I notice a theme when I produce my vlogs about Thailand and, in particular, Pattaya in terms of the comments I get. The negative comments always seem to be from those that have never been here. They can feely pour scorn easily via social networks as they sit suffering from delusions of grandeur – no doubt in their small apartment in Grimsby or Sheerness as they enjoy a microwave meal from Aldi. OK, I am being deliberately contentious here; so let me play for just one second. It did, however, made me think – Who will really have the last laugh…the expat of Thailand or the stay at home Westerner?
It would be easy for me to be one sided as I am an expat, but that serves no purpose, so I will try and be rounded in opinion – but its difficult to when you have been ‘enlightened’.
When I first came to Pattaya some 11 or so years ago and told work colleagues in London, the guys would smirk, well some, and the women would look at me in shock. Back then I cared about what they felt and felt a little deviant knowing of the type of lads holiday I embarked on. Maybe they had a point, one should not go with prostitutes and get involved in such debauchery, it’s just not the done thing. And then I came and lived in Thailand, I shudder to think what they thought!
It’s quite easy to get on the defensive when others criticise something you have done. My friends and family probably thought I was just putting two fingers up to the UK and doing what I wanted, and you know what, they were right – but I couldn’t tell them that quite so transparently.
I stood one morning on a crowded train at about 630am as I took the usual commute to my office in London – I liked my job a lot but that was not the point here – it had been raining and my suit was a little wet. I stood with colleagues and asked them if our life was already mapped out and that this was it as far as life was concerned. Ok, I am stripping things to the basics but fundamentally, I knew where my life was going: Nice house, family, few more promotions at work and before you knew it retirement.
Another catalyst, which made the move abroad easier, was my parents both died whilst I was young. I had no reason to stick around and the world was out there to grab, and so I did. I was 32 years old earning all in all with bonus and car allowances around 80k pounds a year – and I threw it all away for the greater good of my life. It was ballsy and with that came a true feeling of empowerment. Nothing was going to hold me back.
I was resenting the predictability of life that stay at home Westerners who very easily on social networks dub us expats ‘sexpats’, ‘low lives’, ‘White trash’ and it just beggars belief to me why they are so passionate about commenting on how others want to live their lives…so they trash talk with sensationalised lies.
If a guy wants to sit in a bar and drink beer, then maybe hit a go go bar, then let him be. It’s not what I want and I am an expat in Thailand, but to others it’s what they choose to do. This guy may very well be widowed/divorced and the alternative of living in the UK with higher living costs just are not a viable option to them. Regardless, he doesn’t need to defend himself to others.
Living abroad has taught me to be more tolerant and compassionate towards others, regardless of cultures or nationality. I can also see more clearly how all countries use propaganda to control what their people think – from USA to UK. I also see how my life is aboard versus what it would no doubt be like if I stayed in he UK. My friends back home are quite content with their annual 2 holidays and odd weekend break pay off versus the grind of the rat race every other day between that. I work just as hard as I did in London, but it just feels different.
It’s interesting how an Expat in Thailand has to take periodical abuse from minority outsiders who don’t know any better, but I think to myself it quite easily be the other way round. But it’s not as we don’t feel the need to.
Life is short and the older you get the greater the realisation of how precious time is. For me the tragedy of life is for those that don’t do enough with the limited time they have. So the stay at home Westerner or the Expat of Thailand – who really will have the last laugh?