I was born in Thailand, but raised in the Netherlands. After graduation I travelled around Asia and in January 2014 I decided to start a new adventure in the country I was born in. Looking like a local, but living like an expat, my blog is all about ...
Can you introduce yourself to our members?
My name is Neng Neng and I am enjoying life as a social media strategist, blogger, photographer, world explorer, foodie, Woman Power Defense assistant coach, and martial arts practitioner. Raised in the Netherlands, I am now back in my home country to explore my roots and also the Thai lifestyle.
How did you land in the Netherlands? How long have you lived there?
My father is Dutch and my mother is Thai. We moved when I turned 6 years old. I basically grew up in the Netherlands.
Why did you choose to go back to Bangkok?
I wanted to know more about living in Bangkok. As I moved to the Netherlands at a young age, I didn't get to really live here. I also got a job offer in Bangkok, which made my choice easier.
What were the procedures to follow to move to Bangkok?
My procedure went smooth, as I am a Thai citizen with dual citizenship. I just need to stamp my Thai passport and that's it. All I needed to do was saying my good-byes and pack, but that was also an easy step as I was already traveling through Asia.
How long have you been in Thailand?
Since January 2014.
Was it difficult to find accommodation there? What are the types of housing units available in Bangkok?
It was difficult because I did not know where to start. I ended up staying at my family's place for a week. In that week I went to the area I wanted to stay and basically walked in every condo and apartments to ask if they had room available. I was very lucky as the first apartment I walked in had room available and I could move in immediately.
How is your life going on professionally? Have you been able to adapt to the local labor market?
I speak basic Thai and I look Asian, which makes things so much easier, like bargaining on local markets. I notice when I go around with my foreign looking friends, the price tend to be higher than when I go shopping alone. Learning the Thai language does help you a lot.
What has motivated you to start your blog NN vs BKK? How does it help?
NN vs BKK was used as an online diary for my family and friends back in the Netherlands. They could keep track of my adventures and also get to know Thailand better through my experiences. It feels good when strangers leave a comment or send me an email telling me that my blog had helped them during their holidays in Bangkok. That is what my blog is all about: giving people ideas on what to do and how to adapt in an Asian country.
What are the differences between life in the Netherlands and in Thailand?
In the Netherlands life seems to be more laid-back. Thailand is all about working. My Thai colleagues tend to stay longer at work while in the Netherlands we leave right on time. Also when you make an appointment with a Thai, you already know they show up at least 15 minutes later than the actual time.
Which lifestyle do you prefer and why?
I like both lifestyle, but I prefer Thailand a bit more. I feel there is so much more to discover, even if you live here for 10 years while in the Netherlands nothing much changes. In Thailand new attractions are opening and new shopping malls are being build left and right.
Don't you miss the Netherlands?
I only miss typical Dutch food and my family, but luckily we have Skype nowadays. I would never go back to the Netherlands until it is for a holiday.
Any particular experience you would like to share with us?
I felt like a local for the first time when I took the taxi boat for the first time. It was also one of the scariest experiences of my life. The water of the canals are so dirty, you would probably get health issues when falling in the water. The taxi boats only stop for a few seconds at each pier and you have to hop on and off fast without falling in the water. That was an adventure when I did that for the first time. Now everything goes smoothly and sometimes I laugh at tourists trying to get on the boat, because I remember how I must have looked when I did it for the first time.
What is your opinion on the cost of living in Bangkok? Is it easy for you to live there after having spend so many years in the Netherlands?
The cost of living is cheap in Bangkok if you know how to adapt. I am trying to live like a local and I do end up saving a lot while some of my friends earn twice as much and they are always broke in two weeks. It is just the way you live your life.
How do you spend your leisure time?
I like to go sightseeing or sit in a coffee shop writing my blog. There is so much to discover, every day something exciting is happening.
Would like to give any advice to future expatriates?
Living in Bangkok is a big adventure. I always suggest people to adapt as much as possible. Don't live here with your foreign mindset, because that way you won't survive long. I know foreigners who only eat western food and complain everything is so expensive. Of course western food is more expensive, that is why you should try eating local food which is at least twice as cheap. Also, always smile and never show your frustrations. Thai people will treat you the same as you treat them.
What are your plans for the future?
I am planning on sticking to Bangkok for another year and maybe next year trying to find a new adventure. Maybe Japan.