Thailand is a country rich in culture. It's also cheap and safe to travel through. The people are friendly, the food is good and if you want to stick around for a while, work is easy to come by.
If you're a gap student, or just unemployed and bored, there's a place for you here. If you are older and more worldly wise, there's also plenty of room left over for you guys, too.
Guys? I almost forgot... women! Women are especially welcome in The Land Of Smiles - especially ones that want to teach for a year or two... or more!
Even the French can find a place here in the sun.
So, start packing and leave behind that horrible snow and rain. Leave behind that crappy job. That debt. Those kids! Leave all your worries behind and come to Thailand.
And now you're here what are you going to do? That's right - hit the beach! And then what are you going to do? Well, hit the mountains, hit the local markets, hit the trains, hit everywhere you can see. It's nice to be able to travel around a safe country so cheaply and safely, isn't it?
What would make it even better? Hmm! Oh, I know... let's learn Thai so we can speak to the locals. It'll be fun. We can haggle in the markets, order room service, have fun in restaurants and bars and life will be a lot easier. It will be a bit of work, but it'll be fun to do and well worth it in the end.
Hello. My name is Mark. I'm a 'farang mute.'
Now you've decided to stay here and call Thailand home... for a while. One thing you quickly pick up when you're doing the rounds of a foreign country is that people are sometimes good, sometimes bad, but always diverse and never the same.
This is much more apparent when you actually live in a different country long term. Things don't always go the way you plan them and the way things are fixed are just wrong!
...which brings me to... well, me!
I'll warn you now - you aren't going to like me much. It's not too late to back out of this.
I don't like travelling around and meeting people. I dislike public beaches. I abhor hotels and I really hate any kind of sleeping arrangements that don't involve my bed in my house.
I don't like to walk around crowded markets and I never go to bars and discos. I don't drink so why would I? (Yeah, it's all about me.)
But worst of all, I hate chit-chat. I recoil with intense unease when I am talking to strangers. Idle conversation to me is like fingernails on a blackboard regardless of the language.
It's not that I don't like the people I talk to - I just don't enjoy the useless, vapid exchange of dialog.
I'm not talking about Thai strangers either. I'm even more uneasy talking to fellow farangs. I can't pull the usual fast one of being able to say 'Sorry, I don't understand you!'
"I want to be alone... with someone else who wants to be alone." Dimitri Zaik
One of the benefits of living in Thailand among Thai people and not knowing much Thai, is that you just get left alone.
But that's not the only benefit of being a 'farang mute.' I also have the pleasure of not understanding anything that people are saying. Most people have really nothing of value to say and just like making a noise.
Another very handy benefit of being a 'farang mute' is that I can't understand anything on TV or on the radio.
Just watching TV makes my eyes bleed. Understanding it as well would probably send me into some kind of mental fit.
The thing is, learning Thai is of no value to me. The effort and time it takes to do doesn't give me a return that pays off.
If I'm unwilling to communicate to anyone in English why would I make an effort to learn a very difficult language and do the same with Thais? To chat in bars? To order pizza? Make the check out girls feel more at ease?
The cure for hating stuff.
To many people, solitude is seen as a vice. Something that should be apologized for. Actually, being alone and in my quiet zone at the weekend especially, helps me to re-fuel for a noisy week of work. I find the five day process of being around a thousand noisy kids is a drain on my ever depleting resources of mental energy.
So, with all these things that I don't like piling up, I have done what any normal, rational and level headed man would do... I've arranged my life to specifically avoid all these things.
Everything has been tailored so my life can be minimally interfered with by the things that I don't like.
I don't like cities so I moved to the country. I don't like dogs and noisy neighbors so I built a house on private land. I don't like travelling on buses or in taxis so I bought a car.
If I had done all these things in my native England, it would have been seen as normal and sensible behavior. But I didn't. I decided to make my life comfortable in Thailand... a nation that happily embraces the hordes of sanctimonious, pretentious tramps masquerading as knowledgeable and/or interesting travelers.
Please turn down the volume...
Anyway, over the course of the last fifteen years, I just haven't bothered to learn the lingo. I did learn somethings that I needed to know. One of the phrases I quickly learned was "Please turn down the volume."
I used it in the taxis a lot when I lived in Bangkok. The problem with learning that, was taxi drivers thought I could speak Thai. So I then had to learn "Sorry, I don't understand." They didn't believe me and there was stony silence!
Remember what I said earlier about everybody being different? Well that doesn't only apply to foreigners. We are all different - even if we are raised in the same country with similar educations and opportunities in life. So, to all those of you who, like me, are private people, there's also room for YOU in Thailand... but be prepared for the critics.
When in Spain... run like hell!
There has been somewhat of a negative reaction to my impudent lifestyle in some quarters. My mum said I'm going to die a lonely man. Well, alone, maybe but not lonely. I suspect that my partner will outlive me. She has more than a thirty year advantage.
Last week (August 2015) there was a news story that Spain had had record visitors. The story was accompanied by some pictures of beaches absolutely infested from top to bottom with tourists. As I inwardly repulsed at those images it occurred to me that I'd rather have a rock to myself than share a beach with anyone!
One online blogger was 'outraged' that I didn't come to Thailand to mingle with the locals and immerse myself in my 'environment.' My family and a couple of people that know me shake their heads. They don't understand why anyone wouldn't be running around the country making pals, chatting to strangers in bars and running up and down mountains.
Another keen critic asserted that for me "When in Rome..." didn't apply. Maybe, he thinks that people who swim a lot will eventually become fish! I never did fully understand that criticism.
There's no use in trying to defend myself to anyone. I'm lazy - and learning Thai is a victim of that.
So, here I am... 'a farang mute' in a nation filled to the rafters with social animals racing about chatting to anyone that will listen and trying every food they've never heard of... or seen actually prepared in a kitchen.
We all have our different reasons for being here in Thailand. Yours may be to experience adventure and to embrace different cultures. Mine's just the opposite. I came to be left in peace. It's working out very well - thanks for asking.
So, you can say what you like about my reasons for living in Thailand - I can't understand a darn thing you are saying!