21 July 2016

Eddie Yii - Expat in Bangkok, Thailand

Eddie Yii - Expat in Bangkok, Thailand

Eddie Yii is a 33-year-old businessman who lives in Bangkok, Thailand. Mr. Yii is Malaysian who grew up in Singapore. Together with his wife, they then moved to Thailand from Singapore in where he runs two businesses, with one dealing with Agricultural equipment and the other dealing with mattresses.


Although Mr. Yii has lived in Bangkok for five years now, and all his children were born and raised in Thailand, he noted that the most difficult experience he had when moving to Thailand was dealing with language barrier. “As Thailand is still largely monolingual, setting up the company was a real challenge,” Mr. Yii said. “Luckily I knew some people here who were nice enough to lend a hand,” he added. Mr. Yii advised expats who are interested in moving to Thailand to learn the language and respect the culture, as he considers learning the language to be “a must if you plan to stay for the long haul.”


It’s a common struggle for many expats to deal with an unfamiliar language once moving to a different country. Aside from taking up language classes, other ways to give yourself the opportunity to learn another language is by joining several clubs and associations in the country that you are living in, as it’s a great way to immerse yourself in the local culture and customs, as well as gain new contacts that may help you when looking for employment or business relations in your host country.


Find out more about Eddie Yii’s experiences in Thailand in his full interview below.


Q: Where are you originally from?

A: I am an East Malaysian who grew up in Singapore. 


Q: Where are you living now?

A: Bangkok, Thailand


Q: How long have you been living in Thailand?

A: Nearly 5 years


Q: What has been the most difficult experience you've had when you were new in your host country?
Language, as Thailand is still largely monolingual. Setting up the company was a real challenge, luckily I knew some people here who were nice enough to lend a hand.


Q: Would you say that formalities like getting visas or work permits and international health insurance was particularly difficult in your host country? What was your experience with these?

A: Yes and no. It’s complicated because it will be impossible to deal with the authorities ourselves, but it gets easier if you are willing to spend the money to hire a professional agent to assist you. For a small company like mine, I had to overcome the problem of first needing to hire 4 locals before passing the criteria to apply for a work permit, once that’s solved and I found a good agent, everything got much easier. 


Q: Are you living alone or with your family?

A: With family, they are doing fine, in fact, my kids were born here. Thailand is not far from home to be honest, and the locals respect foreigners as a whole, so it could have been much worse.


Q: Was it easy making friends and meeting people? Do you mainly socialize with other expats in Thailand? How did you manage to find a social circle in Thailand?

A: Like in all other countries, I believe we, as visitors, need to make the first step. I hooked up with the Singapore-Thai Chamber of Commerce and got to know some expats, though most of them are much older than me. Through friend’s recommendations, our social circle gradually built up, and even though we do not have that many friends, we have enough to keep ourselves busy!


Q: What are the best things to do in the area? Anything to recommend to future expats?

A: Bangkok is a huge messy metropolis. The percentage of expats and the number of countries they come from is nothing short of astounding. In Bangkok, you will have to immerse yourself in the vibrant urban colours as well as the stunning mix of food available. For something more authentic, you will probably have to go on road trips to towns a few hours’ drive out of Bangkok. There will be no lack of places to visit.


Q: How does the cost of living in Thailand compared to your home?

A:  I have never really lived in Malaysia so I cannot be the best judge.  However compared to Singapore, general services and restaurants are slightly cheaper, though I cannot emphasize more that you still need to pay for quality, and in comparison, you get more value for your buck here.

Properties and cars are much more affordable compared to Singapore, but everything balances out if you factor in your children’s education, especially when foreigners like us have to rule government schools out of our consideration.


Q: How do you find the local culture and people in your host country?

A: Thais are generally polite and welcoming. They are nice and helpful as friends, but might turn out to be laid-back and less hardworking as colleagues.


Q: What do you think are the positive and negative sides of living in Thailand?

A: Positive: Thailand does not lack much, and the people have a lot of heart.

Negative: Alarmingly monolingual, learning the language is a must if you plan to stay for the long haul.


Q: Do you miss home and family sometimes?

A: Once in a while, but again, we are not far from home, we visit home at least once a year, and our family visit us regularly too. We communicate via Skype, WhatsApp and Facebook too.


Q: Do you have plans to move to a different country or back home in the future?

A: If my company flourishes here, there is no reason to move, though we cannot predict too far into the future.


Q: What tips can you give other expats living in that country?

A: Learn the language and respect the culture, don’t expect Thailand to change for you, it will not happen.


Q: Do you have favourite websites or blogs about your host country?

A: http://www.richardbarrow.com/ and of course my own blog www.strangerinbangkok.blogspot.com.