Farang Cycle of Life and Death in Thailand

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Last edited: July 27, 2022 at 08:44:01


Buddhist temples (mainly in Tibet) display pictures of the Buddhist cycle of life and death, Samsara or the Wheel of Life.
I've noticed that foreigners living in Thailand have their own life cycle, where actions, endeavours and failures make one go on forever in circles or drop out at some stage.
Your individual stay or life cycle in Thailand may be different, but overall, numbers make statistics and I bet you know someone who's in stage X of what I call 'the Farang Cycle of Life and Death in Thailand'.

Buddhist Wheel of Life
Buddhist Cycle of Life (Tibetan style painting)

The Farang Cycle of Life and Death in Thailand, or in short: Farang Life Cycle, counts 9 phases but it could last 2 months, 10 years or the remainder of your life time. It all depends on your personal life path, your preferences, your individual situation and, most of all: your choices. Some people go through the cycle faster than others, others get stuck somewhere forever and are doomed to stay (t)here.
With the word death, I mean the end of your stay here in Thailand, but some guys take it very literally and get blown off a balcony in Pattaya, so they say, or jump from a floor in Suvarnabhumi airport on their way back home.
If you've lived in other third world countries before, you may adjust through the 9 phases faster than others and reach your destination sooner.
Interestingly, in numerology there is a 9-years life cycle and I've found that in my own life, I often drastically change directions after 9 years, but your life might be different and again 9 phases don't necessarily correspond to 9 years.

The Farang Cycle of Life and Death in Thailand bears some similarities with the so-called SARAH concept in psychological charts: the phases of SHOCK - ANGER - REJECTION - ACCEPTANCE and HELP or HOPE that people have to work through when experiencing something deeply disturbing. The way out of SARAH is simply to work your way through all these phases towards healing to reach the point of Hope or Help. Not everybody can, some people remain stuck in REJECTION, for example, and never become free from that disturbing experience.

Like SARAH, the Farang Cycle of Life and Death in Thailand is a sequence of phases that you can or have to work through to really feel at home in Thailand or .. to just leave it all together.
I've seen many foreigners come and go, some stayed for years, others for decades, but not all of them really work through the phases until the end, most get stuck somewhere in the middle and never leave Thailand but are never really happy either.

[ I've indicated with markers what you become when you drop out of a phase and leave Thailand from there (✖︎ EXIT POINT ►) or when you remain stuck in a certain phase and stay (t)here forever (✖︎ STUCK DESTINATION ►).
It's possible you're not progressing from one phase to another in a strict order but merely 'vibrating' between different phases, the Farang Life Cycle is not a rigid timeline but more of a mental framework to understand where you are with regard to aspects of living in Thailand. For the sake of simplicity of the story, I use generalisations but they may not apply to you nor to everyone. ]

Check out in which phase(s) you are, be a little self-critical, but treat yourself with a bit of humor and treat this article like a self-improvement game and figure out where you are in your stay in Thailand.



The vast majority of foreigners coming to Thailand for the first time are probably rather pleased with how easy it is to travel, meet locals and live in Thailand. Everything simply seems fun and easy, the people are friendly, the food is great, and the prices are very affordable.
No doubt, you've been there, if not, come and experience it.

Compared to a whole bunch of other countries, including neighboring countries in Southeast Asia, living in Thailand is so easy and pleasant that months simply pass without you noticing.

In this phase, you don't have that much eye for what's wrong with this country, you don't really care and it doesn't really disturb you because you're not really intensively involved with Thai society, you don't work here, you don't have to motivate local staff, you don't have to solve problems, first and foremost you're a consumer and that coffee can come a little later because you're not in a hurry.

Yeah, perhaps you notice one or two things that aren't really in order and don't happen so often in a civilised country like where you're from, but hey it doesn't bother you because you're still indulging in all that cheap and good stuff that Thailand's got to offer and that you didn't have in your home country: 100 baht massages, plenty of attention from the other sex, nice hot weather and hot cooked food at a bargain everywhere.

If this is a holiday or short stay, sure you'll be wanting more of it when you're back in your office in your cold home country.

Living in Thailand becomes a dream, and you want to Live the Dream.

✖︎ EXIT POINT ► This phase could end 'prematurely' when your holiday is over and you've got to go back to home country, but you crave to come back to Thailand and experience the free life. You become the DREAMER.

✖︎ STUCK DESTINATION ► If you don't move on to a next phase and stay love blind with Thailand, you become the ETERNAL TOURIST and you'll never know the real Thailand, you didn't dig deep enough. A lot of shorter-term travellers remain stuck in this phase, then drop out.

Wheel of Life symbol in the famous Yuantong Zen Buddhist Temple in Kunming, China
Wheel of Life symbol in the famous Yuantong Zen Buddhist Temple in Kunming, China



Phase 1 seamlessly goes over into the next phase if you have time enough to stay longer in Thailand. This is a phase of total comfort: you like or even love this country with all the great things it's got to offer, you're spending hours at the pool or hanging out with friends, enjoying all the free time you now have and never had in your own country because the lifestyle there is too hasty and you needed to make money to survive. Of all the great things Thailand has got to offer a lot of FREE TIME at hand is probably one of your favourites, if not it's cheap and good food, happy smiles, a decent level of facilities, or pretty and willing girls that keep you sealed to Thai soil.
You can't get enough of your favourites, so you're taking a massage a few times a week and dating just as many women. Now you look back at your time in your home country nearly as wasted and unhappy.

Many foreigners in this phase feel like a rich man: whatever income they have, it suffices to let them enjoy a luxury lifestyle compared to what they could get at home.

This is the phase where you fall in love with Thailand but where you are still blind by love to see some more of its real sides.

If you're a guy, you're having the time of your life with plenty of pretty girls just around the corner who could be a model in your country. Moreover, you can get them at any age and often you find yourself as old as her father or one third of your age (but you don't tell her). You know you could never have such gorgeous girls back home and you totally lose interest in Caucasian girls. You're having Thailand Fever because of the FROM-ZERO-TO-HERO syndrom.

If you make short trips back home, you can't wait to go back to Thailand and getting your next visa is always a bit exciting because you want to get the longest visa possible. You try to find ways to get a 1-year visa, whatever it takes, volunteering or studying Thai, just to stay and don't leave.

You can keep drifting in this Comfort Zone for a very long time, why would you change anyway? You're comfortable and (you think) you've got all you need. You're living the dream, and by the way, it's also the Thai Dream because most Thais' ultimate goal in life is to be sabai (comfortable).

Comfort Zones are places animals and humans naturally like to stay in, remember the red pill versus the blue pill in the Matrix? Well, some people just choose to take the blue pill although deep inside, they know that something is ultimately lacking.

✖︎ EXIT POINT ► This phase could end abruptly for some foreigners for example when their savings have dried up or when they didn't manage to make an income online and live in Thailand forever. It's a painful end to living a life of luxury and comfort and some take it so seriously they commit suicide when they are forced to live or become totally depressed when living back home.
You become the DEPRIVED.

✖︎ STUCK DESTINATION ► If you don't move on from this phase to the next, you'll enjoy the good things of Thailand and you're living the Thai dream. Perhaps there are signs that something is wrong or lacking, but you're not listening or you don't (want to) see them, you decide to keep taking the blue pill and you never come to realise more. You become the INDULGER. You keep focusing on some of your basic needs and you shut off calls from your inner needs. If you remain stuck in this phase, you enjoyed Thailand but you never really got to learn something about the country, you didn't dig deep enough.

Wheel of Life figure in Phuket
Wheel of life statues in Phuket, Thailand.


This phase happens all throughout your stay in Thailand (or a foreign country) to the alert and interested traveller and long-stayer. It’s interest for a foreign culture, language and society that leads you to probing deeper and getting to understand more about it. Wondering why things are the way they are in Thailand, both the negative and the positive, can lead you on a journey that’s never going to end.

If you were dwelling in your Comfort Zone and now you’re starting to discover deeper layers of Thai society, chances are the first cracks are appearing in your initial Image of Paradise.

Why are your requests or complaints at a shop being answered by the infamous maipenrai? Why doesn't your date show up even although you confirmed the meeting a few times earlier this week? Why do some locals involved in a traffic accident drive away quickly? What does loosing face really mean? What is the function of using excuses in Thai social conventions? What does corruption really mean? What drives a Thai? Who really runs this country? How to find the mafia in Thailand?

Just a few questions you can wonder about. Some of us understand more than others, but that's not the point and it's not a (bragging) competition. The point is, it’s hard to know when you thoroughly understand a foreign culture like Thai, when you think you got it, you may realize a year later you were wrong and the truth was at a deeper level, a layer-behind-a-layer. Staying interested is key to keep moving, rather than being stuck in this phase and concluding that you totally understand everything about this country.
If you notice that you hardly get surprised anymore in Thailand, perhaps it’s time to be alert on the next thing you didn’t know and open your eyes, ears and mind.

✖︎ EXIT POINT ► Some people exit their existence in Thailand in this phase because they found out a few things, true or not, about Thai society that they don’t like or they feel Thailand doesn’t have enough to offer. Others never truly reach deep enough into this phase, when they aren’t really interested in a foreign culture but merely want to keep living their comfortable life in a little oasis tucked away in a country that happens to be Thailand.

✖︎ STUCK DESTINATION ► People stuck in this phase typically become a THAILAND EXPERT. They got to figure out a few things about Thailand and now think they know all. Typically, they start advising other foreigners and often apply generalisations which may be true overall but not for every person and every situation. You can’t trust Thai, they are all lazy, this country is corrupt and so on. A favourite concept many THAILAND EXPERTS like to explain to you is their understanding of losing face.
Beginning THAILAND EXPERTS often become travel bloggers who like to write or explain things about Thailand they’ve just discovered. How deep the blog goes depends, often it’s stuck at a level that recommends the best places to have a coffee or to use internet. Most travel bloggers repeat the same information over and over again on social network sites or on their own websites without much added value.
Other THAILAND EXPERTS become hyper-active Facebook posters and spend hours every day commenting on each and every thread, or start their own Facebook group and become Admin, which gives them some sense of control over this otherwise lost world.

Read more about foreigners who don’t really work their way through this phase: Ten Signs You're Not a Local In Chiang Mai

Wheel of life between elephants in Wat Chai Mongkhon Chiang Mai temple
Wheel of life between elephants in Wat Chai Mongkhon Chiang Mai temple


At this stage in your Thailand experience you’re getting irritated about all kinds of things that simply don’t work in Thailand.

You’re getting irritated about the entire Thai visa mess, the rules about visa and the need for you to report every 90 days or to make a trip to the border just to get one stamp. You’re irritated about the waiting queues at the Immigration office and the lack of organisation.
You’re annoyed when your date doesn’t show up, cancels last minute or expects you to pay an expensive dinner for her and her friend.
You wonder why the sales guy in a department store doesn’t know a product line two rows further on, you’re frustrated that you have to lose time as a customer because Thai staff don’t make the effort to make your life any easier.
The list could go on and on, depending on what your sensitivities are.

At this stage, your irritation level is just at the start, it’s a combination of irritation and being flabbergasted how badly things are organised in Thailand. You can’t believe that the manager of a hotel just told you to come back another day because of some lame excuse while you were ready to pay a deposit for a room. Any sensible businessman would take a customer who’s willing to pay, why do Thai staff let you go, it simply doesn’t make sense and you’re both flabbergasted and irritated.

If you foster a ‘healthy level’ of irritation and keep your interested for this country, you can actually use this intially negative energy as a powerful drive to understand more about how Thailand is organised. But if the irritation level grows stronger and becomes anger, you’ve lost control of that power and it overtakes you. Then you’ve reached the next phase: ANGER.

✖︎ EXIT POINT ► Some people already give up on Thailand after getting a bit irritated and simply opt for easier, more organised countries or places where they don't get bugged in their sensitivities.

✖︎ STUCK DESTINATION ► Some people move on and vibrate back to this phase now and then. This can be rather useful, if you use the energy of irritation to get to know more about this country. But most people move on to the next phase and remain stuck there.

Wheel of Life figure in Chiang Mai, Nightbazar
Wheel of life figure in Chiang Mai, Thailand


In my experience, this is the phase where most long-term foreigners in Thailand remain stuck. Go on any social network site or forum like Thaivisa or Facebook, hang out with groups of expats and you know what I’m talking about. Loads and loads of grumpy farang complaining about everything that’s wrong in this country.

Yes, they are right, most of the time, but that’s not the point. If you’ve landed here, you’ve realised that nearly every prejudice about Thailand and Thai people, both positive and negative, is true, but you’re mainly bugged by the negative ones.
For example: Thai are lazy, they don’t make an effort, they don’t give a sh☠t about anything, they don’t have any decent education, worse: don’t have any interest to learn something. They are stupid. They just want money but don’t want to work (hard) for it. The entire visa system doesn’t make sense, worse: any system in Thailand doesn’t make sense or it’s extremely ill-designed and carried out poorly. Thai aren’t good at anything except for Thai food and some carpentry perhaps. They don’t excel in anything except for cutting corners. Etc. etc.

Things are much better in your own home country, the solutions are so obvious to you that you can simply point them out to Thai but they don’t want to learn and see. Why don’t they change it? This sentence ‘why don’t they ….’ pops up in your mind quite a few times every day.
The government posts propaganda with a hotline number to report bad exhaust pipes, but you know the solution already. Why don’t they check the exhaust pipes of all the songtaews and tuc tucs in town? Then we’d get rid of half of the pollution.

You're often quite upset with this f☠cking country and wondering what you're doing here in the first place. You’re constantly getting irritated, angry at things and people and you want to change them.
Yes, you’re right and you’re right about a whole lot of things, but that’s not the point. You’re at war with the world you live in and you’re not really happy. It’s a war you’re going to lose, unless you move on to the next phase.

✖︎ EXIT POINT ► It’s very well possible that you exit here, you simply can’t stand it anymore and in a way it’s better to leave this country than to stay and moan about it forever. Leave here, give up on Thailand and become the RELINQUISHER.

✖︎ STUCK DESTINATION ► If you remain stuck in this phase, you’re not alone, in fact you’re in the good company of tens of thousands of foreigners stuck in Thailand forever. Put differently, most foreigners stuck in Thailand are stuck in this very phase, and they'll never get out. This is because deep inside, they find some pleasure in complaining about someone else, perhaps it makes them feel superior or for another reason, but they don't realise that.
They like certain things about this country but they hate a lot of other things much more, yet they can’t leave. They become the COMPLAINER.
Typical COMPLAINERS are Thaivisa posters who hide behind computer screens day in and day out, commenting on every thread, often funny but mostly useless. Other COMPLAINERS are active in certain Facebook groups.

Wheel of Life figure made of flowers in Chiang Mai
Wheel of Life made of flowers in Chiang Mai


If you’re mild-hearted or clear-minded enough, you’ll be lucky to pull yourself out of the swamp that sucked you in during the previous phase of ANGER, COMPLAINTS AND THE WISH TO CHANGE THEM.

You have (finally) come to realise that there is no point in complaining about Thailand and its people: they won’t change in a hundred years and certainly not because you want them to. The system is what it is and they will do it their way, no matter how stupid or poorly done it is, it’s the Thai way and you gain nothing from wanting to change them. Now you can start laughing about it again, perhaps some things still irritate you now and then but you won’t let them overtake you into anger.

You've decided to accept the way things are.

In spiritual terms, you’re actually making a big leap forward because you’re coming to peace with the world outside you.

Accepting the way things are in Thailand doesn't mean being indifferent or complacent, it means abandoning a fight with reality where reality usually wins and choosing to have peace in yourself over the meaningless desire to change others.

The whirlwind has sunk down and you now have a space and silence within yourself from where you are ready to live with Thailand in the way you choose to. You're entering a more peaceful period for a while, where you can enjoy Thailand again without getting upset.

✖︎ EXIT POINT ► If you reached this phase, most likely you won't exit Thailand here, because your heart just came to peace and you look at the world around you with a new perspective.

✖︎ STUCK DESTINATION ► If you remain stuck here, you did well, but you just didn’t move on to some next phases.
You’ve become the ACCEPTOR. Things are what they are in Thailand and it’s fine with you.


In the previous phase you managed to truly accept the way Thailand is and all the bad things that come with it, a burden was relieved from your heart and you could enjoy Thailand in a new way for a while. Perhaps you had a quiet time after for a while and enjoyed Thailand in a new way. In other words, you faced and embraced what Thailand has to offer.
The next challenge comes when you face what Thailand doesn’t have, in other words what’s missing for you while living in this country.

In the beginning, you didn’t focus too much on this side of living in Thailand, because you just came from your home country and you had enough of the things that you now feel are lacking. These could be: really good friends, trustworthy friends, good conversations, interaction with educated, motivated or passionate people, real culture, etc. Things which are often scarcer in Thailand, both with local people and with foreigners.

You start to feel these lacks as something more essential to your well-being than you at first thought. After your more basic needs (food, shelter, sex and entertainment) have been satisfied for a while, the lack of satisfaction of your higher needs starts to eat at you. You feel lonely, unsatisfied, maybe even lost in world you have little real affection with.
Maybe you feel you’re losing your mind, what are you doing here, are you getting crazy? Other people seem to make less sense, or seem to be losers. Are you one yourself?
You realise you’re spending time with people here whom you wouldn't spend time with back in your own country just because there aren't any other interesting people left.
There seems to be something wrong, a certain degree of loser-mind in almost everyone here, you even question yourself and you realize that the term economic refugees not only applies to Syrians but also to a whole lot of foreigners who stay in Thailand just because it's cheap.
You now realize that living cheap in Thailand comes at a cost: a lower level of facilities, pollution, lack of 'quality people, low education and so on, and you realize that there was no free lunch.

Perhaps for the first time during your stay in Thailand, you experience a feeling of Home Sickness.

The once gorgeous girls you were dating now appear to you like barbies addicted to smartphones, empty shells of beautiful flesh without a mature mind. You can't bother to go on first dates anymore, you might even lose interest in sex.

If you’re not working in Thailand, you also feel a lack of purpose. Being on a long holiday sounded good in the beginning, but starts to get boring now. Even if you’re retired, you feel you need a project at hand but you don’t have it yet.

The Comfort Zone that sucked you in in the beginning now shows its vile side: you realize it's a trap, you've been trapped in Thailand, you don't know where else to go now, you don't see other opportunities. You gave up your job, how can you go back to work, you wouldn't fit in, they wouldn't want to hire someone like you anyway. You can't live with and without things here but you can't go back to your own country either. You've just discovered another meaning of the infamous TIT (This Is Thailand): Trapped In Thailand.
If this feeling exacerbates, you start to feel like a prisoner in a golden cage. You want to get out but you can't. Something is still keeping you or your mind is still cluttered.

The Dream has become a Nightmare and you have fallen out of love with Thailand. You are getting more hints from your intuition that you're not in the right place, you're having dreams showing you what you really want or what you're missing, it's your heart trying to give you signs and directions but it depends on your clear-mindedness whether you take its advice and remember after you wake up. Perhaps waking up is going back in the dream.
The delirium effects of the blue pill are fading out and you're reaching out for the next pill but you're hesitating if it should be the blue pill or the red one. It's a good sign: you're entering the next phase of making CHOICES.

✖︎ EXIT POINT ► It’s very well possible that you drop out of Thailand in this phase of the cycle. Perhaps you managed to accept most of the negative things of living in Thailand, but you decided you can’t live without some, for you essential, things that Thailand simply doesn’t offer. If you do drop out here, at least you didn't remain stuck in the prison, the trap that Thailand has become for you.

✖︎ STUCK DESTINATION ► If you remain stuck here, probably there are commitment or impediments that keep you from leaving: you made someone pregnant, you have a business involvement and you can’t take your money out yet, you can’t stand living in your home country anymore after your Thai experience, you can't gather the energy to try and live somewhere else, or somehow you’re a loser. You become the MISERABLE.

Wheel of Life figure at temple near Chiang Mai Gate


Now you've arrived at a crucial phase in your existence in a foreign country: you’ve enjoyed the good sides, you’ve accepted the bad sides, you can embrace it all and now you’ve got to decide if what this country can offer you is what you need. This is a phase of contemplation and reflection. You know that nowhere is perfect, you left your home country already, but now you’re more aware of what Thailand means to you and what you want.

If you weren't bound by commitments or hindered by impediments, you can make a very clear-minded choice as to whether Thailand is the place where you want to keep living. If you do have some attachments or binding reasons to stay, you choices are within boundaries and you must stay perhaps, for the time being. Perhaps you're split for some time, your bottom half want to stay while your upper half wants to go.

Often, we need a combination of both a mental (or spiritual) reason to start moving as well as a physical reason, only the hints from your intuition may not be enough because we tend to ignore them. Luckily, the universe conspires and so when the time is right you will encounter a physical reason to help you make choices.
If it's 'negative', perhaps you start to have health problems, the pollution in Thailand is finally taking its toll and you're having breathing problems. You've developed an allergy for certain food types due to the widespread use of pesticides in Thailand, or so you believe. Your back if really hurting and forcing you to go back to your home country where you trust the hospitals more than here. Or you have some financial issue that you can't solve while staying in Thailand and so it's better to go home.
If it's 'positive', perhaps you can get a job at home or something attracts you.

I've more often heard of a combination of reasons to go back rather than one single reason to leave, usually it's the combination of feeling DONE WITH THAILAND and something tangible that makes people leave.

✖︎ EXIT POINT ► A lot of people decide at this stage to leave. Even die-hard figures such as Stickman Bangkok made this choice after probably seeing every filthy street corner of the Big Mango, dealing and wheeling with locals and farang for years, and perhaps having more girls than he could count hairs on his head.

If you leave at this point, you make a conscious decision that you’re DONE WITH THAILAND.

✖︎ STUCK DESTINATION ► If you remain stuck in this phase, perhaps you can’t make up your mind about where you want to live, or there are attachments that keep you here or impediments that keep you from going back to your own country. If you can’t make up your mind about staying or leaving, you become the LINGERER.


If you’ve survived all the challenges and you’re still in Thailand, hopefully it’s because you have found something new that keeps you interested in the country and the people. You have a new opportunity, it could be a business or a new project or you found a great partner and you have a family. There is an eye-opening positive opportunity that makes you decide to stay on, despite all you like and dislike and all you lack in Thailand.
You’re able to live life to the full with a vibrant energy but you’re not ignorant of Thailand’s downsides and neither of your own.

I didn’t meet many foreigners in Thailand who make this choice consciously. Truly, most just stay because they don’t have (or don't see) another option, the idea of going back to their own cold country just seems even more horrific, so they stay because it’s the least worse option, not because it’s the best.

Most of those who reach this phase are involved in work or have their own business, because it is work and total involvement with local Thai that makes you aware of what Thailand really is, not sipping another cafe latte at a terrace.

If you stay on because you take a new opportunity, you spiral up into a new life cycle at a different level than the one elaborated on here. You'll be in unknown grounds, unknown to me at least.

Buddhist Wheel of Life
Buddhist Cycle of Life (Tibetan style painting)

Perhaps to some, it's tempting to browse over this article and quickly conclude that you've been there, in all phases of this so-called FARANG CYCLE OF LIFE AND DEATH IN THAILAND. You like to tell others you know already and you know about loosing face in Thailand too, by the way. Yeah, you're the THAILAND EXPERT and some of us know things better than others. But again, this is not a competition game to exceed others in who knows life in Thailand better. It's a tool to investigate yourself and if there is any 'fight' at all, it's between you and your mirror of the outside world or it's the fight-to-abandon-the-fight between you and your subconscious where you are both finally aligned.

To take myself as an example, I guess I'm in my 8th phase of making CHOICES and interestingly that corresponds to my 8th year in Thailand. As said before, I've made drastic changes in my life's direction after a 9-year cycle. I haven't found new opportunities in Thailand yet, so perhaps my life in Thailand is over next year.

For Chiang Mai Locator, by Mark C.

This article reflects an opinion of the author and does not portray the position of this website. Agree or disagree or have anything to say? Add it here as a comment.


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What do you think about this article?

paul barett Posted on April 04, 2024 at 14:21:15
Been here 20-plus years?? can't figure out what cycle I am in just yet 5555.
wefrazzini Posted on May 25, 2023 at 02:20:07
Very interesting and I'm certain accurate accounting of the psychological cycle of existence/living, wherever you are. I'm definitely not an expert, but I am an observer of myself and others, and I find many parallels inner twined that makes the rest of this theory very believable.
I keep asking myself, where's a better place than this, even with the challenges? As I am a retired people able to go, but not ready yet, after 18 months.
Perhaps one of the other countries that also have many of the pluses will draw me to go at some point, but, for me, for now, at 67 Thailand is pretty easy to enjoy.
First time in Thailand.
Enjoying retirement.
Acceptance is important in all relationships.
Changing oneself is better work than trying to change others.
This Cycle of Life is an Excellent theory to consider and recall i will try to remember it and draw from the rest of my life.
Thank you for sharing it.
WF -
lennon Posted on April 12, 2023 at 05:17:20
great article , i find myself at stage 7 but i refuse to become the miserable , the wife and family are ok , and i accept thailand for what it is despite all the flaws .But sometimes after being with falang i feel depressed , affronted or annoyed for days on end , then i cheer up and after a while feel bored and need to speak with other westerners and then the cycle starts again lol . I guess i am socializing with people i dont even really like or have nothing in common with , it helps if your a bit of loner to survive here
Grammar nazi Posted on July 23, 2022 at 11:16:03
Interesting read so thank you for that. I'm a mix of most stages as I came here for a specific business-related purpose five months ago. My conclusion right now is that I will either leave (if the business is unsuccessful) or spend my time between here and elsewhere (if business picks up). I think the latter is more likely but we'll see....
Greg Posted on July 07, 2022 at 03:43:10
Very good read with many valid points. Have been here 10 years myself and it's the best move I ever made. My wife & I run a small rural restaurant in the incredible Isaan region, catering for both Thai and farang customers. Have been lucky to find other farang musicians in the area and we formed a band playing just for fun in the Restaurant which is a great way of bringing people together. Having something to focus on whether it be a business or a hobby is the key to being happy in Thailand - and a laid back attitude is definitely a requisite for a stress free life. Thailand isn't perfect but if you make the effort to integrate, get involved with the locals and their culture, to understand their ways then you will be welcomed with open arms. No one likes a grumpy old git that spends his day whining about the place and the people. If you can't make the effort to get along with Thailand and all its quirks then you shouldn't be here in the first place. Life is just too short for drama so hang loose and go with the flow!
Trev Posted on February 10, 2022 at 07:30:13
Good read, related to a lot of the points raised, very insightful and helpful. Cheers
stewart Posted on January 26, 2022 at 19:05:16
I'm printing this as a PDF and keeping it. I haven't made the leap top Thailand yet. I am looking at places like Costa Rica, Honduras, etc. But, I think this essay is applicable no matter where you decide to stay.
Claudio Posted on April 21, 2021 at 12:53:30
Realistically written!
Martin Tschumi Posted on January 06, 2021 at 06:02:41
This is the second time - within a year - that I have read and reflected upon this excellent easy-to-read analysis. Based on a combination of "out in in the field" experience/example and psychological insight. I am probably in phase 8; I'll comment again in a year or so....
Bu Jame Posted on December 21, 2018 at 14:45:22
Great analysis, Mark. I opted out of living in Thailand right away, though I had Thai friends in NYC for ten years. Instead I moved to Cambodia over three years ago. I had to come and go a bit until recently, when I finally transferred everything from the US to here. I do business and have property in the form of long term leases, and arrangements through my K’mai family. Your stages, of course, apply pretty nicely to here, too. And as I’ve met plenty of expat casualties in Kh. and around SEA, it’s quite compassionate on your part to have come up with a corresponding SARAH. So you’ve inspired me to formulate the phases not of the ‘baarang’ who come and try to live here. But one useful to the Cambodian women who ‘marry’ and then try to live with them in their native culture. Grafting your phases is the place to start, I figure. But now I’m thinking the hardest part will be to come up with a convincing translation. Right? Ha.
Mark Davis Posted on February 22, 2017 at 04:37:00
"No matter where you go, there you are"
No place on this planet is a paradise, we make it up as we go along... I've been in Thailand a number of years and yes, I've been through your 9 phases for expats and I am still here and not planning on going anywhere... I've punched in / out of 50+ countries and lived in many of those places, so my perspective is not from an uneducated or inexperienced point of view... At the end of the day, you have to be able to look in the mirror and be happy with what you see and no, a place is not going to change that... I can honestly say that my life is much better in Thailand than anywhere else I have been, so here I stay... chok dee na khrap...
medusa Posted on October 17, 2016 at 15:46:56
Life will finally becomes meaningless whether you are rich, poor or whatever.
If only the farangs get together to help the poor Thais farmers, form a society that goes out to poor farmers and help them, then you have something to look forward in life. It would be a long term project that will takes up quite a bit of your time. You will find your true character in this selfless giving without expectation of anything in return.
Law Posted on May 05, 2016 at 16:56:27
Been here a bit over 4 years.
Wife & I have decided to go back to our home in the States

Many things we love here in Thailand most of all the people
My wife is Thai but since being here I have learned to read/write & speak Thai quite well.
I think that helped my view of Thailand a lot.

It was nice talking with Thai folks about many things & I will miss that most

But now there are many reasons to leave
From the lack of government to the visa requirement getting harder & harder each year it seems.
Just trying to get an appointment without a paid agent is near impossible in ChiangMai

Even though I get a 1 yr extension each year based on marriage to a Thai
I still need to check in every 90 days..If not 2000 baht fine

If I go to another town & stay more than 24 hours I again need to check in by law & file forms TM28 & the owner of where we stay even if the owner is my wife needs to file TM30 or again a fine
If I want to even go visit a neighboring country I need to buy a re-entry to Thailand permit

My wife on the other hand when she lived in the US had a 2 year temp residence visa period
Then a 10 year perm resident period
No further contact needed with Immigration there...Want to travel? go ahead...

During her 3rd year there she became a US citizen now she freely can move anywhere
in the world on that passport as well as keep her Thai one too.

Here I can never own a home just a condo which we just sold.
I can never be a citizen ( oh yeas they allow a few per year but having seen the requirements I know
I would never be one chosen/paying for it) So always a guest on a permit that can change day to day

Overall we just feel it is time to leave

Medical here seems cheaper till you use it then you find holes in it & also
you find the medical business here is like many things not really on the up & up
But a $$$ extraction process

You need to be aware that in a true emergency you will be held to make a decision
& things can slide so very quickly
It is not like our countries where they care for you period & work out payments later
or even allow assistance

Here you make clear up front how you will pay or you will be only stabilized until that is clear.

It was a great 4+ years & I will always remember them.
But time to go :)

Spirit Posted on March 28, 2016 at 07:42:00
Very well written article with a lot of truth in it.I'm now in my tenths year in Thailand without any break. Maybe I'm in phase 8 since a while but I'm not sure yet.

I learned a lot and living here changed me for sure but others have to tell if positive or negative.

There're still some reasons to go on staying in Thailand but sometimes it's very difficult for me to bear some obstacles. I know now that I can never be an integrated part of this society. This makes it in some way easier for me to go on but some dreams are already lost.

Wouldn't it for the love to my wife I guess I wouldn't be here anymore.

I'm not home sick and going back home isn't an option for me. Where to go instead? Which country could give me back some of my dreams?

Wish everybody good luck and don't miss your path.
Jen Posted on February 27, 2016 at 00:39:32
I will be leaving soon to go back and live in my home country. I made the choice, its time to go. I simply could not find enough reasons to stay. Yes, its cheap to live here, but the quality of life is not better. I will definitely miss Thailand, but I will be back as a visitor, not to live here again. Good luck to all on their journey.
Jen Posted on December 31, 2015 at 04:48:27
P.S. I also think the longer you stay the harder it will be to leave, ie to make that decision - seesawing between the phases. Lots of expats run out of money too and find themselves in a corner with no options/choices at all. Another point to remember is that this is not our home, it is their home, we are only guests here so really its accept their culture or leave and stop whinging. I have grown tremendously by being here - my character has grown and I am so much more accepting of so many things - and I have realised that money isn't everything - living cheaply is not everything, not by a long shot.
Jen Posted on December 31, 2015 at 04:30:38
I guess it takes longer to go through the phases if you have not lived in a third world country before or done a lot of travelling around the world - it just makes you more aware. I also think the phases go faster if you are quicker in grasping what is really happening around you. I don't believe the phases come and go that much, maybe some minor parts but not all. Once you recognise something for what it is and accept it, you naturally move on to the next and so on.. I think every expat should read this article. The poster is right, the universe decides what is needed for us (and sometimes its not what we want), and we just have to pay attention to the signs and follow that gut feeling - otherwise we get stuck in the same old cycle.
andy Posted on December 31, 2015 at 03:51:25
It is nice to be able to organise and categorise the feelings of living in a foreign place, I certainly recognise some of them. Unfortunately, life is not so simple, each phase can reappear and disappear in no particular order, can dominate for a time, to be replaced by another phase which you have placed earlier. There may be some progression in the order you state but not necessarily
LivinLOS Posted on December 31, 2015 at 03:11:23
Superbly written.. I tend to feel that by the later cycles (if you havent exited of course) you experience mini cycles of the previous ones often, its not that you go through them and pass them, but they simply become absorbed into the routine of life. After 15 years here I still have days of delight or comfort zone, I still have irritation and complaint, I still have the wish to change, or acceptance, etc etc on a near daily basis.. Yes your way of tacking a problem changes but you still have those experiences.

I also cant help but smile a little at commenters 'up to phase xxx' in X months.. I think a lot of the truth of this piece is the depth of those feelings over long time.. I have also seen the 7 year itch in many expats come and go, the barrier period where many call it quits.

Great piece, well done.
Jen Posted on December 30, 2015 at 11:08:27
I am in my ninth month in Thailand and I feel I am up to phase 8 - I suppose everyone is different but I have travelled extensively. I am returning to my home country in March and at that time will make my decision as to how much longer I will stay on here, or whether I will leave in the latter half of 2016. Yes, it has been an interesting interlude and I never came with the belief I would stay for all time but wanted to try and see how it would work out - I came with the idea that nothing was permanent and different choices could always be made - or I could change my mind at any time I pleased. - I have also come to the realisation that living cheaply is not everything, and certainly should not be my main reason for staying on here. I find the expat lifestyle that so many embrace here to be superficial and shallow and really don't have much time for these people, but I do mix with them as a need for company and English conversation from time to time. If I decide to leave, I will not feel like a quitter - I will feel like a winner because at least I gave it a go! For your info, I am a retired single woman aged 68 - it has not been an easy road here. A great article, and I think the phases themselves were quite accurate and I could identify with them easily. Whatever I decide, I will not be afraid to make my choice.
yocahuna Posted on December 29, 2015 at 15:03:29
Well done, Mark. Been in Chiang Mai 2 months but am already at Phase 7 with 10 months to go on my lease. Wonder what Choices i'll make when that time comes?
lem Posted on December 16, 2015 at 01:30:59
What a beautiful article. I think that wherever you go you experience all those phases. The new opportunity phase is very important because it means that your new perception about the world is actually functional. You have something to do. You have a new hope. Kinda like Star-wars films. The first three were great. The second three were so so or just ok. You gotta pass the franchise to another level and try to Awake the Force. Who knows? Maybe it works even better (in a different way). Cheers Mark.and good luck.