If you can't be bothered learning the language and culture, then you will not experience Thailand or the people.. You will just always be a Farang (foreigner)..
I find Thai culture fascinating and the foods are spectacular. You can do really well developing the right business connections there, if you use your head and certainly can provide a help base for other kiwis and aussis.. if you have the patience.
Good luck - enjoy the beauty and the experiences.. but give something Back... Most Farangs hardly ever do anything in Thailand but Take! Khaw Jai?
I'd recommend you just go mate, whether you have a companion or not. I know this sounds brash if you haven't done it before, but you're guarenteed to meet people once you're there.
In some ways it's even better for meeting people when you're not with a group of mates - just find yourself a hostel with a bar in it and you'll automatically have a group of like-minded, same aged pissheads who want to do all the stuff you want to do to knock about with!
Stay Away from the LadyBoys and you won't get mugged! If you act like a tourist and show no knowledge or respect of the culture, then you will be treated as a tourist. If you act like a drunk they will treat you like a drunk. If you study the language and customs then you will be treated with respect.. until you get drunk and chase LadyBoys! Go by yourself - stand back and watch the pulse of the place and then join in... you will see what I mean and that pulse will blow you away.. but you have to understand the people to experience what I am talking about!.. The VERY BEST WAY.. check out the Volunteer Abroad scheme.. you get to see Thailand from her heart outwards.. which you can't do as a tourist!
You'll be fine mate and you'll probably be with a group of people from the word go anyway. There's not much crime either, I feel less safe when I'm in London (or any big city in the UK) than in Thailand.
Parents worry too much. Mine wont even consider leaving the country for anywhere further afield than Brittany!
Thailand's an awesome place, I spent a bit of time there a few years ago and would (and have) recommend it to anyone looking for a break if they have 2 weeks plus of holiday (I'm from the UK, so this makes it viable).
Better yet, do as I did and use it as a launching point for a year of travels! Then you don't have the heart ache of having to leave so soon!
Koh Tao, Chiang Mai, Koh Lanta, Phi Phi, Koh Chang, Pi etc are all awesome; could easily go back there and have anpther few months and not be bored in the slightest. Paticularly liked Chiang Mai as it's not quite as hot as elsewhere, it's really cheap and the trekking out of there is awesome!
Its beautiful and the weather is nice. I have been to Bangkok (thrice) I saw an elephant cross the street and I like that. It is cheaper, the weather is almost the same in Manila where I used to hail. I love Thai foods (I miss that) with rice of course. I like that their structures looks ancient but it is mixed with modern style of architecture in some places.
I love Thailand. I find it a fasinating culture. Some of the people there don't have much but they are happy.
I didn't think much of Bangkok personally. I find it overcrowded, hot and polluted. But when I got down to the beaches and the islands it was like living in paradise. Although one thing I did find got annoying quite quickly was the damn mosquitos!
I think Thailand has a lot going for it and there are certainly a lot worse places to live. Especially if you are going there as a foreigner and can benefit from a good exchange rate. You can have a good standard of living in paradise without half the worries of the western world. But I think if I was going to live somehwere I would want to embrace their culture and style of living.