Readers' Submissions

PTSD – Post Thailand Stress Disorder


Hello to all Stickman readers and Stick. Hope everyone is well and keeping themselves out of “trouble”, however trouble defines itself for you :)

PTSD, yes that dreaded scourge that affects us all, Post Thailand Stress Disorder.

We all know its effects. Depression, sadness, longing, isolation….the feeling of being nowhere. Sighhhhh, that dreaded black dog that can never be satisfied no matter how much you feed him, no matter how many times you walk him.

We talk with glee about our stories and expectations. I did that just last night (12/7/18). I was in rapture explaining to my friends the adventures of my 5-week trip last year to Thailand and Cambodia. My was voice heightened, my recall of events sharp, my friends’ ears red and ringing at the loudness and enthusiasm of my tone. Others also recounted their stories. We shared notes, scenarios and locations (of course soi 6!). As the night finished and I was dropped off at home. I heard the bark of that annoying (black) dog. (“Black dog” is a western euphemism for depression.)

I lay in bed, another bout of PTSD was approaching. My enthusiasm morphing into emptiness. Friends gone, me alone. I heard from someone once that Asians don’t really get depression (yes, I know, big generalization here). From my experience in general, it seems to be true. Different attitudes to life I guess.

My friends always ask, “How was your holiday?” I almost always reply that I don’t go on holidays, I go on trips, journeys. And almost always something crazy happens on my trips. And usually they are very funny, AFTER they have happened. Last year I got kicked off the Ekkamai bus from Bangkok to Pattaya and on to the freeway for talking too much! I was eventually let back on after the driver had his cigarette. I did not peep a word the rest of the bus ride. Everyone on the bus laughed at it afterwards.

I wake in the morning wondering how I will face the day. The same monotony and attitudes. I look at prices for almost everything around me and wonder how things can be so expensive. My usual phrase here is, “I get that in Thailand for less than half!” My fake Rolex Submariner that I bought in Bali for $100 still works perfectly after 2 years of constantly wearing it. Yes, it even has the logo etched in to the glass at the number 6. And then again some t-shirts I have bought are now hung on op-shop shelves!

I look at the girls here and see the westerness of them all. Over the years I have bothered with them, only to consistently lose or be outdone by some idiot loser. Did I fail? I used to think I did. But, no, not really. Ultimately I succeeded because I let myself lose from all those ridiculous Western-imposed feminist shackles. Now I don’t bother at all. Why the f88ck should I? The Pretender writes the perfect articles explaining all that. But I’m definitely not into ladyboys.

I have had my best and most fun times with girls from South-East Asia. The way they laugh and their sense of humour. It’s just too easy to joke and make fun with them. I always look for the ones who have a sense of humour and know how to have fun. It’s the way I approach my travels to that part of the world. Attitude makes a huge difference. Gosh those two in Siem Reap hahahaha “Noooo noooo, no touché there. Me tickalick, meeeeee tickalick!”. Or the two in Suzy Wong bar in Phuket, we got into a big “baton” fight. Beating each other up as much as we could, of course they were naked :). And then there was playing pool in a soi 6 bar whilst the girls were trying to distract me in all manner possible, including grabbing my “sausage” hahaha. And the really nice and genuine caddy I had whilst playing golf in Bali. Where in Australia could I do things like that? …. In Nowhereville, that’s where!

As I face each day I reminisce my stories from time to time. It helps me get through the sometimes monotony of life. I do find it annoying though how many articles talk of “the good old days”. Like what, now your life is over? Geez! I look forward to the great new days I am about to have. I look forward to my future journeys that I continually plan and re-plan in my head. The new experiences, the people I will meet, the crazy situations I’m going to get myself in. Yes I would have loved to see that part of the world in the ‘70s and ‘80s. But those days are GONE, gentleman, GONE!

I can understand how long terms residents of South-East Asia can eventually tire of it and want to move back to their home country. As mentioned in other articles, I have lived overseas and in other states of Australia. But home is home I guess. It’s what you’re used to and understand. A friend of mine lives in Phuket 6 months of the year. He told me he would never live there permanently. 6 months is enough for him, and he is more than happy to return to the Australian summer.

As I say to many people, “Travelling through a country can be a lot of fun. But living there is something totally different.”

So now my PTSD is somewhat relieved. The dog has stopped barking and has gone to sleep. Writing, reading, remembering and reminiscing are good therapy. I enjoy reading and sometimes re-reading the many articles on the website. Some writers have intrigued me with their stories; others have given me great ideas and information. (What happened to the writer who had the satellite based computer generated chat line form the UK, I think he wrote about 5/6 episodes then disappeared?).

It makes me happy knowing there are fellow travellers and experiencers out there. And some who share similar attitudes and outlooks. A big thanks to ALL the writers and Stick.

I hope you enjoyed my story. No I don’t suffer from real PTSD only the Thailand one lol. But I do respect the struggles from people who do, and I do know some.

Thanks to all and happy travels.

PS: my submission “One Crowded Hour” took about 4 months to finish, this article I wrote in about an hour. Isn’t writing funny like that?!

Stick’s thoughts:

I think many can relate to what you say. In the early days in Thailand I really loved my life there and whenever I was away from Bangkok – be it upcountry or out of the country – I just could not wait to get back to Bangkok!

Things changed of course and I moved back to New Zealand. The good news is that there IS life after Thailand and I think the main thing is simply finding other things that make you happy and pursue them with the same vigour that you did your Thailand trips!