We're chatting to expats who live and work in Thailand about the pandemic situation here. London-born Buzz, is an account manager for a localization organization (translating digital media). He's lived in Thailand on and off for 20 years.
Could you introduce yourself (where are you from? how long have you lived in Thailand? and what do you do for a living?)
I'm from London originally, with past stints living in Ireland (Tipperary), and two previous stints living in Thailand (Chanthaburi and Bangkok). I have an Anglo-Thai family so we have been back and forth for 20 years or so now.
I've been living in Bangkok for over three years this time around. My day job is an account manager for a localization organization (translating digital media).
In general, how do you think Thailand has handled the pandemic up to now?
I thought we (everyone in Thailand) had been very lucky up until 4-5 months ago. Maybe we had all become a little complacent and the situation here has simply just caught up and we literally have not been ready this time around. In retrospect, it's easy to make statements of how things could have been handled better - but that isn't helpful or positive.
If you were put in charge of things right now, what would be the first rules or things you would change?
This is a difficult question as I am no politician nor do I have the experience of running countries. I'd confer with the leaders of countries that have a good balance of economy vs. health and safety in their strategy and most probably base a set of criteria on that data, hoping that it would be vaccine-led, shortly followed by business as usual.
Let’s talk about you personally. What is the most regrettable thing that the pandemic has robbed you of or changed about your life?
Like most people, the freedom and ability to freely visit our loved ones being curtailed - or to go about one's business unhindered really affects my spirit.
From a work point of view, how has your situation changed (if indeed it has) and has there been any significant financial impact?
My day job has luckily been unaffected. Actually, the pandemic has made the industry I work within grow as the digital world has grown exponentially during the last two years. However, had I been in the UK working in photography, video and marketing, I would have probably gone under so my career / location change has been a good choice.
Has the pandemic had any positive impacts on your life?
None whatsoever other than not having to sit in traffic jams, which I never worried about too much anyway.
When do you predict the world will return to some sort of normality and we will be able to travel abroad and maybe get to remove these damn face-masks, etc?
Some people are already travelling and some places have no obligatory face-mask wearing. It's a case of flexibility and perspective.
Globally, it won't be the same everywhere for perhaps another 18-24 months depending on vaccination. Once the majority of the global population has been vaccinated, then that is when we will get our freedom back, albeit less than before (read between the lines).
Things started to go pear-shaped in March 2020. Over the past year or so, has your enthusiasm for living in Thailand increased or decreased?
To answer this question in full, I judge my life here based on if I was locked down in the UK or Europe. I consider myself very lucky that the lockdown has happened whilst I am here and I am very grateful to have some roots here in Thailand.
So my enthusiasm for Thailand hasn't changed at all, I just wish that we could speed things up here a hundred times faster because I am not getting any younger!
When we get to the light at the end of this long tunnel, have you promised yourself to make lifestyle changes or do some things differently?
Definitely more pool time. That is the one place I miss. I will be even more grateful than before for the places for our outdoor pursuits. I am completely done with screens! The work-life balance will also be readdressed!
For someone who doesn’t know how to get through the days and is perhaps suffering mentally, what would be your advice?
Most have mentioned the best suggestions.
I have a morning routine - walk, meditate, read (no social media, no emails) and create a list of to-do's for the day. Then I start my day after a coffee.
I would suggest to anyone getting symptoms of sadness, depression, uncontrollable negative thoughts to reach out to friends first - these are your support networks.
Make sure no self-medication is being administered. Get Sam Harris's Waking Up app - it's the best! (if you cannot afford it, reach out to them via their website. They have a scholarship and it can be free). Try to keep busy with creative projects, walk often and live for the day - not in the past or future.