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BANGKOK 18 March 2019 22:29
Jingthing

Expats in Thailand considering moving to Latin America prompted by Thai visa changes

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That's it.

 

I sat and read one article after another on Columbia this morning over my cappuccino. I'm pulling the plug on Columbia.  After firsthand accounts from my new dorm mates who got in from Columbia yesterday explaining in vivid details how they were robbed twice, once at gunpoint,  the other the police stopped their taxi, and confiscated their cellphones, I decided I'm not risking it. They also met several others there that had also been robbed at gunpoint for their cellphones. 

 

This I don't need.  And,  if I loose my electronics,  I'm really in trouble. I can't pop into a Samsung store like in Bkk, get a replacement phone and be up and running before the end of the day, back to my apartment and having a beer watching RT out of Moscow while my girlfriend makes a lovely Thai dinne.

 

My ability to navigate,  do banking,  make reservations and more are tied to my cellphone.  To show up in Colombia, knowing no one and to try this is just stupid. 

 

No amount of an easy visa is worth dealing with this.   It is ludicrous to go solo, no support,  minimum language skills into a country with this kind of problem.

 

I would have to be on high alert from the time I landed. So, I'm headed to Mexico City to hang as long as I want, up to six months. I can extend my travel insurance up to six months at this point.

 

I can still travel and explore, the weather there is not so darn hot, get a place and just settle for awhile and wait to see what happens in Thailand after the elections and after my current visa expires.

 

If I want, I can fly back to the USA and rent a small apartment in a small fishing town on the East Coast and hang their too.  No car required. 

 

Enough of this. Hanging in Mexico is something I know how to do. Drug Cartels and all. I'm happy to answer questions if anyone wants to ask me anything. 

 

CJ

 

https://thebogotapost.com/organised-criminal-gangs-behind-increase-in-cellphone-thefts-in-cali/29378

Edited by CaptainJack
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Of course you're a big boy and you should do whatever feels right and of course safe enough for you. I understand cancelling on Colombia especially if your main interests were Bogota and Medellin. I noticed the State Department overall alert level was the same for Mexico and Colombia (increased caution) while Nicaragua was more like just don't go. 

I agree it would be much much better to have contacts on the ground. 

BTW -- I think Queretaro is about a three hour bus ride from Mexico D.F.

Are you sure you're not Queretaro curious?

 

As far as my own interest in Colombia. No, it isn't crushed yet. But I would like to see if I can learn more Spanish and find some ways to make contacts with people there before a possible future exploration trip. Yes, at this point my only interest there is the Coffee cities, so if I went over there and things didn't click, then it would probably be game over for Colombia for me too. 

 

To add, this topic isn't only about Mexico and Colombia.

 

I would still like to encourage people to post about any and all expatriation possible Latin American countries, particularly about matters that relate back to Thailand, such as the specific procedures in specific countries to get the required Thailand police report officialized when it is required (usually is). 
 

Edited by Jingthing

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10 minutes ago, Jingthing said:

Of course you're a big boy and you should do whatever feels right and of course safe enough for you. I understand cancelling on Colombia especially if your main interests were Bogota and Medellin. I noticed the State Department overall alert level was the same for Mexico and Colombia (increased caution) while Nicaragua was more like just don't go. 

I agree it would be much much better to have contacts on the ground. 

BTW -- I think Queretaro is about a three hour bus ride from Mexico D.F.

Are you sure you're not Queretaro curious?
 

Hi Jingthing,

I'm going to go exploring while I am in Mexico, so I'll check it out. Whats funny is I know how to live in the USA,  in Thailand,  in Mexico and I think Cambodia, probably even Vietnam considering have many times I've been there. 

 

Yes, I'll check it out.  You know, I hope this exercise will have been of some use for others,  not just me.  This has been a net gain for me in pushing my personal limits at what is comfortable and using my brain to arrive at decisions right for me.

 

Thanks for all your input and research. It has really been helpful. 

 

Now, I will pick a couple of temporary digs and decide where I want to hang my hat for awhile. 

 

Cheers,

 

CJ

Edited by CaptainJack
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The only thing I can extrapolate from this thread is that if you were unwelcome in Thailand then colombia  isn’t your go to. It seems Cambodia’s and all it’s fun is the next place. 

Edited by Cryingdick

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CJ

As it seems Colombia is out for you let’s look at Mexico a bit more .

I suggest you take some time out , as you said you have 6 months , relax and take a look around the surrounding area a bit.
Try Cuernavaca, a mid size touristy town with some small pyramids and pleasant landscapes.
Taxco , famous for silver mining , ( you’ve probably seen their stores in US airports ) , quirky little town with some stunning scenery and a nice atmosphere.
Forget Toluca, Toluca is a huge sprawling industrial city famous only for a volcano you can drive into, although it does have a great city centre with amazing architecture ( but you can see that in Mexico City).
Then there is the Sun and Moon pyramids ( I know if you’ve seen one you’ve seen em all ), pretty impressive !!

Take some time off, relax a little, google other cities in Mex, then take JT’s advice and take a bus ride to Queretaro ( not been there but heard good things ).

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Hi

 

Captain Jack

Sorry to hear you are discarding Colombia. Understandable if there is a risk of being robbed at gunpoint,

Yes, many people rely heavily on their smartphones. I rely heavily on my laptop.

 

A possible thought on this, have 2 smartphones, 1 an economical one.

2 SIM cards. Have the same apps./info on both.

Leave 1 in a secure place .Do the rooms out there have either safes or lock boxes as do many in Thailand ?

 

On a more general note I guess the way to possibly get contacts in a region or country would be to look for forums that are based around life there.

Perhaps a facebook group, not that I am keen on facebook myself.

 

I cam across an 18 month old thread on the coffee region ( and some other Colombian towns ) on a Colombia forum. Fairly interesting.

 

https://www.expat.com/forum/viewtopic.php?id=607799

 

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9 hours ago, CaptainJack said:

That's it.

 

I sat and read one article after another on Columbia this morning over my cappuccino. I'm pulling the plug on Columbia.  After firsthand accounts from my new dorm mates who got in from Columbia yesterday explaining in vivid details how they were robbed twice, once at gunpoint,  the other the police stopped their taxi, and confiscated their cellphones, I decided I'm not risking it. They also met several others there that had also been robbed at gunpoint for their cellphones. 

 

This I don't need.  And,  if I loose my electronics,  I'm really in trouble. I can't pop into a Samsung store like in Bkk, get a replacement phone and be up and running before the end of the day, back to my apartment and having a beer watching RT out of Moscow while my girlfriend makes a lovely Thai dinne.

 

My ability to navigate,  do banking,  make reservations and more are tied to my cellphone.  To show up in Colombia, knowing no one and to try this is just stupid. 

 

No amount of an easy visa is worth dealing with this.   It is ludicrous to go solo, no support,  minimum language skills into a country with this kind of problem.

 

I would have to be on high alert from the time I landed. So, I'm headed to Mexico City to hang as long as I want, up to six months. I can extend my travel insurance up to six months at this point.

 

I can still travel and explore, the weather there is not so darn hot, get a place and just settle for awhile and wait to see what happens in Thailand after the elections and after my current visa expires.

 

If I want, I can fly back to the USA and rent a small apartment in a small fishing town on the East Coast and hang their too.  No car required. 

 

Enough of this. Hanging in Mexico is something I know how to do. Drug Cartels and all. I'm happy to answer questions if anyone wants to ask me anything. 

 

CJ

 

https://thebogotapost.com/organised-criminal-gangs-behind-increase-in-cellphone-thefts-in-cali/29378

" I can still travel and explore, the weather there is not so darn hot, get a place and just settle for awhile and wait to see what happens in Thailand after the elections and after my current visa expires."

 

Nothings going to happen after the elections that will effect you. Your going the long way around but we both know you will be back in Thailand with a very excited GF 😉

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The link about the extreme problem with armed cell phone theft was about Cali. Well I wouldn't have suggested visiting Cali in the first place. It's had a higher crime rep already.

Remember not that long ago when there was armed combat in Bangkok? Even in Pattaya there was political violence.

How many expats that lived here even thought about leaving because of that?

How many tourists decided never to visit anywhere in Thailand because of that?

How many potential expats crossed Thailand off their list because of that?

I think not many.

People just cleared out of the conflict zone and avoided going there.

My way of saying that I've heard nothing yet to suggest all of Colombia should be avoided.

That might happen in future. Sure. The old problems might re-emerge and worsen. The situation in Venezuela could worsen and greatly impact Colombia. The fairly recent bombing in Bogota of the police building was reportedly funded by Venezuelan backed terrorists. That does explain why the US embassy is so concerned about protecting their personnel.

No all this is not the happiest of news but to me it doesn't add up to a no go at least yet.

Sent from my Lenovo A7020a48 using Thailand Forum - Thaivisa mobile app

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Quick update.  I had dinner last night with 3 young people from my hostel that had been in Colombia in the last month.  They all had been robbed either at gunpoint or knife in Colombia.   The bottom line came down to this.

 

If i don't have an already established friend or connections in Colombia,  it is too dangerous right now.  If you go, do not fly into Bogota.  Avoid Borgata at all costs. Don't consider going if you don't know Spanish.   You are going to be ripped off,  robbed and hopefully not worse.

 

This is on the ground experience in the last 30 days.  

 

The information coming out of Internet groups is not lining up with personal experiences. 

 

CJ

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10 minutes ago, CaptainJack said:

Quick update.  I had dinner last night with 3 young people from my hostel that had been in Colombia in the last month.  They all had been robbed either at gunpoint or knife in Colombia.   The bottom line came down to this.

 

If i don't have an already established friend or connections in Colombia,  it is too dangerous right now.  If you go, do not fly into Bogota.  Avoid Borgata at all costs. Don't consider going if you don't know Spanish.   You are going to be ripped off,  robbed and hopefully not worse.

 

This is on the ground experience in the last 30 days.  

 

The information coming out of Internet groups is not lining up with personal experiences. 

 

CJ

OK, that's scary information about Bogota specifically.

The U.S. embassy in is Bogota but as I posted before people can use a lawyer to avoid traveling there to get their benefits letters officialized. 

There are airports for both Armenia and Pereira in the coffee region.

Odd because they are so close. 

As far as I know the only flight from the U.S.  to either is to Armenia from Ft. Lauderdale, FL.

Of course people can connect through Medellin, Bogota, and maybe Cartagena. 

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20 hours ago, keemapoot said:

My argument is that if you examine the total package of virtually any country in LA (and arguably globally) compared to Thailand you will find Thailand wins for most expats. The food, the laid-back lifestyle, the cost of living, the ease of transport, the ease of hooking-up for those who don't have a steady thing, all those things are better in Thailand. The only thing that is recently bad is the schizophrenic visa situation, which seems to be a crackdown to eliminate a certain segment of the expat population, and for those who can weather this, I think it will return to normal.

 

I stand by my position. Thailand still wins in most categories.

Hi

 

Everyone is different, with different needs/wants.

 

Although I am going to be the odd one out here, I do not really like Thai food, many others do. Not me.

Eat it rarely. Fairly unhealthy IMO, much cooked in cheap palm oil, many vegetables sprayed with pesticides banned in other countries.

So for me personally Thai food is not a pull.

 

Cost of living ?

 

I am not actually looking for cheaper, rather looking for better for me.

 

Depends on how you want to live.

Infrastructure poor here, roads arguably the most dangerous in the world.

I value safety and as a minor point being able to cross a road safely.

I live in naklua, have done for 10 years.

 

The main naklua road has become more dangerous to cross, crossed it hundreds of times,traffic has increased, a bit more tricky now than it used to be.

 

Public transport is easy, agree.I like the bahtbus system.

Minibus and coach transport I do not like here.

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10 minutes ago, seasia said:

Hi

 

Everyone is different, with different needs/wants.

 

Although I am going to be the odd one out here, I do not really like Thai food, many others do. Not me.

Eat it rarely. Fairly unhealthy IMO, much cooked in cheap palm oil, many vegetables sprayed with pesticides banned in other countries.

So for me personally Thai food is not a pull.

 

Cost of living ?

 

I am not actually looking for cheaper, rather looking for better for me.

 

Depends on how you want to live.

Infrastructure poor here, roads arguably the most dangerous in the world.

I value safety and as a minor point being able to cross a road safely.

I live in naklua, have done for 10 years.

 

The main naklua road has become more dangerous to cross, crossed it hundreds of times,traffic has increased, a bit more tricky now than it used to be.

 

Public transport is easy, agree.I like the bahtbus system.

Minibus and coach transport I do not like here.

You might like Montevideo Uruguay or one of the upscale beach cities. 

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Hi
 

 
A possible thought on this, have 2 smartphones, 1 an economical one.
2 SIM cards. Have the same apps./info on both.
Leave 1 in a secure place .Do the rooms out there have either safes or lock boxes as do many in Thailand ?
 

 


Yes I agree and I will do the same when I visit Medellin for the first time. I already have 2 smart phones with 2 separate sim cards and the same apps installed. When I go out for the night , in bars or night clubs in Pattaya, I only use the cheap phone.

If it get stolen or lost I can delete everything on the phone remotely , (Samsung Galaxy). So no big loss to me if that happens.

Regarding Medellin I read online about many happy expats and digital nomads, they feel quite safe there, as long as you don't hang out in the wrong areas.
So I think I would feel safe there, but you would need a network of people you can trust.


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2 hours ago, balo said:


 

 


Yes I agree and I will do the same when I visit Medellin for the first time. I already have 2 smart phones with 2 separate sim cards and the same apps installed. When I go out for the night , in bars or night clubs in Pattaya, I only use the cheap phone.

If it get stolen or lost I can delete everything on the phone remotely , (Samsung Galaxy). So no big loss to me if that happens.

Regarding Medellin I read online about many happy expats and digital nomads, they feel quite safe there, as long as you don't hang out in the wrong areas.
So I think I would feel safe there, but you would need a network of people you can trust.

 

 

Blank.

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Couple of thoughts.  Everyone I talked directly with in the last two days all said the safest and best place to live in Colombia is Cartagena.  A few other comments were they found it near Impossible to get anything accomplished not knowing Spanish.  One gal hired a translator to help her.   Another made the observation that many locals, and I found this to be the case also in Mexico,  speak English,  but will not.  They consider it our responsibility to learn Spanish.  Several of the people I was with last night had traveled a lot in SE Asia, and their take was locals in the SE Asia area do not expect English speakers to know their language.   Here, and I have found this definitely true in Merida,  Mexicans will watch you struggle, and occasionally step up in really good English to help.

 

Right now,  the suggestions about dual phones,  etc, in this town don't fly. It's too small and the employees at the stores have no interest in helping. Perhaps it is different in a more metropolitan area of Mexico City. 

 

Connecting with local expat groups? I spent 9 months in Bangkok,  went to places expats hung out, and all I can say is I only managed to make one friend from New Zealand.  If you are new in town, it is not easy.  I'm very easy to be with, have lots of interests but there was always a wall.  

 

Probably one of the more important suggestions last night was to enroll in a Spanish class. That is a way to meet people.  

 

A personal observation.  My other expat friend in Bangkok never once invited me to his and his wifes home. It was meet for lunch or dinner and mostly listening to him complaining about the world.  After 6 months, my extending invitations,  I realized that is the extent of that relationship.   

 

I find it amazing I was treated with more kindness and welcoming by my Thai friends then I ever was by westerners.  Weird....

 

Bottom line is this. I am out here alone, navigating this environment with zero safety net. If I make a mistake here, it can be really serious.  At least in Bkk, I had a few expats and way more Thais that would help me.

 

On the question of lockboxes in the rooms. No, not where I am staying.  I'll have to go up to spending 50 plus dollars a night for a real hotel room.  Once moving into that price range,  I'm way outside my budget.

 

There was a comment about things not changing for the better in Thailand after the elections.  Regardless of me, I think you need to realize you are talking to a lot of expats who have repeatedly in other topics have stated many times, they are waiting,  some hoping for improvement.  

I think you are right, they won't change and probably will get worse. Why Jingthing has started several topics to try to get people to start thinking.  This entire Latin American exercise is just one option expats are considering.   My Kiwi mate is heading to Cambodia on an information gathering trip with his girlfriend next week.  Why? He has to have a plan just in case Thailand does go through with the medical insurance requirements.   

 

And, Jingthing brought up in another topic about getting your money out of Thailand if deported.   All of these are real issues that are way more relevant to some expats then others.

 

And last. I started a topic about expats teaming up to help each other. OMG! Was i pounced on. I was accused of being gay too.  

 

I think everyone that could possibly end up having to leave to try to put themselves in my shoes.  Even tge simply suggestion about getting another phone does not work if you can't buy one and are already out the door.  Oh, and I actually have a backup,  but it is older.  I should have gotten a second identical phone. Another mistake on my part. 

 

Bottom line is this.  What you think will work sitting in the comfort of your apartment or home in Thailand may not work in real life, especially under stress.

 

Ok, enough on where things are in my head.  I am lucky. I have time, resources and options.   I don't need to make any major decisions, only minor course corrections.

 

I'm going for my cappuccino. 

 

Cheers...

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