Category Archives: Misc.

My Thailand Adventure – Lad’s Story Continued…

My Thailand Adventure – Lad’s Story Continued…

As a person who rarely gambled in his home country it was fascinating to see how so many people (mainly women) play a game called Hi-Lo in the northeast, however this fascination led to frustration. Can you imagine a life that revolves around going to someone’s farm in the middle of nowhere, then gambling for eight or nine hours, only to come home broke!! Well I have seen it with my own eyes and it was heart breaking because it was nearly the end of my relationship with Thailand.

The northeast is as we know a pretty poor area and when there is no rice or sugar to harvest there is little else to do, other than working in Korea or going to Bangkok to find work in bars, clubs or shirt factories I am guessing. When there is not that you have to find ways to live and support the family or your children. This can lead to so many people borrowing and that is the start of the downward spiral to doing whatever work you can get. Yes bars and clubs are near the bottom of that spiral. That gorgeous woman you want to have relations with, or even marry will not tell you about how much they have borrowed to survive before they met you, but be assured many have borrowed and it does have to eventually be paid somehow.

I have seen this first hand and I have helped enormously (mug I hear you say) which is alien for me having lived in England all my life. I view it like this: I want to live in Thailand, I want to be with my Thai wife, in our home and I do not want people calling asking for money every day and if someone else’s need is greater, then I as a person should dig deep into my heart to do the right thing.

Those times are long past since we had long discussions about how to do things and the fact that everything, including home, land, car and bike are all paid for. Now over the years of going to Thailand and living there I know I have given an enormous amount away, sacrificed staying there for a full holiday to make sure the family can pay for things and this is just something you may come across. If you do and you think this is not for you, then I would suggest you walk away. If it is for you then you will see the rewards 10 fold. As I am typing this to you I have just had a call from Thailand (I am working in England at the moment) saying she has no money because the money I sent did not get a good percent when it arrived at her bank. She gets money every month and this is just one problem you may face, so think hard about what you are doing when you want to live the Thai life.

Think hard about it and consider that weddings and funerals will also be possibly so different than in your country…..I did not consider anything at all when I chose my path to Thailand, so when her pa became ill it was up to me to make it as easy for her as I could. This meant that we had to take him to hospital at anytime of the day or night, sleeping under/beside his bed to care for him. To take him home when he became so ill he wanted to die at home. To seeing him die in our car as I was driving him home. To making sure she could do all the right things for her pa’s funeral and the week long celebrations of his death. This goes for weddings also as it will possibly be the westerner who is expected to help as most Thai ladies who have children want to see their children have a good wedding.

The Story of the Blue pill

The Story of the Blue pill

THAI TIDBITS No.1.

Personal observations on matters of great, little, or no importance

The famous little blue pill – or any of its derivatives.

Let’s start with this important traveling companion for many men.

A guy I know from the UK, well into a romance with a Thai girl in Pattaya, stocked up with what he thought were good value pills, purchased online. In fact, he considered them excellent value, so doubled the order, ending up with enough to take on holiday, and leave backup stock at home, ready for use when he returned with his girlfriend. To be precise, this trip happened to be specifically to marry his girl.

While in Thailand, he received an email from his employers, informing he no longer had a job. He managed to find work in Thailand, obtained a business visa, stopped paying rent on the UK house, and arranged for a relation to clear out personal belongings. When asked what should be done with a large padded envelope containing masses of blue pills, he flipped somewhat. His reply doesn’t take a lot of working out, but I wouldn’t recommend it – could have nasty side effects.

It seems the new wife wasn’t too pleased on discovering she couldn’t go to England after all. To add fuel to the flames, the blue pills didn’t work either. The marriage lasted three months.

Pity really, because I could have directed him to a homemade aphrodisiac that some say works. Take a watermelon, cut it up – skin as well, and smash it in a blender. Boil the liquid until reduced to next to nothing. When cool, strain the residue into small bottle and drink. According to an alleged pharmacist, it actually works. However, after all that preparation, the reason for making it doesn’t make sense anymore.

What I’m Going to Miss About the USA when I move Back to Thailand

What I’m Going to Miss About the USA when I move Back to Thailand

Soon my accustomed standard of living in the US will become my past. One minute I would say I miss Thailand so much and could not wait to go back to my homeland, but the next minute I start to feel stunned and don’t know what its going to be like to leave this country. I will probably miss you so much America!!! So today I’m thinking why wont I write about what am I going to miss when I’m not here anymore 🙂 .

US family and friends – We usually go to my husband’s parents house every Friday to have dinner together. And since I quit my job to be a full time mom we’ve been so close. They’re all so good to me and my daughter. I have no doubt in my mind about why my husband is such a wonderful person, just because his parents are such a great people also.

Friends: I really don’t have many friends here beside my Thai friends who live in New York, Chicago, Texas. Other than that would be friends from the places I used to work.

I will miss their company!!!

The best (junk) food I ever ate – 4 and half years ago when I moved to this country, I didnt really care for junk food that much. I weighed about 128 lbs when I first moved here, but since Ive been living in this country I have to admit I LOVE JUNK FOOD!!!!! And of course my weight has mirrored that clearly 😉 .

Pizza – I’m a big fan of pizza now and so on, especially from Lombardis in New York, they have the best Pizza ever in my opinion! And even around where I live there are several places that have decent Pizza too. Of course in Thailand beside Pizza Hut and Pizza Company, there is nothing else that I ever tried. When we started dating we used to try pizza from one of those place together, and he said its taste sucked! I didn’t believe him at that time because my opinion was that was how Pizza should taste. Up until I got a chance to try pizza in the U.S. and I thought to myself that my husband was totally right and I don’t know that Ill enjoy eating pizza from those places again. The weirdest thing is Pizza Hut in the US and in Thailand don’t taste the same, but McDonalds does.

Burgers – I wasn’t crazy about burgers either, but I had to change my mind as quick as I could after I have tried burgers in the U.S. I don’t know how am I going to deal with this issue when I move back. Probably end up have to make my own burgers after all.

Other than that would be..

Good Steak – Im talking about $20 and up (per person) in general and decent restaurant. I know that here we can afford it once in a while and on special occasions. Hmm…in Thailand I cant see that happening quite often at all. He told me in Thailand we have to import beef from Australia and the price would be double for what we would pay here. Plus it doesn’t taste the same as U.S. beef anyway. Nonetheless we will not be able to find in general restaurant or from the street vendor for sure!

International food – First impression would be Italian food. I’m pretty sure if I do some good research about it I can probably find some good Italian restaurants out there somewhere in Bangkok. One bad thing is they don’t have the family style restaurant like Olive Garden, Buca di Beppo or anything like that with decent food and reasonable prices.

Mexican food it is kind of awkward to talk about Mexican food in the US, but cmon looks like half of this country is Mexican people anyway. It is impossible if we cant find good Mexican food all over the place. I definitely will miss it and once we move back to Thailand, I dont think we will get any Mexican food unless we will make our own. There was a Mexican restaurant on Convent Rd. around Silom area that we tried. We ordered Nachos and what we got was a dish with big pile of chips and a **it load of cheese on top of them. And something else I forgot what it was, but everything turned out to be awful and it’s not worth it to remember. When we went back to Thailand last time it was closed already and that pretty much proved my thoughts. So if anyone knows an awesome Mexican restaurant please let us know!

Japanese, Korean, and South East Asian food – I have no doubt in my mind that it will not be a problem for those kinds of food since Thai people are pretty much into these cultures with all the Japanese and Korean trends right now.

Bye bye Snow and see you Flood!!! I used to ask this question to myself and my husband. We are still not sure which one we would prefer the most. Neither of them are good. Snow will be nice and cool to just stay home and watch all the pretty snowflakes falling down, playing outside with the snow ball fight, making snowman (but mostly for the young kids would enjoy that anyway), but once again I HATE the snow storm and hate even more when I have to drive in the snow season (wouldnt mind so much though when it doesnt turn to ice on the road).

Flood: Bangkok is the low land so whenever the raining season or big storm hits Thailand, Bangkok will be one of the cities that is effected by that. And the drain pipe systems in some area aren’t that good to drain all the water down. Even some provinces in E-sarn and the south of Thailand don’t escape as they had big floods last time.

Drive thru – OMG! I LOVE the drive through its so so convenient for everyone who doesn’t want to step outside their car, who has no time, who wants to pick something up quick, etc. I love to use the drive thru bank because its so easy and no need to carry my baby in and out from the car seat, so it works out perfectly for me. It seems like they have drive through for almost everything at all from bank, food and restaurant, liqueur store, grocery store (not in my town though, but my husband said in some states they have it), or even pharmacy.

I definitely will miss it very much and I wish Thailand would have something like that..LOL

Returns and customer satisfaction – I came from a country where we usually buy things outside the store; as you can see they have the street venders, weekend markets and night markets all over Thailand. The seller will get the stuff for wholesale price from somewhere else and sell it at retail with their own price. So maybe you will find exactly the same T-shirt with a different price in the different shops (that Thai people and foreigners who live or used to live in Thailand familiar with). But that does not mean the seller will have the right to accept the return of the stuff.

I happened to have this experience for myself with several things I wanted to return in the past. Some of them were stuff from the outside shop. The seller will say NO to you as soon as you are just about to open your mouth. He/she will talk to you like you have never been to his/her shop before even though you just walked out from that shop like 5 minutes ago, they would say they have so many costumers and they don’t remember you. Some of them would say you can buy the stuff from somewhere else and want to return at their place, etc. Thats why when I buy the stuff from outside the store I will make perfectly sure that I like it, its in a good condition, etc. It will be even better if you buy stuff from the shop that they let you try it on (but barely that type of shop exists anymore). Nowadays some of the shops they are smart enough to have the sign up for “no return”.

Another experience happened with the big chain store when I bought an MP3 player and it didn’t work right so I wanted to return it. I don’t remember what happened to be exact, but turned out that I cant return it but they were willing to exchange for a new one. I wasn’t happy about it, but heyat least I got a new MP3 player not a broke one. And I bet they didn’t really care that I was happy about it or not.

So I was so shocked when I was treated differently about returning things in America. Almost everything the customers are not satisfied with even food! I remember last year when my mother-in-law ordered take out from one of the franchise family restaurant here. They screwed our order up big time so we called to complain about it and ended up that they were willing to not charge for anything and besides that they also gave us a coupon discount for the next visit. I was like…are you serious? Because the price would have been almost $120 but we got that meal for free. If that happens in Thailand what would that be??? LOL

I think that is pretty much everything that I can think of for the time being. I know even those things are still missing in Thailand, but up to this point nothing will change our mind from moving back to Thailand 🙂 ). Nowhere in the world will have everything perfect. We just have to get use to it and the most important is be happy with it.

Why the Strong Dollar and Pound Won’t Last

Why the Strong Dollar and Pound Won’t Last

I haven’t chimed in about the strength of the Thai baht in almost 2 months and in that time we have actually seen a bit of retreat in the value of the Thai baht. We are now seeing the U.S. Dollar at over 31:1 against the baht and the Pound Sterling over 49:1. Does this mean that we can hope to enjoy some respite from the weakening currencies over the course of the coming year?

I honestly think that this strengthening of Western currencies is a blip and the normal downward trend will soon re-emerge. I truly wish that weren’t the case as I would be a very happy man if I was getting 35+ baht to the Dollar once again, but I think this current baht weakening is a short lived affair.

What we’ve been seeing is the result of some profit taking in the SET. Over the past 2 years investors in the SET have seen their investments gain close to 170% and now that they are seeing the market as fully valued they are beginning to pull their money and profits out of Thailand and moving on to greener pastures. This capital flight causes some weakening of the baht in the short term as investors sell baht to convert back to dollars, pounds and euro’s.

Long term though there is no way the baht can do anything but become stronger. Western monetary policy is sure to keep interest rates low in the west and keep currencies weak by design. A side effect of the increasing money supply in the West is the increase in inflation throughout the world as the newly printed dollars, pounds and euro’s seek out higher returns than can be had in their home countries.

Thailand has seen this effect first hand as inflation continues to heat up, mostly thanks to the incoming capital flows, not due to any internal pressures. Now that profits have been made some of this inflation should be released, which is good news for everyone in Thailand as prices have been increasing on many goods and services, squeezing the consumer somewhat.

So, enjoy this short respite while your pounds and dollars get you slightly more baht. The tide will soon turn and the upward trend for the baht will continue for at least several more years.

12 Ways to Add Character to Your Thai Home

12 Ways to Add Character to Your Thai Home

With so much choice for the potential purchaser in Thailand it amazes me just how blind and misguided many sellers are. Additionally, several Real Estate agents here in the ‘land of smiles’ are scared of upsetting owners and rarely provide constructive criticism to improve the chances of a speedy sale at maximum value.

Want to increase the price of your home without spending a fortune? Here are some well proven ways to add value to your property.

If you are looking to sell your home then chances are that you’ll want to squeeze out every penny possible from the sale. So what can you do to get the best price?

1. Sort out the exterior

When a perspective buyer arrives to view your home it’s likely they will already know the asking price. As a result they will immediately start judging whether it’s worth the cost?

Making sure that the outside of your home is neat and tidy can make a powerful positive first impression and have a knock-on effect for the rest of the visit.

It’s not very expensive to weed the garden, paint boundary walls and if wood, paint your external windows. However doing these things can make a big difference to the value of your home.

“Keep it simple’ – white or off white paint only. You or your partner might like purple but most buyers don’t!

2. Sort out the roof

Problems with structural essentials can easily reduce the value of your home; but a damaged roof is on display for everyone to see.

It’s important to remember that your roof forms part of the image of your home, unlike the foundations or pipe work; because of this any visible damage will immediately be evident to potential buyers and no doubt have a significant impact on the amount they’re willing to offer – if it doesn’t put them off completely.

The best thing to do is repair any damage before anyone comes to see your property even if it is just a few loose tiles. Clearing gutters and drains is also a cheap way of improving the appearance of your roof.

3. Make your home lighter

Light creates the illusion of space. A dark and dingy property is of less value than a lighter one, even if it’s slightly smaller. So making your home lighter is a cheap and easy way to increase the value.

One of the first steps you can take is to clean your windows, this will allow more light in to the house and make both the inside and outside look more appealing.

Secondly, consider installing brighter and more energy efficient lights. This can be especially important if you are looking to sell your home in the rainy season when it can be dark and miserable outside.

Within reason – the more lights the better. Without question make sure you opt for the crisp, brilliant white energy lamps and not soft yellowy white, as these do not create the right sort of ‘white’ and can actually make your rooms feel old fashioned.

You could also install skylights, or additional sliding patio doors to increase the illusion of space your home. While these are more expensive options, more natural light and an unobstructed view of the garden can be very appealing to buyers.

4. Paint & Decorate

This piece of advice comes as standard for homeowners looking to sell, and the simple reason is because it works!

If you home falls under the category ‘needs work’ then you can bet that it will have a bearing on the price. Doing odd jobs such as fixing door handles and painting drab looking walls can make a significant difference to the price.

While a home covered in Magnolia can be somewhat uninspiring, if you do decide to wield your paintbrush avoid using bright colours. Painting a room in lime green or a deep violet will likely be unappealing to most buyers, and it will simply draw attention to the fact that they will need to redecorate themselves when they move.

It’s worth thinking, every job you do and room that you decorate is one less task that the new owners will need to worry about. Inexpensive updates can make all the difference. If in doubt – stick to white!

5. Flooring

If the flooring in your home is quite old then you may want to consider modernising. Larger (60 x 60) plain off-white floor tiles with a gloss finish are all the rage and here to stay. Go check out any new development and you will see a common theme with the flooring tiles used. Why? Again – because it works! Labour and materials in Thailand are relatively cheap and modern floor tiles will transform your property and you are highly likely to recoup your costs.

If you have wooden floors in your home then consider freshening them up by sanding them down and adding a light oak varnish finish, or again just give them a thorough wash before viewings.

Remember, if a buyer thinks that they will have to replace the flooring they will expect this to be reflected in the price.

6. Front Door

A solid, attractive front door is as important for a house as it is a condo. First impressions! A ‘spy whole’ is also a simple yet appreciated feature in any external door.

7. Security & Locks

Making your home secure is a must when it comes to selling your property. Installing extra security measures from a chain on the front door to an automatic light sensor can add to the value of your home.

Remember, if the person viewing your home doesn’t feel that it is secure then it may put them off making an offer.

Of course be careful not to try too hard with this improvement, if you install motion detectors and CCTV surveillance, they may wonder just how safe your neighbourhood is!

8. Extra Sockets

In a world where we rely on electrical appliances a house with cables trailing everywhere is unlikely to be very appealing. In a sense it may show a perspective buyer moves that they too would end up with cables everywhere if they moved in.

So consider getting an electrician to install a couple of extra electrical sockets in more convenient locations, especially in the living room, kitchen and bedrooms and remove this irritation.

While it’s unlikely to add thousands on to your purchase price it could equally be that little extra positive that seals the deal.

9. Internet Connection

In Thailand it seems that 99.9% of people now rely on a mobile phone as their main means of communication day-to-day. This has meant many houses and condos are without a telephone line. Just like there are increasing numbers of people who will not book a hotel if it doesn’t have internet access (or it is expensive) there are an increasing number of purchasers who will be put off buying your house/condo if there is no telephone line installed.

You really do need to install an [ADSL] phone line, even if it is not connected. Making it easy for a buyer to connect to the internet is an absolute must nowadays – and will help no end to maximize the attractiveness of your property.

You do not need to install more than one internet access point/telephone socket as the majority of people now use WiFi, but it is handy to have the telephone point ‘central’ to your property so that any WiFi signal is likely to be picked up anywhere around the house/condo.

10. Kitchen

Old fashioned solid wood cabinets everywhere, two tiny electric hobs and no oven sound familiar? You might not be a budding Michelin Chef but with eating out becoming increasingly expensive, many long-stay expats eat and entertain at home.

Replacing your whole kitchen can be expensive, so unless you own a larger house or condo with the ‘wow factor’ (panoramic sea views or beautiful garden) a new kitchen is unfeasible. Instead why not retain the units and change the doors for something clean, crisp and modern? The carcasses and be repainted white/off white and any work surfaces covered or replaced with marble/onyx-look work tops.

Installing a four hob stove and an oven will also win-over any expat wife/partner and believe you me, they are the ones who wear the trousers when it comes to deciding whether to put in an offer or not!

11. Don’t overspend

Although the tips listed are focused on what you can do to increase the value of your home on a budget, there is sometimes the temptation to keep spending in the hope that you will re-coup your money and more when you sell.

However, be warned! No matter how many extensions and extra features you add to your home there is likely to be a ceiling price for your property. Essentially this is where your home becomes too expensive in comparison to the other properties in your neighbourhood/building.

If you are unsure what this might be for your area then you may want to contact your local Real Estate Agent or simply look online to see what prices homes in your area are being sold for.

It may also be a good idea to see what properties currently on offer in your area offer potential buyers and their asking price so you can match or better what’s available.

12. Buyers need to be led

Take some time to consider what type of lifestyle you have and the kind of person who is likely to be attracted to your property? If you have a beautiful, quiet or private garden then put tables and chairs outside. Similarly, outside seating on the balcony of a condo with great views will inspire purchasers, who will subconsciously imagine themselves outside relaxing and/or eating.

It is also worthwhile prompting Real Estate Agents and buyers with a list of positives about your property, such as any of the items (above) that you have already seen to.

Gambling Legally in Thailand?

Gambling Legally in Thailand?

I’ve asked the same question in the past when former Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej announced that Thailand was considering making gambling legal in Thailand. After 2 years we still haven’t seen legalized gambling in Thailand though we have seen the launch of 2 casinos in nearby Singapore and by all accounts the casinos are doing a very good job in boosting tourism and the economy on that small island nation.

There’s no doubt that the addition of casinos and legalized gambling can boost tax revenues, fuel economic growth and increase tourism; all things which would benefit the Kingdom now and in the future. On the flip side, it can also increase crime through corruption and the activities of illegal loan shark operations. So, does the benefit of legalized gambling outweigh the negatives? Many countries believe so, and if you look at the growth brought on by legalized gambling in places such as Las Vegas in the U.S., Macau and Singapore you’ll see that gambling can indeed be introduced in such a way that it is controlled and beneficial to a countries economy.

Singapore launched itself into the casino arena early in 2010 and since that time has seen 14.7% economic growth and the creation of over 20,000 casino related jobs. The expectation is that the two casinos added a hefty 1.7% to GDP growth in Singapore in 2010. Growth is expected to slow somewhat in 2011, but as the middle class in China grows that expectation could be misinformed. Chinese tourism is a huge growth area for Singapore and could be for Thailand as well, given the proximity of Thailand and China combined with Thailand’s efforts to woo Chinese tourists. Singapore saw a 20% increase in tourist arrivals in 2010 vs 2009 with many of them coming from China. Another group that has seen a benefit from the casinos are the retailers in Singapore who have seen spending in the resorts and on Orchard Road skyrocket by 47% in 2010 vs 2009.

Macau has been another huge winner on the gaming front with revenues reportedly rising 58% in 2010 from the thirty three casinos located on this island. This growth makes it the largest gambling hub in the world outpacing even its famed rival Las Vegas. Macau’s growth has also been fueled by increased Chinese affluence and discretionary spending by the new Chinese middle class. Considering that growth on Macau is being limited, this is a market that Thailand could easily tap into.

With the planned development of Pattaya, a gambling sector could easily be introduced and would likely draw a large number of tourists to boost the area economy. This increased economic base could then be used to pay for some of the planned 15 billion baht infrastructure improvements that have been identified in Pattaya. It would also spur employment in the area and would very likely draw some residents out of their current “employment” schemes. If developed properly I see no reason why Thailand wouldn’t be able to increase tourism dramatically as well as increasing the amount of money spent by the incoming tourists, similar to what has happened in Singapore.

Tips for Finding Childcare in Phuket

Tips for Finding Childcare in Phuket

Phuket child care can be great as Thai’s have a natural affinity with children. One of the main benefits enjoyed by parents living in Thailand is the inexpensive ability to employ a nanny to help out. Finding a nanny is not always an easy task and you may find they move on after a short time in the position. There is also the choice between Filipino and Thai nannies. Here are a few pointers to help ensure you find the child care right for you and that they stay with you for the full duration:

Most nannies will have no ‘formal’ training. However you may find someone who has worked as a nanny before or has some child care experience working in one of the local hotels
The best way to find a nanny is through word of mouth. Ask around and see if anyone knows of anyone – a friend’s nanny may have a friend who is suitable
When you employ a nanny it is normal for you to take a copy of their ID card. This offers some basic protection for you when bringing the nanny into your home
Do be very clear with what you expect that nanny to do / not do. If you need her to cook and clean as well then make sure she knows – do not expect her to understand this in English. At the very least have a Thai friend translate for you
Don’t expect a Thai nanny to be familiar with western gadgets – show her how to use the sterilising equipment etc
Expect to pay between THB 6,000 and THB 13,000 depending on if they live in or not. A Filipino nanny may take a lower salary but will need you to pay for their visa and work permit
Thai’s don’t usually have a set bedtime for youngsters and quite often you will see children as old as five drinking bottles of milk. Again don’t take anything for granted and enlist a Thai friend to help explain what’s important to you in raising your child. Spell out any ‘don’ts’ very clearly in Thai. If you are unhappy with your child going on the back of a motorbike then say so
If your nanny is Thai than ask them to help your child experience some Thai delights. They will gladly bring local fruits and snacks and happily teach your child some Thai customs

Still not found your very own Mary Poppins, then post a note on our Market Place wanted board .
Outside the Home

Phuket is home to an ever increasing list of nurseries and kindergartens. Find out more about what’s available on our Educate page. If a Mums & Toddlers group is more your style then post a note on the Market Place wanted board to recruit like minded mums with children of a similar age and start your own. There are many different venues island wide where you could meet, eat and play together.

From Childhood to Adulthood in Thailand

From Childhood to Adulthood in Thailand

When I started the university it was a tough situation for my parents because just a couple years later my sister started hers too and both of us needed money at almost the same time.

It was a sudden and huge move for me. I had never had to leave my home that far for my whole life and never had the opportunity to stay in Bangkok all by myself. Bangkok; the city of colorful, wealthy, and civilization as the idea from an innocent teenager like me. Ahh…now I can do anything without my parents eye sight, and I felt like I was an adult who could live their life and didnt have to let somebody else have control over me.

The beginning was rough, I spent 1st and 2nd year in the University at Salaya, Nakhon Pathom about 15-20 minutes distance from Bangkok. I didn’t do well in those years and almost got expelled, everything was out of control. I was too lazy to go to class or study as I should have, it didn’t have anything to do with partying or anything like that. The internet chatting online was so alluring; much more than going to class, so every time when other people would go to class I would tie myself to the computer room or the library all day. Chatting non-sense with somebody on the other line and talking on the phone days and nights (it was like an illusional person being). It cost me so much when I started to realized all the consequences of wasting my time, money on the telephone bill (and that from my parents working so hard), and the failure in my education.

The 3rd and 4th years I moved to Bangkok because of all the clinical classes. Life in Bangkok was totally different than Salaya. I found out there was nightlife out there that I had been missing and I really enjoyed it (I think because I never had the chance to do something like this when I live with my parents). I would go out and party almost every weekend. While I also realized if I wanted to finish and graduate the same time as all my other friends then I better work harder. It seemed like the actions speak louder than word for me, I didnt do what I would have told myself was necessary again and again. Finally I barely did it. And I got my first job as a nurse at one of the public hospitals in Bangkok. I worked there for almost a year and had to move on to the private hospital because I didnt like to work rotating shifts and I realized I wanted something more in my life.

I never had an actual boyfriend since I can remember, all were just a short relationship and this was even up until later when I was ready to get married. My father was always strict about who will come to our house and who I was talking to. I remember my first puppy love when I was in high school my dad would sit there while I was on the phone and listen to the whole conversation between me and him, it was so embarrassing. And he would open my mail too when somebody would mail something to me. So that didnt work out well at all.

Thai guys werent really my type, so that being the case, to have a farang as a boyfriend was one of the reasons to move on to the private hospital. Surprise surprise you would not believe that many people out there who work in the private hospital will have the same idea as me (not always though, but most likely). Unfortunately I’m not most farangs type and it was very rare to meet the patient, to go out, and to date with it seemed impossible to happen. At least I was accomplishing my goal to do what I like; such as no more rotating shifts and practicing my English skill.

The internet dating site was introduced to me by one of my co-workers. There were so many times it didnt end up the way I wanted. Most of them were not looking for a serious relationship and just looking for a one night stand (which I hate so much). I always wanted to get married when I was young and almost gave up on it until I met my husband. Find out more after that in “Sawasdee Kaa”.

I pretty much had a bitter childhood life and there are not many good things I really want to remember about it. I believe that whatever the parents create in the kids’ childhood will affect their life in the future, although it also depends on the kids themselves somewhat; if they will learn something while they are growing up or not.

Expating in Thailand

Expating in Thailand

Over the past decade and a half I’ve had the opportunity to come in contact with many expats, not just in Thailand, but in other countries as well. I’ve had many discussions about what causes people to leave their homeland to live in a foreign and sometimes unknown country and seen firsthand the psychology that often goes into the decision making process. It seems as if there are two groups of expats out there; those who made calculated and planned decisions to move and those who let emotion drive their decision making.

The second group are the ones who have fallen in love, are suffering some type of anxiety about their current country, have had a major life event, are looking for adventure or simply think the grass must be greener after one or two visits. In some cases these guys (and to a lesser extent gals) react to their emotional upheavals by packing up and heading off to Thailand literally overnight. Often they expect things to be similar to their homeland or at least similar to their vacation memories of the place.

In almost every case the unrealistic expectations of the emotionally driven expat doesn’t come close to the reality. They encounter many differences they didn’t expect, they have little or no support network and quite quickly frustration sets in. Some can get through this, but for the majority their adventure to “paradise” quickly ends and they find themselves either off to another possible “paradise” or back in their homeland, shaking themselves off and wondering WTF happened.

The other group of Thailand expats are the ones who may initially get bitten by an emotional trigger, but they hold back and make a rational, logical and calculated decision. They take several trips to Thailand to get the lay of the land and make a solid determination if they could realistically live there. They set their expectations at a lower level and are typically pretty flexible about their experiences and dealing with the unknown and unexpected. They plan for the best, and the worst, case scenarios and have backup plans in case things go pear shaped on them. In almost every case these types of calculated expats end up pleased with their decision, even though it may take them longer to initially get to Thailand.

And unsurprisingly, many of these expats find that for them the grass really is greener. Life becomes more exciting and fulfilling once they remove themselves from the day to day grind and open up to the unexpected possibilities of life in Thailand. Having a plan certainly won’t account for all possibilities and contingencies, but it helps to get rid of the “noise” and allows one to think more clearly about their needs and desires. It can also allow the new expat the opportunity to easily follow a new path if one presents itself.

Personally I have been planning my Thailand move for several years and as it draws near I can say I’ve missed out on the time that I might have been enjoying in Thailand, but conversely I believe I will have far less stress and uncertainty once the move is made. It may not apply to all people, but I believe that peace of mind is a good thing to have, especially when starting out on a new venture.

I know a lot of you have already made the move to Thailand and I would love to hear about your experience; whether you planned before leaving or simply dropped everything and headed off into the relatively unknown. It would also be great to hear what things met your expectations, what surprises you encountered and what frustrations you may have dealt with or are still dealing with today.

Will Thai’s Tourism Recover?

Will Thai’s Tourism Recover?

For the last few years the Tourism Authority of Thailand has stopped releasing official tourism numbers. Obviously this makes it very difficult to judge the true state of tourism in Thailand, however TAT themselves have sent a message recently that things are probably pretty dire.

Even though anecdotal evidence indicated otherwise TAT has continued to release positive tourism figures for 2008 and 2009 and even most of 2010. This positive outlook was changed recently when Thai Travel Agents Association Chairman Charoen Wangananont admitted that the combination of the political riots early in 2010 and the recent flooding has decreased tourist arrivals by 20% versus last year. He of course remained hopeful that tourist arrivals would reach 14 million by the end of 2010 and remain on pace to then reach 15.5 million through 2011.

I for one can’t imagine that tourist arrivals are anywhere near the 14 million figure being quoted. I recall being in Chiang Mai, Phuket, Bangkok and other locations throughout the Kingdom when tourist figures were officially released. At that time the number of arrivals was being quoted as 12 million and I can tell you that there were many empty hotels, restaurants and bars during those visits. Based on everything I’ve heard both last year and during the beginning of this year’s high season that situation has not improved and may in fact have gotten worse.

Let’s face it we’ve gone from tsunami to bird flu to airport closures to riots in the streets of the capital. Is it any wonder that tourists are choosing to go elsewhere. And overlaying the whole situation is a backdrop of perceived corruption at all levels as well as currency that is now stronger against most other currencies than it has been in over 2 decades. Many destinations in SE Asia are now much cheaper to visit than Thailand and those visiting don’t have the worries that now come with thoughts of Thailand.

Strangely it seems as if Thailand will now be aiming at increasing domestic tourism. I agree that strong domestic tourism is important, but when you have the natural resources that Thailand has in the form of its islands in the south and mountains in the north you can bet that international tourism is going to be far more lucrative. Let’s face facts here, Thais are not the right group to be targeting for beach vacations!

I was under the impression that TAT was going to start targeting more upscale tourists and I personally thought that was the right move. Of course I didn’t think the transition could be made in 2 years, but over time I think an improved tourist base would be a vast improvement for Thailand and for the image of foreigners in Thailand. Of course that would also require significant capital expenditures for infrastructure improvement, removal of the dual pricing system, a clean up of the image Thailand has built up as corrupt and potentially dangerous and an attitude of nurturing the tourist/host relationship.

Maybe a page should be taken from Mexico’s book. Mexico is certainly just as poor, dangerous and corrupt as Thailand is claimed to be and yet just take a look at the Mexican Riviera to see how successful a premier beach destination can become. Clean streets, a safe atmosphere, clean beaches and oceans, well organized tours to the historical sights, top notch service in the hotels, a thriving nightlife and family oriented parks and attractions. When we visited Playa del Carmen it wasn’t me who said “Why won’t Thailand do something like this”, it was my Thai wife.

If tourism is alive and well in Thailand then I would certainly like to know where all the tourists are going. Based on all I have heard and read it is not to Chiang Mai, Phuket, Samui, Hua Hin or any of the other expected locations.