Pig or Beast?
In 19 days time I will pick up a nice pile of cash from the sale of my house in the UK. This will be added to the even nicer pile of cash in the bank. I have been out of Thailand for about five years and have done okay buying and selling houses here, in a small way, and doing almost all the renovation work myself. Waiting to offload this final house I actually found myself rather bored as I did not have much work to do.
This leaves the rather big problem of what to do next. In another life, I would happily have shot over to Thailand and worked my way through the pile of dosh that I am fairly sure would last me out (I am nearly sixty). Unfortunately, the last Thai girlfriend and I parted on not the best of terms with threats from her Thai boyfriend (he never made any money out of the relationship so lost huge face) who has some vague Mafia connections that included the odd hitman. Thailand is a big enough place but then those bar-girls come from all over the country and look out for each other. Also, there is fairly easy access to airport arrivals info and the hotel database which registers foreigners, so it is not that difficult to trace visitors. The paranoia would probably do me in more than the actual locals!
The Philippines is the obvious alternative and I have visited fairly recently (via KL which made me a bit nervous with all the Thais working the markets and neon areas). After Thailand, it is not an inspiring place and even more humid with dreadful air quality in Manila and Angeles. The police are much more corrupt and much more interested in poking their noses in to foreigner's affairs, especially anywhere near the neon. A few have been carted off to the cop shop during bar raids, and if they decide you are an easy target then things can get way out of hand with accusations of child rape or drug dealing coming out of thin air. In Angeles, the child beggars have upped their game and have been seen whacking tourists with sticks! All that might be bearable if the babes in the bars were top rate but they are much more Washington Square than Baccara and many are not even very nice. <Oh, good Lord, please don't be saying that. You know the Philippines Whoremongers Association are a zillion times more sensitive than their Thailand-focused cousins and send me nasty emails any time anyone writes anything about Angeles that is anything other than glowingly positive – Stick>
Have not been to Cebu – famed for the beauty of its women – or Baguio – famous for its hilly cool air – or many other places so it is still a possibility.
Hong Kong and Singapore are far too expensive to live long term, though the Asian bull is about to crash some time soon so you never know where property prices and currencies will end up. Don't know why, but never felt happy with the Chinese ambience in Hong Kong but Singapore is fine, an easy touch except for the expense but good for tax-free banking and perhaps stock market trading. Somewhere safe to put the loot, anyway.
Laos is laid back on the surface but the local men really want to put whitey down. I suspect an inferiority bred on the back of having very small cocks? But who knows. It is illegal to sex a Laotian girl unless you are married (if you are a foreigner, the locals can do whatever they can get away with) but the girls are now a lot smaller and thinner than most Thai girls. It is legal to sex a Laotian man so you have a large number of the buggers dressing up as women and trying to con tourists. Anyway, I would not want to live there long term.
Phnom Penh, despite its heart of darkness reputation, felt a hell of a lot safer than the Philippines and is quite liveable but there is simply no density of really attractive women. Lots of ex-brothel skanks in the bars, many of them so bad you would probably need medical attention if you kissed them! Some attractive gals floating around but they don't seem to do casual sex and are either waiting for Mr. Right (who I guess is a lot closer to 20 than 60 years old) or have their boyfriend sitting outside on one of the moto taxis. I will visit again but won't stay unless I get lucky with one of the attractive babes.
Have not been to Vietnam but you get odd reports that some of the beach towns are good to live in but not sure I want to give any money to a Communist regime. Held in reserve at the moment. China is just too big to get my mind around, would not know where to start and again communist bastards in charge. I do trade the Chinese market via ETFs but that is another casino-like story. As with Communists so with Muslims, no real inclination to stay long in Malaysia and have not visited Indonesia but plenty of reports of attractive women interested in foreigners. Possibilities!
One of the reasons I alighted back in Blighty, the poor old pound was wrecked by Gordon Brown trying to turn the country into a socialist paradise (whilst saying exactly the opposite) but sterling is slowly recovering whilst many Euro zone economies are in a wretched state with cheaper property than in many Asian countries (whose currencies have begun to falter but not collapse yet). Spain, Portugal, Romania etc, all nice enough places to live with cheap property to buy as long as you don't want to live in a frontline tourist resort. I am tempted to buy a nice penthouse apartment in one of these countries and use it as a new base but the lack of suitable women holds me back.
Incidentally, I was amused to note that in the South Coast town where I live you get exactly the same antics that you get in Thailand, where poverty struck girls are put on the game by their thuggish boyfriend/pimp and even try some long cons on older guys. Exactly the same dynamic between the very poor and the relatively rich, and exactly the same family/clan loyalty (you just don't have the added intensity of the race card). Did not indulge but interesting to watch how quickly 16 year old waifs fall from grace. Will only get worse as the current government bites into welfare and social housing.
So what next? Given another life it would probably be Thailand despite the way things seem to be going downhill for Westerners. It has apparently gone from being bargain basement to merely quite cheap re women and general living costs but the great thing about the Thais is that they are easy going as long as you don't personally insult them and sufficiently arrogant / deluded not to be threatened by whitey, so you get an easy ride compared to places like the Philippines.
At the back of my mind there is the idea, rather depressing, that I have run out of time. Not so much my age, though that does not help, but that the general mindset of the natives has changed, and there's a much denser anti-foreigner feeling from the Asians. We are seen as pigs by the Filipinas and beasts by the Thais, as the internet opens up the whole neon world to normal people, the general feeling is one of horror at the way foreigners treat the girls… on the other hand 35 years ago Bernard Trink (in his Bangkok World newspaper column) used to warn off foreigners from Patpong bar-girls because they all had Thai pimps living off them. Which brings up the frightening possibility that each are getting exactly what they deserve.
My conclusion, though, is that it is all down to luck and karma, look to yourself before heading for Asia. I will be tossing a coin or rolling a dice… makes as much sense as anything else, these days!
If I were doing it all over again, I'd probably still head to Thailand. With its sold infrastructure (compared to its neighbours), relative acceptance of foreigners and the fact that there is a sizeable expat community, it's an easy spot to base oneself. New arrivals and those whose primary motivation is pleasures of the flesh still love the place. If I was to return to South-East Asia for an extended period – as in be based in one place for a few years – perhaps it would be KL. I prefer the food south of the border and the naughty stuff holds zero interest so I'd not miss that side of things from Thailand. If naughtiness was my sole, or primary motivation, Angeles would probably be the frontrunner. With that said, having heard many reports from good friend about the place, I absolutely know I wouldn't like it there at all!