If you read my last blog post, you know I’m coming home in a couple of months to fix my visa situation. What that means for me now is, because I’m saving money for the trip, I’m not doing much. In addition to that, I’ve also decided to take a hiatus from drinking … something I occasionally do to for health and sanity. So, I’m spending a LOT of time at home alone. I don’t mind being alone at all. I’ve always been able to entertain myself in some form or fashion. I’m an avid reader, have plenty of access to movies and television on the Internet, enjoy writing, and occasionally break out my guitar or Thai language book in an effort to improve myself. If I REALLY need social interaction, I can still go out to a bar, and I don’t feel uncomfortable drinking soda with a slice of lime. There are malls I can visit to have a cup of coffee, and do some people watching. I sometimes just hop on my motorbike and ride off in a random direction to see what there is to see. It’s not difficult to make friends here, but I tend to stay to myself and haven’t had the inclination to try to get too close to anyone. This “alone time” has me doing some pondering.
It may not sound like a very exciting life, but it’s fine for me, and I can live like this while spending almost no money. If you‘re a person living off of a low, fixed income in the U.S., you can almost certainly do it much cheaper here. I know these days, there are many people tempted to move to countries with a lower cost of living, or would just like to escape the political situation in their own countries. For me, it was a great option to move to Thailand. I’ve lived overseas before, in Japan, Italy, and Croatia; so I had an idea of what to expect. I enjoy the challenges that come with living in a foreign environment. Many people who come here do not. I’m lucky to have a decent pension from the military, which makes my life very easy here. It’s unfortunate that some people I’ve met, have heard about living a wonderful life in Thailand. They want to come enjoy the tropical lifestyle, the low cost of living, and many think they’re going to meet a beautiful Thai woman, half their age, who wants nothing more in life than to satisfy their every whim and fancy. These are the people I see who end up heading back home with a bad taste in their mouth, woefully disappointed.
Moving to a foreign country to escape your life, simply doesn’t work. If you are a miserable person, who has a difficult time interacting with people, and complains about politics, your job, your partner, and just life in general … guess what? You’re still going to be that same miserable person, just in a different location.
I met a man from Canada, who has visited Thailand for a month each year for several years. He finally decided to take the plunge. He saved a good chunk of money, sold most of his possessions, put the rest in storage, and qualified for a retirement visa. He lived in Thailand nearly two years, moving from one city to another every three months or so. He eventually ended up in Chiang Mai where I met him. He was preparing to move back to Canada. It seems for the first six months, he really loved living in Thailand. It was basically an extended holiday. After a while though, the honeymoon phase began to fade. He started feeling lonely, because he spent all his time in bars, and the relationships he had were all superficial. He would get frustrated after a few months in each city, because he was looking for a serious girlfriend, and felt all the women he met, “only wanted him for his money” (duh). He never took any language classes, and spent most of his time in bars. The women he met, were all working in those bars. He couldn’t deal with his self-imposed, lonely lifestyle. He wasn’t comfortable in his own skin, and came to Thailand seeking a “soul mate” to make him a happy person. It didn’t work. He’s back in Canada now, surely unhappy with his current situation, whatever that is.
Mr. Canada, isn’t the only person I’ve met who came to Thailand in search of happiness through some fantasy life partner. He’s not the first I’ve met who came to Thailand to live, became disillusioned, and went back home with his tail between his legs. The lesson is, the only way to be happy in a foreign country, is to be happy where you are first. Don’t make the mistake of selling everything you own, and thinking a change of scenery is going to fulfill you. Chances are it won’t. If you are the type of person who enjoys his or her own company, are tolerant of other people, and are flexible in most situations, living in a foreign country might be for you.
Bored in paradise? That’s fine by me. Give me a roof over my head, food to eat, and the freedom to seek out my own forms of entertainment; whether that’s partying until the sun comes up, camping next to a river, or watching re-runs of sit-coms from the 80s, I’m a happy guy! The sunny weather, friendly people, and occasional massage doesn’t hurt either. While, there’s tragedy in every life, and I know it’s been a very tough year for some of you, for most people, happiness is a choice. Don’t look for it in other people, or other places, because the only place you’ll find happiness is within yourself.