Love/Hate relationship between Foreigners and Thailand
Tourists travel from all over the world to enjoy the tropics, especially in Thailand, attracted by our lifestyles, our cultures, our habitats, our weather and our national resources such as our beaches and mountains. Most of them travel over to Thailand for our extraordinary beauty and environment. However, the ones who come to ‘visit’ and come to ‘stay’ have drastically different opinions of the “Land of Smiles”.
From my own personal experience of being a foreigner living here in Thailand for nearly 15 years, I have my fair share of opinions towards this country. Firstly, Foreigner fees. Living in Thailand, there are many times when I, myself, have had to pay entry fees to enter certain places such as monuments, zoos or even right now where they have a new law in having foreigners pay an entrance fee when entering the country. Some are understandable such as important monuments or tourist attractions but some are too outrageous and don’t even include policies from the government but they added foreign fees just because we’re not citizens. The other issue personally for me including foreigner fees are ‘Additional Tuition Fees’. I can’t wrap my mind around the fact that I have to pay an additional 10-15 thousand baht to my tuition fees every term simply because I’m a foreigner. Especially during the high in the Covid-19 pandemic when every student received a 50-75% discount/payback of their tuition fees, except foreigners! The government stated that they don’t have remedy policies for foreign students so multiple universities took action in helping foreign students but my foreign friends and I had only received a total payback of 3,800 baht, which for me was unacceptable and a lack of equality in the government. Is this what foreigners should really live with in Thailand? Is this what they deserve? Speaking of lack of equality, there’s going to be more details in the next bullet point.
Citizenship, according to the UK government it clearly states that you can apply for citizenship if you’ve lived in the UK for 5 years. However, in Thailand it’s more complicated than that and I know for sure that it’s the most difficult and challenging part of trying to live in Thailand. As I said, I’m a foreigner who’s been living here for nearly 15 years and I have never been able to apply for citizenship here unless I change my whole UK citizenship to being full Thai while in the UK, u can simply add a citizenship. This makes it very difficult and is a waste of time in applying for a visa every year or every 6 months for some people. One of my father’s friends applied for citizenship and still hasn’t received it : he applied in 2012. Why, you may ask, is it so difficult to apply for citizenship here in Thailand? I honestly have no answer for you because I’m still looking for the answer myself because it seems quite unfair for me living here only on a visa even though I’ve been living here for over half of my life.
Further on with the same topic, I’m going to share how difficult and confusing it is to apply for visas here in Thailand. There are certain documents that you need to prepare in applying for various visas BUT I cannot tell you how many trips I have to take in going back and forth from immigrations because no one says the same things on what they need in order to apply the visa! The immigration website says one thing, the immigration officer says another and another officer says a completely different thing! Why can’t they just have their official website announce and update the documents they need? I have no idea and it irritates me so much in having to waste time and energy in trying to get answers on what I need because they change policies nearly every year. It makes it very difficult for foreigners, especially with the language barrier.
Language barriers. I understand that most people don’t do well in languages but I feel like in important places such as immigrations, police stations or the airport, you should be able to converse in English especially in Thailand where the number of foreigners is really high. Since they are places where conversing for understanding is very important and many issues or conflicts can occur due to this issue. However, I haven’t got this issue since I can speak,read & write Thai fluently but most of my foreign friends and even my father have many issues with the language barrier because no one understands them and they also can’t understand anyone.
Racism, a long discussed but hopefully solved with time issue that nearly everyone has faced or seen happen to others. I’m blasian so my father is white but I’m brown so there are many confusions that happen to other people who look at me differently especially when I first moved here 14 years ago. I got called multiple names such as nigro, half-blood, curly head and even got bullied by people putting in erasers or pens in my hair and the time came when I couldn’t take it anymore so I decided to straighten my hair just to fit in but that still didn’t help because I had dark brown skin which should be normal right? There are lots of Thais with the same skin color I have but apparently those people got bullied too. Even though right now everything is much more improved and now that I’ve learnt how to handle situations such as these, as a young 6 year old in a foreign country that couldn’t understand nearly half of what everyone said it was really hard and caused real issues on my mental health. Luckily, I have a loving family who supports me in everything but it was still a long time until I recovered and I’m still recovering from that past trauma.
Politics and Foreigners
Lastly, Politics. It’s sad to see corruption occur in the country that we chose to live in but have no availability of the right to be a part of change here. Because we can’t apply for citizenship or we can but it takes a long time, foreigners in Thailand unfortunately don’t have the right to vote which is quite understandable for me but if they got the citizenship issue sorted since the beginning, we could have our right in dictating or at least be able to our life quality living here in Thailand.
All I hope is for my family, my friends who are foreigners living here in Thailand to be able to live a happy and stable life with equality and more opportunities in a country that with all the flaws being said, is still the country we choose to live in and love.
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