Author Topic: What's it like living here  (Read 5111 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Offline Alfonso

  • Korat forum tourist
  • **
  • Posts: 38
  • Karma: 0
  • Newbie
What's it like living here
« on: December 31, 2013, 12:09:25 AM »
Evening fellas,
My first post, so hello to all.
Im here at the moment, spending some time with the queen bee and her family over the festive season. We both live in Australia.
I have been here lots of time over the last 4 years or so for holidays. I always loved it as I can chill and relax.
My question to the fellas that live here is, wtf is it really like?
Obviously the culture is quite different to western. Do you guys do the thai thing, eat, chat, discuss the next meal, eat and chat some more or do you have you own little western group going on or perhaps just busy with family and work. Do most of you work or have business or live of investments etc.
Do most of you live outside the city as I've never seen many westerners around, maybe there's lots and they just haven't crossed my path.
The queen bee is really loving here time here, she has been living overseas for 9 years and would probably like to return if the time was right.
Not considering a move any time soon, but just curious for some opinions from those pioneers who have made the leap.
Cheers
 

sicho

  • Guest
Re: What's it like living here
« Reply #1 on: December 31, 2013, 08:31:17 AM »
Welcome Alfonso.

That's a big subject and replies would depend on the individual, his preferences and whether he lived in town or a village. Perhaps a good way to start would be for you to give some of your own impressions, expectations and experiences.
 

Offline Al

Re: What's it like living here
« Reply #2 on: December 31, 2013, 08:43:19 AM »
Well, I am certainly no pioneer, and relatively new to living here, so please take my thoughts with a suitable amount of grains of salt.

If you spend any time reading thaivisa.com you will probably come across a writer referring to this area as Nakhon Nowhere and wonder why anyone would want to live here, as opposed to up in the Chiang Mai region or along the beaches.  I suppose they have a point, but this is where my wife is from, and this is where we live, and with its central location, we can visit virtually anywhere in Thailand.

We spend part of each year here, and part back at our other home in the US.  Last winter we spent four months here, and this year will spend seven months in Korat.  I am retired.

In comparing (relatively) full time living here to holiday visits, I find the full time living to be substantially different.   Full time living allows me to fully immerse myself in the community and culture.  While here on vacation, one really is just a visitor and for residents, they know that you soon will be gone.

Speaking of culture, it seems to me that one must, for the most part at least, be willing to accept that one is living in a different country and culture.  If one is not willing to accept that things really are substantially different, life could be dramatically less pleasant and more frustrating.  I do my best to keep up with the latest news of Thailand - especially with the political issues flaring up once again, while also reminding myself that this is not the USA.  Relax, enjoy and continue to smile - for me at least this is retired life and time to enjoy and pause to smell the roses.

I am doing my best to learn to read, write and speak Thai, which, while very, very challenging is enjoyable for this old guy.  The reading part really seems to help the learning substantially, and in that I am one who dislikes not understanding everything I encounter; it does make me happier.  Plus, learning a foreign language while in that country has got to be easier than doing it while away.  I often will learn a word or phrase, and then try it out several times while out and about.

I am kind of a boring guy who likes routine, so once my routine is established, I am happy.  I run 10k or so every other day around the lake in Korat and also swim a couple or so days a week at the pool on the army base when the temps are a bit toaster.

We built a home here, and are surrounded by my wife’s family and thoroughly enjoy ourselves.  Many visits to local shopping and eating out, as well as trips to local scenic sites makes our time special and memorable.

Other than my peanut butter and jelly breakfast sandwich, I live almost exclusively off of Thai food and never get tired of it.  I cannot imagine living over here without being willing to experience the food.  Anthony Bourdain was once asked, concerning his willingness to try so many different dishes, if he worried about getting sick.  He responded that yes, every now and then he does get sick, but the experience makes it worthwhile, and why go through life in fear.

I find encounters with other falang interesting in that many seem to want to avoid eye contact.  Perhaps they fear that this old guy of dubious history will immediately latch onto them and not want to let go.  I have always equated that reaction to family dogs meeting other family dogs, while on walks with their masters.  I would think that when family dogs meet, they would be a bit excited to exchange information, but instead often want to fight and growl at and with each other.

Fairly robust internet and dish antenna options keep me linked to friends and family back in the US, which makes managing finances and staying in touch relatively easy.

In that I am really kind of short term resident and a bit of a poser, I am really looking forward to reading the opinions of actual veterans of years and years of living here.
 

Offline Alfonso

  • Korat forum tourist
  • **
  • Posts: 38
  • Karma: 0
  • Newbie
Re: What's it like living here
« Reply #3 on: December 31, 2013, 10:44:46 AM »
Cheers for reply's fellas much appreciated.
Well Saf, as I was saying I do love it here as I can relax, although once away from the day to day grind I could probably relax in most places.
Me and my missus live in Australia where there is a fair size Thai community. So I do experience thai culture, be it in a western country. So for instance, after we have a bit of food with thai friends in oz, we drive home on roads where people generally follow the rules and no swarms of scooters surround you at the lights. Hence my curiosity to the western long termers here.

Cheers for the details Al. I haven't seen many other sites prior to this so first time I have heard it called Nakhon Nowhere, bit harsh I think. This is where the queen bee is from also, so we generally end up here for a couple of weeks of the year.
I have thought as a visitor things would be different than a resident, like all the family gatherings now this time of year, wouldn't be the norm.
I don't think I would have much difficulty with the culture as I do already slightly live it at home. But there are some things that are quite different here. Like why in gods name don't most houses have sofas. I understand the Thais love the wooden furniture but your ass does get numb after half an hour without a cushion. Or maybe I'm just a soft farrang.
With regards the language, I'm pretty basic, greetings, food and a few other phrases are my limit. I can generally pick up on the topic of most conversations, but wouldn't be discussing politics or the like with anybody.
It's funny you say that about the other westerners as the couple I have seen at the mall, generally don't even acknowledge you, except for some older guy who was nearly 7 foot tall I'd say. Perhaps they weren't locals although one chap was pushing a buggy, or perhaps I look like an unfriendly tosser. Who knows.
Look forward to a few more opinions.
 

Offline Al

Re: What's it like living here
« Reply #4 on: December 31, 2013, 11:13:25 AM »
Ah yes, the sofa thing.  There are plenty of local furniture stores and we bought a sofa.  However, when it begins to get hot, I sit in my wooden recliner - it took some time to grow comfortable and the advantage is air flow - comfortable, soft sofas leave the back side soaking wet from sweat unless one runs the a/c.

However, when it is cool - I head for the soft sofa.
 

sicho

  • Guest
Re: What's it like living here
« Reply #5 on: December 31, 2013, 11:39:45 AM »
Picking up on the issue of motorcyclists, they are probably the one thing with which I cannot 'relax'. I hardly ever get out of the village but one launches himself or herself from a side road in front of me, tries to pass on the left as I signal left or some other nonsense. The reasons for poor road sense are several and we have discussed them on this forum more than once. In fact, near misses and frustrations caused by these people are so frequent that they are hardly worth talking about other than to relieve the frustrations of another bad journey.

Foreigners often do blank others. Perhaps there are so many odd balls that the experienced ones avoid them in the shops or the streets. I and most of my friends usually greet a new foreign face at my wife's restaurant and pause to see whether the approach is welcome. If it's not, we leave them alone. On the other hand, it's useful for a number of reasons to have a group of expats., either face to face or on this forum, with whom to chat in our native language and exchange information and advice.

I think that few Thais buy upholstered furniture because of the cost, heat retention and the possibility of bug infestation. Those who do often buy plastic covered sofas, the ones that stick to your backside when you stand up. I go for upholstery for comfort. If it's too hot I either go outdoors or lie on a blanket on the floor (good for the posture after stooping over the low slung kitchen and bathroom fitments).

I struggle with foreign languages but try to learn a few useful Thai words. However, in this areas, many locals speak the Isaan language in conversation rather than Thai. You will begin to recognise its coarse tones and high pitched squeals. Finding a local who has either the patience or inclination to teach one Thai is like looking for hens teeth.

You are wise to avoid discussing politics or the monarchy. I sense that locals are becoming more open in expressing their views but some are not and it's better not to respond.

Alf, I commend you for wanting to learn local ways and to fit in. There are those who visit Thailand with their wives on regular vacations who cannot and will not. They ruin their stay with their anger and bore the rest of us to tears.
 

Offline thaiga

Re: What's it like living here
« Reply #6 on: December 31, 2013, 11:58:28 AM »
Hi alfonso welcome.

I think Saf's post says it all - Learn local ways and to fit in - There are those who visit Thailand with their wives on regular vacations who cannot and will not. They ruin their stay with their anger and bore the rest of us to tears


Anyone who goes to a psychiatrist should have his head examined.
 

Offline Alfonso

  • Korat forum tourist
  • **
  • Posts: 38
  • Karma: 0
  • Newbie
Re: What's it like living here
« Reply #7 on: December 31, 2013, 03:21:24 PM »
Well Saf can't agree more, other than venting, there is probably not much point in discussing the traffic. Trying to bring it up to western standards would be more of a challenge than pulling the moon out of its orbit.

I hear you with the regard the new faces and some being odd balls. Due to the tourists getting the taste for the place and moving back on a whim, I'm sure that provides some colorful characters floating around the place. I'll make sure I look as normal as possible next time I see a westerner, unless you have a secret hand shake I need to know.

Again the sofa, every house should have one, semi joking. I guess it's just the way it is here. As for lying on the floor, just lie on a bed. The one's I've slept in here are as solid any bit of floor I've walked on. The western world really makes pussys out of us eh!

Learning the lingo was good fun to be honest, and I will become conversational in the future. It's probably easier than getting all her relations together and getting out the alphabet. Ain't going to happen.

I learned years ago not to mention the king and his family (except the prince) unless in a positive light and it's a good rule to stick to. It's a rare adoration in this day and age, but gives them a sence of unity I've not seen anywhere else I've been.

As for learning local ways and fitting in, I think if your in a relationship with somebody from another country, isint it only natural to want to make an effort and know and experience as much as possible of there culture. And to prove it I have probably smiled for over 200 pictures today. ;D

Cheers
 

sicho

  • Guest
Re: What's it like living here
« Reply #8 on: December 31, 2013, 04:12:39 PM »
Alf, taking your final paragraph, in a mixed relationship it should work both ways, I think you would agree. However, I'm sure you've encountered couples where the wife does her best to understand her foreign husband but he does little or nothing to understand or adjust to her.
 

Offline Alfonso

  • Korat forum tourist
  • **
  • Posts: 38
  • Karma: 0
  • Newbie
Re: What's it like living here
« Reply #9 on: January 01, 2014, 10:19:16 PM »
For sure Saf, it should always be a two way street. I was fortunate enough to meet my misus in oz where she already had 5 years of western life, so wasn't too big of a culture shock being with me.

I have seen some of the Thai's in oz who's husbands of 15-20 years can barley muster a "sawatdi kap".

In saying that, if they had a western wife instead of an Asian, I'm sure they would probably show just as little interest in them.

Any other of the local fellas care to throw there 2 cents in, I'm curious to know if any body works here. And if it's even possible to make a good living as opposed to just getting by???

 

sicho

  • Guest
Re: What's it like living here
« Reply #10 on: January 02, 2014, 08:33:09 AM »
Alf, there's not much in the way of work that Westerners can do other than teach English. They can also set up there wives in a business provided that they aren't seen to work themselves. Most businesses have a low rate of return and there is an over supply of anything for which there is a good demand.
 

Online Taman Tun

Re: What's it like living here
« Reply #11 on: January 02, 2014, 12:26:32 PM »
Hi Alfonso, Welcome to Korat!  Korat is certainly a bit provincial but "Nakhon Nowhere" is being a bit too unkind.  Saf summed up the work situation pretty well.  Some of us are nomadic Korat residents working in fields like oil & gas or rail.  One other member of this forum and myself are both working in Kuala Lumpur on rail projects.
We are masters of the unsaid words, but slaves of those we let slip out. Churchill
 

Offline Alfonso

  • Korat forum tourist
  • **
  • Posts: 38
  • Karma: 0
  • Newbie
Re: What's it like living here
« Reply #12 on: January 03, 2014, 12:24:14 AM »
So I believe Saf, lots of times I have heard about fellas coming over and teaching English, as all the other jobs are given to the locals. Probably not something that would entice me to relocate to the country I'm afraid.
I had observed that there seemed to be a very limited type of business to get involved in. Perhaps I'll open a restaurant, or a bar maybe even a coffee shop as I didn't see many around!!!

Hi Taman, I think you hit the nail on the head. If still in the working part of your life, which I am. Thailand is not the place to continue your career. If winding down or a fly in/fly out worker then all would be good.

Cheers for the advice fellas.
 

Offline Johnnie F.

Re: What's it like living here
« Reply #13 on: January 03, 2014, 09:52:54 AM »
Hi Alfonso, welcome to the forum!

Perhaps I'll open a restaurant, or a bar maybe even a coffee shop as I didn't see many around!!!

That's just what many tried before, expecting the expats to be their supporting clientele. Those who understood that a lot of the expats here do live on a budget that makes them only appear well off compared to the average Thai, and therefore went after the better off Thais as customers, could maybe manage to get along. Plus they needed to compete with Thai entrepreneurs who had working experience in hotels in Pattaya and Phuket, also drawing those expats as customers. And, as Saf said, most businesses do have a low rate of return.

If you have a good knowledge of and skills in direct marketing (on eBay for example) you might find a niche exporting items like silk or handicrafts from here.

 :cheers

Johnnie
Fun is the one thing that money can't buy
 

Offline Al

Re: What's it like living here
« Reply #14 on: January 03, 2014, 11:39:31 AM »
Perhaps I am just a bit old, tired and set in my ways, but to me at least, supporting any establishment is a bit of a logistical issue to do on a regular basis.  While I have no problem fighting through local traffic, to do it to get a cup of coffee is beyond my idea of fun.  I often buy my coffee from the scooter cart that comes to me.

Plus I would think that if one was to open such an establishment and wanted anything more than perhaps a small bit of additional income life could be a bit austere.  You would need to sell a boatload of 20 baht coffees to make any kind of living here in the LOS.

I like Johnny's idea.  Or if you do possess some solid tchnological skills, working remotely for a home country company could provide a solution and an income that would allow you to live a bit more comfortably while still packing some away for that all important retirement.

Additionally,on going visa issues/extension of stays could provide additional financial and logistical issues for you.
 

Offline Johnnie F.

Re: What's it like living here
« Reply #15 on: January 03, 2014, 12:59:29 PM »
Do you have you own little western group going on

It has been said on various websites and occasions that a unifying factor for expats in Korat besides beer, and pot for some, hasn't been found, yet. Efforts to organize have "only" led to internet forums like this here. The major reason for that is probably the living far apart and not being so mobile. "My home is my castle" is a true word.  ;)
Fun is the one thing that money can't buy
 

Offline takeitor

Re: What's it like living here
« Reply #16 on: January 03, 2014, 01:54:49 PM »
Hi Alfonso.

Have been living here 2 years now and have settled in quite nicely - to the point of definitely not wanting to move again.  I wouldn't claim to be as experienced as some of the long-timers on this forum but here's my general impressions anyway.

I heartily agree that you need to adapt to fit in with local culture.  It certainly doesn't mean you have to become Thai - you will never be treated like one anyway - but it does mean you can be treated more like part of the local scenery.  Learn some language, try not to be dependent on your other half to get around, pay the bills etc. and you will find your stay far more pleasant.  Staying here can be very relaxing...if you have a retirement or investment income and no, or little, need to work.

BUT, you do need to earn so....

Everyone who meets me in Korat makes the assumption that I am an English teacher as how else could a 40-something old westerner live in Korat?  Most of the teachers that I have met here have been very capable people, but are merely subsisting.  My advice would be, if you hope to make a career here and don't already have a lot of money or some other external source of income, don't come.  If you already have enough to retire on (plus a bit) and are happy to only earn enough to live on, by all means give it a go.  Coffee shops?...there are around 35 in Korat city already and one opens every other week.  This forum has seen many expat enterprises come and go when they depend mostly on expat clientele.  There are a few expats restaurant/bar operations that make it, but they are mostly frequented by locals and are certainly the exception...and, as Saf points out, you cannot be seen to be operating it, merely hands-off managing.

I don't wish to paint a gloomy picture for you, but I meet so many expats here who have not thought it through before they come. Take into account currency fluctuations and plan for the worst case scenario.  I can't talk for Aus (especially about cricket ;)), but I currently get 54 baht for a pound, but 9 months ago that was only 43.  It makes a hell of a difference to your spending power, depending on where your money is.  This may seem obvious to you (I hope it does), but I have talked to so many people (mostly 9 months ago!) that had not thought like this.

I hope all the advice on the forum helps you make a good decision, whatever it may be.
 

Offline thaiga

Re: What's it like living here
« Reply #17 on: January 03, 2014, 02:05:27 PM »
I've had my moans n groans in the years i've been here and it wasn't until i went for a months holiday to the uk in 2008 i realised how much i missed thailand.

Arriving at 7 o/clock in the evening late october, raining dark dismal and cold. As for working here nah, not for a few measly bht, not for me.

I found a lot of expats who are teachers are not realy happy with there work. Working would be ok if it was a hobby, I'm lucky enough to " GIN DOGBEER "

PS:Yes takeitor, if you don't already have a lot of money, don't come. +  Hang on to what you do have and never give all. thaiga  :cheers
Anyone who goes to a psychiatrist should have his head examined.
 

Offline Milito

  • Korat forum tourist
  • **
  • Posts: 17
  • Karma: 0
  • Newbie
Re: What's it like living here
« Reply #18 on: January 04, 2014, 03:55:21 PM »
I live here 4 years before move to Singapore and now i will be work here.I love the city.I love all part of it.
 

Offline Alfonso

  • Korat forum tourist
  • **
  • Posts: 38
  • Karma: 0
  • Newbie
Re: What's it like living here
« Reply #19 on: January 06, 2014, 03:22:08 PM »
Lots of reading there, thanks fellas.
I've been traveling the last few days and am now in Singapore ready to fly back to oz after the hols.

As I imagined Johnnie F. any food business would be a hard slog, as the place seems saturated with restaurants. It would not be worth the effort. Unless perhaps you opened a fancy place like The Stories, which would cost a fair chunk of change to set up.
For me personally to get involved in some business, it would have to be something I'm interested/passionate about or else have a good financial return. I hate f$&king cooking so the food business is out, I reckon.

For sure Al, the traffic is manic here, and I would imaging any commute into the city to get a coffee, would seem insane. We're lucky enough that her house is right in the center of the city, so it's not far from most of the coffee shops. As for 20 baht coffee, that's defiantly not the places we went, 50-70 baht my friend. And not a baht less.
As for the remote work it's not an option at the moment, the eBay thing is a good idea, not something I had thought of, as to be honest my idea of moving from oz was not going to be for another 2/3 years.

Johnnie beer is probably the ultimate unifier of modern man. If that doesn't do it, nothing will.

Hi takeitor, thanks for the insights.
I do feel fitting in is a must if living in Korat. After the first introductions with the friends and family are done, there is only so many days of sitting around smiling and nodding that one can do. So some working of the lingo is a must imo. It is very relaxing there, although as I said, on holidays from work anywhere is relaxing. Good to here a local like yourself still finds it so after 2 years. I'm nowhere near retirement age nor do I have any cash flow assets like real estate, so working is something I will do regardless, wherever I am.
Like I was saying the teaching thing wouldn't do anything for me and as Saf also said, anything in demand already has an over supply. I think your take on it is pretty accurate. No careers or good money on offer in korat so don't come, pretty solid advise. Not gloomy in the slightest. If making a move and the chances of it are slim, it would be thought out very thoroughly.
As for the cricket, well I'm Irish, living in oz. So the recent game had as much interest to me, as the man in the moon. Even if ireland we're playing I wouldn't watch, just don't get the cricket thing at all.

Thaiga, the thing I notice when ever I leave Thailand and go to a western country is, how heavy the vibe is in the western countries. It think it's from the fact that the Thais are so lax/relaxed and don't take much to seriously in life, except food. In the west we are a bit mor "stressed/uptight" for want of better words. The weather helps too.

Hi Milito, didn't quiet get you. Do you love Korat or Singapore? Both places are pretty cool.

Cheers for all the thoughts and insights lads, most helpful. The thought of leaving oz in a bit of a reoccurring one at the moment. But I don't think Korat will be the next port of call.
 

Online Taman Tun

Re: What's it like living here
« Reply #20 on: January 06, 2014, 05:55:52 PM »
Hi Alfonso, safe trip back to oz.  Hope you can make it back to Korat soon. You mentioned Stories. We have only been there once and the staff were not so wonderful.  However immediately behind Stories is our all time favourite place in Korat. It is a large barn of a barbecue restaurant where you have to cook your own food  on a charcoal brazier in the middle of the table.  Very delicious!
We are masters of the unsaid words, but slaves of those we let slip out. Churchill
 

Offline Alfonso

  • Korat forum tourist
  • **
  • Posts: 38
  • Karma: 0
  • Newbie
Re: What's it like living here
« Reply #21 on: January 08, 2014, 06:30:12 PM »
Cheers Taman,
Back in Oz, and straight into it again. Korat seems a million miles away now.
I swear I always think we are an insane bunch here, after being in Thailand. Away for a month and have to pay nearly 100,00 baht in rent when I return. Could live of that for months it Korat.
That's the nature of the beast.
As for stories, it food is pretty good but I love using the toilets, there some of the coolest I've ever seen.
I also think happy land around the corner is pretty good spot. Will have to try the barque spot next time I'm back.
Cheers man.
 

 



Thailand
Statistics