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  1. #1
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    What we could all learn from expats



    by Ben Groundwater The Backpacker
    Ben Groundwater is Fairfax's globetrotter on a shoe-string.
    Follow Ben on Twitter @bengroundwater


    Want to make friends? Move to another country. Maybe somewhere third world.

    There you might meet a few of the locals who will eventually enter your social circle, but the most likely event is that you will end up with a large group of some of the best friends you've ever had, and they'll all be fellow expats. This process will take about a week.

    There's a refreshing lack of pretension among expat communities.

    Expats, in general, are friendly. They want to meet you, and know your story. They're fun to be around. They're people who "do" rather than plan.

    I've never lived long enough in another country to think of myself as an expat. I have, however, hung out with plenty of expat communities in countries around the world, and I've seen a similar theme in the people I've met. They share certain traits that anyone would do well to take on.

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    Expats tend to be adventurous, to be risk-takers. After all, they've already left their friends, their homes, their comfort zones and probably most of their possessions in another country to begin a new life abroad. That takes guts. It's only a certain type of person who'll do that.

    So the ones you meet living overseas are the ones who are prepared to take a punt on things working out for the best. They'll jump in the back of that tuk-tuk. They'll eat at that restaurant. They'll board that boat.

    This attitude to "doing" things is pretty likeable. It's rare you'll find an expat who sits around talking about all the things they'd love to do, without actually making it happen. People who've gone to live overseas are the type to just do it, to stop all of the planning and the wondering and just take things on.

    Another thing you notice about expats is that, regardless of the fact that they might have been living in their adopted country for five, or 10, or 20 years, and that they're holding down full-time jobs, and have maybe even started a family, they still seem to live life as though they're on a permanent holiday.

    They're out most nights of the week, socialising, hanging out with friends. They're going to restaurants and bars and living it up. They're still travelling, too, going off on weekends away to other parts of the country, or to neighbouring countries. There's always the sense that money doesn't matter so much it's more about how much you enjoy yourself, how much you see.

    There's no reason why everyone can't live like that, why you can't treat your own city like a holiday destination. But people rarely do it. Masterchef is on.

    Expats are incredibly friendly, and open to new people. There are no "set" groups of friends they'll take anyone in. I was in Seoul for a couple of days before I'd been invited to play in a football team and go drink beers afterwards at the pub. I was in Dubai for about six hours before I'd been taken out by complete strangers and shown a good time.

    There's a refreshing lack of pretension among expat communities. There's very little of the "where did you go to school" snobbery. Admittedly that's occasionally replaced with "what are you doing here" snobbery (English teachers to the back of the queue), but in general no one cares where you came from, or which school you went to, or who you worked for back home. You're here now, everything's different.

    Capital cities in Australia can be pretty cliquey places, where everyone already has their mates and they're not much interested in finding any more. For expats, however, there's a constant revolving world of friends as old mates move out of your life and new people appear. It creates a culture of openness.

    Strangely, I found that the more dangerous a country is, the friendlier its expat population will be. Maybe that's just a numbers thing with fewer expats around they're still a novelty. There's not the "just another Aussie" thing you might find in, say, London.

    Regardless of where you go, however, if you do decide to move overseas you'll always make friends, probably with some very interesting, friendly, dynamic people. People from whom we could learn a thing or two.

    Have you been an expat? Or spend time in expat communities? Are they friendly and open, or no different to anyone else?

    Email: b.groundwater@fairfaxmedia.com.au

    Instagram: instagram.com/bengroundwater



    Read more: The Backpacker Expats

  2. #2
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    Quote Originally Posted by kingwilly
    Another thing you notice about expats is that, regardless of the fact that they might have been living in their adopted country for five, or 10, or 20 years, and that they're holding down full-time jobs, and have maybe even started a family, they still seem to live life as though they're on a permanent holiday.
    That strikes a chord.

    Nearly 10 years in LOS and i still feel like i'm on holiday.
    I suppose when that feeling goes, so will i.

  3. #3
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    Yeh stuff there rings true.

  4. #4
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    Good story and very true, not many farangs out here, but if they speak English you will be cracking a beer with them. Jim

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    Wonder how smeg feels about this article?

  6. #6
    Gohills flip-flops wearer
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gerbil
    Wonder how smeg feels about this article?
    I think he wrote it.

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    Quote Originally Posted by jamescollister
    Good story and very true, not many farangs out here, but if they speak English you will be cracking a beer with them. Jim
    May be I would Jim, but I'd be also thinking 'here's another loser'. 99% are in my opinion. I see them come with big ideas and I see them go as failiers. May be I should include myself in there as I'll never know 'til it happens.

  8. #8
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    This groundwater guy does waffle on with some bullshit...

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Necron99 View Post
    This groundwater guy does waffle on with some bullshit...
    Some bullshit?

    Ummm....

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Necron99 View Post
    This groundwater guy does waffle on with some bullshit...
    I was thinking along similar lines. I have met some good guys over here and some losers same same everywhere I would imagine. I don't know too many expats around my way that are out every night then again I don't live in pattaya or bangkok so I wouldn't know what real expats are.
    I'm not saying it was Aliens, but it was Aliens!

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pragmatic View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by jamescollister
    Good story and very true, not many farangs out here, but if they speak English you will be cracking a beer with them. Jim
    May be I would Jim, but I'd be also thinking 'here's another loser'. 99% are in my opinion. I see them come with big ideas and I see them go as failiers. May be I should include myself in there as I'll never know 'til it happens.
    Makes little difference, come and lose, but came and tried, they will always be a beer and an ear.
    Their is only one other farang within a 20 KM radius of me, just coming out here, shows you took the less traveled path. Jim

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    Thailand Expat Pragmatic's Avatar
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    Jim you keep bleeting on about one thing or another. Do you really think you're an isolated case? For fcuk sake you're becoming boring. There's xxx number of farang, myself included, that are in a similar position to yourself but .................. Jim you make your bed, you lay in it.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pragmatic View Post
    Jim you keep bleeting on about one thing or another. Do you really think you're an isolated case? For fcuk sake you're becoming boring. There's xxx number of farang, myself included, that are in a similar position to yourself but .................. Jim you make your bed, you lay in it.
    Location, where are you, that is that isolated, Lao, Burma, or are in in Thailand, if so where. Jim

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by kingwilly
    There's a refreshing lack of pretension among expat communities.
    or they are just as coarse and vulgar as they were back home.

    Quote Originally Posted by kingwilly
    Expats, in general, are friendly. They want to meet you, and know your story.
    bullshit , they get tired of a stream of tourists, who are going to quickly move on anyway
    Quote Originally Posted by kingwilly
    They're people who "do" rather than plan.
    Debatable, they are people who have done one thing once , but that don't make a trend



    Quote Originally Posted by kingwilly
    After all, they've already left their friends, their homes, their comfort zones and probably most of their possessions in another country to begin a new life abroad. That takes guts. It's only a certain type of person who'll do that.
    Maybe they had no friends , home etc , guts ? or fuck all to lose ...

    Quote Originally Posted by kingwilly
    with fewer expats around they're still a novelty. There's not the "just another Aussie" thing you might find in, say, London.
    oh so your whole carefully laid out expat theory breaks down in the very places where most of the worlds expats live ...

    Quote Originally Posted by kingwilly
    Follow Ben on Twitter
    no thanks
    I hate twitter and facebook.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Pragmatic View Post
    Jim you keep bleeting on about one thing or another. Do you really think you're an isolated case? For fcuk sake you're becoming boring. There's xxx number of farang, myself included, that are in a similar position to yourself but .................. Jim you make your bed, you lay in it.
    Jim might be surprised [or not] as to the number of long-time Farang residents that find themselves in similiar isolated and distant situations...

    It's not as if he has a lock on this lifestyle.
    Nonetheless, rather admire him for his vast gathered knowledge and sorted insights without coming across "too" Farang.
    Last edited by Rural Surin; 20-07-2013 at 09:06 AM.

  16. #16
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    Very truthful insight,but not applicable to Thailand.Thailand lacks the class of the true gin and tonic ex pat friendship meeting establishment,the

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rural Surin View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Pragmatic View Post
    Jim you keep bleeting on about one thing or another. Do you really think you're an isolated case? For fcuk sake you're becoming boring. There's xxx number of farang, myself included, that are in a similar position to yourself but .................. Jim you make your bed, you lay in it.
    Jim might be surprised [or not] as to the number of long-time Farang residents that find themselves in similiar isolated and distant situations...

    It's not as if has a lock on this lifestyle.
    Nonetheless, rather admire him for his vast gathered knowledge and sorted insights without coming across "too" Farang.
    How does a falang get so high and mighty in your eyes Rural as not to come a cross as to falang when they actually are one?

    You quote some absurd rubbish !!

  18. #18
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    When a Farang is not a Farang. The makings of a debatable new thread.

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pragmatic View Post
    Jim you keep bleeting on about one thing or another. Do you really think you're an isolated case? For fcuk sake you're becoming boring. There's xxx number of farang, myself included, that are in a similar position to yourself but .................. Jim you make your bed, you lay in it.
    I saw one farang (French) in 6 months in Taphan Hin when I first moved to Thailand back in 2007 ... I lasted 6 months.

  20. #20
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    Interesting thread, Cant agree with the groundwater bloke though as having been an expat in a few asian countries i find the expat culture, if you can call it that varies from place to place,Singapore, hongkong etc you expect to find the financial types wafting around in a polyester suit striking deals and "networking" whereas in places such as PNG, Indo, Mongolia etc, the expats i think tend to be hands on Men/women, in mining or oilys etc , In Laos where ive been working for nearly 8 years the lines are slightly blurred, There is a bit of mining going on and plenty of expats in that Field but also an equal number of farangs who make there living working in the NGO circuit and aid organisations etc, I do go out a fair bit but find i rarely socialise with them, Fuk all in common i guess, and i usually find the departments those expats work with are against the industry i choose to work in( Fockers), After there assignments over they move on to the next 3rd world country posting complete with hardship allowance , Could be wrong but thats just the way i see it. I often wonder what about what percentage of TD posters live fulltime in Thailand /asia and what they do, work ? Retired, come 6 months a year?. but im a nosy cont.
    Tell us what you do people,

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by wasabi View Post
    When a Farang is not a Farang. The makings of a debatable new thread.
    ...you'll always be a Farang.
    In one varying disposition or another.

    Some Farang don't take it so seriously and get on nicely....others, have quite a time with it, being very destructive for themselves.

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by beerlaodrinker View Post
    Interesting thread, Cant agree with the groundwater bloke though as having been an expat in a few asian countries i find the expat culture, if you can call it that varies from place to place,Singapore, hongkong etc you expect to find the financial types wafting around in a polyester suit striking deals and "networking" whereas in places such as PNG, Indo, Mongolia etc, the expats i think tend to be hands on Men/women, in mining or oilys etc , In Laos where ive been working for nearly 8 years the lines are slightly blurred, There is a bit of mining going on and plenty of expats in that Field but also an equal number of farangs who make there living working in the NGO circuit and aid organisations etc, I do go out a fair bit but find i rarely socialise with them, Fuk all in common i guess, and i usually find the departments those expats work with are against the industry i choose to work in( Fockers), After there assignments over they move on to the next 3rd world country posting complete with hardship allowance , Could be wrong but thats just the way i see it. I often wonder what about what percentage of TD posters live fulltime in Thailand /asia and what they do, work ? Retired, come 6 months a year?. but im a nosy cont.
    Tell us what you do people,


    I don't think NGO's count, most of them have a chip on each shoulder and another up the wazoo. Unable to enjoy anything as it is,it always needs changing.

  23. #23
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    good thread...KW

    life should be a holiday...long time dead?............sounds good to me.

    suns up ...time for a beer..

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by blue View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by kingwilly
    Expats, in general, are friendly. They want to meet you, and know your story.
    Excellent Fisking job there Blue. If there's one glaring erroneous example it's the one above. How many expats/farang will meet your eye or go out of their way to strike up a conversation in everyday life? Sure, at the gym or in a bar perhaps but generally in public, farang do not go out of their way to socialize here in Thailand IMHO.

    Europe/S. America - different story.

    Fisking - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

  25. #25
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    I think this is a great thread and could be used for many things about Ex-pats, living and visiting Thailand.
    There is nothing I hate more than seeing an Ex-pat do something that they wouldn't even consider in there own country, and then have all of us painted with the same brush. I think it is a responsibility of all of us to set a good example as a visitor here in this country, and for that matter any country that is not our own.

    , I realize that this sounds very,very judgemental! We as Ex-pats have to realize that we cannot come to another person's country and try to make changes that we feel would reflect what it is like in our own country. I guess what I am saying is, "Stop trying to change something that is o.k. with the people that have lived here for hundreds of years".

    Thanks again for this thread, there are many points of view, all worthwhile.

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