Expat Magazine

Starting A New Life in Thailand: Long-Term Psychological Issues

By Harvie

Over the past few weeks I’ve been contemplating whether I’m slowing going mentally insane living in Thailand. I guess the fact that I am aware of myself contemplating the fact reduces the possibility somewhat. That’s still not reassuring though.

I started getting these thoughts when my friends from England arrived a few weeks ago. I took them to Thermae, a freelancer Thai hooker bar. All the girls inside are freelancers and come and go as they please. Freelancers stand near the wall in a line and must wait for a guy to approach them. They will never approach you.

It’s a bit of weird place and I thought I’d show my mates as you don’t get this kind of stuff back home.

As we entered the bar at 11pm on a creepy Sunday evening, the place was packed to the gills with girls, Japanese expats who don’t even lift and a few middle aged farangs in Hawaiian shirts.

We got ourselves a beer each (110 baht) and took up a vantage point.

One of my friends was a little taken back by the whole thing and said how crazy it was. I told him to me, this is totally normal. I said if I walked into Nana Entertainment Plaza, I’m pretty much expecting a Thai ladyboy to grab my hand, arm or my smeggy penis if I walk on the second floor.

In fact, I’d be shocked if this didn’t happen. To me this is all normal and I don’t even bat an eyelid anymore.

But is it normal?

At first I thought this is Asia, the culture is different and the idea of what’s normal here is totally different to the England. But is it really?

Many consider Soi Cowboy, Nana, Patpong and Pattaya as a man’s fantasy land where anything can happen. Keyword: Fantasy land.

Then I did something I tell myself not to do – I started to think.

Am I slowly considering this fantasy land as normal reality? Outside the red light district, I’d never expect to get touched up by a girl, ladyboy or expect to get a hand job massage for 500 baht.

Have I mistakenly desensitized myself to all this and think that getting a blowjob with a beer is normal?

Then I started to think about other factors of life in Bangkok that could effect my mind.

Making good friends in Thailand is hard

Over the last 3 years, I’ve been lucky enough to make quite a lot of friends in Bangkok. This was mostly because I was ‘in’ with the Bangkok poker crowd when I first got here (I used to play years ago).

This gave me access to a number of expats with similar interests to myself, which was great as I made friends and connections within days of moving to Bangkok.

But for most of you, it’s going to be pretty hard to make good friends, and you’ll often spend time with people you necessary wouldn’t back home because you don’t have the means or avenues to make other friends.

crazy in thailand

I don’t think this is the healthiest environment to live a socially balanced life, and am sure this will have an effect on on us over time. We adapt to our surrounding and if we hang around people we don’t like or care for, what accumulative effect will that have over the years?

In my backpacking days, I spent time with people who I probably wouldn’t get on with in England or talk to, but I did so because my other option would be to have no friends and be alone.

If we be honest, how many of us hold the average expat living in Thailand in high regard? Most people come here because it’s cheap and easy to get Thai girls.

Quality signals for making friends here are very low, since we don’t know anyone when we get here, we quickly form relationships based on very little information. Sometimes asking what Thai visa somebody is on or how they make money in Thailand is often taboo and shouldn’t be asked.

When asking questions like this become taboo, building quality relationship is hard.

Like I said, I feel I have a good group of friends here and have built some good relationships over the last 3 years which I value, but like me, they are expats too. There’s nothing stopping them from going somewhere else or back home in the coming years and if I stay here, my network of friends is crippled.

I’ll be forced to spend time with people I may not usually hang around with.

Short-term friendships

Studies have shown that people live longer in communities where they have healthy social relationships, psychological well-being and a decent cooperative spirit (you can check the study out here).

I would say I’ve got 4 best friends who all live in England. I’ve known each of them for well over 15 years or so. We could talk for days and probably suck each other off in 5-way male orgy, and be able to look at each other the next day and not feel grossed out.

These kinds of relationships are difficult to build and maintain in Bangkok, as people come and go so often. Not to mention that Bangkok brings all kinds of expats, most of which tend to have some kind of psychotic element (me included), making such relationships almost impossible.

nuts

I’m starting to think how much of a psychological effect this will have on me over the years (and has had already). Without mentoring the name of the website, there is one very popular expat forum about Thailand, which contains hundreds (if not thousands) of bitter members who seem to berate and hate all aspects of expat life.

Is this the psychological effect I’m talking about? Has living in Thailand for all these years without strong psychological stimulation and the lack of community spirit changed them? I feel it’s starting to affect me on the micro level.

The zero to hero syndrome

You know how it goes, back home none of the girls give you attention and most nights out end up with your pants down in front of a laptop jerking off to Asian porn.

You head to Thailand and within 24 hours you have a hot girlfriend, you’re living in the center of town, partying every night and eating at all the best restaurants without a worry in the world.

You’re the man.

zero to hero

For most of you reading this, there’s probably a lot of truth in the two paragraphs above.

you can eat out at fancy restaurants every day, get massages, pop bottles and jet off to the islands without a second thought. Being able to have this power and so much attention from girls may make us delusion thinking we are larger than life entities (to some extent).

I’ve been eating out a lot lately (my ebook selling like hot cakes) and have seen a huge trend of farang guys with Thai girls on dates. I’ll watch them on and off for 20-30 minutes and they barely speak a word.

I feel awkward as fuck just watching them. They are either both on their phone or looking in the air not saying a word. The reason for this is quite clearly a language barrier, how many dates are these guys going on saying less than 10 words to a girl? Or when they do talk, it’s level 1 stuff and nothing that stimulates the mind?

A large part of going out to eat is being social and chatty. Over 50% of dates I secretly eye-fuck are hardly speaking to each other. Once again, I’m no neuroscientist but this ain’t good for the brain yo.

The more time I spend in Thailand, the more I appreciate England

I find going back to England is great as it re calibrates me and brings me back to a more normal reality.

When I first left in 2012, I told myself I would never return to England and would do everything in my power not to go back. Now I really enjoy going back to England and I’ll stay around 3 months at a time before the boredom and drudgery gets to me.

While I don’t see myself moving back to England anytime soon, I find it very therapeutic constantly being around family that love me, and friends I’ve know for all my life. This is an environment I cherish and think many of us fail to recreate in Thailand.

So, am I going crazy?

I actually don’t think I’m going crazy. I have a healthy diet, I exercise often, interact with expat friends on almost a daily basis (in real life, not Line, Whatsapp etc), but if circumstances change I do fear what will happen to me psychologically.

I don’t have any studies or facts, but from my own experiences I think the longer expats stay in Thailand, the worse they will get psychologically compared to being back in their native country. I think the rate of decline varies from person to person, for some it’s almost unnoticeable while others seem to have a steep decline.

You’ll often hear quotes likes He’s been in Thailand too long, he needs to go home, does this have to do with anything I’m talking about?

What are your thoughts about about this? I know I’ve jumped from one sub-topic to the next, but I wrote this on the fly so it may not make the most amount of sense.


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