Richard McCully

We can learn from tourists

Isn't Thailand all about having fun?

Tourists get a bit of a bad rep from expats in Thailand. 

Backpackers (twatpackers) wearing those ‘stupid’ elephant pants. Tour groups from China who ‘only’ eat at Chinese restaurants and use companies where the money is taken straight out of Thailand. Guys from around the world who come here just to get laid. The problem is I think there is one great lesson we can all learn from tourists – how to have fun!

Serious expats

As expats, we have more experience of Thailand than tourists. For example I’m sure most of us know the dangers of hiring a motorbike whilst here and to be careful walking down certain beach side roads late at night. Our day to day life is at the office, school or with family at home. We’re not here on holiday and partying every day. But for many expats, a more fun life was one of the reasons to come to Thailand in the first place.

With the TM30 fiasco, exchange rate issues and a seemingly increasing amount of uncertainty regarding visa renewals, there have been a lot of negatives vibes coming out of the expat community this year. I had a trip booked to Phuket last month and with the TM30 hassle which was to follow, I thought twice about going. 

Thankfully I did as within 24 hours of being there, I’d rediscovered the sense of fun in Thailand, the expat gloom had lifted. Now, whilst this may have been down to the beautiful beaches I think a lot of the positivity that I got was from observing tourists and the joy they got from being here in Thailand. 

Perhaps I just needed to get into holiday mode to avoid thinking about the mundane issues like the TM30 but I think I’d allowed myself to get too bogged down with these things which weren’t really a huge problem. If my TM30 wasn’t done then I’d need to pay an 800 baht fine. Why was I so worked up about it? 

The exchange rate doesn’t affect me as I’m paid in baht and I actually like it right now as it’s cheaper to send money home for my student loan. I have a visa agent who takes care of all my renewals and they always get things done, I’m not going to get rejected. However, I’d let myself become overawed with the negative vibes coming out of the expat community. 

Positive vibes

The tourists I spoke to had pretty positive things to say about their visit. The main negative I got from them was about the prices of taxis in Phuket and that’s understandable. A lot of them commented that I was lucky to be able to live in Thailand. Sure, there are a few downers about living here, and being an expat is not the same as being on holiday, but I had to agree that I’m not as positive about things as I should be. 

For a lot of tourists who visit Thailand, this is their escape from a mundane job or life back home. They come here for the beaches, nightlife, the backpacker culture or just to be in a new country. Do the backpackers sit around worrying what people think of their elephant pants? Of course they don’t, they’re just having fun. They have the sense of doing something because it brings them joy, Thailand does that for tourists. 

I remember visiting Safari World in Bangkok several years ago and there were coach loads of tourists from India and China. Before one of the shows there was a DJ playing music from these countries and it was fantastic to see people standing up, dancing, and having fun with their families and friends. I’m not saying we should all be dancing everywhere but I think expats need to let their hair down every so often or we can be dragged down to thinking everything here is negative. 

Sure, Thailand has a shelf life for everyone and if it’s time to move on then so be it. However, if TM30 or the exchange rate is your biggest concern then maybe you just need to sit and have a think about things and take a leaf from tourists - have some fun whilst you’re here in Thailand!

If you enjoyed this blog, check out my website - Life in a New Country  

Richard is co-author of a great new book on planning a life in Thailand. 

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"By the way, what is all the fuss about the TM30 or whatever you call it? I have never heard of it outside of rants on farang online forums"

What a bizarre comment, Jack.

You aberrantly chastised me on a different thread and told me to, and I quote, "adjust, remain flexible and non-judgmental, and try to learn about living and working in a cross-cultural environment" and yet you don't fully understand what the TM30 is.

Even more bizarre is that instead of reading up on this rule that you really should know about, you decide to read the rants on 'farang online forums'. As you read through these rants that you clearly hate so much, did it ever occur to you to not read them, and actually read up on what the TM30 is?

The TM30 is a rule where you have to report your whereabouts when travelling outside of your home's province for more than 24 hours. You then have to report again when you're home.................within 24 hours. Failure to comply could mean a fine of up to 2,000 baht. It could also mean your yearly extension being denied. As a foreigner living here, you really should show your hosts some respect by learning about the laws and rules of the land. Especially the ones that apply exclusively to you.

As for the TM30, I believe it was the Japanese business sector who were the most aggrieved. I was recently told at CW immigration that I should only do it when travelling overseas. Not for domestic travel. I'll continue to do it for all travel, but let's hope the immigration officer was correct.

By John, Thailand (11th November 2019)

''if TM30 or the exchange rate is your biggest concern then maybe you just need to sit and have a think about things and take a leaf from tourists - have some fun whilst you’re here in Thailand!''

TM30 and the exchange rate is all they have left. They stopped having fun a long time ago.

By PMcKBkk, Bangkok (14th October 2019)

To all the complainants of the TM30, or whatever else, just get over it.
Or, as my wife likes to say, "the airport's over there".

By George, BKK (5th October 2019)

Not quite sure which tourists we could learn from. Having a great time and forgetting our woes? Why not, we only live once.

If the TM30 makes the forever negative expats move out, then good.

Online they forever spout their fantasies of being discriminated against by xenophobic locals daily, from double pricing in 7-11 to police shakedowns twice a day. In their ideal world, maybe.
Depends where you choose to live.

By PMcKBkk, Bangkok (3rd October 2019)

For well over 20 years, I have been hearing from a certain segment of the farang community how Thailand was going to hell in a handbasket and if “they” didn’t show more respect for the English teachers or farang retirees how the entire country is going to cease to exist.

I haven’t experienced the same level of negativity among the foreign workers in other countries I have worked in.

Is Thailand a good place to live and work? Hell if I know, but I am still here and haven’t bought a one way ticket out of here yet. It is likely others have had different experiences and have different opinions. but the decision to stay or go, is up to each of us individually.

By the way, what is all the fuss about the TM30 or whatever you call it? I have never heard of it outside of rants on farang online forums.

By Jack, LOS (3rd October 2019)

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