Things Only British Expats Living in Thailand Will Understand


There are some things that only someone from a specific country will encounter when trying to uproot and live in Thailand. Brits will find this list entertaining and nod knowingly, whilst those of you who have a friend who is British will astound him or her by seemingly knowing their inner thoughts.

Where are the Walkers ?

Most Brits have a passion for Walkers crisps and you’ll often see them jumping up and down with joy when they find some imported packets tucked away on some supermarket shelf. We know one Brit who has a constant craving for another crisp brand . . . Monster Munch, where the pickled onion flavour is one of the strongest in the world when it comes to crisps. So, if you want to surprise your British friend, hand him some Walkers crisps or Monster Munch if you come across any and watch his eyes grow wide with glee.

Straight Lines & Zig Zags

Having been brought up in Britain, a Brit will typically be extra serious about time and will want to get from A to B in a straight line in record time. In Thailand, however, people are just generally more relaxed and sometimes don’t even wear a watch. They take their time and don’t attach as much importance to getting from A to B in record speed, unless it’s business of course. So, the best thing for a Brit to do if frustrated by this relaxed approach to walking is to walk in zig zags instead of a straight line. This will keep the Brit moving to pace out some frustration and he or she will probably get to B quicker than attempting to walk in dead straight lines. There’s nothing wrong with either culture’s way of walking of course, as it’s just that . . . different cultures.

Sugary Bread

Our typical Brit will be used to sour or plain tasting bread as a complimentary base for the flavours spread on top of each slice. In Thailand they have a sweeter tooth however, so add more sugar to bread and top it with various sweet stuff. So, you’ll find most Brits searching through the bread section trying in desperation to find unsweetened bread.

EastEnders Refugees

The EastEnders series is the most popular series people watch in Britain, so much so that extra electrical power has to be routed from France to power all the TV sets when it is airing. It also happens to be the worst series in the entire world. The entire script revolves around various disasters such as fights, bankruptcy, affairs, deaths, faulty toasters, depression and various other negative themes. Although EastEnders has a large audience who have equated negativity as being reality, for those Brits who can see how unbelievably shallow and bad the show is, may have moved to Thailand to escape it. If you don’t believe me, look up an episode on YouTube, and don’t expect any amazing camera angles or cinematography.

Freedom From Detector Vans

Brits who come to Thailand often feel like they’ve been released from being tied up in red tape. For one thing there are no TV detector vans taxing you just because you have a TV. There is no Council Tax, which is like paying a permanent debt for your whole life and there are no multiple segregated parking spaces, as in parking spaces for families, families with more than two children, families with dogs or families with pet fish etc. There is just plain old simple parking with zones for disabled drivers. Nice and uncomplicated – nice and simple . . . phew, thank the Gods for that.

Small Talk Obstacle

Most small talk in Britain revolves around the weather, as it’s always changing. It is hot and sunny pretty much 90% of the time in Thailand, so initiating small talk with “It’s cold today” or “When’s this rain going to stop?” is not possible. They will be at a loss for a while on how to strike up a conversation with a stranger until they discover the “Have you eaten yet?” small talk initiating phrase in Thailand.

Totally Bananas

It is a sad, sad fact, but most Brits think that pineapples grow on trees . . . so if it is your British friend’s first time in Thailand, your friend will probably be amazed to see them growing from the ground. Brits will also be confounded as to how many types of bananas there are, as in Britain there are just . . . well, big bananas and medium size bananas.

Run-of-the-Mill Potatoes

Potatoes, or “Spuds” as the Brits like to call them are available in a wide variety of types in England, so a Brit who likes to cook will be saddened to see just one or possibly two types of potato to choose from. This is often balanced however when the said Brit has been living in Thailand for a while and discovers that there are hundreds of varieties of rice to choose from.

England is an Island?

Growing up in Britain is like being sheltered from other cultures and the entire known universe. There is almost no news for example of what’s going on in neighbouring countries such as France or most other European countries, unless it has to do with the economy. The most an average Brit will know about Belgium for example is that there is good chocolate there. So, there comes a realisation after spending a lengthy amount of time living in Thailand – that Britain is in fact (shock horror) a small island. Britain literally shrinks in size deep within their minds. A humbling experience.

Escape From the Red Tape Asylum

Britain, although it has beautiful historic sites, wonderful areas of nature and is very stable, it is also full of red tape rules and regulations and maddening complications around the simplest of things.

There are parking meters that don’t give change and allow you only 30 minutes to park, a ream of different tickets to buy to get on a train from different private train companies, hoops to jump through if you want a doctor’s appointment, 6 different bins to throw rubbish in with classifications on what goes where, prissy uptight garbage collectors who won’t empty your bin if the wheely bin is at a slight angle . . . and a whole host of other time wasting complications to juggle with day to day.

You have to take special training, get a licence and wear a reflective jacket before you can even fly a toy model helicopter in Britain. That’s the sort of red tape we’re talking about here. Making everything so safe, so regulated, so monitored, that life eventually won’t be worth living after a while.

The good news is that in Thailand things are not overcomplicated unnecessarily. You can buy one train ticket and hop onto the train, visit the doctor anytime without delay, with the pharmacy right there inside the hospital, and a whole host of other positive things. This will put a smile on every Brit’s face and be yet another step for embracing life in Thailand and the Thai culture.







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