An easy lifestyle, low cost of living, and friendly agreeable people are among the reasons many Thais have migrated to Portugal, choosing to live and work in the clement Algarve.
Wanda Saimuenkaew, 42, a home catering service provider and Thai cooking instructor, has been living in Portugal for 11 years. Married to a Portuguese man, she likes the weather, convenient transportation, easy-going nature of the people, and quality of life the country provides.
“In Thailand, the prices of food and ingredients are about the same, but the quality is better here. The vegetables are fresher,” she said, adding that the local people have kind hearts. She said she can buy many traditional cooking ingredients also, mainly from shops run by Chinese owners.
Pharanee Nonthao, a 49-year-old masseur, agrees with Ms Saimuenkaew about the people’s warmth and service-mindedness, enjoying that the social equality of a European country also. “We women can walk down the street without fear of harassment,” she said.
The former factory worker in Thailand said she has lived in Portugal for 13 years, shuffling between Lisbon and the Algarve
Both women were participating in a meeting with visiting Thai Foreign Minister Don Pramudwinai during an official trip last month. “I came here today as I am interested in Thai-Portugal relations. And I want to take part in the activities of the Thai community in Portugal,” she said referring to the meeting of 40 notable members of the Thai community in Portugal with the foreign minister.
She said that among the problems she is facing is recruiting enough masseurs for her venture which is sited on seven beaches. At the moment, her team is made up of 14 members.
Nutthamon Sitaprasertnand, 26, a student on an Erasmus Mundus Scholarship in European Master in Social Work with Families and Children, said that besides the beauty of the country and simple living, people’s friendliness impressed her.
“It is not friendliness in a sense of frequent smiles like Thai people do, but how they interact with each other. They make a point of greeting other people, even strangers, and you can expect to receive a “bom dia”, “boa tarde” or “boa noite” wherever you go,” she said.
On the negative side, the student pointed to the long and complicated bureaucratic system she had to navigate to arrange long-term stays in the country.