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Why Did Spending Time In Thailand Change Me So Much?


ukme

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I'll do my best to articulate my thoughts. Briefly, in 2001, I went to Thailand for the 1st time. I was 25 years old at the time. I quit my job and returned later that year for 9 months straight and I've been back a couple of times since. I am now 33 years old and have spent about a year in Thailand made up of 5 seperate trips.

Growing up and living in a small town in England for the 1st 25 years of my life Thailand was a HUGE adventure for me. My trips have revealed a lot about my small town life here in the UK, particularlly how tedious and boring it is.

Family and Friends have noticed significant changes in me too. A friend said that I'm like a totally different person since I've discovered Thailand and my sister recently said that since returning to the UK I "Hate everyone and everything". Hate might be a bit extreme but I certainly have become averse to lots of things here. I just can't figure out why? It's like my travels changed my whole belief system and outlook.

People seem narrow and "small - minded" here. It's like I went away on these massive adventures, returned home and nothing or nobody has changed.

Although I was lucky? enough to be born in The West and should be happy with my lot I feel like I just can't identify with life here anymore.

I've develpoed an aversion towards so much that it has almost become a neurosis - Cultural norm's, values, expectations, the materialistic system, celeb culture, mortgages, cars, British women (sorry girls!), sporting events etc

I feel like one of those Gi's unable to assimilate back in their American Hometown after Vietnam - "Every time I wake up I think I'm back in the jungle"

My friend recently bought a new car and brought it round to show me and I had to fake it, I had no interest in the car whatsoever. Same with my Sister showing me her newly decorated house - not interested.

Maybe it wasn't Thailand per se, maybe just experiencing life outside of the West. I thought my travels would have settled my restlessness and that I could then just plod in with life here in the UK after getting it out of my system, but my experiences have had the opposite effect and I am more restless than ever! The thought of spending the rest of my life here feels me with dread.

Any similar experiences??

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A good post matey. :o

I was in a similar situation in Aus, I moved to Coffs Harbour, halfway between Sydney & Brissy.

A beautiful town on the coast, but within 6 months I'd had enough, I was bored stiff

and had nothing in common with anyone.

Having spent 5 years in BKK I knew the pluses and the many, many minuses.

But, what the hel_l, go for it.

I bitch like everyone but as I stood in soi 22 on my first morning back, I felt that I was home,

it was as if I'd never been away.

You are not alone! :D

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I left my home country when I was 18 to travel the world. My first job as a nanny in Italy really opened my eyes. I just didn't know that not all people really didn't speak English for starters!!I was there for a year and then to the UK for several years on and off. Its called the travel bug and I still have it now even though I am just travelling in Thailand(I live here)I find the best bit is the planning. but yes, you go back to your original roots and really nobody really wants to hear about you and your travels-It's only if they have experienced it themselves and you keep in constant contact with them that they at least show some sort of interest. I only keep in touch now with the people I feel I can relate to-all of them have come to visit me in Thailand and so know where I'm coming from.So, after nearly 32 years of travel I'm looking forward to my next trip both here in Thailand and then O/S. Having an outgoing Thai husband is just an added bonus to this good life I've led.

Don't be afraid of your unsettled feelings.They are normal and the only thing to do is to work hard and have a plan.

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To the OP - I feel like you hit the nail on the head.

I left the UK aged 28, spent 3.5 years in Thailand, then 9 months in Sydney, the last 6 months in Dubai and I am making plans to head back to Thailand in March.

I have been 'home' several times for periods of no longer than a month and I, too, find it almost impossible to relate to life back home... be it friends, what's going on the soaps etc.

My eyes were opened to the sheltered life I was living in London - I tend to sum up my life pre-thailand as I was simply living to work to make money to buy stuff"... now, I don't have that desire/need and the west seems a bit fake. I wish to head back to Thailand, and whilst I need to make money in order to survive, I feel I can actually enjoy "life". Does that make sense?

It's hard to put my finger on it, but I now feel like 'home' is northern Thailand... an boy, I am happy to be going home. :-)

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It's like I went away on these massive adventures, returned home and nothing or nobody has changed.

That's what did it for me. I used to travel evry day on a London bound train but only one stop. After about six months of this I was almost getting accepted, the odd nod of recognition and a g'mornin' from the hardened London bound crew showed I had earned my place. Then I went overseas for six months (USA), first real long trip out of the UK. But when I got back and resumed my place on platform 1 it was the same grey people waiting for the same train complaining about the same things. There wasn't so much as a "Hello, you been away someplace then?", it was just like someone had cut a six month slice out of my life and stitched the ends back together.

I just looked up and thought "There has to be more to life than this".

Any travel changes people and the further away from their home culture that travel takes them the bigger the change.

But don't listen too much to jingthing, you can get away and, at 33, you have to even if you return periodically and/or finally. There's a whole world of Thailands out there some not so good in many ways, some better in many ways. What you have to do is find a balance and you won't find that by settling in the first exotic destination your feet touch. Because if you do you'll end up on ThaiVisa complaining that whilst the menu clearly says Bangers (plural) and mash you only got one sausage. :o

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When I read/hear about you guys that "got out" when you were 18/20 years old I dispair about the wasted time. I didn't get a view of the world until 25/26, when I first went to Thailand and as mentioned in my original post I'm now 33 years old and "living" in my hometown again. By the sound of some of the replies to my original post some "Hometowns" are better than others.

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It's called growing up - and seeing that there is life past the end of your street.

I also grew up in a small town in The UK and while it was all I knew it was great, but then you start to have life experiences that are different to what you have known before.

As you have wider experiences, you start to challange your previous belief systems in whatever form they exist and your outlook changes.

We are all individuals and to what degree we retain what we previously accepted, or assimilate new experiences will differ between all of us.

Some will go home to what they've know before and others will never set foot in England, Australia America, etc, ever again.

Edited by DC1066
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When I read/hear about you guys that "got out" when you were 18/20 years old I dispair about the wasted time. I didn't get a view of the world until 25/26, when I first went to Thailand and as mentioned in my original post I'm now 33 years old and "living" in my hometown again. By the sound of some of the replies to my original post some "Hometowns" are better than others.

At age 17 I took off and hitch hiked to the South of France, later that year I did similar and spent much time in Germany. At age 19 I moved from a northern UK mining town and went to work in London, a huge step in those days. At age 20 I got on a plane and went to live in Detroit USA and then moved to the heart of the beast at that time, California. AT 35 I moved back to London and shortly after I moved to Europe, The Netherlands, Germany again, Italy and then on the Middle East. Somebody tempted me with China thus I moved to Beijing and then to Shanghai and Guangzhou, pretty soon I made it safely to Hong Kong and lived there for quite some time, eventually I found "home" in Thailand and now I am retired here. Never once in all those years, even after my very first trip at age 17 was I able to relate well to the people I had grown up with who tended not to move from their place of birth until the day they died, their world and mine were totally different.

The moral of the story? Don't despair, just be glad that you started to discover the rest of the world, it's fascinating place that must be seen and experienced.

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Interesting replies. I guess it's a reverse cultural shock. Another aspect of my/life that my travels lead me to question is the duty to remain within the confines of my family unit, I don't have kids but my Mother, Siblings and so on. I also without question understand how an immigrant must feel when coming to the UK to live, it's funny I feel closer to migrants in the UK than I do my fellow Countryman, feeling like an alien in my homecountry and all that.

Don't intend to offend my fellow Countryman but I'm not particularly keen on the English as a race either, always felt like I was born in the wrong Country.

Edited by ukme
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i think many people today stay at home longer perhaps because the generation gap between them and their parents is not so great,and parents allow adult sleepovers.So maybe they dont begin to travel till mid to late 20's.But if your still travelling in mid 30's and have n't anything to fall back on or anything to start a career,this can be quite late.To be unsettled in mid to late 30's to my way of thinking is a worry.

The best time for adventure is late teens to early 20's,everything is so new and an eye opener.I travelled for 10 years and at the end was ready for the next stage in my life,i really wanted a family.So by 30 i started a new life,and the travelling finished,and i was quite happy for this to happen

In conclusion,to overcome the travelling bug you need something to replace it with,whether it be a career/family.But its not easy to go back to your country of origin because if seen so many better places to live and better life styles.I left the UK at 20 and never went back.

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It is indeed called 'Growing Up' but with an emphasis on the 'Transition' and not yet having arrived at 'Grown'

This is given away by your sister's observation that you hate everyone and everything and your admission to bordering on a nuerosis or aversion to your home cultural norms. The final evidence is that you have attached yourself to one single place where you were on holiday (and presumably away from the cares and responsibilities of home).

With time, and a bit of luck, balance will return to your mind and you'll be able to see the good and bad of both home and away with a little less of the nuerosis you recognize in yourself.

My advice would be accept the life you have today for today and live today as the only day you have. Don't make the mistake of missing the many very fine things about the UK dreaming away about being somewhere you are not.

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It is indeed called 'Growing Up' but with an emphasis on the 'Transition' and not yet having arrived at 'Grown'

This is given away by your sister's observation that you hate everyone and everything and your admission to bordering on a nuerosis or aversion to your home cultural norms. The final evidence is that you have attached yourself to one single place where you were on holiday (and presumably away from the cares and responsibilities of home).

With time, and a bit of luck, balance will return to your mind and you'll be able to see the good and bad of both home and away with a little less of the nuerosis you recognize in yourself.

My advice would be accept the life you have today for today and live today as the only day you have. Don't make the mistake of missing the many very fine things about the UK dreaming away about being somewhere you are not.

Whilst having respect for your views GH I understand your professional focus is not mental health care and the OP should understand that your current work in the Middle Eastern desert is not health care related.

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Whilst having respect for your views GH I understand your professional focus is not mental health care and the OP should understand that your current work in the Middle Eastern desert is not health care related.

Indeed it is not, but then it was the OP himself who tells us his sister's views, of his aversion to UK cultural norms and of his nuerosis.

But these things are nothing new to anyone working as a professional expat, each duty post brings along another handful of people who exhibit very similar traits as the OP describes, this posting in Saudi Arabia is no exception, we have one or two guys who have gone La-La over the place.

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Why does everyone always rag on GuestHouse for being in Saudi Arabia? He might actually like his job and he is probably getting paid well for it regardless.

It's not me imagining this then.... LOL.

And thanks for the observation, I actually love my job... and the pay's not bad either.

Like I say, live today for today, where ever you are.

Edited by GuestHouse
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OP,

You don't mention your profession.

The downside of moving to Thailand is you have to be able to make money and apparently its hard. People on this forum brag and get angry when other people claim to make 120k baht a month. That's not very much money in the West. So... you either need to have some savings or you need to be able to work via the internet, as you can see the prospects of good expat careers in Thailand appear quite slim.

maybe find a thai girl to date in the UK?

Edited by dave9988
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Why does everyone always rag on GuestHouse for being in Saudi Arabia? He might actually like his job and he is probably getting paid well for it regardless.

It's not me imagining this then.... LOL.

And thanks for the observation, I actually love my job... and the pay's not bad either.

Same here GH, i love it here. I have to go back to the UK next week to pick up the Mrs and BabyBoJangles as they're coming living here. I'm staying in the UK for 9 days to sort some stuff out. But to be honest, that is 7 days moe than i want to go back for.

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OP,

You don't mention your profession.

The downside of moving to Thailand is you have to be able to make money and apparently its hard. People on this forum brag and get angry when other people claim to make 120k baht a month. That's not very much money in the West. So... you either need to have some savings or you need to be able to work via the internet, as you can see the prospects of good expat careers in Thailand appear quite slim.

maybe find a thai girl to date in the UK?

thats a good idea but i think he hates the UK now.someone suggested save save save,work work work if still have a job and get the hel_l out of there and come to thailand..............could do a lot worse.

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Great replies. I guess G/House is right about being happy wherever you are and if I focus on the postives in the UK, I guess it's not that bad. It's just that my time away prized upon my eyes to a whole new world, I then came home and well, here I am.

I am under no illusions about Thailand. The rose tinted glasses came off a long time ago - Personal experiences in Thailand and the reading of topics/posts on Thaivisa have been hugely educational.

Although a beautiful Country at times I felt fearful, insecure and uneasy whilst in Thailand, Although the UK has it's faults, as a general rule I don't feel like that here. I hear/read many posters say the exact opposite - Safer in Thailand.

I lost my Dad at the age of 23/24, just before my first trip, a lot of my grieving took place whilst on my trips to Thailand, maybe this gave me a different perspective, Thailand has this strange association with the mourning of my Father, at times I was in the grip of some very difficult emotions whilst out there. Maybe now that I'm healed it would be a different experience.

Admitedly my trips to Thailand were in part "running away" from something I can't quite define.

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YES..I know exactly what you are all on about,so i thought id bore you all with my new found psychology skills..

After my first trip to BK in 2007 i went back home to Australia with a plan to work flat out for a year or so then pack up the house,get it rented out and get the hel_l out as fast as i could and hope i never had to come back.

Ive just passed the three months stage and am going great guns,although each day i am filled with both joy and dread..joy for being here,being able to have this life and dread for the thought of having to go home at some stage.

I believe we experience a definate shift in conciousness when we delve out of our own culture and into someone elses.We have basically grown up in a society where competition,jealousy and envy dictates the way we interact with each other and after years of this sort of conditioning we seem to be inbuilt with a fixation to be "better" than the next guy.

Ego plays the lead role as ego is the ultimate judge and jury of how we percieve ourselves as being a success or failure in life.Ego makes us believe our life is made of possessions,positions and status,therefor our whole self worth in life is based on these things alone...this is who we are,PERIOD

The cruel part is that ego can never be satisfied.

When we travel we are without all these things and we discover there is a real thinking,unique individual person lurking beneath even when all the trappings of life are gone.The things that were important to us no longer have the same pull.

Without the house,the flash car,the suit and tie cover-up we are alone in our own skin.Our survival instincts have awakened and we are once again centred on life in the here and now.

So its only normal when we go home and see every one playing "the game" it all seems very childish.After seeing the challenges and hardships faced by our less fortunate fellow man we have a very short tolerance for bullshit and you see our former way of life for exactly what it is.

And YES, the fact that others treat you like a leper because they are jealous doesnt help.

For me i guess the thing is not letting their behaviour make you bitter and cynical.Do what you can to help others see the positive changes in you and try to convey that you are not trying to spruke about your experiences to somehow elevate yourself and make them feel bad.

At the end of the day anyone can do what you have done....you just have to be thankful you were able to do it.

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17 years old I joined the Merchant Navy. Saw so much and did so much. Had a great life visiting places from Canada to Russia and so many places inbetween. It does change you and your outlook. I went back to 'smallville' in N. England. Nothing seemed to have changed. Same people doing the same routine things day in day out, week in week out. That set me back on my travels again, though I always had my roots in that small town it never appealed to me any longer.

We broaden our horizons not so much by a weeks holiday here and there on the Costa wherever, but by travel to distant places. It makes us grow up and to realise there is more to life than living in that small place with the humdrum life.

Also think yourself lucky you have realised that now at a young age. It gives you more scope for the future.

There is life beyond 'smallville' :o

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One of the most difficult things about returning home is being back in the 9 -5. It seemed like a MILLION miles away whilst in Thailand and when I returned I didn' t think I could handle it. In fact I didn't handle it for quite a while and I'm still struggling now! Observing and dodging the B.S the previous poster talks about becomes, for me at least, half the battle of my daily grind. Close "friends" and even family members are full, excuse my french - of shit.

My youngest sister (23/24 years) comes out with some much crap that I can't even be in the same room as her. She says/thinks that I have the problem. She, it seems is "competing" with me. Same goes for a life long "friend". After unconciously feeling bad after every time we spent time together

I began close examination of his dialouge and although subtle the same shit was coming from him too. I recently ended the friendship for reasons that he wasn't even aware of.

After returning from Thailand I have become somewhat of a recluse. The nature in the South of England is superb though and at least I can connect with like minded people here.

Some of the crap I observe in the office makes me really not like ( a particular kind of) Westerners very much at all. Including God forbid, my own Family

Edited by ukme
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