Thailand, Travel

Why I couldn’t live in Thailand: what nobody tells you

Aaaah Thailand… The land of smiles. Isn’t it? 

To some degree, yes. But lately, one can debate on that. Now I’m not here to bad mouth Thailand, or am I? Haha, no I mean no harm. I will say it again, I’m not Willy Wonka. I won’t sugar coat things. I will speak about my experience but it’s solely my opinions, and if you agree, then let me know. If you don’t, that’s also cool. Sometimes it’s good to speak about the ‘negative’ experiences in order for someone else to have a positive one.

I went to Thailand with a big heart and big eyes. I did whatever it would take to get to there and ‘save the world’, starting by teaching children. It was the obvious thing to do. Those that I know we’re doing it seemed to be having a good life and I wanted in. I bought ‘the dream’. It didn’t take me very long to see the other side of Thailand. 6 months to be exact. And the things that people don’t usually mention, for whatever reason.

Call me a baby, sensitive or whatever but each to their own and I didn’t see the point in staying there if I wasn’t happy and healthy. As much as I love the place, I personally think it’s for holiday and not for living in.

  • The first you have to know is the amount of money that is made from the tourism industry in Thailand. 32-35 million tourists are expected to visit Thailand in 2016 and on average tourists spend 4000 baht per day! You do the math. 4000 baht is not a lot to anyone earning dollars, yen, euros or pounds, but half of rent money for a local living in a condo. My point is, the tourism industry has boosted so much, especially over the past 5 years, that the Thai quote you based on your ethnicity. If it costs 50 baht for a local to take a tuk-tuk, they’ll charge 500 baht for a tourist. Tourist knows non the less unless he’s done the homework. They have foreigner prices at the zoo for example. You’ll pay 40 baht more because you’re not Thai.
  • Be prepared to do visa-runs every 60 days to a surrounding border if you’re on a tourist visa, mainly Laos and Cambodia, and the costs involved. You can keep costs lower by going by train or finding cheap flights but sometimes time is limited as you have a weekend. A visa costs 1900 baht to renew each time. You can go onto an Educational Visa for roughly 18 000 baht for the year but a requirement is that you have to learn Thai. If you have a degree, you can go onto a Non-B Immigrant Visa. Either way, be prepared to bare the costs.IMG_5813
  • Choose your agency wisely. Most agencies are just in it for the money per employee/teacher that is hired so do your research on reputable and registered companies who have a strong admin team. They can apply for your teacher’s license and non-b visa on your behalf. Make sure the agency communicates with you and is supporting your role in the workplace.
  • Teaching is not all that its meant out to be. I was told if you have a degree, you earn more. Lies. If you have experience, you earn more. Teaching is not for the faint hearted here.
  • Teaching in Thailand is more about playing games, having fun and clowning around but not too much. You’re basically a glorified babysitter. No wait, you are one. I say this but it’s not always this case in all schools. It is supposed to be learning with fun but isn’t always like that. You will wipe poo bums, clean up spilt milk, change their clothes and all while you write exams for them. They can’t write and read for heaven’s sake. They’re 3 turning 4. At times it felt like I was teaching a brick wall because their attention span is 30 min max and that’s in-between physical activities, lunch, music and whatever social events.
  • You are a face for the school. Sadly, for some schools it’s all about the money. The parents need to see what they’re paying for. You are told what to do, when to do it and how not to do it. English has to be part of schools now as it is a business language and good for tourism = more money for the country. I’ve never been in a more money hungry environment.
  • The obsession with looking perfectly white (ironically) in the beauty industry is another level here! Plastic surgery is affordable and there are skin-whitening ingredients in ALL products, even for the males. Some believe, the darker, the poorer/uglier.
  • You have to consider their religion and culture in public otherwise you are deemed highly disrespectful. I guess that’s why a lot of the older generation don’t like foreigners in the country. I can fully understand and respect that to a degree, but don’t force me to do something that I don’t want to do or that I don’t believe in. And don’t judge me on my culture and beliefs.
  • Corruption is everywhere in the world and if you think their government isn’t, you’re so wrong. Money. That’s all it’s about.
  • Some Thai’s gossip more than any bunch of teenage girls I’ve ever met. Only difference is, they will ask you about things to your face and then talk behind your face.
  • The amount of dirt in the streets…and don’t get me started on the smells. Their drainage is a big problem.
  • Which leads me to the water pollution. The fish are obviously all dead in the canals and you can see some floating. You can’t drink tap water.IMG_5823
  • This also means no toilet paper when you go. Use the ‘bum gun’.
  • Because it’s so humid, congested and mainly commercial, the air pollution is quite bad. If you have a weak immune system like myself.. And asthma… And allergies, it’s not pleasant. Yeah… I clearly didn’t think about this before I moved.IMG_5419
  • The change of season flu when it’s humid though! The kids were sick at school, making the teachers sick. At one stage there was bird flu, hand, foot and mouth disease…I couldn’t keep up. Maybe I’m a hypochondriac but I feared for my life at one stage.
  • I lost about 11 kilo’s due to rice and noodles, chilli on everything and a lot of walking in the humidity! Not a bad thing, but when people are not recognising your stick-thin self, especially with those dark sunken eyes, it’s a problem.
  • I was chronically sick with bronchitis, had 3 courses of antibiotics and had to wear a mask. I accepted it and didn’t want to make my students or anyone else sick, but it made me feel so uncomfortable in public. Teaching with it on wasn’t fun either.IMG_5839
  • Oh ye, the staring! Thai’s are not shy to stare!
  • If you’re white and male… The world is your oyster there. You are deemed rich even if you cannot afford 2 min noodles. Some (not all) Thai women come to the city from poorer villages and meet a foreigner, gets married or falls pregnant, she is looked after and he gets a Thai green card so it’s a win-win situation… Apparently.
  • The language barrier. I laugh because the Thai laugh at the way we speak or at least are trying to pronounce and learn their language but their English is poor? The irony.
  • The racism. Let’s be real here. They call white foreigners, ‘farang’. I was told that this is a guava in Thai because their guava fruit is white on the inside. At first it was funny and I nodded it off to show I know what they saying but I cannot begin to tell you how much it irritated me hearing it everyday. You think they racist to white people? Ha! They won’t go near a black person on the train! Witnessed with my own eyes more than once. They are so scared of Africans.  I thought South Africa was bad but unfortunately racism is everywhere.
  • South African? But you’re not black. Yeah, and you’re not educated.
  • Don’t ride the elephants on the day trips. If they have a seat on their backs and a chain around their foot, avoid!! I didn’t realise how badly they are treated, from such a young age. Most of them die from exhaustion and a bad back from carrying tourists day in and out. Read more here and rather go visit a conservation centre.12512500_10153265294495836_1773535266605281804_n

Call me old-fashioned, negative, over dramatic,*insert adjective here* but I want to live in a world where myself, animals and a 4-year-old knows love, kindness and respect. My heart broke as my eyes were opened to the reality of the world and I couldn’t be what authoritative figures wanted me to be. I had to let my school look for a better teacher than me for those kids. One who wasn’t sick all the time too. Those kids are super smart and I hope they continue to outsmart their parents and teachers in their future. Heck, when I was 4 I was still learning how to fart properly.

I wanted to be respected as an adult and not only a student of life.

I wanted to learn more about their culture and environment, instead I was affected by it. Physically, mentally and emotionally.

I couldn’t keep quiet anymore. I had to get out for my own well-being. Those that understood and supported me on my decisions, I can’t thank you enough.

So if you ever thinking of moving to Thailand, by all means…DO it. It will be the best times of your life, I mean that. I made some of my best memories there and I’m grateful I got to experience the good and bad side. It made me realise it will be like that wherever you go in the world, it’s up to you to way up the pros vs cons.

Before you go, make sure you have a sufficient amount of money, rent a cheap apartment, Airbnb, or a hostel. Learn basic Thai and teach English at a language centre to older students or adults, if you do want to teach. By all means, sip on coconut cocktails on the beach if you want to, but remember to pay half the price they quote 😉

 

As the saying goes, TIT! This Is Thailand!,

Nikita

 

My heart and prayers go out to all the people affected by the recent explosions around Thailand and the earthquake in Myanmar.

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8 thoughts on “Why I couldn’t live in Thailand: what nobody tells you”

  1. I’m so glad that someone has finally stood up and exposed Thailand for what it really is!

    After my first trip to Thailand in May this year I had to face the sad reality of the shock and horror that was Thailand. The Phuket airport is gross and looks super run down. The people are so terrible at English that it took me 2 whole days (with the help of a local) to purchase data for my cellphone. The “street food” looks horrid, especially when plonked next to a septic drain that’s been baking in the hot humid son the whole day. And yes, the Thai girls are super slutty!

    It was then that I realized that Thailand is mostly marketed by paid/sponsored bloggers and they just show you what they want you to see. They don’t show you the poorly treated elephants or the 58 electrical cables hanging above your head while you hear the electricity buzzing or the shitty basket that you have to throw your loo paper into. No they sugar coat it and photoshop the hell out of it. Thailand was not what I expected. Thailand was not like they show you in the pictures.

    Hats off to you for saying what everyone else was too afraid to say! Please post more of these blogs. Thanks

    Liked by 1 person

  2. What you did: uprooting your life to follow a dream, sticking it out for 6 long months when it didn’t turn out to be what you expected, through illness and real hardship, and then to acknowledge that it wasn’t for you, move on, and then write about the experiences, good and bad, in this way…. All this that you have done is very brave, very soulful, very mature and very adult!
    Keep following your dreams… one day you will find the place that is worthy of your passion, compassion, soul and beautiful smile.

    Like

  3. You wanted to be accepted as an adult but I have rarely read an article as naive as yours. You moved to a developing country, what did you expect ?

    Like

  4. Thank you, the tourists are spoiling everything (with their money everything is soo cheap around here not realizing they are spoiling the business and they are not respected) ,they attract young girls, promote prostitution, I spend 30 years in South Africa, as yourself I’m white and over 60 soo for security reason I came back to my home country, and I get upset when people talk about and say (I did Thailand, or the Maldives or else). Can we do something and keep the tourists in their hotels?
    Thank you again, we need people like you to expose the facts!!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Wow… I cannot applaud your strength and mounds of integrity enough not only as an individual but more as a WOMAN well flippen done! As the post reads “My heart broke as my eyes were opened…” I think the biggest problem with the world today is that we see but we don’t say, we don’t speak of and the reasoning behind it all is sad so… Thank YOU for talking ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I dont think saying ” I thought South Africa ia bad” is a fair way to portray our Beautiful Country. Atleast in South Africa white kids have black friends and visa versa and we work hard to “try unite”. Have you seen the racism in Europe and America? Its alot worst than in South Africa. And I have lived in Asia and was in the requirement business, so I am very aware of the level of racism there, but this makes me wonder what you told those Thai’s about South Africa. Overseas work is what you make of it.

    Like

  7. Hey,

    ..all things you should have known before.. Why comming to Thailand when you cant live with these facts? Living in Thailand is about other things and some of ur arguments are kind of an overstatment with lack of comparison.

    Like

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