My Expat Family – Bangkok, Thailand

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My Expat Family – Bangkok, Thailand

By Anna Power

Global Living – Issue 11 | March/April 2014

It can be pretty tough moving to a whole new country on your own. I had a large group of friends when I lived in the U.K., and a pretty active social life. I naively presumed things would be the same when I moved to Bangkok.

I had forgotten, or rather just didn’t think, that many of the friends I had made as an adult in England were established through my work.

I initially didn’t work when I first moved to Bangkok and, as I have no children, there was no opportunity to make friends through school connections either, and I wondered how on earth I was going to meet people. However, I didn’t need to worry for long since, as it turns out, expats are generally a friendly bunch of people, and everyone is pretty much in the same boat – living in a strange country and wanting to meet like-minded people.

As I had a lot of spare time on my hands, the Internet became my new best friend. I Googled ‘expat lady Bangkok’ and got directed to a website called Chicky Net, which is a social media networking site in Thailand for expat ladies living here. There are forums for asking questions, and events are also held. One ‘Chicky’ organized a fabulous event at a famous restaurant called Katron (Flying Chicken) Karaoke restaurant in outer Bangkok; I never envisaged that one day I would be sitting on a unicycle, carrying two roasted chickens on plates while balancing another on my head, and with 10 ladies all with tears of laughter streaming down their faces – only in Bangkok!

By searching on Google, I also discovered a local expat magazine, contacted the publisher and asked if I could write an article for him. I wrote about being new in Bangkok, and how I was finding it, and put my email address on the end of it. A few people emailed me to say they had enjoyed reading it. I met one of them for dinner, in fact, who has now become one of my very close friends in Bangkok.

The feedback I received from the article gave me the confidence to start writing my own blog, and from that I joined Twitter. I had no idea that both would lead me to make the majority of my friends here. I have had many people email me through my blog, which has led to us going for either dinner or drinks, and starting many new friendships.

The Twitter scene in Bangkok is thriving; everyone is really keen to interact. It was through this that I met my friend Greg, a Canadian who has been living in Bangkok for 17 years. He sent me a message one day asking if I fancied dinner, and as a result we both now co-host regular ‘Tweet-ups’ for people living or visiting Bangkok, which are very well attended. It’s also great to have a friend who has been here for so long – he knows all the best secret spots to eat!

It has also been really interesting making friends with Thai people. As lovely as all of my expat friends are, we all have the same questions and share similar feelings and frustrations that I think are part and parcel of being an expat. The ladies at work are teaching me so much about Thai culture – I love hearing about their families, and seeing their photos on Facebook of weekend visits to temples and their hometowns. It’s helped me learn so much more about the country I am now living in.

My Thai friends outside of work have also been really helpful in teaching me about Thai history and politics. Bangkok has been hitting the news recently due to the protests and attempts to ‘shut down Bangkok, restart Thailand’ and, although I still don’t completely understand everything that is happening, I actually feel that I now know far more about Thai politics than I do about things in the U.K.!

Moving abroad has indeed been a valuable lesson for me in how to make friends. One of the things I found difficult about working in England was office politics, and things that happened during the day would be talked about over drinks at night, making it very hard to switch off. Now I love how my work and personal life are completely separate.

Granted, not everyone I have met has been my cup of tea, but luckily that has been the exception and not the rule. Expat friendships can also feel like a roller coaster too, with new people arriving and friends constantly leaving, but I know all of my close friendships here will long survive our time in Bangkok. Most important, however, is the fact that at the moment we are all each other’s Bangkok family, looking out for and supporting one another.


Anna Power was a lawyer in England for more than 10 years, and now works as a writer in Bangkok, where she has been living since June 2012. In her spare time, she loves exploring Bangkok and, when the opportunity arises, the rest of Thailand and Southeast Asia. You can read more on www.bangkokgirlblog.com.

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