We're chatting to expats who live and work in Thailand about the pandemic situation here. Tim runs a tour agency with his wife in Khon Kaen and also writes for Lonely Planet.
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 American by birth and I immigrated to Thailand in 2007 after having travelled here a couple of times. I've lived in Khon Kaen all fifteen of those years. I earn most of my money co-running the Isan Explorer tour agency with my wife and writing for Lonely Planet – I've updated the last eight editions of their Thailand guidebook as well as many others in Asia, Africa, and the Americas.
In general, how do you think Thailand has handled the pandemic up to now?
It seems like last year, when there was much more fear about Covid19, the government listened to medical professionals and so did a good job. This year, professional advice was ignored and thus the outcome is no surprise.
If you were put in charge of things right now, what would be the first rules or things you would change?
Increase vaccination and solid enforcement of mask-wearing in markets. The latter is much better now than it used to be, but even now in Khon Kaen there are still a lot of vendors who don't wear masks. I know the government has many soldiers looking for human trafficking, but I'd probably increase that effort too.
Let’s talk about you personally. What is the most regrettable thing that the pandemic has robbed you of or changed about your life?
Most of our work has dried up, but we've been able to earn some money over the last year through various projects, mostly my wife selling her art and teaching online art classes to kids. But we are earning a lot less than normal and we've had to live quite frugally. Still, our health has been fine so no real complaints.
You've kind of answered this question already, but from a work point of view, how has your situation changed (if indeed it has) and has there been any significant financial impact?
Isan Explorer has done just one tour since last February and most of my main writing income has been cut off. As I said above, we've earned some money here and there, but mostly we've been going through our savings. I will probably have to look for a job soon – lucky for me, I took a TEFL class in the past and have some teaching experience already.
Has the pandemic had any positive impacts on your life?
Knowing I would have a lot of free time, I started writing a book last year and am really pleased with how it's going; although I think the pandemic will be done before the book is.
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?
Watching the fiasco with vaccines so far, I don't see herd immunity in Thailand until mid-2021 at the earliest. However, I predict that by this fall people will just pretend everything is alright and open the country up - risks be damned.
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?
Nothing has changed. I've always loved it here because of the ordinary Thai people and despite the puu-yai. Covid-19 has only reinforced this.
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. I was happy and healthy before the pandemic and remain so today.
For someone who doesn’t know how to get through the days and is perhaps suffering mentally, what would be your advice?
Exercise – it benefits you both physically and mentally.
Visit Tim's website for Thailand tours, blogs, photography and more.