We hear about all types of addictions these days; people who are addicted not only to alcohol or drugs but also things like the internet, coffee, or even sex. During my time living in Thailand I’ve come across plenty of westerners who seemed to have developed what could be best described as Thailand addiction. It could even be said that I was once one of them; although the idea makes me feel a bit embarrassed these days. Thailand addiction can really turn a person’s life upside down. Individuals have been known to not only abandon careers and security but even to walk away from their families. Like other addictions it not only impacts the addict themselves but also those around them.
It would be true to say that I developed a mild form of Thailand addiction when I first arrived in the country. Like many other people I had become disillusioned with life in the west, and I was on the lookout for something a bit different. Thailand certainly fit the bill. I had done quite a bit of travelling before arriving and had not met anywhere as different as the land of Thais. Within a couple of weeks I was hooked and determined never to leave.
I claim to have contracted the milder form of Thai addiction because I probably had less to lose than other people. I arrived after having spent some time in Saudi and now had nowhere pressing to go. Moving to Thailand would not involve walking out on my family or leaving my job; in many ways I was already a free agent.
Other people I have met have what could be described with the more serious form of the addiction. The worst cases are those who decide to abandon their wife and kids on the basis of having just having had a wonderful tropical holiday; there is usually a Thai love interest involved in these decisions but not always. There are also those who make the rash decision to abandon their stable career and use whatever savings they have to start a business in a country they know little about.
My move to Thailand has worked out to be a success; at least by my reckoning. Many other people have likewise managed to build successful lives for themselves in the Kingdom. The majority of people that make the move don’t seem to be as successful; many live to really regret it. Thailand can be a great place but nowhere is perfect. The more that people sacrifice to come live in Thailand, the more they may later have to regret. At the end of the day it is only a place, and nowhere stays exotic for long. In a previous blog entry I discussed Thailand culture shock; you can read that here.
I remember how limiting life felt when living in the west, but the truth is that happiness is more about what happens inside the brain rather than geographical location. It is certainly possible to make a successful life in Thailand, but people do need to have realistic expectations.