We moved to Vietnam on the 25th March 2016, leaving Thailand after 1 year, 1 month and 20 days.
Time seems to have flown by as it only seems like yesterday we were selling everything up in Oz and preparing to leave there. It is amazing how much stuff we accumulated over this period, even though we were conscious of status and were living in a smallish 2 bedroom unit. Learne even had to leave her vegemite behind. There was no chance in hell was I putting it in my bag…
You’re probably wondering why we left Thailand?
Well, it was just time to move and we both agreed on this. We were getting into a same-same routine and the plan always was to experience different places and cultures in South East Asia. Having said that, Thailand is probably one of the better countries to live in, mainly because tourism is such a huge industry already, so the infrastructure and the locals are already geared towards having westerners living there.
What is our overall impression of Thailand?
We both really enjoyed it and would have no problems returning at some time in the future. The locals are super friendly; especially once they know you are more of a longer term resident. They call it the Land of Smiles, and generally that is the case most of the time. It is amazing how far a smile will get you in Thailand, hence that is probably why the Russians and Chinese aren’t the most popular tourists there. We were a little surprised at the lack of English been spoken in Hua Hin, and also the lack of Australians. There are a few but you could go weeks without hearing another Aussie accent. As stated in other posts, there are plenty of Scandinavians, Russians, Poms and a few Yanks there.
Thailand itself, is a country that I have a little trouble understanding. Technically the country is still under Military rule so there is always that undercurrent of potential political unrest. The current Prime Minister was previously head of the Thai Army and he rules with a bit of an iron fist at times. There is also the royal family with the King being one of the longest serving monarchs on the planet. They are revered by the Thai people across the board, and there are very strict laws in place to prevent anyone criticizing the royal family in any way. If you did, then expect to receive a very lengthy prison sentence. They take it that serious. Google ‘Lèse majesté in Thailand’ and you’ll see what I mean (I think we’ve also mentioned this in a previous post too). Not sure if they are up with the times, but it is their law so you just have to abide by it.
Thailand is mainly a Buddhist country with plenty of temples scattered throughout the land. We lived near quite a few temples, and they are actually a pleasant place to visit, even though religion is not our thing. I think I know why Buddha is so fat, because the Thais all leave him red Fanta at their little Buddha worshipping temples every day. Not sure what the significance of that is. You also get the impression that the Buddhist monks are fairly chilled out and peace loving, but apparently they have a real hatred of Islam. In the deep south of Thailand, on the Malaysian border, there has been an ongoing conflict between Buddhists and Muslims that has been going on for many years, with thousands of deaths as a result. The monks are either the victims or the perpetrators. This is even way more prevalent next door in Burma.
There are still many things that amaze us in Thailand…
When coming from a country like Australia that is so regulated with rules and regulations, to Thailand which is such a laid back country. Whether that’s a good thing or not is debatable. Seeing a whole family on a scooter wearing no helmets knowing that the father is drunk, is enough to make you cringe. Full blown construction sites where there is not a high vis vest or hard hat in sight, and the worker’s little kids are playing at ground level also gets you thinking. Then you have the carnage on the roads. They have zero disregard in general for the road rules, which I might add are not enforced by the authorities, with a death toll on the road that is only 2nd in the world to a war torn dirt poor African nation. This is something that seriously needs addressing. Life appears so cheap here; it sometimes becomes a little blasé.
Violent deaths are common, with a hand gun murder rate that makes the USA look like a gun free zone. Then you have the obvious corruption and greed by anyone in authority, where at any time you could be stung for something that is neither legit or reasonable, but they have you by the short and curlys, so it is just sometimes easier to bite your tongue and play their game. The same can be said about some locals when it comes to dealing with tourists. The perceived problem is that it appears that European looking tourists, especially longer term residents like are us, are really not that welcome in Thailand, even though we are seen as walking ATMs at times. But you have to consider whether a 50 something Thai could just pack up and head to Australia and live long term also, so I guess it is a two way street.
I realise that this post probably looks as though it contains a lot of negative information about Thailand, and possibly a little sensationalized. It is a big country with a big population and a little political uncertainty. The Thais are a proud people that embrace their culture and are very patriotic. From day to day living in Thailand, we experienced very little of the above but we were well aware of it as it is in the news every day here. It is a fact of life.
But having said that, again I must reiterate that we met some amazing people in Thailand, both local and expats. It is an exciting country to live in and a great place to visit. The food is to die for, the locals are very warm and friendly and it is reasonably cheap with a very laid back lifestyle, so don’t be put off by my thoughts as every country has its own problems and Thailand is no different. It is just something that you may not be used to in your home country. When in Rome….
Thank you Thailand and we will miss you and also farewell to one of our favourite people, Ning (Sarinee).