Readers' Submissions

Thou Doth Protest Too Much, Methinks…!

  • Written by Anonymous
  • June 23rd, 2015
  • 8 min read


Black Pagoda Patpong Bangkok



Ever since Stick decided to definitely, this time, depart these shores it seems a large number of ‘parasitic neophytes’ have come out of the woodwork to assure him (as if it were necessary…) he has not only done the right thing but they have also done the same thing, or will be following suit any time soon… or are certainly thinking about it… or already did it some time ago and can’t understand why it took Stick so long to come to his senses… or words to this effect.

Those who have read some of my earlier posts here might have noticed my aversion to generalisation, something we are all guilty of at times – I think it’s human nature, but no more commendable for that.

So it half amuses me to read these reassuring submissions and comments because of their apparent generalisation that, not only have ‘they’ seen the light but we all will, one day, and the sooner the better.

Let me state quite clearly that Stick’s recent and current circumstances do not surprise me and his decisions (and the admirable way he has conducted himself therein) are, I’m sure, quite correct… for him…! And maybe for many others as well… but his course of action isn’t necessarily right for anybody else and, if it is for you, then good luck to you as well… but why not just get on with it, and stop justifying your actions by trying to encourage the rest of us this is the only way to go. We are not, even by nature (I hope), lemmings…

I have a feeling one of the main reasons for these parochial comments is that there are (in my opinion) two types of expat – in Thailand as anywhere else – and neither type perhaps understands the other. Delve in more deeply and the two types break down into numerous smaller groups and it should then be instantly apparent that we are all different… We all had different reasons for first coming here (or going anywhere), and different reasons why we stayed, and thus it presumably follows we might have different reasons for now (or soon) leaving – or just continuing to stay.

If I might be permitted a little more of your time (and your indulgence in a potential generalisation…) I think I can outline these differences very simply. Basically, if you are under 40-45, and still in full-time employment, you are probably in a very different position (wherever you are in the world, and whatever your socio-economic status) to those who might be over 50-55 and effectively retired.

Anybody who becomes an expat in their 20s or 30s is liable to do so (being possibly unmarried) either for a better status of life and work or to enhance their CV, both perfectly valid and worthwhile motives. I’ve done this twice in the past and never regretted it. However, it would surprise me if someone made such a huge change in their ‘youth’ and then failed to make further changes – nothing wrong if you don’t, just that if you had the wherewithal to do it once I would expect it to happen again… and this is why I was not at all surprised that Stick decided to do it again, and I personally hope he will eventually make a third such change in his life rather than just do NZ – BKK – NZ – but that’s just my view…

There are various reasons why someone in this group might become, shall we say, disenchanted… not so much that things start to go wrong, or the previous status improvements cease to occur, but perhaps because the rate of improvement slows down, opportunities for promotion seem to weaken (or even disappear) and human nature starts to encourage a search for new horizons. I think this is sometimes exhibited in attitudes towards local ‘problems’ – those problems that, for many years, have been fairly minor, and easily dealt with, but which now ally themselves to other minor problems and all seems to go wrong – down the toilet, to use a less than elegant expression. In such circumstances there are likely to be two potential outcomes – either increasing unrest and dissatisfaction with what you have, or a minor exodus.

Conversely, someone who becomes an expat after retiring is perhaps seeking to stretch his financial resources, or to enjoy a more hospitable climate/environment, or perhaps to experience one of those life-changes that have previously only been heard about… what others might have been doing while he played safe and/or looked after his family. This latter group is perhaps unlikely to be looking for a second change in their lives and might tend to believe this new location is to be their last…

I have also fitted into this second group, having pretty much retired here thinking I would build my ‘dream home’… and that would be ‘it’…

Equally, there are various reasons why someone in this group might become disenchanted… perhaps because things do start to go wrong, and perhaps because future prospects do disappear, and attitudes towards local ‘problems’ do become a major headache. In such circumstances there can equally be two potential outcomes – unrest and dissatisfaction, or a private exodus.

Additionally, there are obviously a few people who tend to hover on the edges of these groups, and others who flutter between the two… after all, we’re all different. And an expat who has married ‘locally’ is in a very different boat, when it comes to moving on, to those who are still single.

So… if we come here for different reasons there are likely to be different reasons for leaving and for someone who, for example, is bored with visa runs to the point of frustration and anger, and without the ability to change his situation, maybe the only option is to accept a need to relocate, but what seems to be happening at the moment is that one man’s anger is being offered as a suitable reason for others (who might be quite content with their lot in life) to go as well… and the one thing I would never do is follow an angry, disenchanted man.

I have perhaps been very fortunate in life – after a very poor beginning a few lucky breaks, a little hard work and a modicum of talent in my field allowed me to have a successful and satisfying life… and it’s still ongoing. I have had four major upsets in my life which have resulted in (but not necessitated) a change of plan – a change of direction – but then, as always, I managed to avoid running away… i. e. wherever I went was because that’s where I chose to go – I never left somewhere because it had fallen out of favour, I left because I had found somewhere potentially better, and wanted to give it a try. And it was always worthwhile. An oft-used phrase is, if you don’t like it here you should go home…! I never really agreed with this and prefer to suggest that if you’re no longer happy somewhere it might certainly be advantageous to try somewhere else… but it doesn’t have to be ‘back home’…

My first major change was caused by poor advice at school which resulted in the wrong career and when my original desire became available I couldn’t resign quickly enough. The second time was a personal thing and I simply put all my energies into my career. The third time I was a bit more adventurous and moved to Japan. In all three cases I was fully employed and this factor obviously influenced the adjustments.

The fourth, and last time (although I feel sure there will be a fifth), occurred when my Thai wife decided she wanted out, and the ‘dream’ retirement house seemed both lonely and no longer needed – I wasn’t ready to warm my slippers, and find a pipe. I resisted the advice given by family and friends to leave Thailand because I had nothing particular against Thailand, and my ex-wife’s problems, though not uncommon here, were not the same as everyone else I knew in Thailand… However, I had a yen to see more of the north Mediterranean coastline (having previously travelled from Lisbon to Athens) and found a cottage in a tiny mountain village in Southern Italy, about twenty kilometres from the coast, where I happily relocated.

After making a few improvements to the building (which was sound, but archaic) I quickly bought the place (one of the few impulsive acts of my life) and enjoyed a cold winter there, followed by a stunning Spring, and wholesome summer. The only problem was, I missed Hua Hin, and all the ‘friends’ I had made there so, after a year of resting & recharging, I fastened the shutters and came back… and I’ve been here ever since… apart from a couple of enjoyable trips to check on my ex- neighbour’s mountain goats. Indeed, I have now been in Hua Hin longer than anywhere else I have ever lived and, perhaps more enlightening, I have no current plans to depart…

Yes, of course, one day I possibly will leave – but it seems to be in my nature, rather than a problem with Thailand – and, of course, things have changed here, as they have changed everywhere, as have I… Some of the changes I actually like, some I miss… but I also occasionally miss things I had, people I knew, thirty or fifty years ago, and I’ve not spent the last few decades worrying or whining about that.

Anybody who is ready to move on is very welcome to do so, I wish you luck and a safe journey and, as with Stick’s experiences, I will be interested to read about what happens to you. If it turns out to have been successful I will be very happy for you, but please don’t tell the rest of us we should do the same thing… or I will remember Queen Gertrude, and think thou doth protest too much…

Pip, Pip…