I’ve been retired in Thailand six years — from the USA.
One of your readers, “Alan” wrote:
“[In Thailand, if] … unpopular laws are passed the populace just
ignores them until they are no longer enforced. In the west, we could learn a lot from this way of life as we just allow our police to ride roughshod over us with these ever increasing attacks on our personal freedoms.”
In Thailand, people generally take care of themselves — without the
heavy hand of government in every direction. As a result, people are self-reliant, polite, and helpful to each other.
I’ve lived in a dozen cities, in five countries, on four continents: Sydney, Rio de Janeiro, Vancouver, Boston, San Francisco, Los Angeles and others. When I selected my place of retirement, I looked for a government that wasn’t very good at governing. A generous level of corruption is an advantage, because corruption blocks governments from doing much of anything. And whatever government does always seems to turn out badly, eventually.
So somewhat incompetent, generally ineffective government is actually an advantage. And I can see the results every day here. There isn’t the heavy hand of government here, so you can sense a joy of living, a positive outlook, that has disappeared in our Western countries.
Living in Thailand, everyday is fascinating. If you’ve only passed through as a tourist, you may find the noise, crowding and pollution overwhelming. You might wonder why any sane, normal, white man would choose to live here.
Thailand is one of the last places in the world where common courtesy, and respect for white men still exists. In Thailand, people are mostly polite, usually friendly, often kind, and, in general, they leave you alone.
That’s very different than “back home” where I had to watch every word, every motion. Someone might be offended at whatever I said or did. Why? Simply because I’m a middle-age white man who is educated and prosperous. Those simple facts offend many females, Negros, Muslims, homosexuals, and other “diversities”.
In Thailand, people welcome normal men; not resent and ridicule them as so often was the case back home. In Thailand, people generally take care of themselves — and their families — without the heavy hand of government in every direction. As a result, people are self-reliant, polite, and helpful to each other.
For a retired man, Thailand, is, by far, the best location I can imagine. Reasons are many. Here are a few. (I’ll specifically focus this report on Bangkok, the capital, but there are other tempting locations
1. High quality rentals available at modest prices (but not cheap).
2. Magnificent food, also at modest prices.
3. Boundless respect and politeness from Thai people.
4. Endless variety of entertainment.
5. Everything you’d want “from home” from familiar foods to Western-size
6. Reliable and low-cost computer access: land-line or wireless.
7. Plentiful gyms and swimming pools – with reasonable membership rates.
8. Countless opportunities to meet delightful Thai women. (And,
incidentally, countless Thai women are very eager to meet retired, white
9. Far away from the sullen resentments that have become common in
Western countries in recent years.
Put the total package together, and you may never want to leave. I certainly don’t.
But it’s not just enough to arrive and expect all the delights served on a platter. It doesn’t work that way here. As usual in Asian culture, the most attractive elements are hidden. What you see on the outside is not what is available on the inside. And that works two ways.
On the surface Bangkok is dirty, crowded, polluted, noisy, and there’s no way around it: most of Bangkok is ugly. Ah, but once you find the hidden gems, then Bangkok opens its arms to welcome you, and beckons from behind the screens. That’s the Bangkok I’ll attempt to hint at here.
Service in restaurants, shops, trains, etc. is respectful and eager, especially to white men. As you enter a restaurant, the waiters may bow to you. In shops, the adorable, young, women working there, will smile, flirt, and be eager to assist you. In large office buildings, or at the subway stations, the security guards will click their heels together and salute as you walk past. Are you getting respectful service like that in your home country? Here you’ll get it every day.
Internet service is quick and cheap in all the main cities in Thailand. The better hotels and serviced apartments have WiFi.
There are many bookstores here, with used and new books in English. If you like to read, you need never be without a good book.
In my neighborhood are travel agencies, a medical clinic, several dentists, several pharmacies, 5 locations of 7-Eleven stores, two huge super-stores (like Target, but the names are Tesco and Carrefour). Also several camera/photo shops, tailor shops, several shops selling gold, a few barber shops, lots of massage shops, two large schools, and several dozen brothels.
Yes, you read that right: brothels, sex shops, prostitutes. Sex is a normal part of life here, like getting a hair cut. In fact, some barber shops also function as brothels (but be careful, not all).
You might wonder how you get around. After six years living in Thailand, I certainly haven’t needed a car. No insurance, no oil changes, no snow tyres/tires: none of that. Just wave your hand and a taxi will stop:1-3 dollars/Euros/quid to go just about anywhere you want to go.
A smart expat will pay a bit more to live close to a skytrain or subway station in Bangkok. Quick, cheap (to us), and air-conditioned. I rarely go anywhere in Bangkok that is not close to either a skytrain or subway stop.
In Bangkok there’s air pollution. In Chicago, Manchester, Montreal, Los Angeles, and Melbourne there’s air pollution. I don’t like it, but I’ll take the whole package here, rather than endure the “cultural pollution” back there.
Medical care (including dentists) are touted as “world class”, but in fact, you still have to be careful, very careful. Some doctors/dentists are good, most are just adequate, and a few are awful (and I’ve encountered some of those few). But you learn.
Another downside: in general, things are not clean. I like neat and clean, especially regarding the food I eat, so that has been a major adjustment. It took some getting used too, when I saw food left out in the tropical sun for hours and then served in restaurants. That’s common; not an exception. Again, you learn: where to find clean, fresh, food, and what kind of medicine to take if you don’t.
A further negative factor is that organization and construction here are very sloppy. Maintenance of anything seems to be a cultural taboo. The locals do any job just well enough for it to last until they get paid for the work. Most construction starts decaying as soon as the ribbon-cutting ceremony is finished.
As for cars, tools, equipment, and such, the locals run machines until the machines break – with no thought of grease, oil, tune-up, etc. That’s not serious if you’re riding a bicycle, but they treat buses, trains, airplanes, and elevators with the same total disregard for maintenance.
In spite of those disadvantages – and they can be serious – I’d rather take my chances with those risks here, rather than face the violent resentments and mushrooming police state back home. I don’t know how many years I have left. Whatever it is, I want to live in an atmosphere of comfort and respect.
If you’d like to discuss more about retirement living in Thailand my email is Peter4@allmail.NET (Be sure to use “NET” in the email address.)