The Golden Age Of The Farang, Part One
I’ve been reading Stickman’s Guide to Bangkok since 2001, yet this is the very first time in which I’ve decided to contribute to it. I count myself fortunate indeed to have experienced first-hand what I call “The Golden Age of the Farang”. And before you quickly judge this post as “just another old man’s grievance letter on how much better it used to be in the LOS than it is now”, I’d ask you to please refrain from a quick judgment. I think the series I’m about to write will bear its own weight in value and then some for both new visitor and seasoned expat.
The first thing I must confess is that I’m not an old man, unless you consider an individual in his 50s old. Some do. Secondly, I never intended to submit any of my opinions, commentary and argument(s) on how things actually used to be in the LOS in comparison to how I think it is now. What motivated me to offer my perspective is twofold: a) I really enjoy reading Stick’s Weekly, and I’m so glad he’s back at it that I thought I’d like to support his work by writing something interesting. b) Stick’s column, “The Road Home: What I didn’t Expect”, was so decidedly apropos to expats that I thought I should speak up. What do I really mean by that?
To whom of you expats it may concern: Thailand isn’t the only country that’s radically changed in the last 18 years. I’m a natural-born American. My country, the U.S.A., also experienced a sort of Golden Age from 2000 to 2008 until “The Great Recession” hit like an economic hurricane. Millions of middle-class Americans have not fully recovered, yet, and it has been more than a decade. And in case you didn’t know, that slow recovery is in part the reason why Donald Trump was elected President, i.e. because tens of millions of Americans were unhappy with the slow recovery, massive illegal immigration and a Marxist agenda being pushed by Hollywood, Liberal Academia, The FSM (Fake Stream News) and the Bolshevik Democrats lead by the likes of Obama and Clinton.
What happened was tens of millions of Americans suddenly woke up to the massive offshoring of American jobs to China, Mexico and Canada. They woke up and finally realized that “Globalism” was a big, fat lie, and the trade deals were frauds, Wall Street was a racket, the national debt was out of control and the American middle-class had nothing to show for it. Donald Trump came along and said what tens of millions of us were already thinking: the trade deals were not in the best interest of the middle-class, and neither was massive immigration. Millions of us felt we had been totally betrayed by Obama, Hillary and the Democrat Party. And, frankly, we felt that the Bushes were not much better. Both political parties were allowing tens of millions of socialist-minded immigrants who would only vote for more taxes and to take our Second Amendment rights away. In short, what was going on in American politics was a political wealth redistribution scheme. It went something like this: we the political class let foreigners in and provide them with everything they need in exchange for their vote. It was turning in to a competition between the Democrats and Republican Party on who could promise the foreigners more goodies. And guess who paid for those goodies? Yeah. Our country was being flooded with what Ayn Rand called, “the ignorant masses who love collectivism”. Finally, tens of millions of Americans said, “ENOUGH”!!! And the Trump Train started to roll…… And you know the rest of the story. The guy who all of the elite Washington insiders laughed about, mocked, berated and way underestimated actually ended up kicking their political asses. He is now living in the White House. Currently, every other night President Trump holds a MAGA (Make America Great Again) rally and people line up in lines two miles long just to attend. Two miles isn’t hyperbole. In some cases the lines are longer than two miles. And there are never enough seats at the rallies….
So now we have President Donald Trump, i.e., a political knife fighter. And in case it has escaped your notice there is a cultural, ideological, religious, political and economic civil war raging on in America right now. Personally, I’ve never felt and experienced such animus as I do now. The population is polarizing like never before. It feels worse in some cities than the Red Shirt Protests were in Thailand back in 2010. It’s gotten so bad in some American cities that if I wore a bright red MAGA hat and openly supported Donald Trump, then I could fully expect to hear barbaric yawps and then be violently attacked (perhaps murdered) by an individual or a mob suffering from what we call, “Trump Derangement Syndrome”. Yeah, it’s changed that much here in America. Thailand has got nothing on us… And I’ll let you in on a little secret: some people’s trigger fingers are starting to itch, if you know what I mean.
So, again, has America changed? Has Thailand changed? Has Germany? Has China? Yes, yes, yes and yes. I say that all of Euroland has changed since the year 2000, and in many cases not for the better. And here’s the truth: to make matters worse America is overdue for another recession. We normally get a recession every 7-9 years. What’s going to happen when the stock market(s) crash this time around? China’s primary exchange is already down over 25%. What happens if China goes into a crisis like Thailand did back in 1998? Does anybody remember that crash? I know an expat acquaintance who had every spare baht invested in the Thai stock market at the time. He lost 80% of his wealth. His Thai wife left him. And he ended up raising his son alone. He had to get a job as an English teacher and rebuild his life. His son turned out to be no good. He’s an old man now, and to this day he is still a little bitter when he thinks back; but the years 1999 – 2007 were very good years for him, so at least he fully recovered. When the Great Recession hit, his savings were diversified. So he didn’t get hurt too badly, but he didn’t get off unbruised, either.
Here’s the bottom line: The Golden Age of the Farang (circa 1999-2008) has ended everywhere, not just Thailand.
Moreover, and more importantly, I have changed, too. I’m not the same guy I was 18 years ago at the turn of the century — and neither are most of you dear readers. Let’s face it. Thailand has changed, and so have we. Some of us have changed so much that we wouldn’t survive a move back to our home country or a move from our home country back to the LOS. And if we haven’t changed much, then, perhaps our circumstances have drastically done so. For example, I knew a very nice Brit who made what I thought at the time was a very good life for himself in Chiang Mai; he had a wonderful life and his future prospects were very bright. He actually didn’t change, personally, but his Thai wife did. I lost touch with him years ago. The last time he emailed me he said that his marriage was on the rocks and he was so broke that he couldn’t even afford to move back home to Great Britain. At the time I couldn’t do a thing to help. I, too, was in the clutches of the Great Recession and struggling to keep my head from getting dragged down underwater. The Golden Age was over for me, too, and I was powerless to help him or anybody. It was a very sad time to think about, so I try not to.
Finally, what do I miss most about The Golden Age of Thailand? It’s not any of the things that drew me to the LOS in the first place, e.g., not the dirt cheap prices, the beautiful young ladies, the desire for adventure, etc.. What I miss most about Thailand was the opportunity I had to meet and socialize with other expats on a nightly basis. I met some really incredible individuals. And I miss all of the free time I used to have to engage in erudite conversation, banter, gossip and just sipping on an ice-cold beer. I miss that so much. Yes, I know that Thailand has always attracted scumbags from around the world, but it used to attract some really articulate individuals who could offer up real intellectual value either one on one or in a group. I really miss the feeling of support I used to get by being in what I called, “The Thailand Supper Club”, viz., an informal gathering of men who shared some commonality in life …. And I miss the feeling of security I experienced when having other expats around who I could count on. For instance, I distinctly remember injuring my back really, really badly. I called up the aforementioned Brit to ask for advice on what doctor I should consult. He rushed right over and took care of me for almost two weeks until I could get well enough to get back on my feet. He got me a doctor and home nurse. He’d call me everyday and stop by to check up on my recovery. I miss that kind of support and friendship from him and other expats.
In part two I will focus on some more of the positive aspects of The Golden Age of the Farang; and how things changed; and how history repeats. And how, maybe, just maybe, some of us Western men might live to see another Golden Age in Thailand — or at least a Silver one. Thanks for reading. And thanks for supporting Stick. I’ve never met Stick, but in my opinion his column is worth our support. Where else can we find a reliable source of information so articulately written?
Finally, if I’ve offended anybody by honestly expressing my political views, just remember that it is so important to be able to express ourselves honestly. That’s what America used to be about. And even if you disagree, we don’t have to hate each other. In fact, I hope my honest assessment helps prepare any American expat who is thinking about returning home for just what’s in store and how the political climate has shifted.
Lastly, I’ll leave the reader(s) with one of my favorite quotes: “If Liberty means anything at all, it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear.” ~~ George Orwell
I strongly agree with the point you make about how the profile of expats has changed. It used to be that the people you met in the bars had real jobs and actually had a life. When I am in Bangkok these days I find so many in the bars are wasters, shysters or both. It’s a generalisation, of course, and there are still a lot of good folk about – but the percentage of professional people was definitely much higher in the past than it is now. And that changes the atmosphere in bars – and not for the better.
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