Looking back on my first sojourn to Thailand I thought I’d share my impressions.
I found the Thai people to be friendly and pleasant overall. They generally carry themselves with an air of dignity and pride. For example, even the beggars were gracious and never harassing. The would sit demurely on the sidewalk with a cup in front of them, never asking but always thanking you for whatever pittance you provided. Similarly, the street touts and vendors would show you their wares, and if you declined their offering they would simply walk away. That was a nice change from being continuously hassled as in the norm in the Philippines. I make it the first point here because dealing with third world poverty and desperation really wears me down. And while I of course felt sympathy for the unfortunates, I appreciated the fact that it was not constantly in my face. I mean, you do what you can, but you can’t help everyone. When I ask to not be bothered I appreciate those wishes being respected. That was almost always the case in Thailand.
I found Thai women to be quite attractive and they carry themselves with a certain grace that is quite appealing. Regular readers know that there is something about the style and manner of Korean women that really trips my triggers, but I’ll say that Thai women come in at a close second on my (mental) listing of the relative beauty of Asian women.
I rather enjoyed Bangkok and its vibrant streets. I mostly walked everywhere I went and never felt uncomfortable in doing so. There is of course a well-established night life catering to whatever your particular tastes might be. As I’ve written before, I’m not into the whole “go-go” bar scene with nearly naked (or in some cases totally naked) gals shuffling around on a stage. Not criticizing those who enjoy that kind of thing, but it leaves me cold. Luckily, the streets are also full of beer bar type establishments which I much prefer. I find it quite entertaining to sit at an outside table and just watch the world go by. Yeah, pathetic as it may be.
My impression of Bangkok was that it is relatively clean and modern. To be sure, it’s not up to Seoul standards but it is also nothing like that disgrace of a city called Manila. Infrastructure was mostly good and I found it pretty easy to get around.
Would I consider living there? Probably not. I’d return for a visit but it just didn’t feel like a place I could call home. Can’t put my finger on why exactly, just so big and alien I’d feel disconnected and estranged somehow. Granted, I was only there six days so maybe I’d get more comfortable in time. I did meet a couple of expats and enjoyed their company so that was good.
What can I say about Pattaya? It’s a huge tourist destination. Reminded me a little of Myrtle Beach in South Carolina, except with prostitute bars. There were some nice scenic areas along the waterfront and many high-rise condominiums. Lots of expats around, so I guess I could fit in. But here’s the thing, sitting in the beer bars watching the people pass by made me consider whether I’d ever really want to fit in with that crowd. Not being critical, but I’m honestly not a whore monger. And that seems to be the main attraction for guys in my demographic.
What I found especially shocking was the number of old farts I’d see trolling the streets. Now, I’m no spring chicken obviously, but these guys looked like refugees from a nursing home. Old as dirt, shuffling along with canes and walkers. I’m like “I don’t want to wind up that!” On the other hand, I assume they’ve found what makes them happy in life, something I’ve not managed to accomplish as yet.
Anyway, while I could make do in Pattaya I suppose, I’m hoping to do better than making do when I re-retire next year.
There are two more places I want to see in Thailand before I make any final decisions—Phuket and Chaing Mai. Heard good things about both, and from what I’ve heard Chaing Mai might be more my speed.
One big issue for me with Thailand is the language barrier. Yes, I could learn some of the language, just like I’ve done in Korea. But ordering up beer and asking for the restroom is a long way from having a meaningful and satisfying conversation with the locals I’d live amongst. And I think my inability to speak Korean with my Korean wife was a large factor in the failure of that marriage. I definitely do not want to make that mistake again!
In a future post I will do a little comparison of the places that are on my short list of potential retirement destinations.