I visit Canada every year for a month to look after business and visit friends and family. Here are some thoughts.
I live in Bangkok for 11 months of the year and have done so for the past five years. Before that, I lived in Vancouver, Canada, and visited Bangkok every 2 months for 2 months at a time. That went on for 2 years.
I live in Bangkok, downtown on Sukhumvit Soi 22, to avail myself of the nightlife that Bangkok has to offer. I live with my Thai wife of 4 years and my 3-year-old son. My wife is 30 and I am no spring chicken at 66 years of age although most people take me for 50 years of age because I keep myself healthy and very fit.
Stick has talked much about what he values in New Zealand and why Thailand no longer has the draw that it used to have. After 7 years of experiencing Thailand I still prefer it over Canada which is rated as one of the best countries in the world. Why?
I arrived in Canada 5 days ago at Toronto en-route to Ottawa. I immediately lined up at Tim Horton’s for my first medium double double in a year. That drink, and the breakfast sausage sandwich is one thing I miss when in Thailand. Chalk one up for Canada.
When I disembarked from the Ottawa flight and stepped outside the terminal I embraced the 25 degree temperature with no humidity, the clear night sky, and the wonderful fresh air, free of the constant particulate matter that my lungs imbibe on a daily basis in downtown Bangkok. Again, something I miss when I am in Thailand. Chalk one up for Canada.
I am staying at my sister’s house, cat sitting while she visits in Europe for 2 weeks. I have the use of her car and I am therefore mobile, as Ottawa’s transit system simply cannot compete with the BTS, MRT, and taxis, both car and bike. My taxi fare from the airport was 1200 baht for a 30-minute drive whereas in Bangkok it would have been 250 baht. Chalk one up for Thailand.
The next morning I head out for some grocery shopping, deciding to walk. It is a beautiful sunny day and a 30-minute walk to the grocery store so I am thirsty and look for a coke in a vending machine. $2.50 CDN for the same bottle I buy from a 7/11 in Bangkok for 18 baht! Chalk one up for Thailand.
The groceries are hit and miss, some cheaper (peanut butter) some more expensive (vegetables) but I would call it a draw for grocery shopping. However, as for eating out, I long ago realized I can eat out in Bangkok at a decent restaurant for what the tip would be in Canada for the same class of restaurant. Chalk one up for Thailand.
Back at my sister’s place, I start setting up meeting times for my adult children and friends, as well as my business partner. My business is the main reason I suffer through the 25-hour flight once a year. It is always great to see family and friends but they have their own lives and I would typically see them once a month at best if I lived in Canada. In Bangkok, I see my friends weekly and meet new people on a weekly basis. I also have a fair number of bar girl friends for some reason, some for over many years. Chalk one up for Thailand.
Every morning I wake up and run along the beautiful Ottawa River parkway. I don’t run outside in Bangkok because of the pollution and the heat. Chalk one up for Canada.
I was quite jet-lagged after my flight so I have not been out for a beer yet. That will happen in a couple of days and I will be able to comment on the nightlife although I doubt it has changed since last year. As for the females, they seriously need to go on a diet! I think the politically correct people here in Canada call that ‘fat shaming!’ but really, it is what it is. Must be the diet, or they are just so unhappy they eat to enjoy their life. Chalk one up for Thailand.
After 5 days, I find myself bored. I chat with my wife and son on LINE twice a day and my wife asked me how I was enjoying being home and I told her, ‘Home is where your family is.’ My best friends and my new family is in Thailand. I miss them. I have found that the expats complaining about their life in Thailand often do not have family or an emotional (other than angry or grumpy) attachment to Thailand. Hanging out with like-minded, grumpy old men is just going to make it worse. Kind of like riding a dead horse. Time to get off and try something new 🙂
These are my thoughts after week 1 and I will follow up with part 2 when my yearly visit to Canada is complete.
I guess it all comes back to the lifestyle one wants. If I wanted to party, eat out all the time and chase girls, Thailand would be much better than New Zealand for sure. But at this point in my life I want to live a quiet life, enjoy outdoor activities, eat well and spend time with family – so New Zealand is a much better fit. Who knows, maybe some time in the future I might gravitate back to Thailand or venture somewhere else. Places change, we change and what we want from life changes.
I’ve always thought it important when comparing places to live, particularly when it is our homeland vs Thailand, that we are brutally honest with ourselves about our personal situation. I think a lot of Western retirees choose to live in Thailand because it is cheap and their money goes further. There’s nothing wrong with that – but few people actually seem to like saying they prefer Thailand for the low cost of living. Many instead claim that their homeland is evil or trash-talk it, something I have never really understood, especially when in Thailand they still prefer Western food, speaking their mother tongue, hanging out with people from their own country following sports, news, movies etc all from their homeland / the West.
I do think there is something to be said for Westerners living in Thailand to make frequent trips home. An annual visit helps keep things in perspective.
The author cannot be contacted.