Saturday, May 06, 2006

Why Thailand?

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I've been asked this question more times than I can remember. So here is my answer. Please let me know if I forget anything.

Q: I'm actually going to be in Thailand in June, any advice tips on
where I should go and not go?

A: I have never been to a place in Thailand you should 'not go'. Even ladyboy bars are fun sometimes if you just want to laugh your ass off or pull a prank on a buddy. I personally really like the islands and have been to all of the major ones. They are fairly cheap and insanely beautiful. With the exception of Phuket and a bit on Koh Samui they all have a very low-key laid back small town feel to them, but its a tropical paradise. I've grown to love Bangkok but I hated it at first. Its very big and sprawling and smoggy and congested. If you find your spots and make some friends, it can be a great time as well. The northern city of Chiang Mai is a must for anybody who loves the outdoors. Also the island of Koh Chang is great for the outdoors as well. Koh Pha Ngan has an amazing Full Moon Party once a month that is basically an all nite 20,000 person rave on the beach complete with fire dancers and glow sticks. A definite must see. Other than the sights, the main attraction (for me at least) in Thailand is the culture and the people, which you can find anywhere. I'll get more into this later.

Q: Can you tell me of basic monthly costs for living in Thailand?.

A: As with anywhere, it depends on how you want to live. A basic, clean apartment will run you $100-$300/month in Bangkok, slightly more for a 2 bedroom. If you want to get an upper middle class place in a nice area, you can pay $500ish, if you want luxury with a door man, gated entrance, hard wood floors, beautifully furnished with maids quarters (just described my own 2 bedroom place) you can pay up to $1,000/month or more. A good rule of thumb is to take what you'd be paying in America for the same residence, and divide by three.

As for other costs like transportation and food they are so cheap you will be disgusted whenever you return to your home country. A restaurant meal for two will never be over $10 with everything included, more like $6-7 most times. A taxi ride all the way accross Bangkok will run you about $3 (and thats a HUGE taxi fare). Clothes are also very inexpensive. Drinks in bars are $5 at the very nicest placest that piss everybody off they charge so much. More typical is $2 or so.

Internet is $50 a month for us because we got the best possible package. You can get it much cheaper. I have no idea about health insurance and if somebody knows and can reply to this I'll add that to this. Beer is about $1.50-$2.00 in a bar. In a store is about 1/3rd the cost of the US. A live in maid will cost about $200 a month while twice weekly service is $75 in my building.

Total costs would be about $500-800/month if you are conservative, $1200-1500 if you want to have a decent place, go out often and shop for clothes regularly. $2500 a month (a bare bones middle class existance in the US) has you in a gorgeous serviced apartment, drinking every night, paying for each of your 4 Thai girlfriends to eat/drink often, eating most meals in restaurants or delivered, buying whatever you feel like etc.

Q: Are rent/food/transportation good for average person.

A: It is a third world country. I personally love Thai food. If you don't and you miss classic American food all you really have is McDonalds. The American food is Thailand (or Mexican or Italian for that matter) is nowhere near as good as it is back home. The rent is cheap but if you get a lower end place there are bug problems and you'll just notice that everything is a bit less well-maintained/hi-quality than it is in America. I've never taken a bus in Bangkok but they look dirty and unsafe. The taxi's are fine and perfectly safe however, and also very cheap.

Q: If a poker player does go to Thailand, can you just bring a laptop and buy a lcd screen for 4 tabling or just bring your hard drive and set it up on a new machine?

A: I brought my laptop and played on that for a long time. After awhile I bought a 20" Flat Panel and hooked that up to my laptop and could 8 table. Other than the power outlets (which are different but I don't know much more about it than that. I suck at that stuff. You can buy adaptors for anything from America, this I know) are the only issue.

Q: Is the internet as good as it is in America? Can I use it for online poker?

A: It is not as good. I'd equate it to about half way between dial-up and DSL. It goes out at times but overall it is pretty descent and it is certainly fine for online poker. This is in Bangkok though with the best package. I'd love to live on and play from the islands, but the internet is just not reliable enough.

Q: Can you direct me to any other players who are in Thailand?

A: There is a forum for Thai Expats at www.thaivisa.com. There is also a great website about living in Thailand at www.stickmanbangkok.com

Q: just how easy is it for americans to pick up hot Thai girls?

A: Easier than in any place I have ever been. Thai's call white people 'Farang'. Farang has a positive connotation to it and a Farang is inherently a higher status than a Thai person. Also they have some weird supply and demand stuff going on that causes women to be in great supply, and good men to be in short supply. These factors include that many Thai men are gay, become ladyboys (to try and make money I guess), are drunks/don't work or are just very feminine and passive and don't go after women. These factors add to a lot of eager women looking for a good husband. Though know that that is exactly what they want and it is not about sex or even romance, they want to get married and now!

I personally also am getting very spoiled by the ways of Thai women. Even when you are just starting dating them they will do your laundry and make your bed, cook for you etc etc. They are just geared that way, that is what women do in their culture, it makes them happy to do that for a man. And as a wise old Thai man put it to me and a friend:

"In America, once you get married, she stops the (and he makes an oral sex motion with his hand)"

We nod in agreement. "Thai women don't?"

He laughs. "No, no, no, she do it always for her husband."

So ya, the women are just geared a little different.


Q: Out of all the other countries how did you pick Thailand?

A: For all the reasons stated above and for the people! Thai people are just amazing. I've been there for over six months and have not had one instance of theft or violence from a random Thai person (I've had a bit of each of these with a non-random Thai person, a woman...be careful who you date and let in your home!). They call Thailand the 'Land of Smiles' and its very fitting. Thai people are just so happy in their daily lives, they are very kind to each other (and you if you are kind to them). It just makes for a very pleasant living environment and its very easy to get along in Thai society.

I'll add some of the drawbacks as all of that pretty much hit on the good stuff. Thai people are very lazy. This is fine if you just want to chill and have a laid back time. If you want to get something done it can be enfuriating! Every sector of government and business operates much differently than in America. They are used to huge delays and errors and what we would refer to as incompetence.

Also the culture is much different. Thai's value not showing your anger in public, not being direct, not confronting people etc. Its a very passive culture and 'being normal' for you may really frustrate Thai people, and this can be difficult.

There is also a lot of poverty in Thailand and you'll see some very sad things.

I think that about sums up the negatives.

If you want to know anything more specific or non-family friendly you can email me your questions. If I've missed anything please let me know and I'll add it. Beyond that, be sure to hit me up with you make your trip!

Thanks for reading, now get back to the tables!


Wild Bill