Hot Seat

Brendan O'Gara

"I often shake my head when I hear people complaining about prices here" Ajarn is asking expats some random questions on life in Thailand. Brendan lives in Chiang Mai.

Q

Thanks a million for answering the questions. Firstly, where in Thailand are you living and how long have you been here?

A

I currently live in Chiang Mai and I’ve been here for one year now. Previously, I lived in Samut Prakan for almost 2 years. I have been living in Thailand on and off for a period of 15 years.

Q

How would you summarize your Thai language ability?

A

I can read Thai fairly well, but writing is more of a struggle due to the spelling conventions and the sheer number of letters. As for speaking, well I really struggle with pronouncing the tones and long vowels, but I’m usually able to communicate my point across. Listening is my strongest skill. For me, it is difficult to get enough practise as I work in an English-speaking environment. Furthermore, everyone I know here speaks English, including my girlfriend. 

Q

Now that the Covid years seem to be thankfully behind us, what lessons did you learn from the whole experience?

A

Are they behind us? It seems like Thailand will never move on. Honestly, it didn’t really have a negative impact on my life, though I did find working online to be tedious at times. In fact, being able to travel to deserted tourist resorts, stay in plush hotels, and be free of mass tourism was a definite plus. However, I found the virtue-signalling mask mandates, vaccine mandates and general stupidity to be incredibly infuriating.

Q

A common theme on Thailand social media is the rising cost of living here. What if anything do you think costs way too much and secondly, in what areas have you cut down or attempted to cut down on expenses?

A

I often shake my head when I hear people complaining about prices here. Sure, electricity prices and the cost of fuel has risen considerably. But other than downtown Bangkok, I haven’t found the price rises all that exorbitant. I mean, a meal from a local Thai restaurant might be 10-15 baht more expensive than before, and things like haircuts and beer might be another 10-20 baht more expensive, but it isn’t busting my budget. The only real cost of living increase I have noticed is the price of international flights. I simply refuse to pay 40-50,000 baht to fly to Dublin in economy class, even flights to Cambodia are costing 6-9,000 baht.

Q

Another very controversial issue is the annual pollution, especially in the north of Thailand. It’s been particularly bad this year. Has it made you rethink your long-term future here?

A

I live in Chiang Mai, so it has absolutely forced me to consider my future in this wonderful city. What good is it being located near the mountains, waterfalls and rivers when you can’t enjoy them for fourth months of the year. Actually, when you add in the rainy season it’s close to 6-7 months when you can’t enjoy the outdoors. Furthermore, I am also concerned about the long term health impacts that exposure to such severe levels of pollution will have on my body.

Q

Which place in Thailand have you never visited but would most like to and why?

A

The only places that spring to mind are Hat Yai and Koh Kood. I have spent the night in almost 30 provinces here, including all over the major cities and tourist resorts. I love this country and I am happy to keep revisiting most of these places.

Q

If you had to choose a place in Thailand to live (other than where you are now) where would it be and why?

A

I found Khon Kaen to be a nice city with all the amenities that a foreigner likes and needs, whilst still retaining some Thai charm. Also, I would consider living in the Pattaya area, but the recent influx of Chinese and Russian criminals has made that a less desirable option.

Q

Do you have your eyes on settling in another country at some point? Even if you have no plans, which country appeals to you?

A

I am very happy in Thailand and I have no desire to leave anytime soon. But you never know what’s around the corner. If I was forced to leave Thailand, then Malaysia or Colombia would be appealing options.

Q

“The smiles have disappeared from The Land of Smiles” Agree or disagree?

A

I find Thais in the tourist resorts have grown weary of white, western tourists. Can you blame them when you read the almost daily news reports of foreigners misbehaving in places like Pattaya and Phuket? Westerners aren’t as wealthy and ‘baht happy’ as they once were when the exchange rate was more favourable. I think the Thais have their sights set on Koreans and Chinese now.

Q

Generally, is life in Thailand better for you now than when you first arrived?

A

Thailand has only gotten better since I first came here in 2007. There have been major improvements to every part of the infrastructure from the road network, to wi-fi and shopping malls.

Q

What is the best and worst thing about living here? 

A

It’s probably the weather. People at home probably think I’m crazy for saying that. Regardless, for three months of the year it’s way too hot and humid to venture out and feel comfortable. Then we have the rainy season, this can last anywhere from 3-6 months and cause complete chaos including flooding and dire traffic. So, there’s really about 3 months of the year when the weather is actually decent enough to do outdoor activities or sports.

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