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Top Ten hard truths of living as an expat in Thailand

Tim Newton

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There will be bumps along the way between your visits to the beach, bar and immigration office (sometimes the bumps will be at the beach, bar and immigration office). Expat life is what you make it here in the Land of Smiles. Moaning about it never helps but accepting the bumps is part of the adventure. Here are our Top Ten Hard Truths for expats in Thailand.

1. VISAS ARE A PAIN IN THE NECK

You have plenty of options but the options never quite fit into your line of work or expectations. But between the Non-B visa, Retirement visa, Education visa, Tourist visa, Elite visa and Smart visa, along with a few visa runs and trips to your local immigration office, you can usually fernangle a long-term stay in Thailand (yes, we know we used nick names for some of the visas). One way or the other you will need to keep your paperwork up to date as the fines for over-stays and visa problems can be quite aggressive and difficult to negotiate your way around these days. There’s plenty of good information on the net about visas but, despite what you read, interpretation may be different on the day you visit the local office and depending who you end up speaking too.

At the end of the day, ask yourself how difficult is it for Thai citizens to live in your country…

2. YOU CALL IT CORRUPTION. THEY CALL IT BUSINESS.

You are a guest in a foreign country. Thailand has a long history of independence and hasn’t been tainted with a lot of western influence. Unlike Myanmar, Laos, Vietnam, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia. Philippines and India (just to list the countries around Thailand), there has never been western colonisation of the Kingdom. And most Thais will be delighted to remind you of this proud fact. The down-side is that your perception of western efficiencies and customs are going to be challenged whenever you want to do just about anything.

There will be times when you will be asked, or invited, to put your hand in your pocket to get something happening – it could be a building project, a visa, getting your accounting done or getting a signature on a contract. If you are running a business in Thailand you’ll be invited more often than if you’re just living the single life here. Be shocked, be angry, be determined to point out your isses with corruption – it’s not going to change a system that has been in place for generations and unlikely to change much during your time in the Kingdom.

Speaking of business…

3. THAIS LOVE PAPERWORK

Thais and Thai bureaucracy loves paperwork. You will be bewildered by the amount of paperwork generated for the most simple tasks. We’ve decided that there must be a huge building somewhere in Thailand that just holds mountains of paperwork that will never, ever be seen again. Despite computers, modern banking and the concept of the ‘paperless office’, you will see paperwork generated at the expense of perfectly good trees in quantities you can’t even start to imagine. How about 32 A4 pages of paperwork for changing one brake disc in a 12 year old Honda Jazz? Watch in wonder as the photostat machines and bubble-jet printers churn out paper you probably can’t even read and get placed into files that will likely never be read by anyone else.

4. BUSINESS IS A CHALLENGE

Despite a US NGO voting Thailand as one of the best places to start a business in Asia (try and hold back your laughter), starting a business in Thailand can be 1) challenging 2) an adventure 3) bewildering 4) perhaps impossible. Or all four at once. Free you mind of anything you’ve learned in the west about starting a business, jump onto Google and find a good local Admin. person or lawyer. Do it all yourself at your peril. Just because the Thai GF can pour a beer or ‘knows someone’ is no guarantee that things will go smoothly. Running a Thai business never ever goes the way you plan. Ever. Between your visas, business registration, Labour Office, Department of this and that, accountants and your Thai staff is a wall of red tape, twists, turns and WTFs that will test your resolve. The effort is usually all worth it but you’ve been warned! Dot your ‘i’s and cross your ’t’s and check everything thoroughly before you sign a document. And then do it again.

5. TWO-TIER PRICING

Go to a small local restaurant in any holiday area and there will likely be several versions of the menu – one for locals and one for tourists. Off course the menu for the tourists has the same food listed at higher. Go to any national park in Thailand and the entry price can be as much as 1000% higher for ‘farang’ and tourists. It’s just a fact of life much-debated, and you probably just need to accept it. If you do confront a two-tier pricing issue from time to time get out your Work Permit or local drivers licence and the higher price is usually waived. But not always.

6. BAR GIRLS DON’T LOVE YOU

The 20-something bar girl with the short skirt and fetching smile probably doesn’t love you. Whilst many westerners seem to gravitate to Thailand to indulge in the local pleasures of the flesh, a long term relationship and partner may take more time to cultivate than a round of expensive drinks and some small talk with a bar girl whose vocabulary will likely range between the cost of drinks and routine pleasantries, Ka. You’ll have better luck on Tinder or, heaven forbid, taking a lady out on a date and getting to know her.

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7. BUT THAT’S NOT HOW I DID IT LAST TIME!

Immigration rules, negotiating with police, business rules, road rule enforcement. The way you tackle some of these day-to-day little ‘impediments’ should be treated as a single adventure and not to be referred to in the future as the-way-things-are-done. Whilst Thailand has well described rules, regulation and laws relating to just about everything, they are often applied and enforced in a way that may appear unfair or inconsistent. The way police negotiate who was responsible at an accident will be different everytime. It used to be folk lore that if if there’s any issue to be sorted out between a Thai and a foreigner, the Thai will always come out ahead. From personal experience I would say that’s no longer the case but always be prepared to ‘wing it’ in any given situation. If there are going to be police or the law involved best to get someone speaking Thai, the local Tourist Police or someone in-the-know to help you wade through potential problems.

8. DON’T LOSE YOUR COOL

Stamp your feet, raise your voice, point at the absurdity of the situation over and over. I can guarantee it will make absolutely no change to the final outcome. Losing your cool will simply not help any situation and will likely inflame it further, to your detriment. Ak for the manager, describe your point-of-view in exquisite detail on a sheet of paper, get out the finger puppets or turn to Google Translate – go for it. But never lose your temper and try not to raise your voice because it’s just not the Thai way. 1) They will smile in silence at you whilst you point out that their website said something completely different 2) They will go and discuss the matter with other staff and come back to you with precisely the same answer they gave you in the first place. 3) They will listen to your rant and think you are completely insane without actually saying so 4) They will simply walk away whilst you are just getting warmed up 5) They will get angry… you NEVER want that to happen, you’ll come off second best every time. Jai yen.

9. THE ROAD TOLL IN THAILAND IS APPALLING

Despite their generally affable nature, great food and endless smiles, Thais don’t do the driving thing well. And it’s dangerous Depending on which list of stats you want to believe, Thailand is either the most dangerous or the second most dangerous country to drive in the world. If you are in a car your chances improve a lot. If you’re older or female, the odds improve further in your favour. If you are on a motorbike but wear a helmet you’ve also improved your chances of surviving Thailand’s roads. Christmas/New Year and Songkran (Thai new year) are the times of the year when Thais wipe themselves off their roads in astonishing numbers and all the police checkpoints, Government media releases and changes to laws do little to curb the carnage. The biggest contributor to this national disgrace is drunk driving with speeding coming a close second. Despite almost draconian laws on alcohol advertising the message about drink driving simply isn’t sinking in. Attitudes and a commitment to enforcement is slowly changing but it’s a long-tough road ahead for the people of Thailand to tackle their shameful road toll.

10. QUEUES (or ‘lines’ if you’re American)

Queues and waiting in line are just a part of modern Thai life. Whether it’s waiting in the Immigration queue at the airport or your local office, at the local convenience store or at a public hospital, your wait is just a function of all the other systems that lead to inefficiencies and delays. It might be well argued that it’s not only Thailand where queues have become a part of life but in Thailand many situations seem quit easy to fix, at least to the person waiting in line (who usually has plenty of time to contemplate solutions).

Immigration queues at airports are becoming longer even though the well-publicised delays have been acknowledged, more computers installed and more staff trained. You can be waiting for an hour to get through immigration at any Thai airport with only half the stations staffed and spare staff standing behind passport control drinking coffee and checking their Facebook. But it’s all managed with a smile once you get your moment in front of the funny pod camera for your photo.

So what can you do with many of these challenges? In most cases, keep smiling, take a deep breath and remember why you came to live in Thailand in the first place. Despite the thousand and one little annoyances and inconsistencies it’s still a wonderful place to live. A few days on Thai Visa would make you think that all expats ever do is whinge and complain about life in the Land of Smiles. It’s a bad example of expat life and most of us find our way through these challenges with a bit of patience, grace, a good book or a smartphone with a full charge. We are, after all, guests in the Kingdom of Thailand and it’s up to us to find away around THEIR systems, as best we can.

There is an airport nearby, in most cases, with multiple flights out of the country if you’re truly aggrieved by any situation. Get some good locals around you, do some research before you embark on any new task and keep an eye on your rear-view mirror.

- Tim Newton

Tim Newton has lived in Thailand since 2012. An Australian, he has worked in the media, principally radio and TV, for nearly 40 years. He has won the Deutsche Welle Award for best radio talk program, presented 3,200 radio news bulletins in Thailand alone, hosted 360 daily TV news programs, produced 1,800 videos, TV commercials and documentaries and now produces digital media for The Thaiger - Website, Radio, TV, Instagram and Facebook.

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4 Comments

4 Comments

  1. airbagwill

    February 2, 2018 at 10:58 am

    A cliche-ridden article shallow, that has a few good soundbites (I like the expression – “2. YOU CALL IT CORRUPTION. THEY CALL IT BUSINESS.”), but basically it says nothing new or in a new way. – a case of the “bleedin’ obvious” for the most part.
    The paragraph on “driving” is of course completely misinformed, and I guess that may be  on a par with the premises for his other observations?

    apart from a few people being able to say “I told you so” – when in actual fact all they mean is “I agree” I don’t see the article brings anything new to the debate.

  2. codered911

    February 2, 2018 at 4:51 pm

    Firstly, I would say thank you posting this article.
    For guys already or thinking about reside in Thailand may find it useful/informative…more or less…
    This my few cents worth of thoughts…
    1) For getting your visa I have not had any issues since the beginning..thought I’m a newbie…
    is about trying to get things right the first time…i.e. getting the right forms to fill and have all relevant documents copied and ready…etc
    is about trial and error…learn as you go…
    you may have to go back and forth though you have already make enquiry the first time. you may not get your answer 100%
    Most of all be polite and friendly…smile keep your cool as it’s been said “jai yen yen”
    2) As for driving my personal experiences here is…drive with all your senses alert always 100%
    I called it defensive driving. Try not or not at all sound your horn though you have the right of way.
    3) I guess as the saying goes…learn…think and live like the locals…try not to bring your own culture or habits…
    Cheers!!!

  3. sowhat

    March 15, 2018 at 1:33 pm

    “2. YOU CALL IT CORRUPTION. THEY CALL IT BUSINESS.”-
    There is no you call it this, they call it that. Corruption is corruption.

  4. almost megabuck

    April 16, 2018 at 5:29 am

    When I buy any merchandise through Amazon.com, I rely on strictly on negative comments which are mostly not fake. Learned it hard way. This is the second non-positive writing about Thailand after googling over three months. I value your blog higher than all others I’ve read. Firstly i appreciate, and secondly I thank you for that. And it gives me enough insight. I know how old traditional third world is and got so sick of it. And definitely don’t want to go back. I am staying where i am. Thank you again.

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Pattaya

Pattaya foreigners claim damage caused by next door condo construction

Kritsada Mueanhawong

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A group of European residents bought houses in Pattaya only for a an unexpected large condominium complex to be built next door. They say they’ve suffered damage to their houses in the construction phase and now claim they can’t even rent out their properties due to the noise.

Complaints to the local authority and the police have fallen on deaf ears while the condo developers have just given superficial help. They say calls to police and City Hall proved useless.

Now they’re turning to the media for some justice.

Pattaya Update News reporters went to see the “Europeans and Scandinavians” in their “Grand Thanyawan Home 2” project that has been there more than ten years.

The houses – valued around 4 million baht each – are towered over by the four buildings of Arcadia Beach Resort Condominium next door.

57 year old Bjorn Ingolf Soreng led the chorus of complaints saying that the piling next door caused cracks in walls, floors and fences. He says he fears a collapse of his home walls.

“The Arcadia management sent a few guys round who painted over some cracks and replaced a few ceramic tiles but didn’t do anything more.”

Waree Seuayoosai, married to a foreigner in the same street, said they bought their property for 4 million baht 12 years ago.

“It was all nice and quiet before and they could get a good rental income.”

ฝรั่งโวย! โครงการคอนโดสร้างใหม่ติดบ้านไม่กั้นเซ็ตแบ็ค ทำบ้านที่อยู่มานานกว่า 10 ปี เกิดรอยแตกร้าว หวั่นโครงสร้างบ้านมีปัญหา ร้องสื่อร่วมตรวจสอบความจริงวันนี้ (16 ก.ค.) กลุ่มลูกบ้านชาวยุโรปและสแกนดิเนเวียนที่อาศัยอยู่ในเมืองพัทยารวม 4 หลังคาเรือน ภายในหมู่บ้านแกรนด์ธัญญวันท์โฮม 2 ประกอบด้วยบ้านเลขที่ 469/74, 469/76, 469/77 และ 469/78 ม.10 ต.หนองปรือ อ.บางละมุง จ.ชลบุรี ซึ่งได้รับผลกระทบจากการก่อสร้างคอนโดมิเนียมขึ้นใหม่ใกล้บริเวณพื้นที่บ้านภายใต้ชื่อ อาร์คาเดีย บีช รีสอร์ท ได้รวมตัวกันเพื่อให้สื่อมวลชนได้ตรวจสอบความจริง หลังได้รับผลกระทบในความเป็นอยู่จากการก่อสร้างโครงการดังกล่าวMr.Bjorn Ingolf Soreng อายุ 57 ปี ชาวนอร์เวย์ เล่าว่า เนื่องด้วยโครงการก่อสร้างคอนโดมิเนียมดังกล่าวไม่ได้เว้นพื้นที่เซ็ทแบ็คในการก่อสร้างตามมาตรฐานทั่วไป ทำให้เมื่อมีการตอกเสาเข็มเป็นระยะเวลานาน ส่งผลกระทบให้ผนังบ้าน รวมถึงกำแพง และพื้นบ้าน เกิดรอยร้าวเสียหาย ที่ผ่านมาเคยร้องเรียนไปยังตำรวจและเมืองพัทยาแล้ว แต่ก็ไม่ได้รับการแก้ไขที่เป็นธรรมมากนักทั้งนี้ หวั่นว่าในอนาคตจะกระทบในเรื่องของโครงสร้างของบ้านซึ่งอาจทำให้เกิดอันตรายและความเสียหายในชีวิตและทรัพย์สินได้ เมื่อมีการแจ้งเรื่องเดือดร้อนไป ก็นานวันกว่าทางโครงการคอนโดดังกล่าวจะส่งคนมารับผิดชอบ ด้วยการแก้ไขเบื้องต้นเท่านั้น เช่น ส่งคนงานมาใช้สีโป๊วปิดทับรอยแตก ช่วยเปลี่ยนกระเบื้องพื้นในบ้านที่เสียหายเพียงเล็กน้อย แต่ก็ยังได้รับผลกระทบอยู่เรื่อยๆ จนโครงการดังกล่าวก่อสร้างแล้วเสร็จและเริ่มเห็นคนย้ายเข้ามาอยู่ในคอนโดฯ บ้างแล้วด้าน น.ส.วารี เสืออยู่สาย อายุ 50 ปี เจ้าของบ้านเลขที่ 469/78 เล่าด้วยว่าบ้านหลังดังกล่าวเป็นของตนเองและสามีชาวต่างชาติที่ซื้อไว้เมื่อ 12 ปี ก่อนในราคาหลังประมาณ 4 ล้านบาท ด้วยเห็นว่าทำเลดีเพราะเงียบสงบรื่มรื่น จึงตัดสินใจซื้อไว้เพื่ออยู่อาศัยมาได้หลายปี ก่อนขยับขยายเป็นธุรกิจบ้านเช่าเปิดให้ลูกค้ามาใช้บริการ กระทั่งประมาณ 2-3 ปี ที่ผ่านมา โครงการคอนโดมิเนียมอาร์คาเดีย บีช รีสอร์ท ได้มาก่อสร้างอยู่ใกล้กันกับบ้านของตนเอง ซึ่งเป็นโครงการคอนโดมิเนียม 8 ชั้น 4 อาคาร พร้อมอาคารจอดรถสูง 3 ชั้น มีชั้นใต้ดิน 3 ชั้น 1 อาคาร โดยระหว่างการก่อสร้างพบว่าส่งผลกระทบมาโดยตลอด ทั้งผนังบ้าน กำแพงบ้านแตกร้าว เศษฝุ่นเศษปูนก่อสร้างตกลงสระน้ำและในบริเวณพื้นที่บ้าน รวมถึงเรื่องเสียงดังรำคาญ เพราะการติดตั้งเครื่องปรับอากาศตามห้องต่างๆ ของคอนโดอยู่ใกล้บ้านตนเองมาก ลูกค้าที่เคยเช่าอาศัยก็ต้องบอกเลิก เพราะมีเสียงรบกวนจนอยู่ไม่ได้ ทำให้ตนเองต้องสูญรายได้ไปโดยไม่ใช่เหตุ

Posted by PattayaupdateNews on Monday, July 16, 2018

SOURCE: Pattaya Update News

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Pattaya

Pattaya condo fire causes 500,000 baht in damages

Kritsada Mueanhawong

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PHOTO: Niran condos, Pattaya – HipFlat.com

Sanook is reporting that 27 year old Satchada says she nearly fainted when she rushed home to find her condo ablaze in Pattaya.

She says she headed to work at 9pm on Saturday night. When she was told of the fire at Niran Condo in Central Pattaya she rushed home. The fire was centered around her room, number 261 on the fourth floor of building B1.

PHOTO: Sanook

Satchada says she has lost everything. The fire was noticed by the 35 year old security guard Salee who tried to tackle it with an extinguisher, reported Sanook. But it was soon obvious that the fire extinguisher wasn’t going to put out the fire. He informed residents to evacuate and called the fire brigade.

Eight engines responded and it took30 minutes to put out the fire that gutted the apartment and caused damage valued at around 500,000 baht. A video showed the fire services tackling the fire and the aftermath as hundreds watched the drama from the street.

An investigation is underway.

เหตุเพลิงไหม้ นิรันดร์คอนโด พัทยากลาง อำเภอ บางละมุง จ.ชลบุรี เจ้าหน้าที่ได้รับรายงานว่าต้นเพลิงมาจาก ห้อง 261 ชั้น4 ตึกB1

Posted by พัทยา นิวส์ tv on Saturday, July 14, 2018

SOURCE: Sanook

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Pattaya

“Tourists will come flooding back to the world class resort”

Kritsada Mueanhawong

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PHOTOS: ข่าวพัทยา Pattayanews

An enthusiastic Pattaya News is reporting that, in relation to the restoration of the beach in Pattaya, it was only a matter of time before the tourists came flooding back to the sands.

The report is from a meeting where it was declared that 400 metres of the restoration work was done meaning that 100 metres was back in the hands of beach operators.

“A further 300 metres will definitely be done by year’s end giving operators a further 100 metre stretch to earn a living.”

The sand is coming from Koh Rangwian in a 430 million baht project to widen the beach by 3.5 metres.

The beautification began near the Dusit Thani Hotel back in January but has suffered some stop/start problems. However, now everything is running smoothly.

Pattaya News said that the “Pattaya Model” will make the resort a top class world beach destination and the new sands will have the tourists flooding back.

SOURCE: Pattaya News

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