What to do to enjoy living in Thailand
When moving to Thailand are many aspects you need to consider. What may seem to start with as an innocuous part of daily life, will soon drive you mad if you let it get to you!
Often the biggest worry is the change you will face. How will you adapt, what will the challenges be ahead as an ex-patriot.
The Western world is a far cry from life here in Thailand. It’s very easy to settle into the Thailand way of life when you first arrive to then find yourself becoming increasingly frustrated, trying to understand and accept the difference between the Western World and living here in Thailand.
What is the biggest difference?
Thailand has many cultural differences to the European world. Being able to adapt and to accept that the way of life is different, although it will enable you to enjoy a settled and enjoyable lifestyle here. But accepting these big differences often takes time and is very often very difficult to come to terms with.
Here are a few examples of the common frustrations Europeans face when living in Thailand.
Thailand Time – There is no other time like Thai time in the world.
Unlike the fast and hectic pace of both working and living environments back in the European world, Thailand has a much more laid-back and relaxed attitude. When you make appointments for example at 10 am in the morning, don’t be surprised or frustrated if the person the meeting is with doesn’t arrive until perhaps 11 am. The fact that they have arrived is considered sufficient enough. No matter how hard you try to explain the consequences of being late, in most cases, it will fall on deaf ears. The arriving early syndrome just doesn’t exist here and trying to force the issue is pretty much impossible. More seasoned European businessmen adapt by arranging meetings 30 minutes earlier so that whoever they are meeting has half a chance of arriving on time.
House calls will certainly become a frustration. It is not uncommon to arrange for an engineer or a delivery to take place at a certain time, only to find that time pass you by. You may have arrange that delivery for the morning, but chances are, it will most likely arrive midday or mid afternoon. You may decide to call the service center several times to chase the delivery or service call up, but you will as always get a polite response and told…. “they are on their way”. Yes this is how it really is here and something you will need to take in your stride before it drives you up the wall.
Driving on the roads in Thailand- Expect the unexpected at all times.
This is a particularly dangerous aspect of living here in Thailand. Sadly there are more accidents than most countries around the world. Trains are slow but probably the safest form of transport here. To drive on the roads here, you need to have your eyes everywhere and always expect the unexpected. Motorbikes will often undertake you as well as approach you on the wrong side of the road. Large lorries usually carry out u-turns without consideration for traffic both behind and approaching their vehicle. If you imagine that could happen and be prepared, chances are not only will it happen, but you may end up saving your life as well as others.
Minivans are very frequently seen speeding along the motorways as well as side roads. These vehicles carry many passengers and are a common form of transportation, especially with the Thai nationals travelling to the North or South of Thailand. Drivers work long hours and as they are not under any form of Transportation Governing Bodies it is not uncommon for drivers to suffer from fatigue and sleep deprivation. There are also many minivans who operate VISA runs across the borders, some operate a same day service clocking up considerable kilometers in just one day.
Lane hogging here in Thailand is probably the worst you will ever experience when driving on the road. It is an acceptable practice for a driver to sit in the outside lane, often travelling a lot slower than the general flow of traffic. The driver will refuse to move across, forcing other drivers to undertake the vehicle in front. This as you can imagine can cause many hazards as cars are seen weaving in and out of each other. On two lane roads don’t be surprised to see vehicles approaching you head on. They will simply flash their headlights at you to let you know, quite kindly, that despite being on the wrong side of the road, they will carry on heading towards you until they have overtaken the vehicle they are overtaking. So when you see lights flashing at you, it’s not a bad idea to slow down just in case the car heading towards you runs out of road!
On the roads here in Thailand you always need to make sure you think of every eventuality, as you can be assured that whatever you think may not happen most likely will. Stay vigilant at all times, watch your speed and watch the speed of others.
Confrontation – Losing Face!
Unlike many European countries here in Thailand losing face through confrontation is almost always avoided if possible. A good example is perhaps you may be learning to speak the language, and you are expecting your teacher to correct you should you make a mistake. However, this is not always the case. In most circumstances, your teacher will avoid possible confrontation if they feel you may be upset that they are correcting you. Instead will be left alone believing that you are learning the correct pronunciation. Not really what you are perhaps expecting, especially when learning a new language, but it is how it is here.
This attitude is also apparent most service-related Industries such as restaurants and bars. If you are in a restaurant and you are not getting the level of service you are expecting to receive, or perhaps your food wasn’t up to scratch, getting irate about it will do little to solve the problem. If you start shouting and getting agitated, service staff will generally leave you to it rather than have a confrontation in front of people. A point to note, most of the service staff are paid very small salaries, far less than their European equivalents. Granted they should keep up with service levels, but it is not always their fault. Kitchen maybe slow, the cellar man may not have changed the barrel, all situations that are out of their control. Try to be understanding as hard as it may be at times, and let the service staff have every chance to rectify anything your unsatisfied about.
Thailand is a beautiful country with beautiful people. If you come here and expect to change how they have been living for most of their lives, you are in for an uphill battle and a war you will never win. Instead except Thailand for all, it offers you and enjoy this beautiful country for what it is. Yes it will be frustrating at times, this is not in questions. But what you need to understand, is no matter how hard you may try to get your point across, little if anything will change and life will just continue on as it was before.
If you are considering moving here to set up home, we strongly recommend that you take a long vacation here first. at least two possibly three months in order to adapt to life here in Thailand. When you are on holiday let’s be honest, pretty much the whole time you are here everything is a novelty, but when you live here on a full time basis, that novelty soon changes and it becomes a reality. If you are unprepared to adapt to your new found environment you may find yourself wondering why you moved here in the first place?