If, like me, one day you looked around your home country and thought “no, thanks!” and ran for the…airport to hop on a flight to Thailand, then chances are you’ve met one of these people. At the very least, I’m sure you’ve met #4 while searching for answers or recommendations on the Bangkok Expats Facebook page.
There’s also the possibility that one of these people is you. No judgment here, I’m one of them too.
1. The Newbie. Having just arrived here to start their grand adventure, this person is usually confused and a bit of a train wreck. They’re secretly afraid that everyone is going to scam them, so they need confirmation on everything and anything from “other expats.” They’re also quickly learning that the perpetually smiling Thailand they saw on the internet is mostly an illusion. Go easy on them, as annoying as they might be, they’re dealing with a pretty major paradigm shift.
Location: Lost, and late to somewhere.
2. The Old Timer. The complete opposite of the Newbie, this person is a veteran to the point of being a local, but they’ll always be a foreigner in the eyes of the people with whom they so desperately want to belong. If and when the mood strikes, they can be very knowledgeable and helpful to newcomers. But that mood doesn’t usually strike, because they had to “learn everything the hard way” and now they want the same fate for the rest of us. If this person is a man, he is most likely married to a Thai woman and speaks the language, or wants to come off like he does. If it’s a woman, chances of her still being married to her foreigner husband that most likely brought her here are slim to none. By now, he has moved on to a younger, local model.
Location: Male: enjoying a pint at The Royal Oak with other Old Timers. Female: drinking wine alone in her condo.
3. The Digital Nomad. Although you’ve seen this person chained to their laptop at some trendy cafe offering free wifi, they’re quick to remind you that they’re “location independent” and can go anywhere at anytime. They’re fun for night’s out, as long as you’re into cheap drinks and street food. Most importantly, they’re temporary.
Location: Casa Lapin x 26
4. The Death Eater. Despite being a foreigner himself, and presumably nobody forcing him to interact with others – online or IRL – this guy is miserable about the fact that there are foreigners in Bangkok, as well as the fact that these stupid foreigners keep asking for advice or recommendations on the Bangkok Expats Facebook page. In order to rid our expat world of these Muggles, he has taken on the arduous and thankless job of trolling the comments sections on Facebook, faithfully abusing any and all who dare ask a question or posit a theory about anything.
Location: somewhere inside a 9K THB/month studio, drinking cheap beer and monitoring the internet while scratching himself. He’s most likely waiting for his Thai girlfriend to bring home some street food so he doesn’t have to suffer the outside world for too long. Besides, there’s work to be done in the comments. And yes, it is almost ALWAYS a man.
5. The Queen of England. She’s here on a ridiculous expat salary package, and lives somewhere fabulous in a three-bedroom condo that she neither needs or appreciates. Everybody does everything for her, but she’s still victimized by the fact that she has to deal with people who don’t speak her language and don’t always understand her demands right away.
Location: In the gardens of an exclusive spa somewhere in the depths of Phrom Phong while her driver waits outside in the raging heat.
6. The Instagrammer. Male or Female, this is the person whose Bangkok adventure is carefully curated for public view on Instagram. We (yes, we. Did you think I was so delusion that I wouldn’t know this includes me?) have found ourselves in this surreal experience of living so far from home and with easy travel opportunities to even more exciting destinations, and we can’t help but share what we see. And keep sharing. Still, most of us have the self-awareness to know that our incessant IG activity is annoying as fuck to our friends and families back home – but that doesn’t mean we’re stopping anytime soon.
Location: Forever searching for a photogenic but also totally unique part of Bangkok. We go to cafes, hotels, gardens, and wander around entire neighborhoods just to take photos. Whatever, we’re exploring.
7. The Invisible Girl. In a place where the male gaze is almost always transfixed on the sea of asian women, the Invisible Girl is a foreigner who has become more and more accustomed to being mostly ignored. This is not necessarily a bad thing, especially because (most of) the men who come here are not exactly a catch, and this freedom from the often distracting male attention can free up time and freedom to truly explore one’s interests and talents. Still, it’s clear to see – especially in bars and nightclubs – that some Invisible Girls are desperate to be seen again.
Location: Somewhere in Thonglor or the new spots in Soi Nana (no, not THAT nana, the one in Chinatown).
8. The Walking STD. He’s here to find love – in every nook and cranny he can get his hands on it. To this guy, Thailand is a playground of all the girls he’s dreamed about, and he’ll quickly learn that as long as his bank account remains large, nothing else needs to be in working order.
Location: It’s not so much where as it is when, because this guy activates during the night. By day, he’s probably “teaching” English to a classroom of unfortunate local kids. Depending on his sexual orientation, his nights most likely begin or end at Sukhumvit Soi 4, or Silom Soi 4. But really, he’s everywhere.
9. You. If all goes well, the most surprising person you’ll hopefully meet is a newer version of yourself. This new you is smart, culturally adept, able to understand others around them even when they don’t speak the same language, and more open-minded than they used to be. They’re knowledgable without being a know-it-all, and they’re helpful without being a pushover. They don’t generalize people based on specific personality traits and make useless blog posts about it, and they talk to the people around them instead of being holed up in a dark corner with their laptop. In a word, this new you is the kind of foreigner we should to be.
Location: wherever the hell you damn well please.
Is this everybody? Absolutely not. If I’ve missed out on wildly generalizing about you, I’m sorry to have left you out. Don’t worry, I’m somewhere in coffeeshop observing all of you and taking notes.