We're chatting to expats who live and work in Thailand about the pandemic situation here. London-born Grant has worked for AUA Language Schools in Thailand 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 Grant Thorneycroft from East London. I'm a teacher at AUA language school and I've been at the same school, at various branches, for 20 years.
In general, how do you think Thailand has handled the pandemic up to now?
I said at the beginning of this pandemic that Thailand had reacted promptly and effectively. I still stand by those comments.
In the meantime, the government sat on its laurels and thought the problem would just disappear. Well, as predicted by most, it didn't disappear and we find ourselves in an absolute mess right now. The constant flip-flopping of the open/close decisions and uncertainty have become an embarrassment.
If you were put in charge of things right now, what would be the first rules or things you would change?
Vaccination, vaccination, vaccination! I can't see any other way forward.
Let’s talk about you personally. What is the most regrettable thing that the pandemic has robbed you of or changed about your life?
As the school has closed, I'm now out of work. Financially, that has been a burden and I miss teaching and my daily routine. All the other restrictions have made my standard of living much less enjoyable. I'd pay a small fortune now to get back into the gym.
I guess you've kind of answered the next question already - from a work point of view, how has your situation changed (if indeed it has) and has there been any significant financial impact?
Well, as I said, I've taken a good hiding financially. Of course there are many people in a lot worse position than me so I shouldn't complain. But the new motorcycle and house that I was going to buy? Those dreams have all gone.
Has the pandemic had any positive impacts on your life?
Last April, just as the pandemic was kicking off, I returned to the UK to see my elderly mother. I spent five months with her, fixing up her house, and that was a very rewarding experience. The weather from April to August was spectacular and I saw lots of old friends. I also got the chance to go motorcycling on a Triumph around England. My relationship with my partner grew stronger and my close friends became even closer. I'm trying to get over the negatives :)
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?
Such a tough question mate. Who would've thought last April that we would be in the situation we're in now. Can you remember when we didn't wear masks on the sky-train.? That kind of thing is here to stay I think.
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?
Decreased considerably I'm afraid. I fell out of love with Bangkok some time ago. Funnily enough, a colleague asked me the other day. "If you won the lottery, where would you go? I said immediately 'stay in Thailand'. Nobody forced me to come here two decades ago. I still have plans and desires to retire to Hua Hin some day.
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?
The first half decent band that comes to Bangkok will get my ticket money right away. Also I'd love to take my partner back to London and show her the sights etc.
For someone who doesn’t know how to get through the days and is perhaps suffering mentally, what would be your advice?
I'm really not the best person to give advice because I've become even more impatient and short-tempered. John Lydon once said that 'anger was an energy'. In that case I should have enough energy to build my own house in a week!
Joking aside, exercise is absolutely essential to get that serotonin going. Get out to the countryside if you can - and value your friends!