter how much you have helped people, how much you have helped to improve people's lives or what you have done for them. There will be no rewards.
‘Some love it here and some cannot adjust.”
I would say that the first group really hasn't arrived yet and the latter feel that they are out of place – which they actually are. My best way to cope up with all the annoyances was to enjoy my own company. Maybe not the best option but it kept me sane and out of problems. And as a person I enjoy family life. I'm not really a people's person as such. Regarding the company that was mostly available, they were drunks or people I would not have associated with under any other circumstances. There were few exceptions, very far and few apart. Village bargirls attract company that is not what I would call the cream of any society.
‘Those who fight the Thai way are unhappy here.’
Let's call a spade a spade. I would say that the 'Thai Way' in 99.99% of cases is that they want what they want because they want it. They want to be the Number 1 and that's that. No negotiations can be had with people who have the mentality of a five year old. And it doesn't depend where they stand in society. I've met them on the level of Thai government officers and on the level of less-than-nice neighbors. My only advice is not to pick a fight you can't win. When it comes to personal things since they are five year olds one can always say that I'll think about it or we can talk about it later. As it happens, they just seem to forget the whole issue in some timeframe.
“Many other countries that have lower living costs, less hassles, seem attractive now.’
Perhaps where I am now is certainly not the cheapest place on earth. But everything works, payments are received when agreed, deliveries are made according the timetable, home appliances have guarantees varying from 1 to 2 years and they do fix or change items when they brake. The service sector provides all kind of imaginable and unimaginable choices with guarantees and qualified personnel. Traveling around Europe is cheap. A weekend somewhere can be had for couple of hundred Euros or pounds in nice, cultural cities with clean linen on the bed. I am attracted to culture, museums, concerts and many other things that I truly missed in Thailand and it doesn't seem to be lost on my better half either. Not to mention, I can own everything in my own name and speak my native language when having some problems. What a blessing! And I don't have to contact people many times for a petty problem as they seem to be functional and functioning without keeping an eye at them.
“I hate the place. Hate the food, hate most of the people, hate the culture.”
Hmm…I thought I would miss Thailand when in the reality I don't. Quite amazing actually. I never hated anyone either just felt that they were misguided and sometimes dysfunctional people. Not my job to change them. Culture…well…mostly I think what goes around in LOS named as 'culture' is abuse in disguise. Do you hate English culture? Or Spanish culture? Or Mongolian culture? I don't and you shouldn't either.
‘The food sucks and you are viewed as a cow to be milked.’
I actually miss some Thai food…and when it comes to fools there is one born every minute…or second…judging how some run their lives in the Land Of Scams.
‘Retirees tend to be happy. Foreigners working here tend not to be due to the incompetence of staff and laziness.’
Fully agree on the latter part. It could be mentioned that Thais hate people making more money than they do themselves. They also seem to expect you to work more than agreed like 7 days a week and 16 hours a day. I had that experience working in an advisory position in Bangkok. Somehow I do understand them. The competition of having one's place in the shadow under the burning sun is fierce. I've had it much easier in the West. There are about 67 million Thais competing and no-one wants to be second best. It's just not in their nature. Talk about backstabbing, they will do it at every possible turn if they can. To be number 1, remember? They have no regrets stealing your work either. I had a complete manual for new training program copied and stolen and nobody until now has ever paid me for the extensive work I did. And probably never will. As it happens, it was printed as a book and published in Thai. I never got anything out of it. Or maybe I learned not to trust anyone.
When it comes to being happy…err…no money worries (pension, money in the Western bank or similar) and freedom, who wouldn't be happy? Those without families or bondages to locals seem the most happy. Only benefits and less problems. Problems seem to arise when one engages in any kind of intimate encounter. That's the starting point for troubles, I would call it. What's in it for me is the question I ask myself nowadays more often. I should have started asking it a long time ago.
‘You can turn a blind eye to most of the drawbacks but in the end it wears you down.’
Yes. It's called cognitive dissonance. We constantly feel that we go against our own beliefs, morals and ethics. In the end we just get tired of resisting the all-surrounding incompetence and lack of morals and corruption. It effects one's self-esteem and image of self. As soon as we start giving in to questionable practices we will slowly lose our moral compass. Some might think this as a small issue but for me it is question of where we aim to be in our lives.? Do we aim to become less or to become more? To me to lose aim and become accustomed to the 'mai pen rai' attitude is losing the goals once so important to me. I don't want to look back one day and think that it could have been so much better.
‘Most Westerners seem happy enough. Local girls take care of older guys with health problems’.
Try it without a pension or any money. Very few would stick with you when things go pear-shaped. And what we see and what is the reality are sometimes quite the opposite.
‘Expats on modest incomes and with some serious medical conditions should be very careful before opting to retire here’.
I have personally helped two foreigners when they were out of money and in a bad situation with their health. No insurance and very big issues. I ended up paying some of their expenses and am still waiting for a thank you card or my money back. I won't hold my breath waiting either. It makes me think that Thais are very unwilling to take anybody else's problems to themselves. Maybe they are right. I certainly have done my share.
All in all, I loved most of my time in Thailand. Now it is time to move on. As unpleasant as the cause that made me decide was, I have no regrets. It just ended. My love for Thailand, that is.