The falang exodus from Thailand


I was eavesdropping on the bus from Shihanoukville to Trat and it was one of those eye opener of conversations. The visa conditions of Thailand changed about a year or so ago. You can now spend 90 days in the country in 6 months – which means that you have to spend 3 months out of every six outside of Thailand. Prior to this, many falang kept staying on making regular visa runs to the border. Many had lived in Thailand like this for years.

The American man on the bus was in his forties, looked dissolute and was on disability from the States. He’d had a thai wife but she’d died of hep a/b a year ago and with the change in visa conditions in Thailand, he was making the move to Cambodia. It was no longer viable for him to stay in Thailand and constantly have to uproot himself for 3 months in every six. Cambodia, he said, was where everyone was moving to. You could get a business visa there for 1 year and it was multi-entry and renewable.

I could imagine the impact on many other people like him who’d made or found himself a home in Thailand. You see them in Thailand and now in Cambodia. They are western men in their forties and fifties who never made it home, who dont have a passport or any longterm recognition of their status and who are stuck trying to make some sort of living there. They are not migrants, they are not ex-pat workers, they are just lost and now that Thailand has decided they must go, they’re going to Cambodia.

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