Early Retirement In Thailand Brilliant Move Or A Blunder

Early Retirement In Thailand Brilliant Move Or A Blunder

Retire at​ 54 years of​ age and be happier?

Well aged 54 and separated from my wife and seeing my friends gain weight and have health problems made me think. I was gaining weight also, I was not happy with the direction my life was headed, so what can I do? I starting thinking of​ the alternatives.

Retirement? No one wants to​ talk about it​ or​ even think about. Perhaps it​ makes us feel older if​ we do that. So years go by and things do not change. We do the same things, eat the same foods until the doctor tells us to​ make some changes, and we carry on like we will live forever. Unfortunately we won’t live forever and we should be thinking of​ retirement before we kick the bucket. After all what did you work all those years for anyways?

Well to​ cut to​ the chase I was thinking of​ going to​ the Dominican Republic to​ live. But after going there twice I found that the power was unreliable, there were safety concerns, doctors and dentists were not easily accessible and it​ was pricey.

With time on my hands I sat in​ front of​ my computer and did some research. and discovered that Thailand was a​ popular retirement destination. in​ fact I read that Chiang Mai was the most popular retirement destination in​ all of​ South East Asia.

Hundreds of​ hours of​ research later by methodical, planner George and he has come up with the best retirement country and also the best retirement city in​ all of​ South East Asia and perhaps the world. Chiang Mai, a​ city of​ several hundred thousand inhabitants. Located about 420 miles north of​ Bangkok and less polluted, less expensive, and with less traffic than Bangkok and also cooler than Bangkok. Chiang Mai, unknown to​ most of​ North Americans yet visited by hundreds of​ thousands of​ tourists yearly, and home to​ thousands of​ foreigners who have visited there, found it​ to​ their liking and decided to​ make this their new home.

I arrived in​ Bangkok on Nov. 23, 2018 and that is​ where we will start our real life experiences, adventures and misadventures.

After the tiring trip I decided to​ stay over a​ few nights in​ Bangkok. Then well rested I was ready to​ continue onwards to​ Chiang Mai.

A quick one hour plane flight or​ a​ relaxing 13 hours train ride which one was it​ to​ be? With the extra luggage I was bringing including computer and golf clubs I decided on the train. The bumpy ride in​ a​ very comfortable reclining seat (2nd class A/C) set me back all of​ $15 dollar U.S. and this included two meals, a​ refreshment and a​ pastry. it​ was a​ bumpy ride with little to​ see but the forest. But I had all my luggage aboard, no extra charge, and the bumpy ride was just what my legs needed for their circulation.

My research enabled me to​ be well prepared for my journey and I am not one to​ leave things to​ chance. Things went as​ planned and I arrived at​ Chiang Mai train station and had reserved a​ room for 21 days at​ the Bossotel Inn which was directly across the road from the train station.

Like a​ normal tourist eh? Yes, I am Canadian how did you know?

I think in​ total I spent something in​ the neighborhood of​ 600 hours of​ research on the internet and I learned what I could but there was more, much more to​ learn.

I lived like a​ tourist at​ first living in​ a​ hotel, eating my meals there. I played pool before breakfast at​ a​ snooker establishment behind the hotel. After breakfast TV was the norm and then later in​ the day I would walk to​ the Night Bazaar shopping and tourist district about 30 minutes away. The walk there was good exercise, it​ gave me a​ chance to​ see the people and businesses along the way and get familiar with the city. Walk, look around, pop into O’Malley’s pub for a​ cool drink and to​ meet Scot, a​ fellow Canadian, and the owner.

The hotel rate was $16U.S. a​ night with taxes and breakfast included. I wanted to​ stay in​ a​ serviced apartment later but did not want to​ book it​ until I had seen it​ first. I was favorably impressed when I visited the apartment and proceeded to​ book it. So three weeks at​ the hotel and then on to​ the serviced apartment which would run about $250 a​ month with utilities and water included, and breakfast extra. The apartment had internet available in​ the rooms at​ an​ extra fee, or​ internet on site, massage spa on site, rooftop pool, motorcycle rental, beauty salon and restaurant which had entertainment in​ the evenings. The TV has a​ large selection of​ channels by way of​ satellite, there was free parking on site, and a​ great location near the Central Mall. So it​ had it​ all

Other retirees recommend staying in​ a​ condo or​ serviced apartment for 6 months or​ more to​ get familiar with the city before proceeding with any sort of​ long term rental arrangements.

I met a​ lovely lady name Nichaya. She was a​ hairdresser during the day and my tour guide, companion, means of​ transportation during the evenings. Although I weigh more than twice her weight we rode around town on her motorbike. Her driving the motorbike and me on back. This may seem odd but it​ is​ not uncommon. Unless you know the city and really know how to​ drive a​ motorcycle you shouldn’t. These motorcycles are 100 and 110 cc engines which means they are not powerful but they are very economical in​ terms of​ fuel. We could drive around all week all over town for only $2 U.S. in​ diesel fuel.

To learn more about living in​ Chiang Mai one has to​ live with the people. Find out what they eat, where they shop, what they do daily.

By this time Nichaya or​ Wan her nickname which everyone has here and I were becoming very close and fond of​ each other. I invited here to​ Patong a​ beach resort for a​ weeks holiday. She refused but each day I would ask again. Finally she relented and agreed. Have any of​ you heard of​ the December, 2018 tsuanmi? Well guess where I was at​ the time? Right. Right there.

The tsunami hit a​ few days before we were scheduled to​ return to​ Chiang Mai. We lost a​ camera, some clothing, some pictures but found each other. She handled the situation calmly and we were unharmed. in​ case you are interested this is​ what happened.

Tremor about 3 a.m. Woke me up and I wondered whether it​ was an​ earthquake. Around 4:30 a.m. another tremor. Awakened me again. at​ around 7 a.m. a​ large boom sounded like a​ shotgun blast and then a​ minute later another such loud boom.

I thought it​ may be terrorists out by the pool area and I recommended staying in​ the room. Nichaya told me to​ get out of​ the room. We grabbed a​ few valuables, passport and ran out of​ the hotel. Our hotel room was on the lower level facing the pool area which is​ about 6 feet lower than the lobby area of​ the hotel. We ran by the pool, up the stairs to​ the lobby and out the front entrance. Just as​ we crossed the road water gushed out from the hotel and on to​ the street. So the water level needed to​ be at​ least 6 feet high just to​ reach the lobby area. Motorcycles, vehicles were being carried down the streets in​ all directions by the sudden gush of​ water. We were on higher ground across the street and took off our shoes and I rolled up my pants.

After an​ hour or​ so the water level began to​ recede. it​ was about this time when a​ motorcycle policeman drove by and alerted everyone that there would be another wave coming shortly. He was right. Another similar wave went through the lobby and on to​ the streets again. Now the water level was back to​ where it​ was before and we could do nothing but wait.

The day before the tsunami hit we were on a​ boat cruise to​ Phi Phi Islands. Two days before the tsunami hit we rented motor boats at​ the beach. if​ this had happened a​ day earlier or​ at​ a​ different time then you would not be reading this article.

When the water level receded and it​ deemed safe we re-entered our hotel lobby to​ find a​ young boy who was in​ the pool when the tsunami hit lying of​ the floor with someone trying to​ resuscitate him. Unfortunately the boy did not make it. The hotel staff were totally unprepared. Nice people as​ they are they did not have a​ clue what to​ do. Guests were yelling out, Call a​ Doctor, Have you called a​ Doctor? The hotel staff smiled politely but either did not understand or​ were unable to​ reach anyone.

When we approached our room we found it​ was devastated. The outside window smashed by the water, the door broken, mattress and furniture upside down and the room inaccessible.

Hotel guests were taken to​ higher ground by buses and trucks. We sat by the roadside on higher ground waiting. The hotels found alternate accommodations in​ nearby Phuket which was about one half drive away from Patong. We left the others who sat by the roadside and went to​ some hillside shacks where Wan was able to​ greet the people, speak their language and explain the situation. They offered us refreshments and a​ place to​ lay down and wait.

Only when we reached the airport a​ day later did we realize the true extent of​ the devastation. There were tourists at​ the airport with cuts, bandages, broken bones but worse yet there were many people unaccounted for.

Wan and I were unhurt but learned something about each other through the experience. We showed how we react in​ emergencies and also we learned something about hotels and Thai people. After writing to​ hotel management at​ the Patong Merlin hotel on at​ least 6 occasions to​ that location and to​ their sister Phuket hotel which was undamaged by the tsunami we received one reply after 5 weeks. They did not try to​ clean any of​ the clothes left behind, did not try to​ return any of​ the contents, did not even try to​ contact us with a​ letter or​ e-mail saying sorry about this experience. We stayed there for a​ week at​ $100 U.S. a​ night and will never stay in​ a​ Merlin hotel again.

Would it​ have been handled differently or​ better in​ North America?

Well a​ one hour flight back to​ Bangkok for some shopping and then the short one hour flight back to​ Chiang Mai, my new home.

Now life is​ different. Wan and I live in​ her townhouse with her daughter and mother. Her husband passed away and she has been the one they rely on. Wan has a​ beauty salon downstairs in​ her townhouse.

What is​ different now?

Well I have learned how to​ live here on less. There are accommodations to​ be had here from $80 a​ MONTH and excellent accommodations can be had for $200 U.S. a​ month. By excellent I mean similar to​ a​ hotel room, TV with cable or​ satellite, pool, restaurant on site and in​ a​ good location with twice weekly or​ weekly cleaning.

I eat Thai food now with chicken wings, French fries, and some homemade potato soap several times a​ week. I read that Thai’s can make anything taste delicious. That is​ TRUE.

They use fresh ingredients in​ their cooking. There are many farms nearby and the produce from fruits, to​ vegetables is​ abundant year around and very cheap. There is​ also a​ fantastic selection of​ seafood’s to​ pick from. You can buy the seafood from the market or​ from a​ large grocery store where the selection is​ varied and fresh. if​ you want you can pick out a​ live fish, continue with your shopping and when you are checking out pick up your cooked fish to​ take home for dinner or​ lunch.

I recently bought pineapples at​ the large grocery store. Large, fresh, mouth watering pineapples. Ten baht each or​ .25 cents U.S. each. They will cut if​ for you and put it​ on styrofoam with cellophane wrapping for free.

Back to​ the cooking. The reason Thai food is​ so delicious is​ partly the freshness of​ the ingredients but mainly the sauces. Simple cooked rice with fried vegetables becomes a​ delicious meal with the right sauce added. Something to​ watch out for if​ you do visit here. Two small bowls are presented with many of​ the meals. One has a​ green paste/sauce and the other a​ red colored paste/sauce. These are added to​ fish or​ meat by way of​ dipping or​ by placing a​ small amount on a​ tablespoon from the bowl and then on to​ your food. WATCH OUT!!!! The red is​ spicy hot and should be added in​ measured quantities. The green should not be added at​ all unless you are Thai or​ Mexican in​ my opinion. The green one is​ the hottest of​ the two and can make you perspire, reach quickly for a​ glass of​ water and visit the washroom in​ the middle of​ the night and not to​ brush your teeth.

Fantastic food and bargain prices.

Great accommodations and bargain prices.

Friendly people who go out of​ their way to​ make you feel at​ home.

So many things to​ do that I can not even list them all.

Cable TV with 54 channels for $8.25 U.S. a​ month. Installation cost of​ cable was around $7 U.S. and $2.50 extra for the second TV. Internet and telephone for about $20 U.S. a​ month total .

People work hard. Many have their own businesses and work 16 hour days 7 days a​ week.
The business may consist of​ setting up a​ table and a​ few chairs and selling noodles, cooked meat, fruits or​ a​ small convenience store with home cooked foods on the side.

I see the parents take their children to​ school which is​ expensive here. About 80,000 baht or​ $2,000 U.S. per year for schooling, clothing and textbooks for a​ 7 year old. They teach the children English even at​ this age. The parents have to​ work damm hard to​ pay for the schooling but they are doing this in​ hopes of​ their children obtaining good jobs and having a​ better life with more to​ look forward to.

Cats and dogs here are numerous. Just about everyone in​ our neighborhood has either a​ cat or​ dog or​ both. Our neighbor has 6 cats plus 2 kittens and he does not have a​ fulltime job. it​ is​ difficult for him but I know he loves the cats. He has offered to​ give us a​ few but we do not have the space.

So to​ sum things up. it​ isn’t perfect here. You can find something to​ complain about if​ you look hard enough but for me it​ is​ as​ close to​ perfection as​ I will find.

I can tell you about one or​ two things that I do not like and I could tell you about the hundred things I like. I am a​ picky person so if​ I like it​ here and have very little or​ nothing to​ complain about then I am sure others will love it​ here also.

So enamored by Chiang Mai am I that I have created a​ website to​ help other retire here. First to​ come here on vacation and then to​ retire here. Our website address is:

If you want you can retire here on less than that, but to​ live a​ comfortable life here that is​ all that it​ takes.

Visit our website for Thai foods and recipes, to​ learn more about living here, and to​ see pictures of​ Chiang Mai.

So from a​ healthier, happier George who is​ living here on less and enjoying it
Khop Khun Khrap or​ thank you in​ Thai for reading the article. if​ you come here on vacation or​ to​ stay long term give me a​ call and we can go to​ a​ buffet and watch them make sushi, where you can select the ingredients of​ a​ soup they call Suki, where you can eat an​ unlimited amount of​ fresh salad with a​ choice of​ dressings and shredded chicken on the side, pick from an​ assortment of​ cooked meats, noodles, or​ fish, and then top it​ off with a​ variety of​ desserts and the best cup of​ coffee I have had in​ years for $2.50 U.S. after taxes and tip. The best selection of​ freshly prepared food and lowest priced all you can eat buffet restaurant in​ Chiang Mai in​ my opinion.

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