A no-limit energy, a large smile and a positive attitude, it is like this that Marie-Antoinette welcomed us to talk about her experience and more particularly her retirement in Bangkok, in Thailand.
It is during a common Tuesday evening that we have had the pleasure to meet Marie-Antoinette, 66 years old and 1m63 of good mood, who turned our evening into a “special” moment full of exchange.
It is in the financial field that Marie-Antoinette spent a great part of her career. « A classical path I guess », she tells us, but kind of impressive according to us. Personal Assistant for investment banks and big cabinets such as Deloitte, travelling has no secrets for her, given that she worked in the USA, the Middle East, Europe…
10 minutes spent with her were actually enough to transmit her taste for adventure to us, just by looking at the stars appearing in her eyes talking about it. « I always had this passion for foreign countries, for languages. »
So then? After all these years moving, why not France for your retirement?
Retired since February 2013, Retirement is a synonym of New Adventures for Marie-Antoinette. « The climate, the mentality, the lack of exotism… » some reasons why she was not thinking about France for her retirement. « The routine, an environment I know by heart… I didn’t want that. For that, to retire, it is an occasion to change and to discover something different. It forces us to modify our rhythm, to adapt our cultures, and to open ourselves to write a new chapter of our life… to keep being active. »
And … Thailand?
“ I’ve been there regularly … during 15 years! “
We will retain the huge smile that illuminated Marie-Antoinette’s face hearing this question. We were almost expecting an answer like “it was like an evidence” but …
« My son is married to a Thai woman. A formidable woman, beautiful, smart and with an incredible culture. When they were in Thailand, I was visiting them regularly and spending my holidays there – around twice a year – during 15 years! » And the magic happened. Marie-Antoinette fell in love with the Kingdom of Siam. « I liked a lot, Southeast Asia. In Thailand, I met my family-in-law, wonderful people. A comfort of living, such a warm mentality, an incredible change… I stayed there, even when my son and his wife went back to France. » 2 seconds of astonishment passed, and…
You mean that your son and his wife and currently in France? And you here?
« Yes! They are in Paris! And I stayed in Bangkok, she replies with a big smile, my family-in-law is still here though, I ain’t alone. Plus, I do have all my friends! » Because, yes, Marie-Antoinette is not joking when she speaks about integrating and adapting herself completely to the country. She has known how to find her rhythm, among street food, markets and acrobatic yoga lessons. She absolutely wanted to meet Thai people and to entirely plunge herself into this new culture. « I have a small group of Thai friends, we even organize a little trip every month together, of 2-3 days! ».
“ My best friend is Thai. We learn a lot from each other. “
Therefore, Marie-Antoinette left with a strong will of integrating herself, to learn the maximum possible and to accommodate herself to these new surroundings. She absolutely didn’t want to stay only with French expats. « My best friend is Thai. We learn a lot from each other. She even came to France with me to discover my culture, and to learn more about my country. She was super happy and super surprised at how different it was! »
And what about France? Don’t you miss it? Are you going back there often?
« Oh yes, of course. I miss France itself. Opera, art, culture … cheese and wine! I miss all of these. I’m always very happy to go back there. But the life there, no, I do not miss it. » Marie-Antoinette tells us that she is going back to France once a year to visit her family, to see her son and daughter-in-law, to enjoy cheese and take the most of museums, and … to travel around Europe. It just goes to show … adventure is never so far …
Might you think of going back to France?
The answer has been with no hesitation. None. « In France? Absolutely not. I do not have any intention to leave, I have my life and my friends here. »
And what about the cultural shock? If you had the advice to give to future retirees who want to go to Thailand, what would it be?
“ I knew I was going to be confronted with a different WHOLE. “
Marie-Antoinette confessed to us having been relatively prepared for all the short stays she did in Thailand before taking the plunge, and especially thanks to her Thai daughter-in-law and family-in-law. « I knew I was going to be confronted with a different WHOLE. But I think that the majority of expats does not take that into account before leaving. » Being aware of the change, the will to adapt yourself and to let you go to this environmental transformation are, in her opinion, key points.
« If you do not have this adaptation will, expatriation won’t be failed, but you will end up being in autarky and recreating France … but 9 000 km away. » She finished by reminding us how beautiful Thailand is and how enriching its culture is. Therefore, it would be « too bad » to miss it out. « Open yourself, go ahead, do not be afraid and enjoy. »
And … Why Bangkok? Why not a paradisiacal island?
« I always lived in capitals, I need it moving. Probably a question of temperament. I go round and round in circles anywhere else, but not in Bangkok. There’s always something to do here. » The Thai capital has a lot to offer according to her. What Marie-Antoinette loves above all, is to have everything nearby. « I’m enjoying the typical traditional aspect of Thailand as well as everything I used to have in France. Tradition and modernity, everything’s there! » Bangkok has indeed lots of advantages … Traditional temples which stand alongside modern hospitals, high ranged shopping malls a street away from authentic local markets…
That’s a lot of information… In summary, what do you like the most here?
Hard to tell, according to Marie-Antoinette’s face … so many things « Well … people are very likeable, very attentive. We have access to everything, the climate is perfect, we see and live things in an environment we would not have back to France. As well as the living comfort. » Because yes, it is pretty common to have a swimming pool and a gym within the residence. To buy food in the street which taste is more amazing than everything that everything you could know. To wake up during the morning under 25° and telling yourself « wow, weather’s fresh today! ». « Bref, lots of things. ».
A … maybe an anecdote to tell us?
Marie-Antoinette thinks about it during 2 minutes, she seems like she has a lot … and starts her story. She often buys lots of groceries and stuff, and then go back home by tuk-tuk. « But this day, no way to get one! I was with all my bags, alone, struggling. And a policeman saw me. » She explains is that he wanted to help her, and stopped the first tuk-tuk he saw. The driver was really stressed, panicked because he didn’t know why the policeman wanted to talk to him. And then he saw Marie-Antoinette and all her bags, and he understood. « He was laughing out loud during all way! »
One hour and a half later, Marie-Antoinette brings us a huge plate full of different kinds of Thai specialities bought from the street stands, still with this big smile on her face.
If you had to describe Thailand … with one word?
« Mai pen rai » Very used in Thailand, these three little words have lots of translations. But Marie-Antoinette retains the following one: « Everything’s fine ».
with one place?
« Bangkok. Of course. »
with one image?
« A woman, street food seller, a large smile on her face. »
Thank you Marie-Antoinette, that was a real pleasure!