Windmill in winter near Thomas.

Things I Do NOT Miss About America While Living in Thailand

Expat Life, Humor, USA

In my last post, I listed all the things I miss about America and writing it got me thinking: What do I NOT miss about my home country? Since I had nothing better to do yesterday, I wrote this post.

8 Things I Don’t Miss About America While Living Abroad

1. Wal-Mart

Going to Wal-Mart is a necessary evil in small-town America. The adventure starts with a 15-minute drive around a sprawling parking lot looking for a spot. Eventually, you find an empty space at the end of the lot and walk across searing asphalt getting blinded by the sun reflecting off cars, or trudge through blowing snow like an Arctic explorer, depending on the season.

Once inside, you get a shopping cart and load up as though you are preparing for a hurricane. Since Wal-Mart serves as the general store, grocery store, pharmacy, bakery, electronics store, etc., every trip to Wal-Mart is an epic shopping endeavor.

After loading your cart so full that it is impossible to steer, you head to the checkout area where you stand in a massive queue suffering from line envy as others around you inch forward while you stay in place. Eventually, you get to the register where a minimum wage worker doing their best scans the items and bags them in enough plastic to choke a whale.

From there, you push the cart through the blinding sun/snow storm dodging runaway carts and grannies driving the wrong way, only to learn that you have no idea where you parked. Once you finally locate your car, you realize you forgot to buy toothpaste.

I miss nothing about Wall-Mart. At my house in Bangkok, there are two small grocery stores and two 7-11s within a five-minute walk. I take a canvas bag with me every time I leave the house and buy a few things at a time. I never deal with a parking lot, shopping cart, or mega-checkout line from hell.

7 Eleven Thailand

2. Tipping

I really hate tipping, and not because I am a cheapskate. (Although, I am a cheapskate.) I could write a whole blog post on why I hate tipping, but I’ll just drop some bullet points here:

  • Tipping is racially biased – minority servers get worse tips, and minority customers get worse service.
  • A study found that women with big boobs get better tips. Shocker.
  • How much do I tip becomes a conundrum. The federal tipped minimum wage is $2.13. In Alaska, it is nearly $10. Should my tip vary depending on the state?
  • Tipping encourages sexual harassment – since the customers pay the wages, women often put up with inappropriate behavior.
  • Do I still tip if the service is terrible?
  • Do you really need a tip for making my coffee? That is literally your job. The person who deserves the tip is the checkout worker at Wal-Mart.

In Thailand, like most places in the world, they don’t tip, at least not like we do in America. Thais don’t tip taxis and leave only small change at most restaurants. At fancier restaurants, a service charge is included. This is the way it should be.Thai Money Tree

3. Being the Weakest Guy at the Gym

In America, I am always the weakest guy lifting weights; in Thailand, I am a beast. Once in the USA, I was bench pressing 150 pounds when an uber-male jacked up on HGH and testosterone asked to jump in. I thought he was going to do a warm-up set, but he jerked the bar off the rack and started doing hammer curls.

At my gym in Thailand, when I bench 150 pounds, everyone stands around in awe, marveling at my super-human strength.

This isn’t to say that all Thai people are weaklings. There is a Muay Thai training center next to my house, and the fighters jog through the neighborhood twice a day. These dudes are all rippled muscles, washboard abs, prison tats, and broken noses. Some of these featherweights could kick the shit out of people three times their size. But none of them go to my gym, so I am the most muscular guy there most days.

Thailand running trail

This guy does not go to my gym.

4. Right Wing Talk Radio

One of my favorite things to do when visiting my home state of Oklahoma is to drive the backroads. There isn’t a lot of radio coverage out there, so as I scan the channels I inevitably enter the hellscape of right-wing talk radio.

Visiting home last summer – and I am not making this up – I listened to Rush Limbaugh talk about the California straw ban. “If an illegal immigrant uses a straw to shoot an ICE agent with a spitball, they will give him a medal. If a white person uses a straw to drink, they will throw them in JAIL!!!.

I quickly turned to a different channel where a blowhard, with no sense of irony, was working his listeners into a lather saying that two of the Mueller investigators had no right investigating Trump because they had committed adultery.

I flipped to a Christian station where a distraught preacher gave a dire warning, “In the next few years, it will be a crime to be a Christian in America!” I turned the dial one more time, to hear a man seething with rage warn that AOC is going to outlaw cows.

I pulled into the next town, bought an AR-15 from a vending machine and a DON’T TREAD ON ME! bumper sticker and prepared to do battle with the Libtards and Cuckservatives ruining this great nation.

Woodward Oklahoma Dinosaur5

My hometown has a dinosaur with Jesus on top and a sign that says evolution is a fairy tale. Right-wing talk radio thrives here.

5. Gun Culture

Speaking of guns, not long ago I was in my college town of Weatherford, Oklahoma, enjoying a coffee when three old men pulled out their weapons and started examining them right there in the cafe. One of them wanted to weigh his gun so he went next door to Kelley Jewelers because he knew they’d have a scale.

Weatherford is a peaceful town of 10,000 people that probably hasn’t had a murder in 50 years. These men did not need guns for protection. In fact, I was afraid one of the septuagenarians suffering from coffee jitters would drop his pistol and blow a hole right through my leg.

I don’t have to worry about guns where I live in Bangkok. I suppose I could anger a local and get my ass kicked Muay Thai style, but that is probably the worst thing that could happen.

Woodward Oklahoma High School Gun Raffle

A raffle at my alma mater, Woodward High School.

6. Steak

Before my execution, I will request a ribeye with a baked potato for my last meal. Nothing beats a juicy steak cooked on an outdoor grill accompanied by a potato covered in butter and Ranch dressing. Strangely, even though this is my favorite meal, I don’t miss it.

Tri Cafe Nang Rong

I’m happy eating Thai food with fresh fish and vegetables, but I do miss Mexican food and hot dogs.

7. Fox News, CNN, and the 24-Hour News Cycle

I stopped watching 24-hour TV news stations several years ago. It is garbage journalism designed to enrage not educate. When I do watch TV news, I prefer real investigative journalists like John Oliver. Yes, he is a comedian, but he is also a journalist and an excelent one! You know it is true!

But in America, there is no escaping it. I go to the doctor, and the lobby has a TV playing Fox News; at the airports, CNN blares from the overhead screen; at family restaurants, TV news is there to make us hate life and order dessert because the world sucks anyway so we might as well eat pie.

Make no mistake, I still consume way too much print news, and over the last three years I’ve been living in a state of semi-rage, which does help when lifting weights, I might add. But, I don’t miss the inescapable American 24-hour news cycle.

8. Having a Car

Walking everywhere in my neighborhood is one of the things I love most about my lifestyle here. I walk at least five miles a day, which is great exercise when I’m not getting swole at the gym.

When I leave the house, I see the same smiling street vendors, pet the same street cats, and see the same Muay Thai fighters running along. I often bump into my friends and stop to have a quick chat. I feel a real connection to my neighbors and community because I interact with them instead of flying by in a metal transportation pod on my way to Wal-Mart. ◊


Those who moved away from your home, what do you NOT miss?


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Currently living in Kaohsiung, Taiwan. I travel, write, take photos, and stalk street cats. ~

42 thoughts on “Things I Do NOT Miss About America While Living in Thailand”

  1. Amazing stuff man, great to see you have really settled into an amazing country. Wish I could do that too… Love Thailand!

  2. Jeff, another great and hilarious post. Have you considered stand up comedy as your next career? Love this post

  3. Debby Stine says:

    Very insightful and entertaining post, Jeff. I have steered away from talk radio for years unless I can get a PBS one which we can now in Woodward.

    • NPR is great. It is informative and thoughtful for the most part. It is that other stuff at the low end of the dial that is terrifying!

  4. Jesus riding a dinosaur creationist statue? No please…say it ain’t true. You’re kidding, right?! Thanks for the belly laugh. Love this post!

    • That is an old photo of the dinosaurs and 10 commandments. The Stegosaurus got damaged during a wind storm and rebuilt. I know there is also a baby Stegosaurus too now. I’ll check it out this summer and report back. There are signs saying that “Evolution is a Fairy Tale” and that Jesus and the dinosaurs roamed the Earth together.

  5. If/when you move back, it sounds like you should move up north. We still have the Walmarts and the tipping issue, but I never encounter some of those other things you (rightly) don’t miss. Or at the very least I have so many other options that I can go about my day not even realizing that they exist. Living in a major metropolitan area probably helps, too.

    • I suppose if/when we move back we would prefer a western state like Washington, Oregon or Colorado, although I know there are plenty of guns and talk radio out there too. I don’t dislike America by any means, but I’m happy to be away right now with everything going on.

  6. As Debby said before me, this is both insightful and entertaining. It’s also a sad social commentary on life in the US right now.

    • America is a crazy place right now. The next few years will be very, very interesting to say the least.

  7. Loved both posts, and if this one weren’t so funny in many ways, I might be crying right now!

    • You probably experience a lot of those things in Texas, I imagine. Thanks for reading as always.

  8. Going Global: An International Adventure Series... says:


  9. This was a fun post to read, and it sounds like Thailand is treating you well. Mega grocery stores and megamarts aren’t as massive here in Australia but we do have a few Costctos here. Having been to one a few times, it’s always so tempting to load up your trolley and it doesn’t help most things are packed in bulk. Living in Singapore and Malaysia there was always a convenience store around the corner or your local grocery store – and like you I just bought what I wanted, buying fresh foods fresh. Maybe you’ve become a better cook now 🙂

    The (buttered?) prawns look amazing. Asian cuisine is just so much more spiced and flavourful, always a party in your mouth 🙂 That’s something I miss about Asia, and along with chilli crab.

  10. I lived on an island in Alaska and a local guy named Tosh would buy items at Costco and resell them at his store called Toshco. Otherwise, anytime I went to Juneau I bought a huge trolly worth of items there.

    Asian cuisine is pretty amazing. Those were prawns in Indian curry, one of my favorite dishes. Can you get good Thai or Malay food in Australia?

  11. First, let’s talk about No.4. What you said is basically what is happening in Indonesia (and I believe in many other countries as well with different racial and religious groups playing this really ugly sentiment). That talk about the California straw ban, here the hatred is usually directed at the Chinese workers (and sometimes to Chinese Indonesians too). And in “In the next few years, it will be a crime to be a Christian in America!”, replace “Christian” with “Muslim” and “America” with “Indonesia” and voila! That’s basically what some firebrand clerics have been talking about. This trend is really disturbing and I don’t know how to stop it. What I know is that moderate voices should be made louder and heard more because those hardliners have been way too loud and they always make sure that they’re heard.

    Then No.7. I used to watch CNN, but one day I realized how much time I’d been wasting watching the same news over and over again (with the addition of their so-called “analysis” which is often unnecessary at all).

    On a lighter note, tipping is always confusing, and sometimes nerve-wracking. I prefer to pay a final price which includes a service charge (like what more expensive restaurants in Indonesia do as well).

    • America has more Christians than any other nation; Indonesia has more Muslims than any other nation. When these so-called religious leaders spout nonsense like this their only goal is to anger the masses and turn them on the minorities. Our countries aren’t the only ones of course, but it is maybe more ridiculous since we have such massive numbers of Christians in America and Muslims in the USA.

      Tipping is really out of control in America – people tip hairdressers, baristas, cab drivers, bus drivers, hotel bellmen, hotel housekeepers, pizza delivery drivers, valets, manicurists, etc. I still tip some in Thailand, especially when I get a Thai massage, but for the most part it isn’t expected or required which is nice.

      Thanks for your insightful comments!

  12. Your number three had me roaring #beefcake. Am planning on returning to the US for a year next spring to replenish the cruising kitty but posts like this make me understand why my friends back home say ‘keep sailing’. The US seems to have grown far uglier since I left. Scary times. Missing Thailand. Was one of our bases for 18 months when sailing/traveling the region. You are seriously lucky to live there.

    • I am headed back to the USA for the month of July and although I’m happy and excited to return, I do feel a sense of alienation from my home country. It has grown uglier and it happened in relatively good economic times. I am afraid what things will be like if we face a true crises in the near future.

      I really love Thailand and we are happy to be here. An 18 month stay in the islands sounds amazing. Bangkok is great but it is really hot right now 😦

      • Am looking forward to experiencing the homefront vicariosuly through your July visit. I too fear how my countrymen will respond to the next economic crisis. The political state is a horror show and the tools employed to respond to previous financial meltdowns are now being used to prop up asset bubbles so its gonna be really ugly when this one bursts.

  13. We still live here four to five months a year, but I’m with you on these things, except for the steak! We always need to read up about a country’s tipping culture, as ours is out of control. Often feel like Alaska is almost a different country, though.

    • When writing this post, I’m thinking mostly of things I don’t miss from the lower 48. Alaska is most certainly its own world. In many ways, I felt more disconnected there than while in Thailand. Where are you headed this winter?

      • I know what you mean. We’re skipping Alaska this year cause it’s too hard to fly back east if needed for my parent’s health situation from the remote. Soon, we’ll be exploring Ecuador, Peru, Columbia, etc., as long as life permits!

  14. Great followup post. I used to be a bit of a news junkie, always wanted to know what was going on in America and around the globe. Now I do my best to avoid most forms of news. It was ok when they were reporting it, but I don’t want/need my news turned into someone’s opinion of the “tragedy of the day”. I don’t mind tipping for excellent service, but I agree, it’s your JOB! My way of avoiding being the weakest person at the gym is to stay the hell away from the gym 🙂

    • Our news has become so partisan and polarized. We used to be able to agree on certain facts and stats and then have a friendly debate on our opinions, but now we have alternative facts and it is hard to have a conversation without have a shared starting point. Sigh.

      I’ll stay away from the gym when I visit America this summer and stick to the running trails where I can run when people are watching and walk when they look away!

  15. It’s true. It is super nice to be away from American politics. I can barely stand seeing it from over here as it is. My experience has been many expats (not just Americans) are unplugged from politics.

    Hey, I didn’t know you were from the south. You might find this post amusing: I did a list post on why Northern Thailand is like the American South. 😛

    Tipping! I tip! GAH. You can take the girl out of America, but…of course, if it’s an everyday joint, I don’t, but I feel bad for not tipping. I’ve been so conditioned! I don’t tip taxis unless, I’m just rounding up, like I don’t need to wait for 10 baht, you know?

    • I think most of my expat friends are in one of two extremes – they are political junkies or they don’t even know who Mueller is.

      Great post on comparing Thai north to the American south. So many excellent observations. There is a Muslim family by my house that makes absolutely incredible fried chicken. It would be a huge hit in the south provided they didn’t know a Muslim made it 🙂

      I tip after a Thai massage and with taxis I round up but yeah, I feel guilty when I don’t do it.

  16. Jeff it is fascinating to read what you miss and then what you don’t miss. I suppose that is life right no matter where you are.Your description of Walmart had me laughing hysterically. So true about those plastic bags and yes always forgetting what one likely really needed in the first place. As to that raffle in school…please tell me you made that up. I hope you are now wearing a Superman cape in the Thai gym. Or at least a t-shirt describing your beast status!

    • Wal-Mart is the worst. Since it is such an endeavor to go, shoppers usually go once a week and stock up as you know. I don’t miss that. I wish I were joking about the gun raffle. To be fair, it was from about 3 years ago, but still. With all the school shootings, it is so irresponsible to allow something like that. Thanks for reading.

  17. Ah yes the gun culture in the US is no joke! We were just therevisiying family and I had to remind Ben not to piss anyone off while driving and other because ya know… they have guns!!

    Having a car felt like such a luxury while there – but of course we had to try to avoid the tickets we usually get for parking without checking ten times for legality in the city.

    Your comments about the gym were still my favorite – very amusing take haha!

    And I’ll add something to your list … which is cost – after Asia there is huge sticker shock in the US for us – every time !

    Great post!


    • Prices are a big shock, especially when going from Thailand directly to Alaska. a plate of food at sit-down restaurant costs at least $15. Then I’d visit Oklahoma and everything would be half price of Alaska. Funny how that works.

      I have lived most of my life in American in rural areas so parking was never an issue, but when I went to Chicago I got towed. It was only $5 per day to leave it in the impound facility and I should have left it there because it cost like $30 a day to park in the parking garage!

  18. Going from weakest to strongest guy in the gym would be enough change to cause whiplash! Very funny. How do you stay humble?

    • Staying humble has always been a challenge for me, but when I leave the gym and see the muay Thai boxers running in the street, I am reminded that I am not tough.

  19. Following back from Dave’s recommendation, here I am… your hometown has a statue of a stegosaurus with JESUS riding on it? Leaving aside all the side implications in terms of faith in science and so on, I do want to check this out.

    I’m also an immigrant to another country (I don’t like the term expat, sorry). One thing I don’t miss about my home town/region is a) weather (rain/sleet six months of the year, hot and humid another six months) b) complaining (we’re world champions) and c) the effin’ Northern League. It’s a political party and a pretty nasty one.


    • The stegosaurus got annihilated by a storm, then got replaced and got a friend in the form of a T-Rex. A sign says Jesus roamed the Earth with Dinosaurs.

      The Northern League is separatist, right? Your weather sounds like my hometown, either hot or cold and never mild 😦

      • The League was separatist, now they did a 180 and have become a “Italy first”, because of course the immigrant boogeyman always sells. But deep in the north, where I’m from, people don’t quite like this new evolution (but still vote for it). Jesus and the dinosaurs is just great. Sad but great.

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