I think I’m old enough now to fall into the category of ‘Grumpy old men’. Here’s my take of life in Thailand as I see it.
As I mentioned in my previous blog post, [7 Years Living in Thailand] we put roots down in Trat province about 10km outside Trat Green City. The ‘green’ doesn’t refer to any environmental claim, but instead lends itself to the favourable conditions for farming. The province along with neighbouring Chanthaburi are known as the fruit basket of Thailand. We get a lot of sun and a lot of rain around our little market town!
We are close enough for all the modern conveniences a small town can offer and just far enough out of the way to avoid any of the BS, so we can just get on with living a simple life.
We recently invested in a small fruit farm. We’ve fenced the periphery, added irrigation and planted a few hundred cocoa trees. In the future we will be producing a beyond organic bean to bar chocolate.
At the time of writing, we have also just started renovating the two-bedroom farm house.
We also own two plots of land near Au Tan beach. These will be developed some time in the future with a view to sell. They are great plots, close to a beautiful beach and bay with views of Koh Chang. There is also a marina with a dry and wet dock very close by.
A Sense of Freedom
There is a sense of freedom in Thailand that you just don’t get back home, which is ironic as for the last 4 or five years we have lived under a Military junta who overthrew the last democratically elected government in a coup-d’etat.
The UK, US and China are now pretty much surveillance states with cameras tracking your every move, biometrics, online transactions and social media post.
There isn’t an immunity to it here, but it certainly is less invasive. Here, as long as you’re not harming anyone else or doing some illegal skullduggery, you are pretty much left to your own devices (or are we?).
I may get pulled over every now and again to check if I have a valid driving license or road tax, but the police or army are always professional, courteous and even friendly towards me.
I can only recall seeing one speed camera on the 300km drive to Bangkok and that probably doesn’t work. When we last visited the UK a couple of years ago, I lost count of the Sterling extortion surveillance network apparatus now on every road and building. When 5G rolls out you will be well and truly fucked. To quote Benjamin Franklin “Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.”
The Cost of living in Thailand – Live Within Your Means
When people ask; “What’s the cost of living in Thailand?” I believe what they are really asking is “How cheap can you live in Thailand?”
As a general rule, like for like, you can live in Thailand a site cheaper than you can in the West, although the cost of living is rising here too (money is inflated away while wages stagnate).
The added tax on foreign beers and wines puts them on a par with Western prices but if you buy a local beer from the store, it’s still cheap.
Food is plentiful and cheap, but you get what you pay for. With that being said, dinner for two at a top restaurant, with impeccable service and stunning views is still a lot lower than you’ll find for a similar experience back home.
If you’re buying a house or condo and even renting a property, you’ll pay a fraction of the price in Thailand and get a lot more bang for your buck.
The key thing to living in Thailand or anywhere else for that matter is to live within your means. Earn more than you spend and invest a little for a rainy day. Sure, you can live here for $600-1000 per month but you won’t be living the dream on that budget.
Thai’s, like the Brits, love to talk about the weather. Rain is the lead conversation opener in England for 51 weeks of the year, whereas in Thailand it’s the heat. Most days Katae will say “It’s so hot today!” I reply, “Yeah, we’re in Thailand, you’ll get used to it”.
Of course, there’s no getting used to the heat and humidity in certain parts of the year… it’s just too hot and humid!
There are essentially three seasons in Thailand; Hot, hotter and it’s so f**king hot!
Unlike tourists, when you live here, you simply just don’t go out in the sun and when you do, you cover up and wear a hat. It’s the Thai way or the fry way!
Having said that, if you up in the mountains near Chiang Mai it can get cold at night.
Where we live in the South East it rains a lot but not that fine miserable rain you get in the UK. We get downpours of biblical proportions often with thunder and lightening.
I took Katae to Greenwich and the National Maritime Museum and showed here all the advances the Brits made in time management, navigation and exploration. We also enjoyed some delicious ice-cream!
If you have a thing about being punctual or expect to receive a call from someone if they are running late, don’t come to Thailand. It will drive you nuts! OK, I’m generalizing, or maybe I’m not but rest assured, Thais do not have the same concept of time as we do. Don’t believe me? Why do they have their own calendar? Right now, in 2019 AD it is 2562 BE in Thailand.
If you’re meeting someone in Thailand or have a dental appointment, it’s fine to turn up 30 to 60 minutes late, they do it all the time and don’t even apologise for keeping you waiting. That’s Thai time.
As sure as the sun will rise tomorrow, I’m sure I’ll meet my fate will be on a Thai road.
Only yesterday, as I was driving down a dual carriageway in good road conditions, did someone drive out from a side road in front of me without a care in the world. If it had been raining or if I was speeding, the person driving the car would be crippled for life now or worse.
On the dual carriage way (2 lane highway for our American readers) there are designated places to perform a U-turn. The locals take this as an opportunity to save driving a Kilometre or two. Instead of performing a U-turn they cut across the road and drive in wrong direction straight at you. This is a daily occurrence when I’m out on the roads and the amount of motorcycles and cars I’ve narrowly missed isn’t funny.
Another ‘norm’ on the roads here is lights, or lack there off. Again, the number of near misses I’ve had because mainly motorcycles don’t have working lights is mind boggling.
Talking of motorbikes, seeing the cocktail of tourists and scooters together is a mix that should have its own health warning.
When we lived on Koh Chang the amount of crashes involving tourists and scooters was astounding. Most of these people had no prior knowledge or experience riding a bike, mix that in with the mountainous windy roads, oil and rain, crazy taxi drivers and no helmets (doesn’t look cool on IG wearing a helmet) and you have a recipe for disaster.
Compound that with having to pay for the motorcycle damages and repairs before you get your Passport back, the nearest hospital is on the mainland and your holiday insurance will not pay out for your foolish actions. If you only got a Koh Chang stamp from the exhaust you are lucky. Koh Chang on a motorbike isn’t Disneyland.
I’ll cut this blog post here and save my insights (rambling) for another day where I’ll explore the subject of Thai food.
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Life in Thailand As I See It [Part 1]