A Reply to Larry
Called to write by a recent submission by Larry Cameron, I tried to put some words together. After all, if no-one writes, the site may not continue to be here. Or people lose the habit of browsing by. Also, I feel a little obligated to try to “give something back” when I enjoy reading other people’s submission. Tit-for-tat in a friendly way.
Like Larry, I do miss the old Thailand. And I know the good old times will never come back. Still, I tune in to this site in a hope for some stories or ideas of the “good old Thailand”. Experienced in the present. Some first-hand experiences of actual things that had happened to people. I mostly find inspiration in the posts about recent stuff. Of course not much is going on right now. It is very sad, and I still hope someday, at least partially, some things will go a little back to what they once were.
I used to visit Bangkok and one other holiday destination in Thailand once a year. My wife is Thai. We met on a dating site. It is my understanding that more and more Western-Thai couples meet on these sites. Our recent visits to Thailand have become more and more hectic. We have two children now. And traveling around and visiting family is more tiresome and draining than going as a couple. I never fancied spending too much time with the extended Thai family anyway. I do like to see some of them – visiting Thailand without would be odd and somehow pointless. After all, they are family. But it also becomes boring, when people quite quickly start to ask for this and that. And what they want us – me – to pay for as a present for them. They ask for all kinds of stuff. One day it is a cousin who asks, the next day a sister. Two-three wishes for everyone quickly becomes expensive. And my holiday becomes a shopping party for them. Not really the reason why we went there.
Also, as others also have pointed out, Bangkok has become expensive. We need to book a family room at a hotel, we can’t stay with my wife’s family. The room needs to be spacious enough for all four of us. Years ago we could do with a cheaper, smaller place, when we were just the two of us. Now it easily costs us 5,000 baht per night. Then comes transportation around the city, restaurant meals and snacks, and the budget for doing things with Thai family, not to forget. Always starting with a big dinner for all, and me who pays for it. Fine by me. It doesn’t bother me. I am good paying so everyone can have a good time. It is not just for one person’s pleasure, but for everyone to have a good time together. As we can’t go there this year, it doesn’t really bother me anyhow.
What troubles me a bit at the moment is the economic situation in Thailand though. Several members of my wife’s family face financial problems. Although most of them do from time to time, also before COVID. There seems to be possibilities though. The rich and middle class Thai people still have purchasing power. And still spend a lot of money, providing jobs for others. And in many places in Bangkok they have never needed foreigners’ money to pull the economy anyway. A lot of Thais shop a lot and earn a lot. Not a problem there.
I don’t know anyone based in Phuket or another tourist location. I guess things there are much, much worse. Bangkok has always been able to provide jobs, although some lousy ones sometimes. But if the economy continues to sink quarter after quarter and does not wind back up, it can be troublesome for many. Things might spill over from one sector to another. That worries me.
Not visiting Thailand for a year more does not. There was a time when I always looked forward to our yearly trips. Not so much anymore. Currently I don’t want to spend my money traveling to Thailand. And I don’t want to go through all the hassle of getting a visa with all the current requirements. Before COVID my satisfaction level of my regular experiences had also dropped from year to year. And COVID took the last air out. I find it very hard to see that I will return under present circumstances. And why should I? As some other readers point out, not much of the regular pleasure and fun are to be found so much of any more. Better save my money for a rosier time. BUT I do look forward to it. And I will be back some day for sure. Hopefully many more pleasant days and weeks in Thailand are waiting for me. I know there are a lot of places I want to visit and things to enjoy.
One of my first experiences was in Khao Yai. I met my first Thai girlfriend there. Sadly she was a gold digger and soon enough I found out. Still, seen more clearly several years later, she provided me with enough knowledge about Thai women and Thai culture to endure some of the troubles my current relationship has offered me. With my first Thai girlfriend I also got a burn mark on my leg, due to the exhausting pipe from her motorbike. As an inexperienced motorbike rider, and Thailand explorer, I accidentally put my leg on the hot exhaust pipe. Khao Yai I remember as a beautiful place with mountains and forest, hereby the name, of course. To revisit a place like that might re-energize the “Thai experience” once again. Although the danger is that it might disappoint you and sully your positive memories of the place. No matter what, the things from the past can never be re-lived in the present or future. But I think I still need to go back to what initially enticed me to Thailand. For me it wasn’t the bars or babes. That came later. It was more the different culture and landscape from where I live. Most things actually, from food to language to social behaviour is different. What I long for is something completely different, although familiar by now, ones a year or so.
So in some way my answer to Larry is, that the good old stories are good, nice and cosy. But to survive, this site, I think, needs stories like your own. From present day Thailand. Stories from a gone time cannot bring the site forward. I think an audience needs to hear fresh stories. Stories which can inspire them to go back after COVID and make them dream and plan about Thailand again. At least that goes for me.
I do hope this site will continue to be live.
This site will continue. While I no longer own it, there are no plans to stop. Of course, the success of the readers’ submissions section is very much dependent on readers and as long as people continue to send in stories I will be happy to publish them.
I wanted to comment on what you said about family members in Thailand asking you to buy things for them. It sounded like you were being taken advantage of. Don’t be afraid to say no! Paying for a family dinner is nice….but those who want you to always buy things are stepping over the line, in my opinion.
As for finding fun in Thailand, I think the best times these days are had in the high-end market (if one has the budget for it) or in venues well away from where you find foreign visitors. There’s good times to be had in eateries and bars where foreigners are seldom seen. Your Thai family will know the best places.
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