We're chatting to expats who live and work in Thailand about the pandemic situation here. Shayan has lived in Bangkok with his family since he was 10 years old and works as a content creator and freelance marketer.
Could you introduce yourself (where are you from? how long have you lived in Thailand? and what do you do for a living?)
Hi, I’m Shayan and I’ve been living in Thailand for 26 years with my family. I was just 10 years old when we moved here. I did my studies here and worked at a few companies. Now I work as a freelance marketer and content creator and I'm also a budding entrepreneur.
In general, how do you think Thailand has handled the pandemic up to now?
It seemed to start out really well but now it is such a mess. But it is hard to say because I really don’t want to be the one making the decisions. There have been some good decisions and some pretty bad ones. Economically, we are devastated but at least we are not as bad as other countries with the number of cases. All I know is that Thailand needs to roll out the vaccines a lot quicker. The country is in quicksand, otherwise.
If you were put in charge of things right now, what would be the first rules or things you would change?
Get as many vaccines as we can and vaccinate people no matter who they are. I would also open up parks and other open-air venues. I would change the rules for visas and make it easier for long-time expats to keep staying here, especially those who have jobs, companies, and Thai spouses here.
Let’s talk about you personally. What is the most regrettable thing that the pandemic has robbed you of or changed about your life?
I love traveling and going to music festivals; the latter especially I miss quite a lot, because I at least got to travel quite a bit when cases were non-existent/low.
From a work point of view, how has your situation changed (if indeed it has), and has there been any significant financial impact?
Just before COVID hit, I was on my way to start a business and also had some jobs lined up. All of that went away. Ever since then, income has taken a huge hit. If I wasn’t living with my parents (and my dad’s stable job(s)) I’d be out on the street and possibly underground. I am not even joking.
Has the pandemic had any positive impacts on your life?
Yeah, I got to know who my real friends are. I figured out what I really want in life and what kind of work I want to do, even if I can’t really do it. I also got to travel a lot domestically. I was able to visit about ten or so new provinces in Thailand – most of them through collaborations with Tourism of Thailand.
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 hope 2022. We all were waiting for 2021 like it was going to be our savior but things are worse than ever compared to 2020. So, I'm hoping it all opens up by 2022. Will it happen? It all depends on vaccinations and herd immunity. The faster that rolls out, the faster we can resume some sort of normalcy.
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?
It has been a rollercoaster. I have gone through depression and anxieties but I also had some amazing domestic travel experiences. It also gave me a chance to explore new places in Thailand, making me love the country more. However, at the same time, it is has been hard. Job and opportunity-wise, my enthusiasm has decreased. It’s a love-hate relationship and I guess that's the way it's always been.
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?
Travel more. Experience more. Learn to live in the moment and not take anything for granted.
For someone who doesn’t know how to get through the days and is perhaps suffering mentally, what would be your advice?
Don’t keep it in. Talk to someone, anyone. It is so important to get things off your chest. We all talk about being positive but that can be equally toxic and even fake. You have to be real with yourself and others around you. Seek help and do things that you love to make you happier.