Yesterday I arrived back in Thailand after a 2 week visit to the UK. It had been nearly 6 years since my last visit due to Covid and then being so busy since Covid and I really needed to reconnect with my friends and family there (which was lovely). I was intrigued / apprehensive as to how i would find it as people I know whom have been back there recently did not have too many positive things to say. Of course there are advantages and disadvantages to living anywhere and I will give a brutally honest take on my observations / comparisons. It goes without saying that there are some obvious ones but maybe with a slightly different take this time.
Value for Money
Everyone who lives in Thailand talks about this but on this trip it was way more evident than ever before. It seems that everything in the UK costs at least 50 pounds. Go for a few beers, 50 pounds. Pub lunch 80 pounds. Flowers for family 50 pounds. Train up to London 80 pounds. Day on the farm 60 pounds. Not only that, the quality of food we were getting for that kind of money was garbage. On our first day i treated the family to lunch and thought I would have a steak which was 30 quid. It was tough chewy and not great at all. It was 30 pounds. Think what we can get in Hua Hin for 30 quid!! There are other noticeable examples: filling up the car with petrol was insane as was hiring our car. A taxi ,from HH to Suvarnabhumi is 40 quid. From Heathrow to Cambridge it’s 240!
I now feel even more grateful for the fact I can eat in a restaurant or get food delivered every day of my life. Saying all this food in supermarkets is becoming a lot more expensive here in Thailand and the variety in general is not as good. In Macro here you might have a selection of 3 different types of sausage. In England there are 33 different choices. Wine is a lot cheaper there as are cars. I also love that berries are cheap. You can buy big punnet of blueberries or strawberries for a few quid.
House prices have gone through the roof. Your average 3 bedroom house in the UK now is 500,000 Pounds. For the same amount of money you could build an amazing villa on a huge plot of land in Hua Hin. Or spend 250,000 on a villa, keep the rest in the bank and enjoy a fantastic, tropical lifestyle.
Driving / Roads
The one thing us westerners can never really fathom in Thailand is the roads. it had been 6 years since I drove in England and it took a little getting used to. I had to remember to do everything by the book. Mirror, signal, maneuver. You only have to be guilty of the slightest infringement and somebody is on their horn calling you an idiot. It was actually quite stressful as we drove quite a lot. I know the roads here are more dangerous but I actually think I prefer it now in a strange way; as long as you stay pretty chilled it’s usually manageable. It all seemed a lot more stressful in the UK. Plus the roads and car parks in England are so busy. It was a constant ballache trying to get parked anywhere, even the supermarket. On one occasion I just had to drive round and round Sainsbury’s car park while my wife went inside to get some shopping.
Everywhere is Busy
Everywhere we went in the UK was packed with homo sapiens. The roads were packed with cars, every train was packed, supermarkets were packed and restaurants were always packed and they looked very unamused when informed we didn’t have a reservation. It was so nice nice having a leisurely lunch at Black Mountain Golf Course today (which only cost me a fiver).
Before we left we changed some Baht into Pounds and put it onto something called a boarding card. It’s a very handy thing to do but I believe only a few banks will do it. It’s a really good job we did because there were lots of instances where we couldn’t use cash at all and people say it will be like that everywhere. It begs the question: what do tourists who don’t have a credit card do? There were a few instances where I just shrugged and said ‘ok, you don’t get my business then’.
Outdoor vs Indoor Lifestyle
Everyone we met in the Uk said we were really lucky with the weather and indeed it was sunny most of the time. March had been one of the wettest on record, that, coupled with freezing temperatures is not a recipe for fun. Despite the sunny weather it was still cold, the first morning when we woke up at 3 am jetlagged it was -2. The energy crisis in the UK means that heating bills have soared so nobody wants to put the heating on which I completely understand, but there were a few nights where I had to huddle up to my kids fully clotheed so they could sap the last bit of heat from my body. This more than anything else made me look forward to coming home to Thailand. The outdoor gym, eating on our terrace and swimming in our pool: these things are priceless and it’s so much healthier to be able to live outside all the time.