Author Topic: For many the dream of living in Thailand has turned sour  (Read 1862 times)

Offline thaiga

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For many the dream of living in Thailand has turned sour
« on: March 21, 2016, 12:19:40 PM »
Most of you long timers here probably know most of what is in this article from the but still it might be a bit of interest to some. .... here have a read, let us know what you think

Trouble in paradise: Thailand and the expatriate experience

OVER the last few decades Thailand has attracted expatriates to the country to work, stay long periods of time to explore the country, or retire.

Thailand attracts many young professionals, particularly to Bangkok. Others work as teachers all around the country, some doing online business or some form of short- or long-term visa. Some operate small businesses with their Thai spouse.

In addition, Thailand has always been a place of interest for the traveller within the SE Asian region, where many like to stay medium- to long-term, sight-seeing, travelling, and ‘just hanging out’.

Retirement in Thailand is part of a global trend of people relocating from high income countries to lower income countries. There are large numbers of expatriates living all around the country, concentrated within the tourist precincts. In addition, clusters of wealthy retirees live in apartments and villas they have purchased or leased, in popular areas like  Phuket, Pattaya, Rayong and Chiang Mai.

There is also a high incidence of expatriates married to local women, residing in areas like Isaan in the north-east of Thailand.

The nationalities of expatriates include Europeans, Russians, Americans, Australians, New Zealanders, Singaporeans, Malaysians, Koreans, Japanese and Chinese.

Just how many expatriates are actually living in Thailand is really an unknown. Various databases exist, but unable to provide any definitive answers to this question.

Various estimates put the expatriate population in Thailand somewhere between 500,000 and 1 million. Formal estimates tend to be on the lower side, as they tend not to include those overstaying illegally in Thailand on expired visas. An article in The Independent estimates that there are even 10,000 homeless expatriates living in Thailand.

Thai authorities have become weary of foreigners or ‘farangs’, as evidenced in the tightening of entry and visa regulations over the last two years. Immigration is turning away people from the borders who they suspect are living and/or working in Thailand on short term visas. New regulations concerning persons who overstay their visas are coming into force, banning them from re-entering Thailand for between one and 10 years.

Thailand is no longer the haven for those who want to domicile themselves in the country like before.

For many the dream of living in Thailand has turned sour, where cultural and social problems have brought abrupt endings their Thai lifestyle.

The writer spoke with a member of the Thai Immigration Police who wanted to remain anonymous. He was able to shed some light on the reasons why Thai authorities are cracking down on the large numbers of people trying to live long-term in Thailand without the right documentation.

The alcohol problem

Thailand’s citizens are heavy consumers of alcohol, and this suits the drinking culture of many expatriates who settle here. Alcohol is both cheap and plentiful.

Expatriates can drink unchecked, to the point where it can become a problem. There are also the associated longer term problems of depression, anxiety, and sickness that are being left unchecked among

Many expatriates marry local girls and settle in places like Issan where there is an embedded drinking culture. Boredom often leads to excess drinking in these remote villages, as expatriates find it very difficult to settle into the local culture.

Unfortunately there are no programs available to solve the expatriate drinking problem in Thailand. This problem has not been formally identified in any health studies, and Thai authorities have no programs or resources to tackle this issue. Likewise, foreign embassies have no responsibilities over these types of issues concerning their nationals, so this problem will most likely continue to grow and fester over time.

Another major issue is depression. Boredom, inability to adjust and settle in, a failed marriage, loss of savings, are some of the causes of deep depression in retirees. Some expatriates come to Thailand with existing problems such as debt in their home country, or leaving wives and children at home, in search of something better. Some just come with not enough money to retire on.

Almost every week there is a report about an expatriate death in a house or hotel room. This is common enough for Pattaya to be called the suicide capital of Thailand.

In addition, with the common demographic of retirees being over 50, so many arrive in Thailand not in the best of health and die here. British figures indicate that there were 389 British deaths alone in Thailand in 2013.

According to statistics collated by the website “Farang Deaths”, 25 percent of foreign deaths in Thailand occur from road accidents, 20 percent from drowning, and 12 percent through other accidental reasons.

Crime among foreigners

News of foreigners being arrested for both petty and serious crimes is common. Foreigners are operating fraud schemes, scams, passport and credit card fraud schemes all over Thailand.

“Foreigners do the crimes and Thailand gets the bad reputation for it,” said the source.

Many foreigners run bars through proxy owners without the right visas. These establishments are sometimes a front for other activities, which are crimes on the books of Thai Law. Many ventures have not followed Thai investment laws, and are flaunting the system in Thailand.

This is particularly rampant within tourist precincts. My source told me that occasionally directives are given to crack down of particular types of activities from time to time.

“It’s our job to carry out these directives ….and it’s the job of the top to allocate our scarce crime fighting resources,” he said. “We have many areas to focus upon, and when we stop focusing on one specific area, the police are accused of being inconsistent and corrupt”.

Visa applications

There is a massive screening problem on long term visa applications. Although police reports may be required when foreigners apply for visas at embassies within their home countries, those that apply for them within Thailand are rarely required to provide police checks. This loophole within the visa system allows many foreigners to reside in Thailand without any proper screening of previous criminal activities.

Another issue cited by our source is that many foreigners are living hand to mouth in Thailand. This includes many on retirement visas. As a consequence many are unable and/or unwilling to seek regular medical check-ups and attention. Not all have medical or even accident insurance, and risk large medical bills if they are unfortunate enough to have an accident or get sick.

When we touched upon visa issues, my source became somewhat emotional and concerned. He said “while many have followed the correct procedures and acquired the correct visas for long-stay residency, there are also many who are dodging this to stay in Thailand, by abusing the system”. Tourist visas and visa exemptions, he explained, are not intended for long-staying foreigners within the Kingdom. Those who have the correct visas will not have any difficulty staying in Thailand. My source saw those who abused the visa system as those who showed no “respect for the legal system of Thailand”.

Cultural differences

“Thai culture is very accommodating. However the things many farang do here can be considered ignorant and even rude.”

My source gave the example of loud music often played by neighbours during the day or night. This generally presents little or no problem for a Thai, but some foreigners make complaints about these issues which are culturally acceptable in Thailand. He said that many farangs expect the same cultural standards here in Thailand as they have within their home countries.

Social problems caused by foreign expatriates are likely to increase, particularly as expatriate numbers increase over the coming years, unless measures are put in place by both Thai and foreign governments to assist foreign residents in their stay in Thailand.

Unfortunately these issues are not on any government agenda, for now at least.
Anyone who goes to a psychiatrist should have his head examined.

Offline thaiga

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Re: The Retired Keyboard Warrior Brigade
« Reply #1 on: March 22, 2016, 02:03:32 PM »
I found this amusing article in it starts off with a mention of stickman as we all know as stickmanbangkok
and goes on to say .......

One of the best parts of his site is an interesting guide to living in Bangkok, in which there is one passage that he finds particularly agreeable.

“You see, there are some people who had no life at home, before they came to Thailand, for whatever reason. Maybe they were unpopular, or never got ahead in life, were career criminals, or whatever. Despite problems at home, their lives in the Land of Smiles are the complete opposite. In Thailand, the locals smile at them and treat them nicely. In return, these questionable farangs will defend the Thais to the hilt, even if it involves something very clearly questionable or downright wrong. This drives me crazy and is one of the reasons I seldom read the local internet discussion forums these days.
“There are some Westerners who find Thailand to be their personal paradise and are prepared to overlook anything, even things that border on a minor atrocity – and they will vociferously criticise anyone who questions their idea of paradise. This is one of the huge unspoken shortcomings of life in this part of the world – the calibre of the Westerners here.”

Harsh? Maybe.



Of course, it would be unfair to tar all Westerners with the same brush, but it’s undeniable that there is a certain subsection of the Bangkok expat population where quality of character is seriously lacking.
With that in mind, let’s have a look at some of the shady expat characters you can expect to meet during your time in Bangkok.

The Angry and Divorced Forty-Something Seeking a ‘Proper Woman’ 

This city is full of once-burnt divorced men who were either so shattered by their previous marriages — or so disenchanted by the era of leftist feminism — that they felt compelled to move thousands of miles east to find a ‘proper woman’.
And by proper woman, I mean one straight out of the 1940s.
“Just let me be a man, while you do my washing, take control of the kitchen and don’t ask too many questions.”

Not much to ask.

These men tend to shack up with the financially destitute, or the professionally prostitute — whatever improves their chances of exerting total dominance over them in the long run.

With these couples, it seems true love simply equals “You’ll never leave me while I send your parents and buffalos 20% of my retirement fund.”
Such is the plight of the average bar girl, they are often correct.

The Westerner Who Simply Cannot Stomach Criticism of Thailand 

I call this guy the White Knight.

He is infatuated with Thailand.

If something bad happens, it’s your fault.

“Oh, a motorcycle hacked you down in broad daylight and decapitated your pet spaniel? That’s just the way the pavement works over here, buddy. You need to appreciate cultural differences. It’s people like you that ruin this country for the rest of us.”

White Knight has learned the Thai language so impeccably well that you can read the disdain on his face when he’s forced to speak in crude plain English to his fellow farang.

He is the Moses of the Walen School.

There’s nothing he would love more than a job at Immigration castrating the non-fluent masses as they pass in to his adopted shire.

His stated motives for total cultural immersion are, quite sympathetically, to “integrate fully with the people of Thailand“.

But more often than not, he just wants to get laid.

Which is why if he updates his Facebook, it has to be in Thai script.

Firstly, to secure those 450 likes and comments from college students (half of which he has already shagged in his own mind), and secondly, to send out a message to his expat friends that he’s a prime candidate for the Best At Living In Thailand, 2015 award.

A title handed out almost exclusively to helmets.

The Rude P****s

This may be the Land of Smiles, but it can also be the Land of Intolerable Dinosaurs.

There’s a certain type of Westerner who reaches the gate at Suvarnabhumi, puts on his wife-beater, and slips in to an immediate mid-life crisis.

Thailand has a reputation as something of a boys’ playground; the untamed Vegas of the east. Except it’s much cheaper and, generally, much friendlier.

You’d think this would earn some goodwill from expats and tourists but sadly, it often encourages the opposite.

Good ol’ Western Privilege kicks in.

There are some who think that a ฿20 tip buys five star service — or the right to admonish performance at will.

Signs of Western Privilege:

Instinctively talks down to native Thais
Gets increasingly agitated at the first sound of broken English
Solicits sex from any woman who happens to be within 1 mile of Nana BTS
Gawps at students – and occasionally photographs them – on the BTS as if he’s entered a third world candy store

The Retired Keyboard Warrior Brigade

I don’t know what Thailand was like 20 years ago — unlike some of Bangkok’s expats, who clearly wish they could catch a BTS train right back there.

Some use those nostalgic memories to forge a manifesto of what Thailand should be like today.

Regardless of small facts like, you know, globalisation.

Thailand has moved on; but many of its expats are stuck in a Land of Smiles that no longer exists.

These troopers find it inconceivable that condos have replaced their fondly remembered brothels, that millions more people visit Thailand every year, and especially — that anybody under the age of 30 would dare to follow in their footsteps and build a life over here.

The rising cost of living in Thailand, accentuated by decades of Westerners living beyond their means, is seen as something to take out on the younger generation of expats.

There is no finer example of this contempt than the ThaiVisa forum; a place where tribal snobbery knows no bounds.

Where those who have married into Thai families, or landed a retirement visa, will lampoon and mock the Tourist Visa Peasants simply trying to find a solution that works for them within the bounds of complex immigration law.

So, what’s the solution?

Ideas on a postcard, please.

My vote goes to mass deportation…

If you ain't bored already read the comments below his article
Anyone who goes to a psychiatrist should have his head examined.

Offline thaiga

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Re: "If you don't like it, you know where the airport is"
« Reply #2 on: March 26, 2016, 05:13:39 PM »
Another interesting post that fits in this thread from phil at Certainly fitting for the white nights who utter those famous words.

"If you don't like it, you know where the airport is"

Those famous words uttered on many an expat discussion forum or blog comment section when a relatively long-term expat dares make a negative observation or level a criticism towards this great country.

It's an expression that always grinds my gears.

I went through a long honeymoon period with Thailand myself - that period when everything in the garden is rosy. But eventually it becomes time to remove those spectacles of the rose-colored variety and face up to the reality.

This is not me becoming a chronic moaner for the sheer hell of it but what happens over time is that your perception changes and I think it probably changes wherever you live in the world.

The reality

Do I enjoy living in Thailand as much as I did 25 years ago? Almost certainly no.

Do I see myself living here forever? No idea.

Would I move to another country, if and only if the right opportunity presented itself? Quite possibly.

I was in the lower Sukhumwit Road area of Bangkok last week. I class ‘lower Sukhumwit' as that kilometer long stretch from about BTS Prompong Station to the railway tracks near Soi Nana (where Sukhumwit Road becomes Ploenchit Road I think)

I hate that part of Bangkok. I loathe every square meter. The only reason I venture into that neighborhood is to see Khun Nat, the young lady who has looked after my barnet for as long as I can remember. It's never for the pricey restaurants, the hipster coffee joints, the street-stalls, the tailors' shops, the pool bars, the Brit theme pubs - or any of that crap!

But I stood on Sukhumwit's congested footpath and allowed my mind to wander for a second or two. Back to the 15th September 1989 and my very first day in Thailand. How it was all so different back then.

What a city!

I arrived here with .........

Well worth a read thanks phil, More Here:
Anyone who goes to a psychiatrist should have his head examined.

Offline thaiga

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Re: A happy life abroad
« Reply #3 on: April 09, 2016, 01:48:35 PM »
Some exerpt's from the article for expats that expect there life abroad to be just like their home country and refuse to adapt themselves to their new surroundings.

life abroad requires work to succeed

The lessons you'll need to learn

Half of those who move abroad do so in search of an adventure – but three quarters find that culture shock soon smashes their rose-tinted spectacles.

Among the biggest reasons for the transition proving tough are a different workplace culture, struggling to communicate and feeling the need to prove yourself, according to research by AXA PPP International.

Niels Barends, a psychologist who helps expats overcome such problems, said his clients often find it a shock to hear that life abroad – much like a romantic relationship – requires work to succeed.

For the first few weeks, you will probably experience a “honeymoon period” where everything seems wonderful. But then niggles begin to cause friction. “This is when you start getting annoyed because of cultural misunderstandings or things that are different from home,”

A common one is moving into a culture where people are not as direct. For example, people will not say ‘no’ when you ask them something and they don’t want to do it.

“Another situation is where in the new country, people are very direct – you may feel offended. Other examples can be moving to a country where people don’t obey the rules of the roads and drive like maniacs. Perhaps you can’t find certain foods in the supermarkets.

“All these small differences start to annoy you. You have to focus at this stage on being open minded. Stop comparing it with your own culture as it makes you feel negative and does not help. Try to accept the differences and lower your expectations.”

“You also need to accept the fact that it’s not them who have to change, it’s you. It is really not up to them. Analyse your own culture and you will see it really isn’t so great, but people tend to idealise their own culture.”

“Expat life, like a marriage, needs work. People think that it comes naturally, but it doesn’t, it comes down to communication and adjustment,”
Anyone who goes to a psychiatrist should have his head examined.

Offline thaiga

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Re: Expats hardest adjustment when moving to Thailand
« Reply #4 on: April 16, 2016, 12:35:03 PM »
Found on

Expats, what was your hardest transition when moving to Thailand?

My wife, eleven month old and I are moving there in 10 days. I have never been to SE Asia before aside from Bali. My wife has been many times before though. We're going to try out Koh Samui first and stay if we like it or maybe go to Chiang Mai once the burning season is over.

What was your biggest shock while getting situated?

The biggest pain point for me is that you can only trust what you see and verify yourself, and have very little recourse if things go wrong. Bought an obviously defective product? Landlord does not return a deposit? Relying on someone to do their job properly (like an employer to file correct Work Permit paperwork on time; a company to reply to a simple e-mail; an aircon technician to correctly install an aircon unit)? Sucks to be you. You cannot rely on things that are taken for granted back home.

Thailand is wonderful when you're just cruising about and enjoying whatever comes, but if you need something peculiar done to your exact specifications, it can get frustrating (sometimes stuff as simple as buying a thing you bought at the same place before).
The single most pleasant part are the Thai people (outside of tourist areas, and once you learn a bit of Thai). They are for the most part gracious, well-mannered in public, polite, helpful, largely honest. Not necessarily reliable or great conversationalists, but definitely trying to be pleasant, avoid fuss over small stuff, make most interactions pleasant and keep everyone in a good mood.

In addition, I like how there are 10 different solutions to every problem (e.g. getting from point A to point B, or getting internet access). There's a certain amount of resilience in the way things are done here. If something is frustrating/inadequate/impossible, there's always another way... with its own flaws, perhaps, but you're rarely entirely stuck and forced to pay some significant amount as is common in the US.

My general advice would be to learn Thai, and get out of the tourist areas (like Samui, Phuket, or lower Sukhumvit road in Bangkok). Thailand gets 30 million visitors per year, and Thais who live off tourists are not representative of the rest of the country. In those parts, people are at best honest but jaded, and at worst scamming and out to take advantage, often seeing foreigners as cattle to be milked.
Anyone who goes to a psychiatrist should have his head examined.