One of the questions people always ask me is how easy is it to make friends in Bangkok. I work in recruitment and it is not dissimilar to trying to find the perfect candidate for a job. The reality is that whilst meeting people is easy, finding those of the right calibre is tough. I have met a fair few people out here, but finding those who have the same interests and who you can bear to spend time with (yes, some of them are unbearable) is a challenge. I believe in quality over quantity in all parts of life apart from when it comes to the consumption of sugary snacks, and I am lucky enough to have a small group of great friends that I have met through events, on-line and through work.
My work colleagues are wonderful. They have brilliant English and they help me to navigate those difficult Thai situations like the company director’s mother’s funeral and what colour to wear on certain days of the week. There is however a invisible barrier linked to position in the company and social status. Whilst it is not impossible to get over this, it is sometimes hard to know if they are being friends with you because they are being polite or because they like you. Making Thai friends is worth it though, they will tell you where all the good restaurants are they aren’t mentioned in Lonely Planet, you can practice your terrible Thai on them (in my case) and they are some of the most generous people I have ever met.
There are hundreds of different clubs and societies here in Bangkok. I have experienced just a few and it’s been a mixed bunch. You would have thought that I would have had enough of group sports at school but for some reason this time last year I joined a netball team. I thought it would be a great way to make friends and actually do some physical exercise. Turns out that the cliques that existed in the playground are still alive and well on the courts of Bangkok. I was never part of the in crowd in school and I have no desire to put up with the ice cold stares now I am no longer forced into ‘Games’. I did half a season and gave up. I have recently taken up Thai lessons again, I want to write more on this in a separate post but it is another great way to meet people.
Some of my best and worst experiences has definitely been on-line friending. I met one of my closest pals by sending her a message via the website Expat Blog. It felt like a date, I thought about what to wear, was worried about what we would talk about. Because this experience was so positive I felt confident enough to make contact with another Expat Blog member. This time it was not so successful. We had arranged to meet at Central World and she ended up not only standing me up, but also not actually getting in touch for around four days to apologise. I know that it’s stupid but it felt like a rejection so I decided to avoid any high risk friend finding on the Internet.
Making good friends here isn’t easy but it isn’t impossible either. Some of them are so lovely that I hope to keep in touch with them after I have left Thailand!