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The Expat - an A to Z of how not to make friends.

Ok, so I have now officially disgraced myself with the Americans…

A little bit of backstory, I moved to Bangkok eighteen months ago. It was a tricky move coming from the eight times winner of the ‘World’s Most Liveable City’ Melbourne, Australia to one of the most polluted, congested and the world’s hottest capital city… I gave up a meaningful job that I loved, in the Not-for-Profit sector to become a lady of leisure. 

I threw myself into life here. I enjoyed the travel and getting to know Bangkok, and we had loads of visitors, but this year everything changed when we moved into our forever place in Bangkok. Hated it, nothing worked, was miserable, so had a great summer traveling the globe visiting family and friends instead.

Back in Bangkok, ready to immerse back into my Thai life, I am moving into a new apartment and ready to make some new friends, I joined a few expat organisations… 

I know, I know being an Expat sounds glamorous, we have left the homeland, or in my case homelands, and jetted off for a new life of adventure, travel, and parties. We live a life largely free from money worries, with help in the home and maybe even a car with a driver, in the parking lot.

It can be quite the opposite...

All expats know it can be lonely, frustrating and downright wretched. Away from your support systems, you learn to be resilient, you learn not to share too many of your woes with folks back home, who will not understand and you learn to make friends, and fast.

Hello, do you want to be my new best friend, 
and can I give you my emergency contact numbers?

Speed dating has nothing on an expat wife, newly arrived, 
on the search for a few people she can have a laugh with... 

The bored housewife takes on a whole new meaning in Bangkok, but fun can be had (I say this tongue in cheek… if I may use that expression) searching for a possible friend or two for your husband.  It is an impossible blind date lottery. 

How can you judge who of your new friends are partnered up with anyone who is not a wally wanker, a colonial prick or a dastardly dickhead… the latter tend to get exposed early on when the Thai temptations get the better of them, so they helpfully crash and burn out of the equation… 

From a distance, it is tricky trying to judge whether Brian from the bank, Colin from risk, or Jeffrey from logistics is going to be in the good mate ‘do you want to play tennis’ pile? Or go straight onto the ‘he’s a right plonker, what were you thinking?’ pile…

Last year a friend’s husband was suddenly taken ill, he ended up in a Bangkok Hospital where he had complications from his surgery and nearly died. A week later I am giving my emergency contact details to an almost stranger in any other life, now best friend, who I’d met on a handful of occasions… just in case.

My blogs are my happy space in the world and I don’t tend to share too much of my daily, dreary dross because quite frankly who needs to know. Do you really care? 

But let me test this out, to see whether I get any sympathy? Haha! 

This week I have sat at the True Corp telephone company desk on several occasions.  Picture me in a swanky, highest of high-end Bangkok shopping mall, where you expect everything to be as polished as the marble in the ladies loos, for over eight hours… Honestly, I could have sorted out world poverty in less time.

My simple task to ensure that when we move apartments we disconnect the correct phone and internet and reinstall at the new place. I'm after a landline, a television point that works and connects to English speaking channels and a mobile phone connection… Eight hours! 

First world problems, I know...

So imagine my joy at joining the American Women’s Club of Thailand and find that their Bookclub is reading a book called The Expats and that we can freely discuss all these expat issues without fear of judgment, in a safe house of those who understand…

Hello, I’m Wren and if I seem like a dippy Expat that's because I am currently juggling my life spread across three continents with kids all in different time zones. I am permanently jet-lagged and sleep deprived and is that enough of an excuse?

Well, I only went and read the wrong bleedin’ book! 

It’s even worse than that. The rest of the group read The Expats, I read a book called The Expat.

In my defence, I asked for the right book, with the right author at W H Smith’s bookstore at Changi Airport, Singapore. I was handed the wrong book.

The correct book The Expats by Chris Pavone:  

Kate Moore is a typical expat mom, newly transplanted from Washington DC to the quiet cobblestoned streets of Luxembourg. Her days are filled with coffee ... But Kate is also guarding a tremendous secret - one that’s becoming so unbearable it begins to unravel her new expat life.

Their book is set in Holland, a thriller of mystery and intrigue where the main character is a C.I.A. agent.

The book I was handed is called The Expat by Patricia Snel, a steamy thriller set in Singapore where the bored housewife has a fling with the Guy in the opposite apartment, before finding out his involvement in Asian sex trade industry. 

Their book is a New York best seller, mine a raunchy, ’50 Shades of Singapore’ type book.

The British Women's Group Book Group have just finished reading The Tattooist of Auschwitz, with its weighty subject matter. 

So imagine me reading the American book, with a slight eyebrow raised. I’d never meet these ladies before, I thought as I was reading it, ‘Wow, they must be a load of fun. I can’t wait to discuss chapter twelve.’

Awwwwww Gawd. Awkward. 'Beam me up, Scotty!'

I was telling my British friends how I’d disgraced myself with the Americans, they were no help. They all fell about laughing. Do you know what they said?

‘Well, you better make sure you read the right book next time as you won’t get away with it two months running!’  Cheeky.

So in an effort to redeem myself, I need to know any good books for future recommendations. It needs to be weighty, interesting and definitely without any smut!

Looking forward to hearing from you… if you’re still talking to me!

Linking with thanks to Maggie at Mosaic Monday
and all the hosts at Our World Tuesday


Rosie said…
I have just read your blog, and have had a good laugh! Hope you're not offended. It must be very difficult to move to another country without friends or family but you seem to have a very good sense of humour that hopefully will get you through. I do love travelling but have never lived anywhere else but Australia but encouraged our children to travel and my daughter has lived in several countries but has thankfully made her home here in Australia.

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