Dear Hillary,

Love your column for all it’s informative, witty solutions to farang issues.  My question is more of a self-help nature: why don’t farangs do just a little bit of research before settling here?  I opted for early retirement last year (at a rather juvenile 50 years young) as I thought the lady of my dreams was too good to be true and that she might actually enjoy living with me!  So, I did some homework: Thai language classes … which are still ongoing; understanding the differences between Thailand and Pattaya; calculating a realistic budget that would cover our overheads; and shopping around, doing networking, joining expats club and generally immersing myself with those (both Thai and farang) people that promoted the positive aspects of living in our tropical paradise.  I quickly disassociated myself from cynical pessimists and found myself gravitating away from the losers to the winners circle.  Thais love sanook (fun and games), smiling and living for the moment and frankly, as an Irishman I could not resist their charming, engaging ways!  Treating them with respect and making them laugh… and you have cracked the formula!  Yes, three and a half years later, we are still ecstatically happy and pinch each other every morning to remind ourselves just how good it is.  We have completely removed certain “concepts” from our mind sets. We have a zero tolerance to lies, secrets, jealousy, hidden agendas and BS!  In return for my appalling Irish jokes, she has brought me all around Thailand, north to south, east to west.  I’ve met her parents (in the town of Phonphisai,1 hour outside Nong Khai, on the Mekong River) … they have never pleaded poverty … even though they have so little … and don’t suffer from sick tractor/buffalo syndrome!  My property in London is my pension and I’m by no means wealthy or affluent … but once you set out the goalposts, it’s decision time for all concerned.  Money doesn’t talk here, it SCREAMS… but there are, thankfully, some good hearted (jai dee) people here who see life beyond ATM’d sunglasses and these happen to be my wonderful friends!  So, avoid the cynical “stew in their juices” broken wallets/hearts… and learn from the upbeat, zestful Thais who are all around us.  The fact that my transgendered lady gives us both so much happiness is testimony to the above.  To sum up: don’t judge a book by its cover; exercise common sense; be prepared to stretch your learning curve every day; make sure you can communicate… and keep smiling!

Chai Noi


Dear Chai Noi,

It is indeed great to receive an upbeat letter from an ex-pat who might have gone the other way if he had listened to the down-beats!  And that is both Thai and foreigners!  You have approached your relocation from Ireland in a very commendable way, and you hit the nail fair and square on the head when you put much emphasis on communication.  I just hope your partner is just as industrious as you in learning English (or is that Irish)?

However, you must remember that the people who write to Hillary for advice, are not like yourself riding the crest of the wave.  The ones who write have been hit by a wave that feels like a tsunami to them.  Please continue to enjoy the life that Thailand offers you.