A lot of comments have been written on Thaivisa recently by expats who seem to have had enough of Thailand. For them paradise seems to have been lost.
They cite what they perceive as the exploding crime wave sweeping the nation making it unsafe to so much as breathe. They complain about the economy affecting only them causing undue hardship. They whine about lack of acceptance in Thailand moaning that the locals only care for their money.
They feel unloved and disrespected, somehow taken advantage of. They have been here for years and years and they want out to return to where the grass is always greener- the land that they dumped in the first place because Thailand and its people seemed so attractive and alluring.
But is it as simple as that – can people just up sticks and go to the country of their birth as though nothing has happened in the intervening years. Are they not deluding themselves about how those years have changed them, making it impossible to return? Will they be accepted in the society they have spurned?
Indeed have they not burnt their bridges stranding them in a country where they are bitter and disappointed? Marooned in a limbo of misery they are now homeless and bereft of hope marking time unhappily until the grim reaper calls.
So when is it that expats get to a point when there is no turning back – do some experience the feeling a long time before others. Do some always think they can return to what is familiar and safe? Have some returned happily after five, ten twenty or thirty years as if nothing has happened. Or do many feel it is just impossible to turn back the clock. Are some stuck with a feeling they have nowhere to call home anymore?
Certainly some seem to have nowhere left to turn – there seem to be many cases where expats are desperate enough to end it all in Thailand.
For me personally I am not a very good individual to ask. As soon as I set foot in Thailand I felt I had come to the place where I would spend my whole life. And I have. I was born in the UK but came here as a teenager in the early eighties quite by chance as a tourist and never left. I have done many different things over the years, lived in many different places, done many jobs, had many relationships and children – but there has been one constant. I have never fallen out of love with my adopted homeland.
Sure, even in the early days I was always aware of Thailand’s possible shortcomings, the country’s problems, the difficulties I might face in living here. But I was always prepared to stick at it and make the best of disappointing times, overcome hurdles that might be put in my way. And I am glad I did as I find myself now in my mid-fifties as happy as ever. Comfortable with where I perceive to fit in to this country. Comfortable with relationships, language. Understanding the culture well enough. Blah blah. I guess I am just lucky.
But my question was when has a person burnt their bridges? When can’t they go back and why?
For me it was the very first time I went back to the UK after coming to Thailand. I felt like a stranger there. My bridges were never financial but I was lost to the UK immediately because I had fallen in love with a dream, fallen in love with a country I was unlikely to ever abandon. I felt at home in another place where I wasn’t born. And where I was born had no attraction for me anymore.
So that’s why I say I am not a good person to ask. Others may be like this but it is probably not the norm and it is probably factors far less nebulous than “falling in love” with a country that inform the decision of wanting to stay or go.
Is it more cultural than financial or vice-versa? Does a point come when people could no longer be happy with their childhood mates down the pub back home? Is a point reached when Thailand becomes home when nothing else will compare anymore? Or do people feel that the point is never reached and they can always return to their home country. It is always there waiting with open arms – a failsafe net should anything go irretrievably pear-shaped in Thailand? Or are they trapped where they would rather not be?
When can’t expats go home? Or can they always go back?
And if they can’t go home and can’t face living in Thailand either – what happens next?