The last month and half I lived in Patong (Phuket). It’s the longest I have been in a single place in Thailand.
Many people asked me why Patong and actually it can seem not the right place to work. During the night it’s full of parties around Bangla Road and during the day the beach is plenty of tourists. The reason is pretty easy. In the last weeks I worked six, eight, sometimes twelve hours in a day without talking to anyone (sometimes at the Starbucks, that I already call my “office”, sometimes from my room). So when I go out from my hotel or I come back to my room I want to see life and happy people. Even if I didn’t go out often neither for a beer (yes, Bangla Road it’s really too much), I like to see traffic and people.
During this period I had the possibility to live a bit more like a local and see different sides of this Country so I can now share these with you 🙂
Most of Thai people speak English. At the beginning I was really happy but in the last month I started to understand that to interact properly you have to know Thai. Many people told me it’s a very easy language: the phrase structure is very basic. Also the average English level of Thai people is very low. They can sell you something but nothing more. This makes difficult to have local friends.
Because of the language problem, there are many communities of expat. I had the possibility to meet people especially from the Russian and the English-spoken community (especially Aussies and Americans).
Hotel vs Appartment
I wanted to rent a flat but every condominium asked me for a minimum stay of six months. This means I had to stay at my usual hotel (Chill Patong Hotel). It’s a clean place, not very close to the center and the chaos. But I missed a real desk to work and a kitchen.
I am really fascinated about fruit: it’s so fresh and tasty everywhere! That’s why many times it was my meal. The rest of the food is amazing as well: always fresh ingredients. The other side is that they use sugar in every dish (i.e. fruit shakes, Pad Thai, fried rice, etc.) and most of the food is fried. Of course it’s very tasty, but not healthy at all. Every time I ate in some street food market it was the same monotone: “No sugar, no spicy!”. But they sometimes forget it 😛
Thailand is not so cheap. Basic rent and street food are very cheap but if you want to rent a bigger apartment in a tourist place or eat Western food is as expensive as every place I lived in. That’s why Thai people and Western people live two completely different lifestyles. It’s very difficult to see other than tourist at big chains (i.e. Starbucks, Mc Donalds, etc.). Also if you work here expect a low salary: 35000/40000 Baht (950/1100 USD) is the most you can aspire if you work in a gym, restaurant or any other Thai company. If you are lucky enough to find a job for a Western company, you can live here in a very comfortable way.
Parties are crazy. Bars are plenty of drunk people enjoying few bottles of alcohol. On the other side there are “bar girls” everywhere. They want your money, so they will satisfy you in every way. Maybe I’m getting older, but I didn’t live this side of Patong although few people told me the dynamics of this micro system.
Like bar girls, police wants your money too. And they will get it in every possible way. They stop almost only tourist. The main reasons for a penalty is not using the helmet, if you don’t have an international driving licence, parking in wrong areas or sometimes if you are working they check your visa. Corruption is the cheapest way to fix the situation: every offence has a different price to not have an official penalty: not using the helmet can be 200 Baht (5.50 USD), a wrong parking can be the same… But if they got you without a working visa the amount is higher (some people told me around 20000 Baht – 560 USD- or more).
I like Thai people. They are very easy going and it makes me relaxed. Jumping from a very stressful city (London) to such a quiet life helped me to recharge my battery. They are not never in a rush, don’t run, eat slowly while they relax. I really needed it!
My body wasn’t prepared to such a big jump. The impact with new bacteria and virus destroyed my immune system. That means that I had many problems (i.e. influenza, sore throat, flu, fever, etc.). I really suggest to contract an insurance, they will pay for everything. But if not, the bill can be very high.
I started to train Muay Thai a month and half ago. My body is reacting in a wonderful way. It’s the best training I have ever tried in my life. The first times it’s very hard and at the end of the lesson I fell exhausted but now I can’t imagine to stop to train.