Being an expat in Thailand you’ll go through plenty of phases – from excitement, to astonishment, to bewilderment, to acceptance – it’s all an exciting journey, and will rarely go to plan. But that’s why so many of us love living in Thailand.
There are some particular sub-sets of Thai expat we can spot a mile away. Far from type-casting a typical expat, we provide these sub-sets as a guide – there are plenty of other varieties of expats floating around Thailand.
We should also mention that in 2019 there’s a much broader range of expats living in Thailand. Contrary to popular wisdom (aka. the internet chat rooms), the numbers of expats are growing every year and they are coming from just about everywhere, not just the UK, northern Europe, Australia and the US, as in the past.
1. The search of a wife
Finding looking for love in the West daunting? Or had a few failed marriages? Head to Asia and find a wife there instead. Right?!
These gentlemen come to Thailand for the sole purpose of finding love and maybe a wife. There seems to be some belief that Asian women are going to be more polite, obedient and submissive than the women in their own country. They’re about to get a shock.
Others are looking to ‘trade in’ their older, western model for a younger, prettier Asian version. And where are you going to find this source of Asian ladies? At an expat bar (or on the internet these days). And so the well-trodden path and litany of perilous adventures begins. We know how most of these relationships end.
Of course there are many western men, and women, who do find a Thai partner and live long, happy lives. But they’re vastly out numbered by the stories of love-gone-wrong in the Land of Smiles.
- Don’t take it too seriously
- Read a couple of hundred stories on the internet before moving in with the Thai GF
- Have deep pockets
NB. Guys, the bar girls don’t actually love you.
2. The businessman
Many professional expats live, mostly in Bangkok, working for big international companies on salaries that would make them rich in any country. They can afford to, and do, live the high life. Some are single but others bring their family along for the adventure. They rent a big house, have a live-in maid, a driver and live a great life indeed. But, living their life in an artificial bubble in their working years, they rarely transition into a more mundane retired life in ‘normal’ Thailand.
3. Retiring in Thailand
The mantra used to be that you could move to Thailand and live off your pension (which would translate to lots and lots of baht), walking the Phuket beaches, shopping in Bangkok or living a quiet life in Chiang Mai. The perfect retirement lifestyle.
Other single, mostly, men would be lured by a carefree life of cheap beer, endless beaches and a seemingly endless supply of attractive young ladies in the many bars.
A lot of this has changed in recent years as the Thai economy has gained strength, along with the Thai Baht, and some international currencies have deflated meaning that people hoping to live off their overseas pensions or savings are not getting the same bargain they once did. Especially living in tourist hubs like Bangkok, Phuket or Pattaya, the cost of living has been rising in recent years pricing them out of the retirement market.
If you’re contemplating a retired life in Thailand spend some time on the internet and come and spend a few months in selected locations. Try before you buy and don’t start packing the crockery until you’ve done your homework and your sums.
4. Teaching English
The English teacher is found everywhere in the LOS (Land of Smiles) and is still a reasonably sure-fire way to extend your time living in Thailand.
These teachers usually break down into four categories…. Some are career educators and love teaching English, others are backpackers trying to extend their stay and top up their travel spend, there are some older guys who have spent their savings and will do anything to stay in Thailand. Finally, there’s the bored wives who want something useful and meaningful to fill their days whilst their husbands work for larger international companies.
There are numerous TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) courses around the country. The pay’s not great and you’ll be living a local lifestyle rather than the lap of luxury. But many former teachers remember their time teaching English in Thailand fondly and say they’ll never forget the smiling Thai children.
5. The entrepreneurial spirit
Savvy business people often come to Thailand for some better weather and the chance to make their fortune. The joke used to be that if you wanted to start a small business in Thailand, just invest in a big business here and wait a few years.
But many actually make a go of it and end up doing well. Like starting a business anywhere else in the world, do your homework and make sure you tick all the right boxes, including a business and marketing plan (in a foreign country).
The flashy, brash real estate hacks that sell one property a year and spend the other 364 days sitting at the beach bar spending their commission, are a local cliché and a dime a dozen.
Remember that the paperwork and administration requirements of a Thai company can be bewildering and you WILL need some good local advice before you open up shop. Take someone who’s already done it for a few years to dinner and ask lots of questions.
6. The bored wife
Many of the categories mentioned so far have a predominance of males. Life for a single foreign woman in Thailand can be a challenge. Kudos to those who cut through the cultural issues and make a go of it (and I know many).
There’s also the wives and partners of the many, many men who get to work in Thailand and bring their families with them. The live-in maid, driver and shopping trips eventually get boring and they will often be looking for other things to do. In most cases their visas won’t allow them to legally work. So many do end up doing various charity and volunteer work (thought you should be very clear about what your visa will and won’t allow you to do).
There are numerous expat groups around the country to provide information, social outings and community for the many mums or spouses who find themselves at a loose end whilst the husband works in the office. Jump on your computer and do some homework and you’ll discover a whole new world of other woman out there.
Your next coffee or movie gal-pal is as far away as the internet.
7. The fresh-starter
For whatever reason, Thailand seems to attract its fair share of misfits, vagrants and social outcasts that can’t seem to get their act together in their home country. So they come to Thailand where the cheap booze, beaches and travel brochures have lured them.
Of course they find a very different culture and an entirely new list of reasons they can’t fit in and get their life established.
Some are just running away from 1) bad marriages 2) the law 3) anything-they-don’t-want-to-confront.
The long term prognosis for many of these misfits isn’t good. We end up reading about them as over-stayers, drink driving road deaths or victims of balcony falls.
‘Sexpats’ are notorious and much-maligned. They come to Thailand, lured by a slightly old-fashioned notions of the Kingdom as an easy place to find sex. And sometimes, in some locations the opportunities are still available, for a price. Sexpats usually hang around other expats who are less likely to frown on their indulgences. The three P’s – Patpong, Patong and Pattaya – sum up most of the popular sexpat locations.
In most cases they’re here for a good time, not a long time, and will frequent the sleazier locations in Thailand pursuing their goals and, eventually, running out of money or getting bored. Or getting into trouble. Or contracting any number of available STDs.
There’s also a subset of the sexpat that will find themselves on the very outer fringes of society – the pedophile. Thailand, and other south east asian countries, have provided solace for these people in the past but recent crackdowns are now detecting a lot of their activities and they are being increasingly rounded up, arrested or deported.
As a pedophile you will get zero sympathy from Thai authorities.
9. The serial complainer
Nothing, absolutely nothing, will ever be as good in Thailand compared to where they come from. They will find fault in everything from the traffic to the food to the government to the medical system to the culture to the visa system to the corruption to the heat to the roads to the culture to the girls.
Surprise. Thailand is a foreign country with a rich, frequently bewildering culture. The longer you spend here, the less it all makes sense. But that’s part of the glorious adventure of living in Thailand. Whilst many expats revel in the wonders and excesses of Thai life, some just wallow in their own self-righteousness.
Many of these haters and complainers have never been to Thailand but are happy to share their wisdom, often, in chat rooms and social media. Blah, blah, blah.
Worse, there are plenty of haters living amongst us who bore us sideways with their whinging and complaining. They can be directed to the nearest international airport where they are invited to escape the country they so despise and return to their homeland or just go somewhere else, anywhere really.
10. The digital nomads
We see them tapping away on their keyboards at cafés and work spaces around the country. As long as they have wifi their business is open. They’re trading stocks and shares, selling property, gambling, posting stories, filing news reports, selling stuff on their Facebook pages – they’re working.
If you can run your business outside of a traditional office, hey, why not do it sitting next to a beach or high up in a mountain overlooking Chiang Rai. The digital nomads fall between the cracks in the Thai Immigration system and often have to run the gauntlet of dodgy visas and visa runs although a recently introduced Smart Visa helps some of them get a proper visa.
There is an increasing range of co-working spaces opening around the country and almost every café in Thailand will now have wifi – whether it’s working or not is another matter. Then again you can always tether your phone to your laptop and use your smartphone’s wifi.
10a. The Keyboard Warriors
We can’t leave this group out because there seems to be a large contingent of keyboard warriors out there who keep Thai website administrators busy. They respond to everything that’s posted and are keen to share their expert advice on the matter. On ALL matters. A virtual Library of Congress when it comes to dispensing their opinions and vast knowledge about all matters relating to life in Thailand, or anywhere really.
Web administrators (The Thaiger included) are kept busy ‘hiding’ some of their extravagant claims, nonsense or thinly-veiled abuse at the writer of the story, the website generally or other commenters.
There is one website in Thailand who does a roaring trade based on the clicks of expats that seem to have nothing better to do than whinge, complain, comment and click, click, click on a broad range of matters, particularly those concerning traffic accidents, ladyboys, visa overstayers and police matters.
It’s a love-hate relationship. We hate their monotonous drivel but we love their traffic.
500 people own 36% of equity in Thai companies
Roughly 36% of Thailand’s corporate equity is held by just 500 people, highlighting wealth inequality in the Kingdom, according to a study released by the Bank of Thailand’s research institute.
Each of these 500 amass some 3.1 billion baht (102 million USD) per year in company profits, according to the report from the Puey Ungphakorn Institute for Economic Research. In contrast, average yearly household income in Thailand is around 10,000 USD.
A report out this week from the Economic and Business Research Centre for Reform at Thailand’s Rangsit University also pointed to divisive and polarised politics being another root cause of the economic divide.
Thailand’s private sector is dominated by tycoons running sprawling conglomerates. According to the World Bank, the gap between the mega-wealthy and the rest of the Thai population of 69 million is among the many economic challenges for Thailand. According to Bloomberg, the perception of a divide, exacerbated by an economic slowdown, is a major political fault line.
“Magnates arise in Thailand from institutional factors that privilege certain businesses,” said the executive director of PIER, author of the study.
The institute said Thailand needs to promote competitiveness to reduce profits from monopoly power and bolster entrepreneurship to create a more equitable distribution of corporate wealth.
The research is based on analysis of 2017 Commerce Ministry data on the 2.1 million shareholders in Thai firms, and was funded by the University of California San Diego.
SOURCE: Bangkok Post
Thais go bananas over freak plants in pursuit of lottery numbers
PHOTOS: Daily News
The answers are in the banana leaves.
Thai people LOVE playing the lottery (and gambling generally). In fact they’re BANANAS about the twice-monthly lottery (it was drawn again today). Daily News has reported about two unusual banana trees growing in front of a shop in Klong 4 Pathum Thani, just north of Bangkok. The trees did not have blossom and on one plant two bananas were pointing skywards. On another there was a whole bunch pointing up into the sky.
There was a steady stream of the faithful lighting incense, praying and rubbing powder on the trees to get lottery numbers. One group thought ‘542’ was the magic numbers and a path to riches (we’re not sure how they came to this conclusion). 53 year old Surachai says the trees had been growing for a few months and that he’d never seen anything like it before.
An unnamed agricultural expert suggested that there was probably something wrong with the banana plants. Trees and malformed animals are a favourite source of inspiration to select numbers for the lottery, as are numbers of houses and vehicles involved in events where people experience “miracle” escapes from danger, or even bizarre accidents.
SOURCE: Daily News
The K-pop Olympics: performers battle in the K-pop festival
On the streets, in parks and garages, seven Cuban youngsters spent seven months practising K-pop moves to secure a spot on their dream stage: an appearance in South Korea to imitate their idols. 13 final teams from 80 countries are competing in the 2019 event.
At the grandly titled and government-funded Changwon K-pop World Festival contestants from around the globe perform imitation dances or sing cover versions of the genre’s biggest hits, with thousands of fans cheering them on.
In terms of global heft, South Korea is overshadowed by its much larger neighbours China and Japan, but the event is a way for Seoul to derive soft power from one of the country’s biggest cultural exports. In terms of pop-power, South Korea’s K-Pop is now a recognised world-wide music phenomenon with bands like BTS and Blackpink figuring amongst the other big-hitters on the Billboard charts and outselling their western counterparts with millions of albums and downloads.
Finalists for this year
Cuba’s Communist government is one of North Korea’s few remaining allies: when President Miguel Diaz-Canel, successor to the Castro brothers Fidel and Raul, visited Pyongyang last November he was only the third foreign head of state to do so since leader Kim Jong Un inherited power in 2011.
But rather than geopolitics, Havana performer Karel Rodriguez Diaz – whose mannerisms and sleek hairstyle could easily be mistaken for those of a K-pop star – is more motivated by high-tempo beats and superslick dance moves.
“We never had a place with a mirror or a choreographer who could teach us the steps” but they kept on practising, he said.
His team-mate Elio Gonzalez added: “We are so excited to represent not just Cuba but also the whole of Latin America.”
Some 6,400 teams from more than 80 countries entered the competition, according to organisers, with 13 groups from places as diverse as Kuwait and Madagascar winning through to the final in Changwon, where they appeared on stage waving their national flags.
“This is like watching the Olympics, a K-pop Olympics,” said the event’s host Lia, a member of K-pop group ITZY.
The Korean Wave
K-pop – along with K-drama soap operas – has been one of South Korea’s most successful cultural exports to date. A key part of the “Korean Wave” which has swept Asia and beyond in the last 20 years, the K-pop industry is now estimated to be worth $5 billion, with boyband BTS its latest high-profile exponent, becoming the world’s most successful band in the past 12 months, selling out stadium concerts within minutes, around the world.
The South Korean government has financed a variety of K-pop themed events in what CedarBough Saeji, a visiting professor at Indiana University Bloomington in the US, said was a form of long-term “soft power diplomacy”.
“When you are covering you get to ‘become’ those idols for the three and a half minutes of the song,” she said, adding that performers will go so far as matching their clothing, accessories and hairstyle to their heroes and heroines.
“The cover dancers of today will be diplomats, news reporters, and business leaders in forty years,” she went on.
“And hopefully they’ll still have a soft spot in their heart for Korea. Korea can’t win the world through hard power – armies, economic bullying – but with soft power even a small country like Korea has a chance.”
The music also provides an artistic alternative for overseas fans, especially those in developing countries, Saeji added.
“The West, especially the United States, has been so dominant culturally for so long, and having a different cultural pole to look to provides hope that one’s own country can experience similar success in the future.”
Be who you want
Beneath its glitz and glamour, the K-pop industry is also known for its cutthroat competition, a lack of privacy, online bullying and relentless public pressure to maintain a wholesome image at all times and at any cost.
Sulli, a popular K-pop star and former child actress who had long been the target of abusive online comments was found dead on Monday, with her death sending shockwaves through fans around the world.
“I think a day where (people) would be ashamed of the K-show business will surely come,” a South Korean online user wrote in the wake of the star’s death.
“I think an industry that makes money by (making people) sing, dance, undergo plastic surgeries and go on a diet to please the gaze of others since they are teenagers should really go bankcrupt.”
But for Kenny Pham, a finalist from the US at last week’s contest, K-pop’s diversity – with some tunes having dark themes, while others were “cute” or sensual – is what gives him a sense of liberation.
“I like how expressive you could be,” the 19 year old told AFP last week.
“I feel like it’s a place where you could show the passion you have for music, dance or fashion. No one is bashing you for what your likes are.”
SOURCE: Agence France-Presse
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14% of condos around Bangkok are empty – good time to buy
Voice TV report paints grim picture of Thailand’s tourism problems
Indonesia’s President Jokowi says he is “embarrassed” by fires
Patong Mayor hands out useless, cheap face-masks
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British Instagrammer locked up in “filthy Bangkok cell’ over missing passport pages
Thailand’s changing tourist demographic – the Indians
Bangkok land prices plateau, new tax on the way
Earthquake rattles north-east Thailand
Thailand rated near bottom for privacy protection
Drug dealer on the run for 20 years arrested by Thai immigration
500 people own 36% of equity in Thai companies
Bodies of 8 dead elephants risk contaminating reservoir in Thai national park
True to introduce 5G with help from China Mobile
Over 100 million baht worth of assets seized from Thai drug dealers
New Wellness venture in Thailand, Singapore multi-national teams up with Anantara Hotel Group
Thais go bananas over freak plants in pursuit of lottery numbers
Clean Up to the Countdown – Crackdown on illegal software
Thai Airways must modify rehabilitation plan to survive: Airline President
Thai app will ease expat immigration woes and make 90 day reporting simple
EU and UK zone in on possible breakthrough
Karaoke premises raided in central Thailand, 3 underage sex workers rescued
Burmese surfing team head to SEAsia Games, a first for Myanmar
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