The Challenges (and Perks) for Expats Living in Thailand

Being in another country can be sometimes rewarding and sometimes frustrating. But no doubt about it – it is always an enriching experience. But living in a foreign country (most likely permanently) is otherwise a completely different matter, compared to having a vacation there as a tourist. Building your professional life, raising your family or spending your retirement years in a completely foreign land is always a life-changing decision. And I can attest to that!

Thailand is an alluring country and a popular tourist destination. It is home to thousands of awesome temples, gorgeous beaches, delicious cuisine and the warm smiles of the Thai people that beat even the most sweltering Bangkok weather.

But it’s not all paradise in “The Land of Smiles.” Like in many countries, living in Thailand presents its own set of challenges, and some of them are quite frustrating. But don’t worry, not everything is an ordeal there. With learning more on how to adjust to everyday life in Thailand, you will be able to get used to it. There are also advantages and perks that make living in Thailand more than just tolerable — hey, even enjoyable! So read on…

The challenges

It is not usual to see Caucasians in Thailand, but most Thais view all white expatriates as Americans (and having lots of money). Like many foreigners living in a faraway land, adjusting to living in Thailand can be become very challenging, initially. Most foreigners live in Thailand because of business or work.

One of the first hurdles to get over is the language barrier, and there’s only a paucity of English speakers among native Thais. Although English is widely taught in schools, many locals still struggle to speak the language with facility or do not feel at ease speaking in English. Thus, the best way you should do when deciding to move to Thailand is to learn the basics of Thai language – speaking, reading and writing it. That will help every day living in a Thailand a bit less challenging.

 

 

Bangkok is a megacity, and thus one of the common problems that every megacity faces are the traffic jams. For Western expats, traffic jams make commuting to and from work especially daunting, testing their patience. Expats who are used to driving around back in their home countries will definitely miss it the most once they live in Thailand.

Road accidents often happen due to lack of discipline among both motorists and commuters, making the traffic situation a lot much worse. This will hamper the efficiency of healthcare services, as ambulances fail to respond to emergencies on time because of the heavy gridlock.

But the good thing about getting around in Bangkok (and other Thai cities) is the number of decent public transportation such as buses, taxis, trains, and tuk-tuks.

 

Another concern to be seriously considered when living in Thailand is the lack of good public healthcare, like in the case of many developing countries. The dearth of general physicians and doctors can make it quite difficult when you need them. One of the usual scenes you see in local clinics, public hospitals and health facilities in Thailand is the long queues of patients. If not, patients in public healthcare facilities usually get lesser treatments than patients in private hospitals. Clearly, there’s inequality in Thailand’s healthcare situation.

For expats, the best way to counter against the challenges of public healthcare is to choose a private plan or an international health policy, which will give them access to the best healthcare.

 

Another challenge of living in Thailand is the bad Internet connection. Although most local service providers offer broadband, many Western expats still find Thailand’s Internet speed quite slow. In a recent speed test, Singapore leads the fastest Internet speed with 121.7 megabits per second (mbps), a far, far cry to Thailand’s measly 19.9 mbps.

The average Internet connection speed in Western countries (such as the US and the UK) play between 30 to 36 mbps, which may explain why expats find the Internet speed in Thailand to be frustratingly slow.

 

Bureaucracy and red tape are still common in Thailand, like in many developing nations. Going through a lengthy process in obtaining a visa, a work permit or any other required document can be a considerable challenge and frustration for many.

 

 

 

The perks

Thailand is a beautiful country, no doubt about it. It boasts wonderful natural sights such as world-class beaches, limestone cliffs, amazing rock formations, emerald-green mountains and breathtaking hidden waterfalls. You can also find beauty in the city, with ancient temples juxtaposing tall, modern buildings as well as colorful, diverse markets and beautiful public gardens.

 

 

If there’s something that Western expats love most about living in Thailand, it’s the cheap cost of living. The affordability in Thailand is unbelievable that sometimes you’d think it’s ridiculous. Living in Thailand allows you to stretch your dollar further. For only $1 you can enjoy a full meal consisting of rice, vegetables, or meat/poultry/fish/seafood.

From inner-city apartments and condominiums to luxurious Thai-style country retreats, getting a comfortable place to live in Thailand is incredibly cheap and easy. You can even get a tastefully modern, full-furnished apartment in the heart of Bangkok that is accessible to all amenities and all kinds of transportation for only $500 a month. A great Thai massage can cost you as low as $10. Even if you’re a low-to-middle-income earning expat, you will still be able to live a great quality of life in Thailand while saving a great deal of money at the same time.

 

Thailand is a land of great opportunities for different people with different lifestyles. Today more than ever, Thailand offers a wide range of activities to further maximize your leisure time. If you are a city slicker who loves to shop at big malls and love to party at night, you have Bangkok, Phuket or maybe even Chiang Mai to suit your preference.

If you want to experience a simple country life, you can do that in any of the thousand rural villages in Thailand. If you are a total beach bum, Thailand has lots of gorgeous beaches and many of them have access to basic amenities and facilities and offer an amazing nightlife. If you’re into outdoor activities, there are opportunities in Thailand for biking, cycling, hiking, mountaineering or extreme sports such as skydiving, rock climbing, scuba diving with whale sharks and bungee jumping. If you’re into jungle trekking, you won’t feel short of finding several untouched and pristine forests in Thailand. Some of these outdoor activities can be listed here on this link: “Best Thrilling Adventures and Activities“.

 

Thailand is a food haven, especially if you love Thai food in particular. The country is every gastronome’s dream destination. Not only Thai food is delicious and offers a wide variety of flavors (not just spicy), it is also affordable. No wonder, Thai cuisine is certainly world-renowned. To truly experience authentic Thai cuisine, you’ve got to sample their amazing street food, such as pad thai, curries, roti and green papaya salads as well as fresh fruits — Thais love to eat fresh fruits and they usually do that at the end of the meal. If you’re the more adventurous type, try insects or durian.

If you are craving for Western-style food like burgers, pizzas and shakes, there are also fast-food restaurants in Thailand. Craving for Japanese, Chinese, Italian, French or Korean food? No problem, as Thailand also has a great number of restaurants serving international cuisine.

The bottomline

Thailand is a beautiful country. But like many other countries, Thailand has its own advantages and disadvantages. On the plus side, the country’s low cost of living, a wealth of opportunities as well as its exotic cuisine will entice foreigners, in addition to its natural beauty and the friendly Thai people (as long as you don’t annoy them).

You only have to deal with the negatives such as traffic jams, poor public healthcare and red tape. Being a tourist versus being a permanent resident in any foreign country are certainly different from one another. So, are you ready to live in Thailand? If you want to settle there as an expat, consider it carefully first before making the final decision that can dramatically change your life.

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Amazing Facts about Thailand

You may have probably heard of Thailand’s successful “Amazing Thailand” tourism campaign. As a result, more than 19 million tourists visit Thailand every year, making it the most heavily-visited country in Southeast Asia.

But beyond the gorgeous beaches, amazing cuisine, spellbinding temples, huge shopping malls, towering golden Buddhas and the welcoming smiles of the Thai people, there are some things that you should know about Thailand that make the country all the more amazing and enchanting.

1) Thailand was never colonized by Europeans.
Thailand is the only Southeast Asian country that was never conquered or colonized by the Europeans, while their neighbors were colonized by mostly either the French or the British. While Thailand has had alliances with the Japanese (during World War II) and the United States, it has never otherwise been conquered, technically speaking.

Thailand’s name in the Thai language is “Prathet Thai” which means “Land of the Free,” which the country truly is!

2) The real name of “Bangkok”
Bangkok is Thailand’s capital and largest city, home to about eight million people (as of 2010). You’re lucky if you know Bangkok as “Bangkok.” However, its actual name is (get ready for this):

Krungthepmahanakhon Amonrattanakosin Mahintharayutthaya Mahadilokphop Noppharatratchathaniburirom Udomratchaniwetmahasathan Amonphimanawatansathit Sakkathattiyawitsanukamprasit.

The name is a combination of Pali and Sanskrit root words. It is translated as: “City of angels, great city of immortals, magnificent city of the nine gems, seat of the king, city of royal palaces, home of gods incarnate, erected by Vishvakarman at Indra’s behest.”

3) Temples, lots of them!
Thailand is home to some 35,000 temples, so really, the country is the land of the temples. When you visit these temples, you are required to dress modestly. Meaning: no sleeveless tops, shorts and miniskirts.

4) The bigger, the better.
A nuclear family – consisting of two parents and their children – is rare in Thailand. Rather, large extended families are the norm there.

5) Bangkok — the hottest city in the world!
Bangkok was declared by the World Meteorological Organization as the hottest city in the world, with an average air temperature of 28 degrees Celsius (or 82.4 degress Fahrenheit). It’s hot and sweltering all-year round. Yes, it even beats the temperatures in the desert which becomes chilly during the evenings and during the winter season. So get prepared to spend hot days (and nights) in Bangkok.

6) National language
Thailand’s sole and official language is Thai, which is believed to have been derived from Chinese, with several loanwords from English, French, Portuguese, Arabic and Khmer. Like Chinese, Thai is a tonal language. Its alphabet consists of 32 vowels and 44 consonants.

7) The biggest mineral found in Thailand?
When you hear of Thailand, it conjures images of gold and the dazzling diamonds and rubies that are embedded in their temples and Buddha statues. But this might surprise you, as tin is actually the most important mineral in Thailand. In fact, it is one of the world’s major tin producers.

8) Some weird laws
Strange laws exist in most countries in the world, and Thailand is no exception. These include: a) You must wear an underwear when going out of the house; and b) You must wear a shirt when driving a vehicle. Forget wearing any of them and you’re automatically breaking the law.

9) A wine country in Thailand? Yes, there is!
When you think of a “wine country,” you’d first think of Italy, France or Napa Valley in California. But Thailand? With its hot weather and chalky terrain, it’s hardly the first destination that most wine connoisseurs could think of. But the wine industry in Thailand is actually thriving, with locally-produced quality wines being served in expensive restaurants. These labels are also exported overseas.

There are at least about five wine regions in Thailand. Check out this interesting article “Unexpected Wine Destinations in the World” and you will find some information on Thailand’s most famous vineyards, the Monsoon Valley and the Silverlake Vineyard.

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Top Things to Do in Thailand

Thailand is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Southeast Asia. And why not?

With its enchanting beaches, awe-inspiring temples, unique cuisine, captivating culture and friendly people, it’s not hard to see why tourists keep coming back to the “Land of Smiles.”

There are innumerable things to see and do in Thailand. But for a start, we present you the top five things that you should do (and you would like to do) in the country, whether you’re traveling there for the first time or have been there several times.

Make sure you have all the essential (as well as non-essential) items ready before flying out to another country. If you may want to add something else to your baggage, check out suggestions in this link: Gift Ideas for Travelers.

1) Visit the Grand Palace
Bangkok is the commonly the first stop for foreign tourists. And while you’re there before going to the countryside or hitting the beaches, it’s essential that you should do some touring around this bustling Thai capital.

Bangkok is a charming mix of the old and the new. There are historical landmarks that will simply take your breath away. One of those is visiting the Grand Palace, one of the most popular tourist attractions in the city. Situated in the heart of Bangkok, the Grand Palace is probably the most famous landmark and tourist attraction there. This palace is situated on the banks of Chao Phraya River, and has been the official residence of the King, his court, and his royal government since the late 18th century.

The palace itself is nothing short of breathtaking; the sprawling grounds (with an area measuring 218,400 square meters), are adorned by beautiful gardens and surrounded by enormous walls. Please note though, that there is a strict dress code so you will have to visit there in appropriate clothing or else you’ll be denied entry.

2) Go for a day trip at Ayutthaya
Ayutthaya is an ancient capital and modern city located about 80 kilometers north of Bangkok. This historic city is something that you should seriously consider when listing down the things to do in Thailand. Ayutthaya was listed as a UNESCO heritage site in 1991. It will enchant you with its impressively preserved ruins that speak of its grandiose past, including the magnificent temples such as Wat Phra Si Sanphet and Wat Phra Mahathat.

 

3) Visit the floating markets
One of the enduring images of Thailand is its floating markets. Nearly every tourist has a visit to the floating market in mind when going to Thailand. There are about five floating markets in Bangkok alone that earned itself the nickname the “Venice of the East,” while the Damnoen Saduak Floating Market in Ratchaburi Province is probably the most notable (and the most authentic and traditional).

While obviously not as scenic or romantic as Venice, these floating markets are full of life, color and activity. Shopping like the locals do is definitely a unique experience. It’s certainly a worthy addition to your bucket list of “must-do” things in Thailand.

4) Eat Thai street food
Thai cuisine is popular all over the world, but nothing could be more authentic than trying Thai food in nowhere else than in Thailand itself, right? But the best and the most fun way to try Thai cuisine is to go out the streets! The country is not called the “Street Food Capital of the World” for nothing. Thai street food brings together different kinds of offerings such as pad thai, fish cakes, curries, roti, and a wide variety of snacks. To Western standards, they are super-cheap too. Eating Thai street food will certainly become one of your favorite things to do there.

5) Explore amazing beaches
Thailand is famous for its amazing beaches – clear blue waters, white powdery sands, diverse marine life, amazing rock formations and awesome nightlife. Some of these gorgeous beaches are featured in popular Hollywood films such as Ko Phi Phi (in the move The Beach starring Leonardo DiCaprio) and Kao Phing Kan aka James Bond Island (in the film The Man with the Golden Gun). Other popular beaches include Railay Beach and Phra Nang Beach in Krabi and Phuket’s Karon Beach and Kata Beach. One could only hope though that while Thailand’s beaches are commercially the most popular compared to their Southeast Asian neighbors’, their natural pristine beauty and cleanliness should be maintained and preserved.

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My First Time Trying Street Food

We all love FOOD! I can hear you screaming back a loud YES! Who doesn’t love food anyway?! I am a self-confessed writer and foodie, too.

Now let me share with you my wonderful experience when I tried Thai street food for the first time ever.

Thailand is home for delicious, unique and exotic street foods. From seafoods, noodles, native delicacies and even crickets and bugs, Thai street foods will fulfill your cravings and curiosity at the same time.

When hunger strikes, even at the middle of the night, you’re sure to find something to eat. This is because Thai street foods are available day and night, may it be in Bangkok, Chiang Mai and other areas. Indeed, always a happy tummy for me.

And I’ll never forget to mention that Thai street foods are cheap! Servings here would only cost around US$1-US$2. Nice treat, yeah! Just worth your cup of coffee usually or even more.

Thai street food has its own culture and caters with sweet, sour, spicy and unique flavor offerings.

Okay, say you have this sweet tooth. The food here, especially the desserts would be a haven for you. They’re not only sweet, but delicious and attractive too. Comes in various shapes, designs and colors. Even their sticky rice has lots of colour variation such as the purple rice with your choice of toppings like mango or custard. Truly colorful and a delight to eat.

If you’re a noodle lover or just felt like eating a bowl of it, I’d say go ahead and try one. I myself can attest that it would be one of the great dishes you can try here. I have tried their egg noodles and it sure tastes delicious. There’s also a variety such as thin and thick rice noodles with your choice of meat, and other condiments and leafy vegetables. Go grab a bowl when you visit Thailand!

Barbecue or various kinds of grilled meat and fish is also a treat I’ve enjoyed. Its sizzling aroma is undoubtedly a stomach magnet and would really want to make you try them the soonest. It is best partnered with a sticky rice and a perfect dip or sauce of your choice.

I never had the courage to go and try the crickets and bugs that are seen all throughout the streets of Thailand. But just to share a few of what I’ve seen, these are usually fried to its crispy point. The most popular one is the giant water bug. If you’re the adventurous type and would love to try exotic foods such as these, then you’re in for a treat here in the streets of Thailand.

Now it’s your turn!

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Visiting The Elephant Sanctuary In Chiang Mai

Ever since I was a child, when people talk about Thailand, I would immediately relate it to elephants. Thailand is greatly known for the huge presence of elephants in this country. Though I’ve heard some unfortunate news about some elephant abuse, there are still some good sanctuaries in Thailand that are sincerely looking after the welfare of these animals.

I felt so lucky that one of the most admired Elephant Sanctuaries is found near the area where we are staying. This is The Elephant Sanctuary in Chiang Mai. A sanctuary which aims to provide a better quality of life for both the elephants and the natives looking after them.

When I arrived at the place, I (together with other tourists) was immediately instructed to wear a specific shirt that would not only protect my clothing but would also make the elephants be familiar and comfortable with me. We don’t want to experience a stressed elephant, right?

A guide came to orient us of how the entire sanctuary operates right before we could meet the elephants. It was made clear that riding an elephant was strictly prohibited as they would only want the elephants to feel relaxed all throughout.

When we all got the information needed prior to our ‘meeting’, elephants were then one by one met by us within the camp. It was a truly amazing experience for me. I got to feed the elephants with the supplied fruits such as watermelon, sugar canes and bananas. I can tell the elephants enjoyed the time as much as we all did. In this sanctuary, there were clearly no signs that the elephants here were abused and deprived of food. And I am glad to see and prove that in person.

After giving them a few treats, we then went on to give the elephants a good bath.

Our guide made mention that mud, specifically, gives protection to elephants from the extremities of the sun and some of their friendly bugs in there. They sure love rolling in mud and splashing in water. After this, we got to rinse them as well.

This surely is one very memorable experience for me. I hope you guys would have a chance to visit and have a great encounter with the elephants too.

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5 Tips For Moving To Thailand

Having stayed for about a few years now here in Thailand, trust me when I say that it was worth it. I am living my dream every single day. Living comfortably and still continue to enjoy what I love to do best, to write and share my experiences with you all. But of course, looking back, it was not quite easy deciding on which country I would love to set my adventurous feet on and I mean, for good.

Here are 5 wonderful tips I’ll be sharing when you are to move in this beautiful country of Thailand:

Know And Understand The Thai Culture

We all know that each and every culture is unique and I have been a personal witness to this upon arriving in Thailand. Their National Anthem is sung twice a day all throughout the country and everyone must stop whatever they might be doing and just stand still while it is being played and sung. Of course, as a sign of respect, once you’ve set foot in any homeland, you must abide by their laws and culture as well, no ifs and buts.

Another thing to keep in mind is how they give value to their food. I love food, we all love food. Yes, this is a fact for most of us. But in Thailand, they show love for food by giving value to it. Always leave your table with a clean plate after every meal. Doing so will benefit you as it is considered a big no-no or a vital offense if you have leftovers. As for me, it would also show your appreciation for their cuisines and delicacies.

Deciding Where To Live In Thailand

Now that you’ve come to understand the culture in Thailand and you greatly feel that this place really is for you, the decision of where exactly to stay and live is the next big and significant thing for you to make. The move to Thailand still is the best decision I have made for myself, and I can say the same thing for my partner. We have had the main control over our own lives and the independence it brings is truly remarkable.

The cost of living here in Thailand is way much cheaper than what we have in the states. It played a big role for us to firmly decide to stay here.

For a couple of years now, we have been staying in Chiang Mai and have only had the best and fabulous years in here. The place has great apartments where you could stay and the people here are wonderful too. Certainly, a beautiful place to live your dreams same as mine.

The cities in Thailand such as Bangkok and Phuket are good options as well. There are bars, plenty of restaurants, good houses/apartments – city center in its best term. If you have kids, you might also consider in these areas since most schools and related amenities are much closer to the center of these cities.

You might also be the kind who prefers to be away from the busy life of a city. There are lots of good and friendly rural areas in here as well.

Learning The Language

Moving and living in any new country, especially one with a different language as yours, had been one of the biggest challenges I have encountered during my first few weeks of stay here in Thailand.

I’d say it is a cultural responsibility to somewhat adapt and learn the language of a country you have just moved into. But this doesn’t have to cause anxiety and wouldn’t be achieved in an instant as well. Make the learning fun for you and the natives of Thailand.

Just my advice, best if you would make friends with your neighbors for it is them that’ll help you out with this language barrier you would firstly encounter.

People in Thailand have great humor too so don’t stress yourself over learning their language as they will certainly help you be at ease while catching a few new words.

Be Ready For The Weather

I can personally say that one of the difficult things about initially living in Thailand is the weather. Yes! The weather my dear friends. Mr. Sun can be very extreme to the point where I am really not used to. And the fan has almost no effect for comfort and you’d be very glad for the gift of air-conditioning units in this type of weather. But honestly, I guess it just takes getting used to Thai weather and I’d say Chiang Mai’s is much better than that of Bangkok’s and Phuket’s.

Make Good Friends In Thailand

Thailand has great and friendly people. They will make you feel relax and comfortable in their presence.

I’ll make this short but sweet: Find real and good friends in Thailand as they will make your stay worthwhile.

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Learning the local laws: Gun Safes & Peanuts!?

Arriving in a new destination is always a bit stressful – I would know by now. I’m basically a nomad. I’ve been out of the states for over a year and I have to say, it’s really made me question what is actually correct and what we consider to be correct. Let me explain.

A lot of people know about the US’s loose laws on guns. After all, it’s in the second amendment of the constitution which is frequently stated by those opposing any form of gun control. I grew up in an area which was a bit more conservative in their views about guns. Perhaps this was due to the close proximity of neighboring Canada, or perhaps it was due to the exceptionally low crime rate.

Either way, guns weren’t something I encountered much of. I did see guns, and I knew that they needed to be stored correctly to prevent any possible mishap which is why I was shocked when I suggested to a local friend that they use the best gun safe they could find from the gun safe reviews at bestgunsafeinfo.com. Apparently this isn’t something that locals have come to accept as necessary. So now my complaints about the US don’t seem nearly so bad – but is it bad? Have we been wrong all this time!? The locals here seem to take on a very relaxed view, and guess what… their statistics are BETTER than the US! What the $#*$!

So where do peanuts come in? I threw some at an elephant. He looked hungry, don’t blame me. Anyway I got in a fair bit of trouble from the local authorities. I wasn’t sure if this was against their culture, littering or they just didn’t like peanuts, but I did apologize even though I didn’t see what the big deal was. The elephants were amazing though.

While updating my blog, I’d also like to thank everyone who came and visited me at Bamboo Bar! I hope I wasn’t too nervous. My parents said they could sense my nerves from a mile away. I promise you I sound better in front of my mirror with my hair brush! For those that miss it, keep reading my blog and I’ll update you when my next performance will be.

Wherever you are around the world, take care!

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Meet me for a game!

I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not hugely talented when it comes to sports of any kind. I was nervous when my friend showed me the best ping pong table reviews from Game Room Mania and encouraged me to purchase one. Let me put it plainly, I’m not hopeless, I just have no interest.

Now I’m also a reader, so I didn’t just research top ping pong tables before buying one, I read about all the rules of playing ping pong. After about a year with the ping ping table sitting in the same place as when I bought it, I decided to donate it to a local hostel. Well, it turns out that this has been a hit.

I returned there not long ago to find my face in a frame on the wall where I was thanked for improving their business. Well it turns out I do have a knack for playing. They invited me to indulge in a game with some of the others staying in the hostel and I was actually quite a stand out. Who would have known! I guess it just shows that you can’t know if you’re good at something until you try it out.

Now I play every second Thursday, so if you are in Chiang Mai and want to meet me for a game just let me know. I’d be happy to be your personal tour guide too and I think a game of ping pong before we start out will be a great way to break the ice.

If you want to revamp your own skills, there’s a pretty solid video here.

You don’t need to be an expert by any means. We all just have a bit of fun with the game. It’s simply a way for us to get to know each other without any pressure. Some people do get pretty competitive but it’s more funny than anything. So come along!

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Chasing A Dream

I was thinking the other day about my first piece of work titled Chasing A Dream. The reason I was thinking about this was because I’m no longer chasing this dream, I’m actually living it. Let me explain.

If you haven’t read this piece of work, don’t worry. It has been over 7 years since I wrote it and I was not only living a different life than I have today, but I was also a different person.

Although I was living one life, I was dreaming about a different life. One that I never imagined would have been achievable. I had spent the last year reading about people that were making their dream their reality. They were packing up their lives and moving to cheaper but comfortable cities like Chiang Mai, Kathmandu, Penang and more. Travel wasn’t really a passion of mine to be honest, but settling somewhere where I could spend my life doing something I loved was.

My boyfriend and I were tired. We were both working over 70 hours a week, and more was expected. We felt that we could never get ahead. We couldn’t afford the lifestyle we wanted to live and more importantly, we didn’t have the time to live it. It was the cost of living in Thailand that prompted the move.

This is when we decided we had nothing to lose. Within a week, we had packed all our belongings and placed them into storage. We weren’t overly sentimental about anything so it wasn’t too hard to throw a lot of what we owned away. We also found super cheap storage and paid what our monthly rent would be for a year.

If any of you think this is crazy, well yeah. It is. We would have thought we were crazy until we actually did it, but the thing we began to consider is why should we live our entire lives doing something that doesn’t make us happy. That was crazy to use. The even worse side to that would be to never have given it was try.

We ended up settling on Chiang Mai. We were truly Chasing A Dream. A lifestyle where we could survive with me earning money as a freelance writer and my boyfriend earning money as a freelance graphic designer. We found heaps on jobs online and already had a few opportunities from blogger friends we knew in the states. The wonder of working online is that you can do the work whenever, wherever you want, and the other benefit of working for yourself is that you can choose exactly how much work you take on.

We found that we could easily survive in Chiang Mai if each of worked about 30 hours a week. In fact the lifestyle here on this rate was significantly better than it was back home even when we were working 70 hours each. It’s pretty amazing just how expensive the states are.

We’ve also experienced things here that we never thought we would. We spend so much time in nature. I’ve taken up meditation and yoga, and we both go to the gym daily and get a weekly massage (sometimes even twice weekly). We eat out at least 5 times a week, and the food is not only delicious and healthy, but it is super cheap. We’ve also made some great friends. These are people that share our vision of having a lifestyle that appeals to us and not necessarily the majority of other people. I’ve even played a live gig here.

Of course, it’s not all a dream. There are parts that are very difficult about our lifestyle that we manage. For me, the hardest part about moving to Thailand was leaving my family behind. We lived in the same city for over 25 years, and leaving them to move to Thailand was actually the first time I had left them at all. I’m lucky enough to see them at least once a year. Because we spend limited time together, when I do get to see them we have a really great time. We make the most of every moment together.

The other difficult thing about living in Thailand is the weather. It can get super hot here, and not the type of heat I am used to. The weather can cover you in a blanket of warmth that you can’t escape until you reach a property that has air conditioning. Even a fan is no match for the conditions here – and it’s all the time. To be fair though, Chiang Mai isn’t too bad. I found that it’s much worse down south in Bangkok and Phuket.

The move is truly the best thing we could have done for ourselves. We’ve gained a great deal of independence over our own lives. We have a great apartment and great friends, and we even have a dog. Nothing in life is forever, and I’m not saying that we wont eventually move back to the states, but for now Chiang Mai works fabulously for us.

The amazing thing is that my book Chasing A Dream predicted this. But even more amazing is that we were able to make it happen.

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See me live at Bamboo Bar!

I’ve not only been busy working on my new book. I’m super excited to announce that I’ll be playing my second solo gig at Bamboo Bar in Chiang Mai soon. Well, I say I’m super excited but I’m actually pretty damn nervous. This is only the second time I’ve played a live gig and it will by far be the biggest one so far. I’m been working hard on creating a composition piece to perform and no one, not even my boyfriend, has heard me play it live yet. This gives me a sense of control but it also makes me terribly nervous that something may be wrong with me and that it doesn’t sound as good as I think it does, but really, does it even matter?

I’m happy to say that my family will be there. They’re not flying to Thailand purely for my performance, of course. My parents are on vacation right now taking somewhat of a second honeymoon. They’ve been spending their time in Koh Samui and we’re just lucky enough that dates have coincided. They were always planning to come and see me in Chiang Mai, but the way times have worked out, they’re first be seeing me on the stage. This is going to be awesome.

I often wonder what it must be like as a parent to see your child all grown up. Do they have thoughts back of when I was in a diaper and pacifier? Or is this something you quickly forget? I might have to have a discussion with my Mom about this – and then I’ll write a book about it (or compose a song).

It’s worth mentioning that the venue isn’t what you’d imagine as a traditional establishment for open mic nights. They’re quite different in the way that they have karaoke machines you can use, which are mostly for kids, or you can choose to bring your own equipment. I’m going solo and bringing a guitar and using their microphone.

For anyone else that wants to come along and show their support in Chiang Mai, here’s the details:

Venue: Bamboo Bar
Time: 9:50pm
Dress code: Smart Casual
Entry fee: 50 baht

Wish me luck and hope to see you there.

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