Answering, the best I can ...

Questions:
1) Was living as a retiree in Thailand the best option or the best financial option?
2) Did you ever consider living outside of Thailand with your Thai wife?
3) Do you have a "Plan B" in case things go wrong here?
4) Do you have any travel plans? Does your wife agree with them, if so, or like mine, she says I travel enough...now I stay home.
(just incase all the other questions are easy ones. :-) ).


I love questions. They give me the opportunity to expand and clarify who I am, while shining a light on who my readers are and where they are in their life journeys.


Answers:
The answer to the “or” in number 1 is probably “yes”, since finances are a major part of the “best option”. For several years we spent six months at a time in the US. It was a bit too stressful to spend six months in Hawaii so we would break it up with a month long drive around the western states. We ranged as far east as Denver and from Southern California and Arizona, up to the Canadian boarder, where we crossed over in both Montana and Washington.

While dropping in on friends and family, we racking up an impressive list of State and National Parks, and found a few states and cities that held promise as a place to settle. My wife would have found it difficult to live there without working, however, as she needs a more active social life than I. On the other hand, I did not relish the thought of sitting around while she was off at work.

Over time it became apparent that what we liked most, was being on holiday there. There were also family obligations and the time we needed to spend in Hawaii. Financially it became clear that startup costs, even to try living some place for a year and do the things we like doing, would be prohibitive.

Living in our present location is the best of both worlds, so to speak. I have the remoteness I seek, while she has an active social life surrounded by people she knows. Eventually with the reduced fixed overhead of living here, we will hopefully be able to do more traveling. At least that was the plan before the days of looming 200 dollar oil prices. Gee, it looks like I have included an answer to number 2 already.

As for number 3 and the escape plan, this is the first time in my life where I am completely committed and must answer “no”. It is hard to make things work when you have one foot out the door, expecting things to go wrong. I suppose there was a time when I considered getting one of those small camper vans, not a big RV, and roaming the back roads of my homeland, if things didn’t workout in Thailand. That would be a lot more costly these days and I am getting older and less physical, so at some point that option would fade to a memory.

It looks like I have already touched on question number 4, as well. We love traveling even though my wife has a mild fear of flying. Alaska, New Zealand, and parts of Europe are high on the list but most of our travel now, is taken up with mandatory trips to Hawaii. My wife has a friend in New Zealand, who plans to visit us soon, so that might be first on our list when we get things sorted out with the house.

The same person as above, made the following observation:

“VillageFarang doesn't really fall into the retired expat category.  In any Western country, after a residency of more than 30 years he'd be hardly noticeable amongst the locals.  Fluent in language, conversant in local custom, he still remains an outsider here.”

On the surface this would appear insightful and difficult to refute. Granted, I only fall into the “retired expat” category due to a few technicalities. I don’t work, I’m old enough, and I am a foreigner. The rest of it is not quite so clear cut.

In my 30+ years I have gone through pretty much every phase imaginable. Importantly I spent a number of years in the “total immersion” phase. There were years where I spoke nary a word of my native tongue. I treated Thai culture and society as a game of conquest. Upon mastering each new level of the game, I would look at things from my new vantage point, and set my sights on the next goal. I just wanted to see how far I could go. I came up just shy of the top, but I got quite close to Moms, na Ayuthayas, Khun Yings, generals, business tycoons, government ministers, celebrities, a Miss Thailand finalist, and even some of the nightlife’s dark influential characters.

Some commented that I was at least 80% Thai and only my appearance belied my origins. Sitting with Thai friends in a hotel lobby or restaurant, individuals in the crowd were targeted for gossip. Their family names were illuminated along with all the skeletons in their closet. I was privy to things that are normally hidden, from all but the inner circle of Thais with particular family names. I have kept the confidences but have wondered if some may have regretted telling me quite so much.

Eventually I felt constrained by the code of conduct that was paramount in these social circles. I started to rediscover my “farangness” one might say. No doubt age played a part, as well a boredom and familiarity with things that had, at one time, seemed foreign and unattainable. I began visiting home more often. Brief visits at first but after finding squash it became easier to plug in anywhere. That became my life for several years. I could be at home wherever there was a squash court. During that time I found my wife and found I preferred to live in a world of my own making, rather than in someone else's.

I could go on, but the point is that the line “he still remains an outsider here” is not entirely accurate. You see I actually was inside for a time. Admittedly, not at the same level as some of the, old Western or European family names, that have been here for generations, but inside non the less.

I really want to thank you for the question, however! Writing this has reminded me of things that I had almost forgotten. Between the few words that found their way to the page, were endless recollections and an emotional trip down memory lane. I hardly recognized myself. One of my best and worst traits has always been my ability to move on. I have been very bad about staying in touch or holding on to the past. My focus is always now or tomorrow. What’s gone, is gone. This has been both a blessing and a curse at different times in my life, though a significant factor in my ability to survive.



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