I’m going to remember 2016 as a year of farewells, a year when many of my colleagues working in the offshore industry have decided to quit Thailand and head home. I will also remember one remarkable thing they have in common. They are leaving Thailand with their heads held high, they are upbeat, and looking forward to a new life, and a new adventure.
Their decision to leave Thailand is one which has been forced upon them by the slump in the offshore oil and gas industry. The knock-on effect of the slump is that of the diving industry taking a nose dive, which in turn has directly affected their fortunes and their ability to stay in Thailand.
I don’t know if it’s irony but in making their decision to quit Thailand they have also reversed negatives to positives, and positives to negatives. Meaning, they once loved living in Thailand, and like me they often compared the lifestyle in Thailand to that back home. Also like me, when weighing up the pros and cons of “Thailand versus back home” the pros of living in Thailand came out on top.
Their positive attitudes about returning home are obviously a very good thing, but I wonder if it is a decision they would be smiling about if their feelings toward Thailand were still positive, and they enjoyed living in Thailand. My guess is that they have subconsciously generated a certain amount of negativity toward Thailand. Maybe to ease the pain, or to help generate positive vibes about returning home.
I do know for a fact that even before the offshore industry went into recession, they were becoming dismayed with life in Thailand. To be more precise, dismayed at how it is becoming increasingly difficult to live in Thailand. They are not alone, they are not the only ones quitting Thailand, or considering leaving Thailand for pastures new.
The plight of my work colleagues, and their positive attitude towards leaving the country they once loved is actually what inspired me to write this post. And to also ask you if you would be happy to leave Thailand. I will also highlight a few possible reasons why you might decide to leave, or in some cases decide to visit some other place instead of Thailand.
It Was Easy To Stay In Thailand
Once upon time, Thailand had a fairly carefree attitude towards foreign visitors. So long as you followed the rules you could stay in Thailand almost indefinitely. The rules were not too stringent, don’t overstay, and make sure you had a valid visa or entry stamp, both of which could easily be renewed by crossing the border and re-entering Thailand. Large numbers of ex-pats, mainly single males managed to live in places like Pattaya and Bangkok for months or even years at a time when the monthly visa run was all that was required of them to stay.
Why Quit Thailand
However much you love a place it sometimes becomes too expensive, impractical, or just plain impossible to stay there. There could be any number of reasons you might leave Thailand, or to choose another location instead. Like my colleagues, your reasons might be financial, maybe you would like to buy own your land (something not possible in Thailand), or perhaps your family needs you back home
Like I said, it is becoming increasingly difficult for foreigners to live in Thailand. That is due in part to new rules and regulations introduced by the government. In future, Thailand may not be such a desirable destination, especially for single male tourists if and when the government carries out it’s threat to clean up the tourist industry.
New Thailand Visa Rules
What you might call “the good old days in Thailand” are gone. Due to terrorist activities inside Thailand, and moves to clean up Thailand’s image the government has deemed it necessary to enforce tighter restrictions on foreigners entering and staying in Thailand. Nearly every kind of Thailand visa is currently harder to obtain, and in some cases can now only be acquired in the visitors home country. Exits and entries on visa exemption are only permitted a given number of times, after which you are not allowed to enter Thailand again for a set duration, unless you have the appropriate visa.
For retirees and younger ex-pats married to Thai women the visa formalities for applying inside Thailand are basically the same, except the financial requirements are more stringently applied. But many younger men who did not meet the financial requirements relied on visa runs, just as single males did. Although it is still possible in Laos to acquire a multi entry Thailand visa based on marriage to a Thai, there is no guarantee this option will be available for the foreseeable future.
Cleaning Up Sex Tourism In Thailand
Sex tourism is still a major contributor of revenue to Thailand’s tourist industry. Pattaya (for example) is still heavily reliant on new and returning single male sex tourists. The government though has said it wishes to clean up Thailand’s image and put an end to Thailand’s famous sex industry. So no sex industry means no bar girls, and a Thailand tourist industry deprived of many hundreds of thousands of single male tourists and there millions of tourist dollars every year.
No more easy visas, no more bar girls, among other things you can’t own your own land. Single, married or retired, you’ve decided the situation in Thailand doesn’t suit you any more. Now it’s time to go home or to find another place like Thailand. Maybe like my colleagues you will leave Thailand with a smile on your face, feeling upbeat, and ready for a fresh adventure in a new land. Then again, despite the difficulties and even the fact that Thailand might no longer offer what you most loved about it, you love Thailand and you will leave with a feeling of great sadness.
So will it be good riddance Thailand, or a reluctant and sad farewell to Thailand ?
Poll closed: results
Will You Leave Thailand Smiling
No, it will be a sad farewell to Thailand (80%, 4 Votes)
Yes, I will leave Thailand with a smile on my face (20%, 1 Votes)