I am an expat and have lived very happily in Thailand for seven years.
Like many expats, I work in the oil and gas industry
abroad. Naturally we find that the earning capacity of a job like that
combined with the cost of living in Thailand enables us to afford a
lifestyle that would be impossible in the UK and Europe or the States.
Originally I came for a diving holiday in Phuket, and to
see Bangkok, and I liked it so much I stayed. Or more accurately, I have
come back every time my leave came up, and so now I consider Thailand my
Whilst living in Bangkok I travelled to all the different
regions of Thailand and I found the Thai people and Thai culture very
attractive. It is obvious their earning power is relatively low and poverty
is just around the corner for many Thais.
But they smile so easily and are so industrious in
working and keeping everything clean that I cannot help but feel privileged
to be here.
In travelling around Thailand I saw that there exists an
abundant and lively tourist industry, everywhere I went. This is naturally
bringing a great deal of prosperity to Thailand and to the people who most
need it, all over the country.
Much of this tourist industry is attracted by the
freewheeling way of life of the Thai people, for whom appreciation of
‘sanuk’ is as ingrained as the admirable Buddhist faith.
Tourists like to come to Thailand to have a good time.
A couple of years after I first arrived in Bangkok, I
went to Jomtien to see a friend (who worked in the next camp to me in the
The bus journey from Ekamai was interesting, but I found
Jomtien a real eye opener, a really beautiful place to live, and so I stayed
Now my plan is to settle here and retire in
‘paradise’ with a Thai wife, and a terrific group of friends, Thai and
expat, who are all having the time of their lives, however old they are.
So we come to the nub, as they say, of my letter.
The bluebottle in my Balti is the proposed early closing
time of nightlife. Why? I don’t spend very much of my time ‘out on the
town’ after midnight.
But a huge number of tourists and visitors do just that.
And they are not all bad, not all here just for the seamy side of life, not
all threatening the decency of the collective Thai youth.
They come to Thailand to have a good time, and I am
afraid that the increasing number of laws surrounding the entertainment
industry will quickly reduce the famous and awesome reputation that Thailand
has, for having a good time.
My friends in the UK called me to tell me about the
changes that the proposed ‘early closing’ may bring in its path. They
knew about it before I did; word spreads very quickly in these modern times,
and the burgeoning Thai tourist economy can be thrown away just as quickly.
They will not be in such a hurry to buy Thai Air tickets
(which I always recommend) to come here and spend all their leisure time and
money, if they are going to be thrown out of nightclubs at midnight and told
to stop drinking.
These people, my friends, are all responsible businessmen
who do not cause trouble but bring a great deal of money into Thailand.
To get back to my problem, I want to retire soon in
Jomtien, and start a small business, just for my own pleasure. I will also
undoubtedly employ a number of Thai assistants. But my plans rely on the
tourist trade continuing on a gentle growth curve, not taking a big dive.
Obviously I plan on making a reasonably large investment
of my assets in Jomtien. Sadly I am now having to reconsider this very
carefully as I do not want to lose my money.
So, my message to those in power, who wish to bring about
laws that appear to close down on tourists having a good time, is that the
slow down of tourism has already started.
I can understand the motivation behind the proposed laws,
but the ‘problems’ you are facing after midnight are small compared with
the benefit given to the Thai people by 99% of the tourist trade.
At this time, you have it in your power to treat this
problem with the sensitivity and care that the Thai people require of you,
in order to preserve the vast majority of tourist trade that you are
Please don’t take the tourist trade for granted. Once
it has gone, it will take 20 to 30 years to come back or more likely, never
will come back.
I look forward, along with many of my friends, to
enjoying the rest of my life living in Thailand, and in the company of the
wonderful Thai people and their culture.
I thank you for that.