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Thinking about Thai retirement
Peter, I was reediting my previous posting the very minute you posted your reply. See what I say about there being nothing of interest in Pattaya for pink, shiny, fresh-faced youth with tungsten-steel framed rucksacks on their backs with GPS gadgets and space-tech water purifiers dangling from them.
_ Well said!
Yes, indeed, the Lonely Planet crowd carefully avoids Pattaya.
There are other places to retire to in Thailand. To suit all tastes. Isaan is a favourite because it fails miserably on the sex-in-your-face which is such a feature of places like Pattaya and Phuket.
Another good point.
There is plenty of sex for sale up-country, but it's not so blatant as in Pattaya.
(Nor, probably, as in Phuket, but I've never been there, so I can only surmise.)
I'd like to add another point -- one which I think you have already considered.
Pattaya especially, attracts a lot of human floatsam-and-jetsam.
I've never seen such dregs of human society as some of the foreigners visiting and living in Pattaya.
One big reason to avoid Pattaya is to avoid encountering them.
Recently a lot of Russians and others from former USSR areas are starting to vacation in Pattaya.
That's not a pretty sight, either.
But, surprisingly, many Thais enjoy going to Pattaya.
Why, I don't know, but they tell me it's a favorite holiday destination for some.
One of my Thai friends is a middle-age school teacher in Ubon -- which is far into the depths of Isaan.
In her entire life, she had never seen the sea.
Neither had her children, a girl of 16, and a boy of about 10.
A brother of a neighbor of hers is a policeman in Pattaya.
When Thai people travel away from home they try to arrange for "protection" of some sort at their destination.
A brother of a neighbor who is a policeman qualifies just fine.
So, for their vacation last year, mother took the family to Pattaya.
I talked with her about it after they returned.
Her biggest concern: "Water not so clean," she said.
Everything else was a minor inconvenience, or less.
Nice places - IMHO- are Sri Chiang Mai, Phon Pisai, Suwannakuha, Nong Kung Sri, Kalasin, Roi Et, Mukdahan etc.
Since this thread is "Thinking about Thai retirement" I would -- and perhaps other readers would, also -- appreciate your opinions about retirement in some of those places.
What are the benefits and the short-comings you have observed in your travels there?
How is human survival possible so far from a 7-Eleven?
- Regular Poster
Peter and Songkran,
Thank you SO much for the dialog...Peter, especially your frank reply to my questions. So long as I know I'm being naive, I may have a head start...
Some of the info is counter-intuitive. In terms of the expat community, I would think "birds of a feather"...being strangers in a strange land, we would want to flock together. It's hard to make friends under the best of circumstances, but being overseas surely complicates things.
I have a friend who, along with his Thai fiance, owned a small bar in Pattaya. He hung himself about 2 months ago. I'm sure there's no connection...I've no real plans or ambitions to visit Pattaya or Phuket...but am interested in checking out Koh Samui.
I like the idea of a serviced apartment, or hotel. Keep things simple until I get my bearings.
My curiousity about this country and culture is getting fairly intense, and I'll just have to contain it until I can get over there and take a look. But it seems to make good economic sense, and it seems like it could be an adventure living there...but not TOO much of an adventure..
Again, to all, thanks so much for the information...
My pet argument is to stay away from Pattaya.
This conversation is interesting and very informative.
Thank you, Songkran, for keeping it going from your side.
Anytime somebody tells me to "stay away", I always wonder why they say that?
I don't always rush to go there, no, but I wonder about the motivation of the censor.
I've been to Pattaya three times, in total 3 weeks.
Thousands upon thousands of Western men have chosen to live there.
I'm acquainted with a few of them.
They enjoy living in Pattaya for various reasons:
- warm weather
- clean air
- vast variety of restaurants, Thai and Western and many others such as Indian, Chinese
- wide variety of shopping with many Western products "from home", and clothing in sizes for Western men
- excellent hospitals & dental clinics, with modest prices
- convenience of living in a compact city
- lots of entertainment for retired men: from golf and tennis, to sailing and scuba, even a shooting range.
- an endless supply of young, beautiful, Thai women who are eager to meet such men.
On the subject of women in Pattaya there is more to the situation than Songkran lets on.
Yes, some of the women there are only interested in money from simple prostitution.
And that suits many men, too.
But a very large proportion of the women leave their poor, rural, villages in Issan, and travel to Pattaya specifically with the hope and dream of meeting a foreign man, who will marry them, build a nice house for them (and their family) back in the village, and take care of them financially.
That's a reasonable aspiration for poor, unsophisticated, women with little education and no other opportunities.
For such women, it is their "exit strategy" out of poverty; their only hope.
Many foreign men, who are looking for new wives, go to Pattaya specifically to meet up with such women.
It is a fascinating scene to observe: the world's largest free market for young women who want to meet Western men.
There exists a blacklist of businesses and people to avoid in Pattaya, but not all of them involve the hospitality industry, there are even doctors and clinics which are up to no good.
Songkran, where can we see that "blacklist"?
I've never heard of anything like a "blacklist" in Pattaya before, and am eager to learn more about it.
Is it on the Internet?
In spite of Peter's claims, do not, under any circumstances, leave out a visit to Isaan,
Sure, go look at Isaan, but I seen no reason to waste time or money doing that on one's first visit to explore retirement here.
I've been living in Bangkok 2-1/2 years.
I've observed that Songkran and a few other Westerners -- are the only ones encouraging visits to Isaan.
The Thais I know -- in their gentle and subtle way -- repeatedly suggest not to bother.
So far, I've not bothered going to Isaan.
Someday, sure, but it's far from urgent.
Although there are only about 150 farangs officially registered as residents
Songkran, may I ask, please, where to find that information about "officially registered" residents.
That would be very useful to know for anyone thinking about Thai retirement who wanted to either live near some other foreigners, or to avoid other foreigners.
What is the source for that 150 number?
it is in fact rated as one of the world's most popular places to retire to.
No, it is not one of the "most popular places".
Saying that is seriously misleading to anyone thinking about retirement in Thailand.
It was merely on a list of "10 Best Places to Retire", printed in a magazine aimed at retired Americans.
If I remember correctly, it was Modern Maturity magazine about 3-4 years ago.
In addition, I suspect that article would attract a fair number of Americans who fit the profile of readers of Modern Maturity magazine.
If you wish to live amongst such people, yes, would be worthwhile to follow them there.
Retirement towns appeal to a certain type of person, and I certainly can understand the benefits.
However, I have chosen to avoid locations where retired people concentrate in large numbers.
I prefer the hustle and bustle of daily life with a wide variety of ages in a cosmopolitan city.
- Regular Poster
So long as I know I'm being naive, I may have a head start...
Assuming your own naivety is an excellent starting point for learning about Thailand.
There is much below the surface, much that is illusion here.
Some of the info is counter-intuitive. In terms of the expat community, I would think "birds of a feather"...being strangers in a strange land, we would want to flock together.
That is exactly what I expected before I came to live here.
I was wrong, very, very, wrong.
Discovering exactly the opposite to be true, has been both my biggest surprise and, frankly, my biggest disappointment here.
Thailand attracts a strange sort of man.
Sometimes I wonder, "I am not at all like most of the Western men I meet in Thailand. So what am I doing here?"
The few friends I have found here, voice similar opinions of most expats.
I often see other expats walking along the street: haven't shaved for two days, eyes bloodshot from hangover, dirty singlet that should have been washed a week ago, wrinkled shorts that look like they were slept in, and body odor that is offensive from a distance.
I am ashamed.
And it's not just the odd one here and there.
In Bangkok there are a lot of them.
In Pattaya, even more.
And a surprising number in Chiangmai.
On the other hand, the rather expensive, seaside resort of Hua Hin seems remarkable free of expat "bums".
Among retirees, it is rare to see a man who is alert and polite, respectfully dressed, and, in general, appears to be sort with whom I'd like to have a conversation over lunch.
The vast majority I've observed so far in Bangkok, Pattaya and Chiangmai, are the sort I'd do my best to avoid.
Sorry, but I don't have an explanation for why that is.
One friend explained this way, "There are some good men retired here. But they don't come into town. We never see them."
Maybe that's the answer.
I live in one of the expensive neighborhoods of central Bangkok, yet I sure don't see such men living around here.
It's hard to make friends under the best of circumstances, but being overseas surely complicates things.
Indeed it does.
You are doing well to consider that aspect of retirement in Thailand.
If all you want are drinking buddies to met in the bars, or golfing friends, you'll have lots of company for that.
And that may be all some men desire.
But friends you can trust, and in whose opinions you have some confidence, those are not easy to find in Thailand.
- Regular Poster
The friend I mentioned who owned the bar in Pattaya committed suicide in his mother's garage in Portland...His problems were long-standing and not connected to Pattaya. But his travels to Thailand and the pictures and stories he brought back are what initially sparked my interest in the place.
You both mention so many places to see in Thailand, I was wondering if you'd do me a favor: could you each list your 2 or 3 favorites spots and tell me what you like about them? When I visit, I have to fly into Bangkok, then travel to Udon to visit my friend. But I'd like to see more of the country.
When I travel, I generally like to maintain a simple, light itinerary...go somewhere, stay there for a week or two, soak it in, then go somewhere else. I'm not a fan of "whirlwind tours". That said, I'd like to see as much of the country as possible.
Any suggested itineraries???
The friend I mentioned who owned the bar in Pattaya committed suicide in his mother's garage in Portland.
Your original comment strongly associated the suicide with Pattaya, without specifically saying so.
That was seriously misleading to all other readers here.
I have to fly into Bangkok, then travel to Udon to visit my friend. But I'd like to see more of the country.
Now, about your "contacts in Udon", I have some questions which may be very relevant:
Is this Udon friend a man or woman?
Is the Udon friend Thai, or a long-standing friend from back home?
Reason for asking.
On the Internet, there are a lot of women shopping for Western men like you.
It's a free market, so I'm not complaining about it.
But, if that is your situation, then you need to learn the rules of that game before you get in too deep.
And that is on a different web site -- not here.
Now about where to go in Thailand.
Here's the good news: Your first trip, it doesn't matter.
The most important factor when considering retirement in Thailand is not the mountains or the beach.
Thai culture is very different than anything you'll ever see in Oregon City, USA.
You need to get acquainted with that first, before you go searching for a specific location here.
The most important factor is the culture: how the people act and behave, how they treat you, and how comfortable you feel with them.
See if the culture shock is too shocking.
Notice if the dirt and the disorganization annoy you.
Observe if the women attract you.
Thai people are pretty much the same all over Thailand.
There are exceptions, of course, especially the Muslims, but, in general, the sort of attitudes would will find in Chiangmai are about the same as you'll find in Rayong (North vs. Southeast).
A little friendlier in rural areas, as you would expect anywhere in the world.
Next point -- Thailand cities and towns look pretty much all the same, just that some are bigger than others.
If I drop you into some side street in Chiangmai (North), you won't be able to tell the difference in appearance from a side street in Pattaya (Southeast) -- except that at some times of year the temperature will be lower.
Bottom line, for your first trip, just about any of the main destinations will do fine.
Instead of using your time, energy, and money to rush here and there, better to spend your time in one or two places, relaxing and observing the details very carefully.
Keep asking yourself, "Do I want to live in the midst of this culture?"
Then, if you decided to return, at first live in a hotel or serviced apartment with no long-term lease.
And, from there, travel around looking for your Shangri-La.
- Regular Poster
Sorry about the misunderstanding about my suicidal friend. My contact in Udon was his fiance at the time of his death. I know that sounds weird, but after he died, she was basically stranded here in the states, so I helped get her back home. We became friends, but I'm not interested in a romantic relationship with her.
I like your advice about my visit. See if the culture is "too shocking", whether I can see myself living there among the people and places.