Readers' Submissions

After 3+ Years in Thailand, Reflections From Home




I'm writing this from the West Coast of USA, in a very quiet, very peaceful duplex. I have returned to the US after 3+ years living in Bangkok. I'm still deciding what really happened out there. My decision to move to Thailand, back in 2010, was based on a lifelong dream of living out of the US for at least one year of my life. I had originally wanted to live in Europe, but during the time I was looking for the right place to land, European economics were in meltdown. So I started researching Asia. For work purposes I almost went to Singapore, but then decided Bangkok would be more fun.

I was right.

It wasn't just the sex. I never had trouble landing women in the States. I broke up with a very attractive Thai / Cambodian woman in the US before I left. She was fun, but a bit of a bitch at times. I know enough about women to understand that ratio changes the longer you're in a relationship. Married, she would have been a bitch that was a bit of fun at times. She wanted kids and I didn't. That was that. Before that I had two different 20-something girlfriends, great sex, lots of drama, not long-term but fun. I had learned stellar game skills and liked landing semi long-term relationships with pretty women. It was worth the pursuit, the hunt, the thrill of the conquest and of course, all the great sex. So I didn't go to Thailand for sex. I went to fulfill a lifetime goal of living out of my country for a year, and when I added up how I was supporting myself, what the costs of living were, and the fact that English teaching provided a safety net if things went wrong, Thailand just made sense.

I landed in Bangkok and fell in love with the place. I had lived most of my life in New York City, and spent time in Paris, Rome, London, LA, Berlin, Caracas and many other amazing places. But Bangkok blew my mind. The chaos, the sexiness, the otherness, and just how freaking different it was from the staid, plain US was like medicine. Even New York City – supposedly that wild town – is to me, a very processed and predictable place when compared to Bangkok. So I loved it. I traveled Thailand for a month and returned to Bangkok. I set up shop pursuing my dreams. I got lucky with real hard work, landed my business contacts back West, and managed to live for more than three years in Thailand. I had a nice condo, pool on the roof, and money to play with. There were a few rough patches for sure, but also some nice straight-aways. Basically, it turned out to be what I was looking for: the adventure of a lifetime.

That adventure meant broadening my horizons. I loved learning the language. I was a Thai language class nerd. I made a few Thai friends and played badminton religiously. I put a damn good pool game together. I travelled all over, made expat friends, and had a blast. I even finally got a local job offer in my industry, which is really tough to do, and held that for a while, living the Bangkok executive life although admittedly not on the high end of that scale. Still, it was all really remarkable.

However, when a job offer came up with an old employer in the West, I took it. After more than three years, I was ready to leave. They flew me back, settled me here, and I plugged in. I actually landed on the fourth of July, if you can believe that. And I was thrilled to be back. I hadn't been back in the US for even a holiday the whole time I was in SE Asia. Any time I had to travel, I had gone all over Thailand, Laos or Cambodia. I love SE Asia, but my reasons for repatting were professional. The jobs are better in the US. I stayed with mine for five months. It was a contract. When I was offered a full time job, I turned it down in order to start another business I had been planning. And that's where I am now.

I loved being back in the States when I landed. I loved being back in familiar settings, and hearing familiar speech. I loved catching up with friends. I fully intended to plug back in here, and resume life where I had left it when I had jetted to Thailand. Thailand had been working against me in the half year before I left. I was getting fed up with the visa issues, and the outsider status. I became depressed at how hard it was to positively affect the business world there, or even the fate of the country. I like to think I can make a difference where I am. Of course, there are charities, and I did a bit of work with those. But ultimately, Thailand is for Thais. God bless them for that, is my attitude. In this One World homogenization that is happening, I have lots of respect for countries that retain national values and identities. Although I respect it, that doesn't mean I wasn't frustrated by it, and ultimately, living as a constant outsider was getting to me. I had also come to the conclusion that marrying a Thai, or even having a serious Thai girlfriend wasn't what I liked, due to the many reasons cited in other posts here. I dated “civilians” who weren't in the leisure industry, but found the culture gap too huge to leap. Plus the adjustment I had to make in terms of being 3rd on the totem pole (Family, Career, Boyfriend) never did it for me. After that decision, I partied too much. I was drinking and balling and more than a bit adrift before I left. That's why I was really happy to be back in the US. It was just time to go. My hand had been played. I felt very lucky to leave when and how I did.

But here's the problem.

After the glow of happy returns wore off, I have to be honest with the fact that I just don't like the US lifestyle. I came back to give the west a full on fair shake. I even saw it with new eyes. And there's much I really love about US that I had to be away from before I could appreciate it. It truly is a tremendous land of amazing professional opportunity, as well as a place where self development is encouraged and valued. Every system is crooked, but the corruption here is way toned down compared to SE Asia. The work place has some clowns, but is largely a meritocracy, where good workers are advanced, and losers get let go. People try hard. They want to make things better. The innovate. But what's really turning me off is how processed it all is. How boring. It feels like this grey machine. A conveyor belt. Relationships feel flimsy. Everybody works. Watches TV. Works more. The amount of hostility towards men is repulsive, as it plays out in the workplace and in media. But the underground of MGTOW and Red Pill is filled with a tremendous amount of hostility as well. I just really can't believe how unhappy and depressed most people in the west are. It's like there is this War on Love, destroying relationships between lovers, friends, and communities. There's not much neighborhood or local cohesion. I feel everybody keeps busy busy busy all the time, working buying and watching, working buying and watching, to avoid admitting how bleak and punishing the average life is here. I don't want to support it. I don't want to fit in and be part of it.

I have no regrets I left Thailand, and in terms of timing, when I was pulled back here was really a blessing. But I can't deny the fact that I feel a huge void in my life out here. I believe what I miss most is the excitement and adventure and just fantastic thrill – with all the tribulations that went with it – which living abroad in SE Asia provides. I just had more fun there. I felt more alive there. And what's also really difficult is that all of the experiences I had in Thailand aren't really welcome out here. Beyond the natural bias that women have of "men who go to Thailand", I'm just shocked that nobody really wants to know what life in another land is like. Maybe I'm a bad story teller. But maybe Americans are just living in their bubble. My countrymen have little frame of reference outside of their work and TV shows. It's heartbreaking, really. So much of the world, so much to see and hear about, and nobody wants to hear about it. I read a lot of columns on Stick that talk about how Thais don't really know much about the outside world. But in a way, the Americans don't either. So I'm left with this huge piece of living, and no place to process it. It's disheartening.

The place runs well. The trains are on time, as they say, but psychologically, I feel the West is a very hostile and weird place these days. Especially when it comes to men / women relationships. I am shocked at the deterioration in relationships that I have seen, in just the past ten years. It's just so aggressively mercenary. The romance has been drained from the punch. There's very little charm in the process. I found dating pretty pointless, but still fun and sweet enough in Thailand. Even it if leads nowhere beyond walking around a mall and having some sex, it was lighter and more pleasant. In America, dating is this grim operation to perform: shit tests, hoops, Social Market Value, and the flat-out rude bossiness that has become the modern American woman. Joyless. Probably that's what this entire post comes down to… that one word: Joyless. America is not a life. It's a job. The job is work. And work sucks.

Thais value fun. They like life light. Sanuk isn't just something in tour books. They have an art to daily living that has a pleasant ambience based on a healthy injection of “I don't give a damn”. All of us who have lived there have been on the maddening side of it. But from where I'm writing now, I see it now as a great way to resist the corporate take-over of every part of life. Why the fxxk should we all have to work so hard? Who's getting rich off our sweat? Just this morning I read that a new crisis on American college campuses is that many American university students are killing themselves or crowding counselor's crisis centers. Shouldn't higher learning be a better experience? They are probably feeling total dread at what the American system has laid out for them: joyless toil. It's like we're all fighting as hard as we can to jam our way into jobs that shred us. Why? Life shouldn't be so damn serious. Thais know that. I miss that. I miss them. I miss their land.

With luck I'll be back and honestly, probably bitching about lots of the things I just heralded in the previous paragraph. lol. Should fate decide otherwise, and slugging it out in the US is my path, I have my memories. They will remain a precious jewel for life. Either way, I am richer, wiser, and more the man I dreamed of being for having spent my time in LOS.

Enjoy it out there, gentlemen. Play smart and it's a brilliant part of the world to live life. Play dumb and it's still one hell of an adventure. My time there was a blend of both and I wouldn't trade it for anything.