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!
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.
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
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