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  • Living in Thailand Blog December 2017
 

 

Welcome to Planet Thailand

Welcome to Planet Thailand

 

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Living In Thailand Blog

 

 

Sunday 31st December 2017

Goodbye 2017 and good riddance. The last four years haven't been good, but this was probably the worst of the lot. Here's a quick recap of my year.

January

The year started off with the usual car problems when one of my engine mounts broke. Repair bill Bt14,000. The car is old and requires regular repairs, but a lot more was to follow this year.

February

February was quiet, just to lull me into a false sense of security. Unbelievably, no disasters occurred.

March

My computer exploded. It was around seven years old, struggling to keep up, and needed replacing. However, I was planning to wait a little longer before replacing it. The cost of repair was astronomical and simply not worth it. I headed out to Advice and had them build me a new computer to my specifications.

 

My old computer with my two writing assistants

My old computer with my two writing assistants

 

The new one has a Solid State Drive (SSD), more memory, a faster processor, a better display, and is better and faster in every respect. Nonetheless, it was Bt40,000 that I wasn't planning to spend.

As I can't afford to replace my car at the moment I make an effort at least to keep it in reasonable shape. My wife's brother, who owns a bodywork shop, resprayed it this month. He saved me a lot of money, but it still cost me Bt15,000.

I heard that our old maid died from some kind of fluid on the brain problem. She was so bouncy when I first met her and now she is dead. She was only 48 or 49. I went to pay my respects at the temple and met some of her relatives. She had three young daughters, all very sweet girls. Very sad.

 

Our old maid's eldest daughter and mother

Our old maid's eldest daughter and mother

 

April

My wife's brother advised that my brake flexi-hoses needed replacing. I took his advice and got them replaced, but it cost me Bt13,000. The service center then advised that my front discs and pads needed replacing - another BT15,000.

My daughter was born with a problem with her feet. She has undergone surgery already and has spent a lot of time in plaster casts. This month we went to see the doctor again and he said that more surgery was needed. To prepare for this he applied more casts. These make life difficult for all of us.

 

My daughter in casts yet again

My daughter in casts yet again

 

May

One of my cats came home with big holes in him - I don't know what happened. This involved several trips to the vet and cost me about Bt5,000.

 

My wounded cat

My wounded cat

 

I had to make three trips to Bangkok with my daughter. These trips involve air fares, hotel bills, transport costs, food, drink and hospital bills. Normally, we make two trips a year, but when the trips are this frequent it starts to get expensive.

Around the house I have noticed some signs that there may be termites present. I tell our maid to keep an eye out while she is cleaning. Five minutes later, she moves a drawer unit and discovers a huge infestation. When we start to look they are everywhere. We have wooden parquet flooring upstairs, which they have used as a nest and as a way of getting around the house unseen.

 

Discovering the termite infestation

Discovering the termite infestation

 

The termites had a feast in my house

The termites had a feast in my house

 

We start dismantling the upstairs of the house with a plan to remove all the wooden flooring and replace it with tiles. This will be a big, expensive, inconvenient job.

It is also around this time that I begin to discover that my mother is very ill. She has been complaining about a pain in her leg and black toes for a long time.

My car is getting worried that I have forgotten it so decides to kill off one of its ignition coils. Another Bt3,500 car repair bill.

June

This month I start having to buy floor tiles and pay builders - not cheap. I also make three more trips to Bangkok with my daughter - not cheap. One of the trips is for quite big surgery - not cheap.

 

My daughter after her operation

My daughter after her operation

 

The battery in my beloved car decides to give up the ghost - another Bt2,500. My total spending for the month is Bt200,000.

 

Replacing the flooring

Replacing the flooring

 

July

My daughter is in a pretty bad way. After the surgery she was given full-length leg casts and these make life very difficult. We are now living in a building site. The house is full of dust and we are moving from room to room while tiles are laid. Life isn't easy, but there is a lot more to come.

The news from the UK about my Mum isn't good. We thought her leg pain was a circulation problem, but the doctor finds liver cancer. He says that this is always a secondary cancer. When they find the primary cancer it is everywhere and we are told that she doesn't have long.

I book a flight to the UK and then I am informed that it won't be soon enough. I bring the flight forward, but it still isn't soon enough and I never get to see my Mum again.

 

I missed seeing my Mum for the final time, but did get to attend a church service in the UK

I missed seeing my Mum for the final time, but did get to attend a church service in the UK

 

The builders are still giving me bills and new furniture is required to replace the furniture that was eaten by termites.

Unbelievably, my car doesn't need to be repaired this month.

August

The car goes in for a scheduled service - another Bt3,000. I have spent so much money on unavoidable problems this year that I can't justify buying anything for pleasure. Nonetheless, to cheer myself up I buy a big TV and a camera that I have had my eye on for a long time.

September

There are no personal disasters (and no car repairs) this month, but September is when I have to renew our health insurance and it isn't that cheap for four people.

If I had to name my favourite band of all time, it would be Steely Dan. Steely Dan isn't really a band, as such, but consists of two incredibly talented musicians who select the best session musicians available to play on each individual track. Donald Fagen and Walter Becker have something of a reputation among session musicians, but being selected to play on a Steely Dan track is often the highlight of a session musician's career.

Walter Becker died this month at the age of 67 and Steely Dan have been a big part of my life for the last 40 years. I never met him and he never had a clue who I was, but this is another death that hurts. What an awful year this is turning out to be.

October

October is a good month. There are no disasters, no big bills, no car repairs, and I treat the family to a trip to Hoi An in Vietnam. It is a destination that I have wanted to visit for some time and we all enjoy it.

The only problem with my car this month is that it has started making a strange noise. It drives fine, but the noise is really bad. I take it into the service centre at the start of the month hoping it will be finished before we go to Vietnam. It isn't.

I then assume that it will be ready when we return from Vietnam, but it isn't.

November

November is fairly good, but even though the termite problem was fixed we need to take measures to prevent another infestation. The previous company I used was a waste of money so I look around for a new one. I talk to about three companies and one seems good without being too expensive. However, the bill is another Bt14,000.

 

More termite treatment

More termite treatment

 

My car still hasn't been returned and despite the mechanics only working on Fords and having lots of experience they can't find the source of the noise and say they have never encountered this problem before. Obviously, I have a very special car.

December

The service centre still can't find the problem and are talking about either finding a replacement engine or stripping the old engine down until they find the problem, which could cost in excess of Bt100,000. Neither option is desirable.

They then call me to say their expert from Bangkok has flown down to take a look. He has diagnosed a dry rear main seal. His diagnosis is good and this fixes the problem. The faulty part only costs Bt2,000, but the total bill is a lot more (Bt13,000) and I have lost my car this year for 2.5 months. At least they gave me a loan car, even if it was a pickup truck.

Just for good measure our washing machine decides to pack up. It is seven years old and, looking at information on-line, washing machines should last longer but our one gets used at least every two days. We can't live without a washing machine so I have to find another Bt17,000. There is more good news from the UK when I hear that the house I rent out there needs an expensive boiler repair.

Since the UK pound to Thai Baht exchange rate plummeted in June 2016 as a result of the Brexit referendum it has stayed low throughout 2017, thus adding to my financial woes. There is still a lot of uncertainty over the UK exit from the European Union and the weak pound is likely to continue for the foreseeable future.

 

My car, like me, is now suffering from old age

My car, like me, is now suffering from old age

 

My wife and kids are Buddhist, but are quite happy to celebrate any festival that involves presents regardless of its origins. Christmas presents for the kids cost me another Bt20,000 and - not to be forgotten - we have to buy presents for the kids' school teachers and a few other people.

Well, that was my 2017 and you can probably understand why I'm not unhappy to see the back of it. It was the most expensive year for me since I moved to Thailand and I needed some financial help from my family.

I'm just hoping that the doctor did enough for my daughter and the mechanics did enough for my car that both will be fine for a while.

There are some positive aspects as well.

A termite infestation forced me to get the wooden flooring replaced, but eventually it would have needed replacing anyway because it was installed so badly. This was a good job out of the way.

 

The floor had been laid so badly that eventually it would have needed replacing anyway

The floor had been laid so badly that eventually it would have needed replacing anyway

 

Similarly, I was forced to replace my computer but this was a good thing because my old computer was so slow.

 

After the building work - expensive, but a good job out of the way

After the building work - expensive, but a good job out of the way

 

I will be taking my daughter to Bangkok again next week to see the doctor and hopefully she won't need more surgery.

This is just life and we all have good and bad years. You just have to do your best and never give up. I've had a lot of good ones, so I was due a few difficult ones. I hope that my readers had a better 2017 than I did and I wish you all the best for a happy and prosperous 2018!

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Saturday 30th December 2017

I've been reading that Europe and North America have been experiencing some very cold weather lately. There are certain things and certain people that I will never miss from my old life, cold snowy weather being one of them.

My old next-door neighbour just sent me some photos taken at his new house. Winter scenes are unarguably very attractive, but when I think back to the inconvenience and discomfort of winter weather I'm happy being in the sunshine (it's 31°C as I write) just looking at snowy photos.

 

Winter scene from the UK

Winter scene from the UK

 

It was business as usual over Christmas in Thailand, but a lot of shops and restaurants close over New Year. Cooked food is so cheap to buy that we tend to buy food at restaurants a lot instead of preparing it ourselves. With many restaurants closing for the next three or four days it will be slightly inconvenient.

My wife was telling me about a problem that I've been anticipating for a long time. It involves parking, which is a huge problem in Thailand.

In recent years many governments around the world have tried to deter car ownership by increasing the cost of car ownership or introducing charges to enter certain areas, such as central London. Public transport systems have also been improved to try to entice people away from their cars.

The opposite has happened in Thailand. Thais are extremely status conscious, the biggest status symbol is a car, and thus everyone wants one. Politicians want votes and introducing populist policies ensures votes. When the Yingluck government offered big discounts on cars for first-time car buyers lots of Thais who had never owned a car before went out and got loans for new cars.

Parking was never a problem at the school where I used to teach because most of the teachers used to ride motorbikes, however, they all have cars nowadays and there are cars parked everywhere.

The local university hospital has grown enormously since I arrived here in 2003. It never used to be a problem parking there, but for many years now there has been a big problem.

Some time ago I started noticing that whenever I went shopping at Tesco Lotus just opposite the university the car park was full, even at times when there weren't that many shoppers. It was obvious that staff and students from the university hospital were parking in the Tesco car park.

It was also obvious that sooner or later Tesco would clamp down on this and it has finally happened. Thais who were parking there are upset, but Tesco car park is meant for Tesco shoppers. Parking has become a huge problem. The first problem is actually finding a parking space anywhere. The second problem, after finding a parking space, is that when you return to your car you can't get it out because someone has parked in such a way to block you in. This has happened to me and my wife several times.

It's all related to status. Once a Thai has a car, he or she will use it all the time, regardless. I've spoken to Thais who studied abroad and they can't believe that some of the senior people they studied under went to work by bus or train. This seems insane to a Thai, but there will come a time in the near future when they will have to change their attitudes and their ways.

I wrote recently about how my elderly father was targeted by an Indian scammer and also mentioned that similar scammers exist in Thailand. This is how the Thai justice system deals with them. Other countries should take note, but personally I would prefer a firing squad.

Thai fraudster sentenced to 13,275 years in prison

I have recently become acquainted with Thailand 4.0 (pronounced four point oh!). Don't worry if you haven't heard of it because it seems that very few people have. There's quite a lot on-line and the US Embassy in Bangkok has covered it quite extensively.

It is an economic model designed to take Thailand forward and survive in a fast-changing world. Thailand 1.0 was based on agriculture, Thailand 2.0 on light industry, and Thailand 3.0 on heavy industry, although it's not really heavy engineering as I understand it. A significant component of Thailand 4.0 is the development of the Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC).

Malaysia has had its 20-20 Vision for several years and it seems fashionable for developing countries to have a fancy vision for the future. The presentation material and professional video are very convincing but, having lived in Thailand for a number of years, I'm maybe not that convinced.

This is all supposed to be achieved in 20 years and for it to be successful there will need to be significant changes in many areas. However, what I have observed is how some things never change in Thailand. Attitudes to road safety never change and the same high number of read deaths that take place every New Year will happen again in the coming week. In fact, it has already started - 41 die on first 'dangerous day'. The 'education' system, which is based on rote learning, never changes and this kind of education won't support the futuristic vision that has been planned.

Many problems are cultural and not only does culture take a very long time to change, but Thais do not want to change their culture. For example, there is a big culture of hierarchy and subservience. Thailand wants to be innovative in the future, but when students always have to be subservient to their teachers it stifles creativity and innovation.

In The Times Higher Education World University Rankings the top Thai university is rated somewhere in the 500th to 600th position. Thailand's other universities are rated much lower.

One target of Thailand 4.0 is to have five Thai universities (yes, five) ranked in the top 100 within 20 years. It's good to be optimistic, but is this really achievable?

Thais are notoriously bad at thinking about the future and it is positive to see that some thought is going into the future. There are a lot of assembly plants in Thailand in which foreign manufacturers take advantage of low labour rates in Thailand. Eventually, many of these jobs will be taken over by robots. Thailand understands this and understands that new skills will need to be developed, but what skills? Robot repair?

For many years I have not been able to understand why Bangkok has been built up until it is creaking at the seams, while much of Thailand is rural and empty. To me, the ideal place for some major new development always seemed to be the Northeast (Isaan) region, which is large, populous and poor. It also has good access to the surrounding countries and China.

Finally, it seems that a major new development will take place outside of Bangkok, but this will happen in the provinces of Rayong, Chonburi, and Chachoengsao to the east of Bangkok. Plans are also afoot to further develop U-Tapao airport. At one point this was just a military airfield, but a few years ago it starting operating commercial services. It now looks as if it will get a lot bigger.

When I drove in a taxi to Pattaya from Bangkok last year I noticed that this area already has a lot of industry. Obviously, if Thailand wants to increase its shipping capacity and try to attract cruise ships this has to be done where there are deep sea ports on the Eastern Seaboard. However, other industry could be located elsewhere.

Pattaya has already undergone huge development since it was a small fishing village 40 years ago. With this kind of massive development that will eventually take place, I can't imagine what the area will end up looking like. I would imagine that Pattaya will become a lot more crowded and a lot more expensive.

When I read things like this I never quite know what to think. The world doesn't stay still and neither can we. We need to change skill sets and keep up with the technology. However, there is also a degree of irony. For years, foreigners have been running away to Thailand to escape the undesirable way of life in their own countries. It seems a little ironic, therefore, that Thailand is determined to become the same as the countries they ran away from.

And who will all this benefit? Naturally, the official version is that it will benefit all members of Thai society and reduce the enormous social disparity that exists at the moment.

A few Thais will become enormously rich as a result of this development and a larger group will become better off than they are now financially. But will those at the bottom get better lives? With foreign investment coming into the area and lots of development, prices of everything will no doubt rise possibly making life harder for those at the bottom.

What do you think?

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Sunday 24th December 2017

It's around 8pm and I'm waiting for my kids to sleep before getting their presents ready for the morning. Very young children don't understand what's going on at Christmas and once they are about 8 or 9 they have stopped believing in Santa. There's only a short window when they understand and believe, and both my children are now in that window. I could (and do) moan about a lot of things, but I am truly blessed to have two such great children. There's probably nothing more rewarding in life (even though they are a major headache a lot of the time!).

Since moving to Thailand I haven't spent many Christmases on my own, so to speak. Initially, I would go down to Singapore to see my brother and when he bought a house in Phuket I would drive over there. On quite a few occasions my parents and my other brother from the UK would join us. This year, my Mum is no longer with us and there won't be any family gatherings. It feels a bit weird.

I've mentioned how I really dislike the Christmas craziness in the UK, but in provincial Thailand far removed from any expat bubbles it is completely the opposite. There are almost no Westerners living in the area where I live and because Christmas doesn't feature on the Buddhist calendar it is a complete non-event.

I just went out to buy a few bits and my wife needs to buy garlic tomorrow for the leg of lamb that will form our Christmas dinner. Being 'normal' days, this won't be a problem at all. However, it feels as if something is missing.

I have heard it said many times by Thais that farangs can't understand certain things about Thailand. I can say the same thing about Thais. They can read all the information there is available about Christmas, but what they will never be able to understand is the feeling of being a child growing up in a country that celebrates Christmas. Unless, you have experienced this you can't fully understand and no one can explain it to you.

We all age and grow cynical in life, but deep down there remain memories from our childhood that can't be erased. At certain times, as a result of certain stimuli, these deeply buried memories can come to the surface. It just feels strange being in a place where no one else can relate to these feelings.

Dear readers, especially the few regular readers who keep in touch via e-mail (you know who you are!), thank you for putting up with my usual grumbling, inconsistency and unreliability for another year.

I wish you all the very best for a peaceful, relaxing and enjoyable Christmas and may the New Year bring you good health and happiness. For a while now I have wanted to take a different direction with my life, but the circumstances of my life haven't allowed me to do that. I am hoping that 2018 will allow me to make some changes, but I expect I will still be writing here whatever happens. I'll keep you posted.

Merry Christmas!

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Thursday 21st December 2017

Readers of this blog should realise that this isn't my number one priority in Thailand. In fact, it's way down the list. Not only do I have a life, I have a very busy and sometimes quite difficult life. I understand that blogs should have regular posting times, but that is something I just can't commit to because I never know what is coming up. I fit it in whenever I can.

The problems this year simply won't end. After already having documented some of the issues earlier in the year I was hoping for a quiet end to this year and better fortune in 2018. Last week I learned that the house I rent out in the UK requires an expensive boiler repair and I have had major issues this week with my wife and daughter in Thailand.

While doing some Christmas shopping last week I took a break for a bite to eat. An American guy with no experience of Thailand came over and introduced himself. He was in his 70's, probably closer to 80. His wife died six years ago and he had met a Thai lady on-line. She is aged around 40. He wanted to exchange phone numbers and be my friend, but not only am I not interested I simply don't have the time.

How did I know he had no experience of Thailand? Firstly, the expat community in Thailand is very strange. Thailand attracts all sorts of foreigners. There are some truly great expats, but there are a lot who are real lowlifes and even criminals. For this reason, most expats tend to ignore each other and I am the same. I am very wary about the foreigners I associate with in Thailand and always sceptical when I first meet people.

The person who may seem quite reasonable in the flesh could be the same person who hides a video camera in his bag and covertly films pervy footage of prostitutes to upload to his YouTube channel, or he could be someone running a boiler room scam trying to scam innocent people, such as my father.

The other reason I knew he had little experience of Thailand was because he kept telling me how wonderful Thai people were. All Thai people. Unconditionally. I used to be the same as a tourist and newbie expat, but I can no longer bring myself to make blanket statements like this. Sure, some Thai people are very decent, very kind people. But there are also quite a few who aren't.

To use an old analogy, understanding Thailand is like peeling an onion. As you get more experienced and look at the same things from different perspectives you start to see things differently.

As a tourist I only ever saw Thai schools from the outside. The students always looked neat and orderly in their uniforms and their behaviour was fine. Once you begin teaching in Thai schools you start to see things very differently. Image is high in the Thai value system, but substance isn't. The presentation of the school to the outside world is important, but what actually goes on inside the classrooms is another matter.

When you have children who attend a Thai school you get yet another perspective of the Thai education system and it also shines a light on some other aspects of Thai cultural behaviour.

Some of the government schools are completely wild. Teachers have no control and it is a wonder that kids learn anything. They will learn to read and write Thai, which isn't actually that difficult if you do it every day, but not much else.

My kids attend a private school. It has a good reputation locally, but it is at the other extreme. I never had to do homework until I was in high school, but at this school kids in year 1 of Kindergarten get homework.

My daughter is in the first year of junior school, but doing the year 2 curriculum. When she goes to the second year she will do the year 3 curriculum. She's six and she comes back from school loaded up with homework. After spending all day at school she will come home and be expected to do homework until she goes to bed.

She's always doing tests and the intensity and level of importance placed upon these tests is ridiculous. Instead of a six year-old in the first year of junior school, you would think she is doing the final year of a six year medical degree.

The teachers and parents take these tests very seriously and parents get extremely stressed if their child is below average. I just don't care. Every child develops at a different rate and everything will change as they get older. I know my daughter is a bright kid and I know that I can have a conversation in English with her, which I can't have with one of the Thai teachers who teaches her English due to lack of ability. The problem for me is my Thai wife, who 'thinks' like all other Thais.

It will get worse later. When I was teaching I taught senior high school students, but they always looked half asleep and couldn't concentrate. I asked why and found out that after school they attended tutoring classes until about 8pm. They then went home and did homework until the early hours of the morning before getting up at 6am and starting all over again. No wonder they looked tired whenever I tried to teach them anything.

If they relaxed, played and studied properly for five hours a day it would be far more effective than the current system where they are always in school or tutoring classes, but they are so tired they can't learn anything or retain any information. Many are bright and they deserve better.

 

Teaching in Thailand

Teaching in Thailand

 

During my time as a teacher I was also interested in the views and opinions of teenage Thais who, in a few years' time, will be running the country. I did this with various exercises and the results were very encouraging.

 

How young Thais value education

How young Thais value education

 

In some ways I could understand if this system was producing generations of geniuses, but it isn't. Most Thai university students can't form a grammatically correct sentence in English, yet they have studied English since the age of three. There has to be something very wrong. In regional surveys of education and English speaking ability, Thailand is always near the bottom of the list.

I don't like what my daughter has to do and I don't agree, but the problem is my wife. Her attitude has always been that because we live in Thailand we will do things the Thai way. Her other problem is that she is incredibly narrow minded - a problem that afflicts many Thais. She has only ever experienced the Thai way of doing things and has nothing to compare it against.

My daughter, naturally, has rebelled against how she is being treated. A six year old kid wants to do other things, not study from when she wakes up until she goes to bed. Unfortunately, my wife doesn't know how to handle this rebelliousness and the way she does handle it is wrong. Very wrong.

Whenever my daughter won't do something that she wants the stick comes out. I hate this and had to pull my wife off the child last week, but doing so then transferred some of her anger towards me.

A strict hierarchy is observed in Thai society. Everyone knows their place in the hierarchy and there are forms of address which denote a person's relative position. Those above expect to be able to control those below and there is a lot of subservience. My wife told me last week that she is unable to control our daughter and that, I believe, is the crux of the matter.

No one wants to be controlled and beating someone because they refuse to be controlled is not the answer. My wife certainly wouldn't like it if I tried to control her and beat her every time she refused. Since living in Thailand I have heard many reports about domestic violence and a girl I was previously very keen on was strictly controlled by her boyfriend who wasn't even present. While he was out working on oil rigs she wasn't even allowed to leave her room to meet friends.

I have an American author friend in Thailand. To improve her language skills she decided it would be a good idea to sit in a classroom with kids my daughter's age, but there were two problems. Firstly, by the time Thai kids are six their language skills are so advanced that it is difficult for most foreigners to keep up. Secondly, she couldn't stand the way that the teacher constantly beat the kids. Unfortunately, this seems to be the Thai way.

Many Thais buy huge pickup trucks, even though they have no need for a pickup truck, so that they can intimidate drivers of smaller cars. Having a large vehicle gives you more status in Thailand, where regular traffic laws are ignored. 'Attitude adjustment' in Thailand is just another form of control. Thai society is all about power, status and control.

There was another incident at home last night. My wife wanted my daughter to prepare for a test today, but did it (as usual) in a very controlling way. My daughter went hysterical and was sobbing uncontrollably. My wife's answer, yet again, was to get the stick out. This attitude infuriates me.

I picked my daughter up, let her sob to get it out of her system and spoke to her as an equal, which she is. I am 50 years older and have 50 years more experience, but I'm not better than her. This is one of the major differences in thinking between Thais and Westerners.

In my old company in the UK all members of staff were treated as equals, despite doing different jobs. In Thailand every office will have a big organisation chart posted on the wall to let everyone know who is more senior and Thais must be subservient to those who are above them in the pecking order. Those above expect to be able to control those below. That includes the relationship between teachers and students and the relationship between parents and children.

Once my daughter had calmed down I tried to explain the material to her and it then became evident that she already knew. She knew, but she refused to cooperate with her mother because she didn't want to be controlled. When I talked to her as an equal and not as someone who wanted to control her she cooperated. My wife can't understand this. There are no carrots in Thailand, only sticks.

Returning to the American I met last week, speaking to him reminded me of how little I knew about Thailand when I first arrived even though I had enjoyed several vacations in Thailand and thought I understood Thailand. How stupid. How naive. It took me four years living in Thailand before I even started to scratch the surface and even in my 14th year I still learn all the time.

His Thai girlfriend's story was one I have heard a thousand times. She has a child and had a Thai husband, but he was exactly the same as about 60% of Thai men. Drinking sessions with his male friends were far more important than his family and if he had a pickup truck it was also probably more important than his family.

You have to live in Thailand to realise how few opportunities there are for normal Thais to make a liveable wage and the only way out of the poverty trap for many girls is to find a foreign husband. The old way was to get a job in a bar or massage shop in one of the tourist resorts and meet Western men that way, but these days there is the Internet.

The girls are master manipulators and Western men are extremely vulnerable. Most ordinary Western men above the age of 40 probably can't find partners they are attracted to in the West, but they can find attractive Thai girls half their age who are keen to form relationships. It can easily turn a man's head and I have heard from doctors and other highly intelligent men who have had bad experiences with Thai girls.

The problem for the vast majority is that they have absolutely no idea what they are letting themselves in for because it takes a long time to understand Thailand and the Thais. A previous correspondent told me that Thai/farang marriages never last more than four years. Obviously, some do but on average he is probably about right. It also isn't unusual to read about foreigners doing the Pattaya Death leap and committing suicide by jumping off a tall building. Things can get that bad.

The other thing with Westerners who get involved with Thai girls is that (according to them) they are always aware of the potential pitfalls, but their particular Thai girl is the exception and she is unlike every other girl in Thailand. Really?

What am I trying to say? It's possible to have a great life in Thailand, but there is so much to learn and foreigners (including myself) make long-lasting commitments that are very difficult to get out of a long time before they actually understand Thailand.

My domestic problems this week have been quite stressful. I've been meaning to write a couple of articles for a while in response to some views and opinions I have seen on-line. Hopefully, I can get at least one of these done in the coming week.

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Blog entries 2nd to 9th December 2017

 

Visit Thailand

Thailand is an incredibly photogenic country, both for its landscapes and its people. Regardless of whether you enjoy large Asian cities, beaches and islands, or rice fields and mountains, Thailand has something for you and it is a dream destination for photographers.

One of the great things about visiting Thailand is that hotels are plentiful and a lot cheaper than in most other countries. Each link on the right will take you to the relevant page on the Agoda website where you can see photos, read reviews, and book on-line. I use Agoda to book all of my own hotels in Thailand and the Southeast Asia region. Agoda hotel rates are usually always the lowest and I have received good customer service, therefore I am happy to recommend the company to other people. Here is some analysis I did regarding booking hotels in Southeast Asia.

Booking.com used to be more expensive than Agoda, but when I have checked hotel prices recently I have found their rates to be quite competitive. Unlike Agoda, you don't need to pay at the time of booking with Booking.com - you can simply pay at the hotel when you check in. Also, Booking.com show you total prices whereas Agoda show you a price and then add on 17% for tax and service charge.

If you want to compare prices between different on-line travel agents (OTAs) for a specific hotel, you can use a company such as HotelsCombined.

Images of Thailand

Images of Thailand