CC BY-SA by °Florian

Recently I purchased some sunblock cream in Thailand. When I checked the ingredients, I saw that they contained a whitening agent. Since I did not want to be whitened or bleached, I checked some other brands – same story – all contained whitening agents.

I went to a couple more drugstores, and finally in the third one I found an imported sun block which did not contain any skin bleach.

I have known since a long time that most Thai women are obsessed with being as white as possible. Read the rest of this story

Dentist working on a Thai girl

Dentist working on a Thai girl

Sometimes people ask me what happens if they have to go to a doctor or dentist in Thailand. They should really ask this question to the thousands of people who fly to Thailand from all over the world every year to get excellent medical treatment for much lower prices than in their home country. Read the rest of this story

Sidewalk in Thailand blocked with plants

The plants might look pretty, but they still block the sidewalk

You would think that sidewalks are meant for walking. At least that’s how it works in western countries. But in Asia this is not necessarily true. Although I have observed this in some other Asian countries as well, let’s talk about Thailand, because that’s where I live.

Sidewalks are often not very pretty affairs in Thailand. However I want to make a few things clear: Read the rest of this story

It’s this time of the year again when I had to escape from my usually beautiful home town of Chiang Mai, Thailand. During March and April the pollution levels are dangerously high due to seasonal agricultural burning. Whoever can, is leaving the city during this period.

Lanta Old Town street sign

Lanta Old Town street sign

This year my voluntary exile was Ko Lanta, an island in the south of Thailand with clean air and fresh sea breezes. While the island itself will be the subject of another article,  in this one I will focus on one tiny little spot on the island which happens to be quite unique. It is the historic Old Town.

Its character is quite different from the rest of the island. Ko Lanta is predominantly inhabited by Muslims. The heart of historic Old Town however is all Chinese.  It was settled over 100 years ago by a group of immigrants from China who arrived there by boat from their homeland. Read the rest of this story

massage services in Ko Lanta Thailand

Listing of massage services on a shop window in Ko Lanta, Thailand

Thailand is famous as the land of smiles, the land of beautiful beaches, and the land of many exotic attractions. It is also famous as the home land of Thai Massage. If you have not been to Thailand yet, you might not even know what Thai Massage is, but as soon as you arrive, you will see it all around you.

It will find YOU, mostly in the form of massage therapists trying to entice you to enter their shop. Almost every hotel either offers Thai Massage or can arrange for therapists to provide this service in your room. Read the rest of this story

Temple in Thailand

One of the aspects which I always appreciated about Thailand is its refreshing religious tolerance. Nobody ever tries to preach to you, nobody ever tries to convert you, nobody cares what religion you follow.

Here in Chiang Mai, where I live, several temples conduct regular “monk chats”. A monk is available to answer questions or tell stories or teach about Buddhist concepts. Anyone can attend, and some of those chats are held by English speaking monks for the benefit of western visitors.

You can be sure that the monk will not try to move you towards his religion, convince you of anything or expect you to change your behavior. This is always left up to you. Read the rest of this story

Islands in Trang province Thailand

Islands in the Trang province of Thailand

When people think of Thailand, they often envision gorgeous beaches, palm trees, white sand and crystal clear ocean water. And yes, this does exist, but only in the southern part of Thailand. The bulk of Thailand is mostly land locked.

I remember when Thailand was hit by the infamous Tsunami in 2004, many of my concerned friends in the western world sent me emails asking me if I was safe. Actually I live over a 1000 miles away from the area which was affected, and the closest I ever got to it was watching it on TV, just like my American friends. Read the rest of this story

Population explosion is a big issue in some Asian countries. Look at India for example. China had the same problem and in response they instituted the (not very popular) one child policy.

Consequences of over population in developing nations can be starvation, lack of employment, lack of sufficient medical care, inability of the government to provide enough social services, pollution, sanitation issues etc. It’s a serious problem.

Not too long ago Thailand also had a population growth problem. Families were large with lots of children being born, and there was wide spread poverty. The writing was on the wall that sooner or later there would be serious consequences.

Today Thailand’s population growth has shrunk significantly. There is no serious starvation, there are no slums which exist in some other Asian countries, and Thailand is one of the more prosperous countries in southeast Asia. How did this come about? Read the rest of this story

Chiang Mai, Thailand, is famous for its colorful Sunday Market. Hundreds of vendors are selling art, handicrafts, clothes, food, musical instruments, and other creative items. But the Sunday Market is much more than a place where you go shopping.

You can get a foot massage or a Thai Massage in dozens of places – right on the sidewalk. And you can watch lots of musicians perform for donations. It is easy to spend hours there without ever getting bored, even if you don’t buy anything.

Last Sunday I saw a little girl, about 8 years old, put on an amazing performance which drew lots of spectators. She had a golden voice and was clearly an up and coming singing talent. I caught one of her songs on video.

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Is Thailand Really a Paradise?

Beach in ThailandIf you read the tourist brochures, it sure looks like it.

However as a long time resident of Thailand my interest is different from typical tourist attractions like riding elephants, visiting lots of  temples, looking at floating markets, doing jungle trekking, or getting a tan on the beaches.

What matters to me is this:  How is the day-to-day quality of life and my regular interaction with the people here compared to what I would find in other countries. I can speak about other countries since I have lived in eight of them and have visited over 50 of them. Read the rest of this story