Friends and neighbors,
As a lot of you already know, we live in Bangkok, at least we do for a good part of the year.
Many of the people I meet want to know what that’s like. I gather from some of those conversations that this is what most people think of when they think of living in Thailand…
I fear, however, that the whole truth of life in Thailand for most foreigner isn’t like that at all.
Far more frequently, it’s something more like this…
There’s another thing that must be said about life in Thailand, too. Thailand has had more military coups than any other country in modern history. Twenty since the absolute monarchy was overthrown in 1932.
The most recent Thai military coup was in 2014, but this one was a little different. This time the army hasn’t yet returned the power of self-government to the people as they did after each coup in the past. This time the army has kept control of the country, and more and more observers are saying that the military has finally learned its lesson, that they will never voluntarily give up power again. Some Thais are even urging people not to visit Thailand until the army gives up power, stops the suppression of dissent, and allows elections to be held.
So to those other two pictures of life in Thailand, now we have to add this one…
With or without the military coups, I understand that living in a faraway country sounds pretty exotic to most people. On the other hand, I have to tell you that there are a a fair number of my fellow Americans who think it’s downright weird.
I’ve published four books so far about a character named Jack Shepherd, with a fifth coming out in a few months. Once a prominent lawyer in Washington DC, Shepherd took a job on a momentary whim teaching in the business school at Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok. I’m glad he did. Because I got all these books out of that choice of his.
In the first book in the Jack Shepherd series, LAUNDRY MAN, Shepherd said this about how his friends in the US reacted when they heard he was moving to Thailand.
When people in Washington first began to hear that I was leaving to live in Bangkok and teach at Chulalongkorn University, a few of them jumped to the conclusion I was making a point of some kind, abandoning the land of my birth for reasons that were probably political and no doubt wacky. Others who heard what I was doing—and I noticed this group seemed to be composed mainly of women—attributed my change of address to middle-aged male angst fueled by overly moist fantasies of slim, submissive Thai women serving me brightly colored tropical drinks with little umbrellas in them. Most people, of course, fell into neither of those categories. Most people just assumed that I had lost my damned mind.
Part of the problem was that the whole idea of living in a foreign country was just so strange to most Americans, particularly since very few of them had ever seriously entertained the thought, however fleetingly, themselves. After all, everyone wanted to come to America, didn’t they? Half the population of the earth was fighting to live in Orange County and work in a 7-Eleven, wasn’t it? Why in God’s name would an American even think of living anywhere else?
There aren’t a lot of novels about Americans who have picked up and gone to a foreign country to start a different life. If you’ve ever wondered how it might feel to do that, to get up one day and say I’m out of here and move to a place like Thailand, I hope you’ll consider reading my series of crime novels featuring Jack Shepherd.
These are the four Shepherd novels I’ve published so far:
My fifth Jack Shepherd novel will be published later this year. It’s called DON’T GET CAUGHT.
Take a look, won’t you? There’s no better time than the dead of winter in Europe and North America to think about what it would feel like to be living in an exotic tropical country.
Even an exotic tropical country being run by the army.