If You Are Not Happy With Thailand Just Go Home

A few years ago I would spend a lot of time on one of the more popular Thai web forums. The conversations could be fun but they could also quickly turn very nasty. One of the more common causes of a s**t storm would be when one poster would suggest to another that if they aren’t happy with Thailand they should just go home. You always knew that there would be a string of abusive posts directed towards the person who suggested this – almost the whole forum would turn against them. It was never pretty. Who did they think they are? What gives them the right to say who can or can’t stay in Thailand? Blah,blah,blah…

I never had the guts to suggest to people on a web forum that they return home but I must admit that the thought sometimes crossed my mind. We all need to vent but there has to come a stage when enough is enough – if somebody is our friend they need to tell us this. When you hear the same people complaining day after day about all that is wrong with Thailand you have to wonder about what is keeping them here. I’ve talked about my own experiences of culture shock in a previous post (see here), but some of us really do seem to have turned it into a calling. This was one of the reasons I stopped using these forums. If you mentioned anything positive about Thailand you were accused of having ‘rose-tinted glasses’ or being a newbie. The strange thing is that some of us will even claim that we complain so much because we love the country – maybe this is some type of tough-love. I really do believe that being around too much negativity is not good for you.

Many of us ex-pats who come to Thailand seem to do so because we see something in the culture that we feel is missing in our own – for me it was the relaxed approach to life. Of course you do also get the missionary types who come with the notion that there is something wrong with Thai culture already and they are going to fix it – this is only a small minority of ex-pats though. For those of us who are a bit starry eyed in the beginning there will usually be a stage when we return to planet earth. We realise that Thailand isn’t perfect and we want to vent our frustrations – this is very understandable and I did it myself. I think the problem is though when we get trapped in this stage. We make ourselves miserable and we will stay that way until something changes. The reality is though that Thailand hasn’t changed; it is our perception of it that has changed – the problem is coming from us.

I could be wrong but I don’t know how complaining will ever help anything; trying to change Thailand also seems to be to be a bit of a pointless venture – and it seems that most Thais don’t want this unrequested help, thank you very much. Yet most of us would much rather try to change a whole culture then consider the possibility that there could be something wrong with ourselves. I’m being honest here and have to say that those times in my life when I was most concerned with what was going on in the outside world were the times when I was the most mentally off-key. It was like my external world was mirroring my internal pain; it took me a while to realise that trying to fix what was wrong with me was a whole lot easier than going on a crusade against the rest of the world.

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10 thoughts on “If You Are Not Happy With Thailand Just Go Home

  1. Nicely put Paul. I’ve tried the forums myself but for the very reasons you mention I tend to keep well away from them nowadays, apart from two which are moderated quite well.

    My guess is these moaners were far from happy in their own country and would eventually be the same no matter where they lived. Their honeymoon period is a short one but the divorce takes a long time coming round. Again I guess, some people never get over their internal pain, be it alcohol, jealousy, loss of youth (that’s a biggie) or downright ignorance, and they will unfortunately carry those traits onto their next flight to wherever. I think in some ways these kind of people are a reminder to keep ourselves on the righteous track.

    I guess I’ve done a lot of guessing with this one.

    1. Thanks Martyn, I agree that if the problem is coming from our perceptions and expectations that moving can only provide temporary relief.

      You mentioned ‘loss of youth’ and that was something that I hadn’t even considered – I suppose that must be something that bites hard. Personally I like the mellowing effect that middle-age is having on me 🙂 Mind you, I do find myself looking for people who are my age and that women still find attractive – luckily there are quite a few of them. If I’m worried about my age I reassure myself by remembering that Brad Pitt is six years older than me.

  2. Paul, you are spot on with the forums and the constant bitching. It’s the moderators who make all the difference at TV, so I mainly lurk on the Thai learning forum (I don’t post much anywhere – lurking is more my style).

    ‘Personally I like the mellowing effect that middle-age is having on me’

    Myself as well 🙂 I wouldn’t return to my youth unless I could take today’s head with me.

    1. Hi Cat, I once wasted a lot of time bickering on on one of the forums. I’m so glad I don’t feel the need to do that anymore. I think ineracting with blogs is so much nicer; they tend to bring out the best in people.

  3. I’ve never quite understood this stance.

    Surely we can feel annoyed and complain about things we feel are wrong?

    How would things ever change or develop otherwise? Lots of work been done on, say, gay rights in the West recently. How would this work have ever been done if people didn’t complain about it? Should we have put up with homophobia?

    How can it possibly be that every time we feel annoyed it is because there is something wrong with ourselves?

    1. Hi David, you raise some good points. Personally I believe that just as much bad can come out of people complaining as good. Complaining can lead to individuals becoming increasingly intolerant, racist, hateful, and bigoted. I think most people on the planet might have a good reason to complain if they thought about it. I don’t think though, that everyone complaining would necessarily make the world a better place – in fact I feel fairly certain that it wouldn’t.

      You use the example of homophobia. I would guess that one of the reasons homophobia came about in the first place was that people were complaining about homosexuals. I can’t say that my attitudes have been changed much by gay people complaining. I think that I was more swayed by reasoned argument and the fact that I’ve met some homosexuals who were nice people.

      I believe that at any given time there as many good things happening in the world as there are bad (of course I haven’t counted and I’m guessing a bit here). If I’m going through a rough period personally I will tend to notice a lot more of the bad than I will the good. On the other hand, if I’m in a good mood I’ll notice a lot more of the good in the world. Nothing has changed with the world; only with my perceptions.

      Of course we all complain some of the time, and maybe sometimes some good can come out of this. As a mode of thinking though, I personally believe it is unhealthy. Some people seem to be always complaining about something, and I find these people difficult to be around. There complaining does not seem to be benefiting them in any way; rather it just seems to be making them miserable. I’m just suggesting that maybe these people might be better off looking internally rather than externally for a solution. Of course, this is just my opinion, but it works for me and I’m a happy camper because of it.

  4. There tends to be a culture of expats flocking together on forums and running Thailand + it’s people into the ground. Everywhere they look it’s a conspiracy against the farang. Thai’s / society are out to get them rip them off, mess them around blah blah blah.

    The saying… you always get more of what you focus on comes to mind. If one is continually focused upon the negative aspects of something, someone, somwhere etc. The brain will automatically go on a search to find evidence to prove this to be right. So the individuals perception will then become destotrted, and you end up in the typical Thailand’s and the Thai’s are out to get me dellusions.

    It’s a very easy trap for the expat to fall into. My advice stay away from these places and don’t get involved.

    Birds of a feather will always roost together.

    1. Thanks Mark, I think it is fair enough that people complain about things now and again; it’s a way to vent but I’m not sure about how useful it is as a way to change things. As you say, spending all your time complaining about something can’t be a good thing. I also agree that spending too much time around negativity sucks you in.

  5. Thank you for posting this! I scan the forums and blogs as part of my preparation/research for retiring in Thailand. I have been rather alarmed by the number of nasty, paternalistic, condescending, abusive, and misogynistic conversations on the forums. It’s nice to have some evidence that the ex-pat community isn’t entirely like this.

    1. Hi Marsha, I think a lot of people feel that way about the for foums. I don’t think that these places bring out the best in people; it is easy to forget that we are talking to real people.

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