We're chatting to expats who live and work in Thailand about the pandemic situation here. Yorkshireman Richard runs his own export business out of Chiang Mai and is married with two children.
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 Richard, I'm 47 years old and from Rotherham, South Yorkshire in the UK. I'm married with two kids and I've been in Thailand almost 18 years, mainly in Chiang Mai, I started my own export business in 2009 as purely an Ebay thing but grown it up from there over the past 12 years.
In general, how do you think Thailand has handled the pandemic up to now?
Better than a lot of countries in the beginning, but they are being found out now when it comes to the vaccine.
If you were put in charge of things right now, what would be the first rules or things you would change?
My philosophy on it now is that life needs to start again, I think Singapore are getting it right and that's probably what I would change in Thailand and follow that model.
Let’s talk about you personally. What is the most regrettable thing that the pandemic has robbed you of or changed about your life?
From someone that used to fly/travel at least 25 times a year, either on breaks or watching football, I have been grounded and I don't like it. I really am getting serious cabin fever.
From a work point of view, how has your situation changed (if indeed it has) and has there been any significant financial impact?
My business is gone at the moment. The cost of shipping containers has risen tenfold, and custom duties and procedures in countries I deal with have all changed. For the past 14 months, I've just not been able to compete. Luckily, from a financial standpoint, I don't have to work but from a mental point I do - so I'm doing lots of little online jobs etc, just to keep me busy.
Has the pandemic had any positive impacts on your life?
I've started to cook again, something I didn't do for about 12 years. I now cook the family evening meal three times a week!
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?
I certainly can't see things changing much in 2021 but I've decided to go to the UK no matter what in March of next year, as I've not seen my family since December 2018. Hopefully things will be clearer then.
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?
I think it's a day to day thing with Thailand but that's been the same since I arrived and nothing much has changed on that score for me. I don't sweat the small stuff like dual pricing but things like not being able to pay a bill at 7-11 unless my wife or daughter are there with their ID cards annoys me. Different things, different people I suppose.
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?
No changes as such but I will be straight back on the travel as much as possible programme.
For someone who doesn’t know how to get through the days and is perhaps suffering mentally, what would be your advice?
Again different people, different problems, I get through the days by keeping busy. Even taking 20 minutes to answer these questions keeps me active. The only real advice I can give is make sure you talk to people and don't keep it to yourself.