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Expats in Thailand not all 'sexpats'. Many have Thai wives

Sunday 27th April 2014 6:54pm

What are expats living in Thailand really getting up to with Thai women?

A visiting western woman was shocked by the antics and sex lives of older and middle aged expats in Thailand. But the lifestyle of expats living in Thailand is a very mixed picture.

The UN recently published a milestone report on the growing numbers of people who are migrating from country to country across the world. Most move from economically poor countries to economically rich ones but there has been a hint of change. In the last fifteen years, alongside the development of the internet, there are more people from rich countries migrating to poorer countries. This has been picked up in the most recent report of the UN and is currently being addressed by many developed countries.

Figures from the UK government suggest that as many as 10% of British people are now living abroad. While many live in Australia or EU countries such as Spain, a sizeable population of British men has moved to Thailand. A lower but not inconsequential figure is one suggesting that 5.20% of Australians have taken the same option, many of whom make the short flight to Thailand for an alternative place to live. British men comprise the largest number of expats living in Thailand; nearly double that of their US counterparts. On the other hand, the US is the country of choice for many Thai women marrying foreigners with over 300,000 Thai women having American marriage or life partners.

'One of the key reasons for the lower number of Americans moving to live in Thailand is that American citizens must still file tax returns at home no matter where in the world they reside. There is more of an incentive for wealthier English men or Germans to decamp to Thailand. But still, many of the wealthier expats in Thailand are actually Americans. There are really quite a lot of winning reasons why expats move to Thailand,' says James Morris, a journalist in Bangkok.

Here are some of the reasons for middle aged foreigners opting to live in Thailand:

  • The tax rates are lower than many developed countries particularly for those on attractive fixed incomes but with very few deductibles and it is relatively easy to develop an attractive scheme where taxes are minimized.
  • The cost of living is approximately 20% of that in foreign or developed countries so 80% of the expat's income is immediately conserved.
  • The weather is beautiful, sunny and balmy all years round. This is an important benefit for middle aged and older foreign men. 'You've just have no idea how wonderful it is to wake up every morning living in Thailand, to see and feel the sun in the sky, it's a novelty that I have never gotten over,' says Johnny Cornell, a sixty something from New York. 'Out here, I can still watch Fox News and see them freezing their butts off in the Big Apple, perfect.'
  • Some estimate that there are now 500,000 expatriates in Thailand from developed countries such as the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, the United States and European countries actually living permanently in Thailand. The figures are hard to quantify. Not all residents declare themselves through the formal immigration process. It is a similar situation to the numbers of Thai women living in foreign countries, now estimated to be approaching 1 million. Some even claim that a similar number of expatriates from foreign countries are already living in Thailand or regularly resident in the country. 'There are now a large number of US, UK, Australian and European men who have minor wives in Thailand but who are not resident here while an even larger number manage to visit the Kingdom of Thailand at regular intervals during the year. These are not just tourists, some are, but this refers to men who have developed connections or roots in Thailand.'

New York man living it large in Thailand

'Tell them (foreign women) to go home, there really is no place for them in Thailand,' says Johnny Cornell (64), a magazine distributor from New York who sold his business in 2007 before the crash. His comments relate to the growing trend for US and UK women to travel to Thailand not simply to visit the normal tourist sites but who want to find out more about what foreign men are really up to in Thailand.

'Yes it is a trend, there are actually Christian and social groups who are setting up shop trying to convert sex workers off their chosen profession. But the real story is about idealistic twenty somethings who are fascinated with the 'sex pat' culture. We've seen them produce YouTube videos, blogs and launch personal crusades online,' says James Morris. 'Since the 1970's, when the sex scene in Thailand started making headlines on the international stage, Bangkok and Thailand has been labeled with a bit of a reputation. Now with a growing wave of expats appearing in Thailand, with the advent of cheaper flights and the global village, everyone knows a relative, cousin or friend whose second home is Thailand.'

Johnny Cornell revels in his new life in Thailand. 'Look I'm well past my prime, I could be one of those love hungry suckers who don't have chance in a pickup bar in New York or LA, wherever. I could spend all my waking hours at the gym and blow all my money on clothes and entertainment. I wouldn't have a ghost's chance of getting laid. Here, who's the man everyday of the week, it's as simple as that,' says Johnny from New York.

Older Englishman in Pattaya has slept with over 4,000 women!

Johnny is similar to a retired elderly white man living in retirement in Thailand who has boasted to have slept with over 4,000 women! The man, a former taxi driver in England, says he has slept with a different Thai girl nearly every day during his 8 years living in Pattaya, one of Thailand's top destinations for foreigners seeking sun and sex. His story was featured on an internet blog posted by a younger white woman who he attempted to chat up by telling her of his sexually conquests earlier this year.

The Englishman from Pattaya, made his confession or boast to the white American woman while in Cambodia on a visa run, a routine for many foreigners in Thailand who do not have long term visas or legal status in the Thai Kingdom.

'Aren't you embarrassed?" asked the American woman while they waited outside the Immigration center on the other side of the Thai border. 'Why should I be embarrassed?' responded the Englishman. 'That you had to pay for it,' replied the foreign woman; 'I've never had to pay for sex.' 'In Pattaya,' the Englishman replied, quite pleased to shock the young American woman, 'everyone does it. That's why we go there. You should come and see.'

The American woman, who was living in Chiang Mai, Thailand declined his invitation but was left wondering just what many of the foreign middle aged men, who are retiring to Thailand, are really up to.

American woman disquieted at lives of foreign expats in Chiang Mai

'It would be wrong to think that all foreign men in Thailand are like this, in fact most foreigners living in Thailand have stable relationships with Thai wives but there is a sizeable minority like that out there. What is also true is that there is a culture of sexual freedom in Thailand that is heightened for expat men from western countries,' says James Morris.

Meanwhile the American woman decided to conduct her own research on the sex lives of foreign expats in Chiang Mai, considered by many to be a bit more reserved, the cultural and upmarket location for expats living in Thailand.

George (69) is retired banker originally from Michigan in the United States. He moved to live a more relaxed life in exotic Thailand more than three years ago. George was formerly the owner of a bar in a well know part of Chiang Mai. 'If you live in Chiang Mai and you're single,' he says, 'all you do is go to the bars and chase girls.'

At an impromptu survey in a Chiang Mai bar, his friends, who are also retired white men discovering the secret life that Thailand offers, concurred that a more active sex life was one of the reasons that many had opted for Thailand.

'If you live in Thailand, it's a pretty carefree existence,' said one old white expat. A very large American retiree, speaking with the young American woman, went even deeper into the subject and recalled his single days before he settled down for marriage to his Thai wife. 'I was what you call a 'player'. We had an expression: 'Hog, dog, or frog.' I'd go after whatever - all girls.' The American woman was becoming even more disquieted.

Some of the man's friends were unanimous in the view that there is no need to bring foreign women to Thailand. It would be, as one expat put it; 'like taking a sandwich to a banquet.'

More liberal sexual culture for expats living in Thailand

A culture has developed among many expats in Thailand that having sexual relations with sex workers or prostitutes is not something to be ashamed of and is openly admitted and discussed.

'I have a friend here, an Australian who comes from a respectable middle class family in Melbourne. After his divorce from his wife in Australia, he moved to Thailand and now works as a top executive in a media company here in Bangkok. He is married to a Thai wife, has two beautiful children and a household with a maid and a driver. You see there are different levels of foreigners in Thailand. But this happily married man will often go out on the town in Bangkok and stay overnight at an upmarket hotel with a string of mistresses. These women are really up market sex workers. What most people must appreciate is that this is an accepted way of life in Thailand, for a man of means, among normal Thais.'

Upmarket foreigners in Thailand careful about lifestyle

It would be a mistake and quite wrong to assume that all expats in Thailand lead a debauched lifestyle. It is not the case. Many wealthier expats, who have retired to Thailand, find beautiful Thai wives and lead quite a civilised existence. There is also a growing coterie of expats living in Thailand who have retired from their working lives with their Thai wives in foreign countries. This is particularly true among Europeans which is now home to over 300,000 Thai women who have found life partners in Europe.

Jason is 29 years old from Washington State in the United States. He is a bit different, firstly, he is younger. 'I came here with friends three years ago; we partied in Pattaya and spent some time in Phuket. Then I came up here. Chiang Mai is a pretty cool place but I'm here because of this wonderful lady.' Jason has settled in Chiang Mai with a Thai girlfriend and earns a living teaching English, writing articles and doing media work online.

'I'd say these guys are ok, it's a better life here. I have no problem with guys paying for sex but maybe I'm at a point in life where I am looking for something more. I played around a bit in Pattaya, I found myself thinking that it's a bit sad but then again it was fun. In Thailand, thing's are easier for guys than it is in the US.

The darker side to being an expat in Thailand

The Thai government recently reported that there are up to 10,000 expats, many from wealthy countries, living rough on the streets of Thailand. 'This figure itself gives you some idea of the numbers of expats living in Thailand. Normally expats in Thailand are quite a close knit community; many make friends at bars, restaurants or clubs. There are rules that all expats know about, relating to women but also to financial affairs. The cardinal rule is always to have enough money to return to the home country, another is never to get carried away with tropical surroundings or throw caution to the wind.

A recent news report featured an Englishman who was rescued from a Thai jail cell after nearly starving to death. He had been arrested for being drunk and disorderly, been through various court proceedings but had become disorientated suffering from a chronic illness. His rescuer was a British woman associated with a British based NGO who had heard of his plight. It was learned afterwards, when the Englishman had recovered, that he had a sizeable income and bank balance in his Thai bank account. His mistake was to get drunk and mix his drink with illicit drugs before being arrested by local Thai police. 'In Thailand there is no safety net like in wealthier foreign countries, it can get very hard very fast if an expat is not responsible. Life is cheap in Thailand, the Englishman had no money and was simply left to waste away in a jail cell without his medication.'

Sad story of the lonely expat from England

Anthony has a beautiful home near Jomtien Beach in Pattaya with four bedrooms and a swimming pool. He has lived in Thailand for over 25 years. 'I've had my fill of the sex bar scene and Pattaya's bar girls. Now I'd just like to meet a kind and loving woman who I can trust,' he says.

Anthony's problem is he's an older man (75) and he doesn't want to have a relationship with an older Thai woman. 'Yes, Thai women have changed, I suppose it's good they are now looking for partners more the same age. I just would like to find a good friend and partner at my age.' Anthony has another problem. His income has only risen marginally since he arrived in Thailand in 1989. He owns his own home through a company but it costs money to keep it maintained and he must provide annual visa costs and health bills. 'It still a better life than I would have in the UK, I don't really have to worry about money and I can go out now and then, but now I have to keep to a budget,' he admits.

Anthony is wary of Thai women after a string of girlfriends over his first fifteen years in Thailand cost him a lot of money and left him heartbroken. 'I think I just found the wrong women but now I am a lot older and it's not easy to find the right one, I mean a friend.'

Anthony admits that he's lonely and has thought of selling up and returning to Yorkshire in England but still reckons things are better for him in Thailand. 'It's a bit of a joke, I can go out and find some fun even at my age at my age, but it's not quite the same. I'm on the other side of the world living in paradise but my best friend is my dog. I'm just looking for one last love in life.'

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