Asking expats why they chose Thailand, you’ll often get enthusiastic replies like “Oh, Thailand is such a wonderful place”; “everything is so cheap”; “people are friendly”; “I just love the Thai way of life”.
Once you take a closer look at these enthusiastic folks, however, many times you will find that the “thai” life they are so enthralled about, bears very little resemblance to how the majority of local Thais live. Which in itself is no problem, of course; heck, if I made 5-10 times the local wages, I would also sneak in some more “Farang magic” to spice up my all-Thai life over there. 😉
Stuck in the Farang bubble
What I don’t really get is when, instead of adding that Farang magic, people start substituting some aspects of Thai life with Farang equivalents. What do I mean by that? Consider this old farang guy over at ThailandQA, who summarily rejects all kinds of Thai food, proclaiming that only Farang food is worth eating. Some other expats are stuck in the Farang bubble, afraid to integrate, because that means leaving the old, safe environment behind.
Can you imagine living in Thailand for decades and not eating a single dish of Thai food? Or hiding out during Songkran with the rest of the candybutt Farang in the safety of air-con flats and malls, while the Thai population crowds the klongs and waterways, having “unsanitary” fun in the April heat? 😀
The “wonderful Thailand” such people talk about is in fact a tiny world of Westernized illusion squeezed into very narrow limits of persistent Farang habits that they are unable or unwilling to break out of. Their professed love for Thailand is only as deep as their wallet goes, because Farang lifestyle is expensive. Would they still be so enthusiastic about living in Thailand, if they were to switch lifestyles with an average Thai worker for a few months? Would they be able to find happiness here on a salary of 4000-6000Bt a month? Doubtful.
Integration = more happiness
No one can love it all. Surely everyone has their own limits to what Wonderful Thailand is about; what’s beyond likeable is personal. Basically, the more you integrate into Thai society, the wider this likeable range is, and the easier Thailand can make you happy.
For instance, I’m equally happy munching on sai ua kao nieow (northern sausage with sticky rice) sitting near the klong with a group of Thai friends who don’t speak English, as I am while chewing on a juicy steak at Sizzler with a Farang visitor.
The boundaries of your Wonderful Thailand
I know where the boundaries of my Wonderful Thailand lie. Politics, corruption, domestic abuse and sex-tourism are some of the few things beyond my boundaries of happy life in Thailand. What about yours? How wide is your range of things that make you happy in Thailand? How many of those could you retain, if you were to live the life of an average Thai worker?