April 4, 2014

22 signs you have spent too much time in Thailand

Recently Huffington Post had an article circulating through my Facebook feed titled "21 Signs you have spent too much time in Thailand." After reading it became apparent this person meant "travelling in Thailand too long" but being an expat living in Thailand (coming up on 3 years!) is a very different story. It is well known I have somewhat of a love/hate relationship with this country, yet somehow I am still here. I have found it difficult to write about my life in Thailand lately as I am quite settled and no one wants to hear about my teaching woes or dinner plans. But I always love a good remake and since I have decided to leave Thailand next year, from here on out it is all nostalgic feelings and remembering to enjoy it all before I head out onto my next adventure.

Since I have an affinity for lists to describe my feelings about a place when words are difficult to find, here is my version of 22 signs you have lived in Thailand too long.

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December 9, 2013

donate, save, toss.

Living abroad is never easy, from adjusting to the culture shock of a new land and trying to figure out the language to simple tasks like getting a bank account or finding bed sheets that fit, it is no small feat. Unless you decide to sell everything and just go (like I did back in 2009, just 2 suitcases and a smile!) it can be difficult to sort through your life in material goods and decide what to keep and what you can live without. With the help of pods you can keep everything important in your life when you move abroad but here is my way of sorting through the clutter that is life. When you are moving every few years, things add up and it is hard to let go but these are my tricks to prioritizing and keeping life simple.

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December 2, 2013

real talk

In my short time abroad, I have experienced some interesting events in the countries I have chosen to call home, from the bombing in South Korea near Seoul where I was living at the time to the floods of 2010 when we were forced out of our home for over 2 months. Now the city I live in is again making global headlines with the recent demonstrations and protests trying to overthrow the current government powers. Just another day in paradise.
Photo via JapanTimes
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November 26, 2013


I have started about 10 posts since I have last written, all of them falling by the wayside to my busy life these days or being discarded for being terribly boring and vain, procrastinating to the fullest. I love writing but when I found myself dreading getting something down and forcing prose when there was none to be had, I knew I needed to take a break. Even still this post has taken weeks to compile and I still am not sure it is even worthy of publishing, . I am just another silly girl writing about her life, her own perspective about a topic that has been done and done well. Traveling and living in SE Asia is tired, I am tired of it, I know people are over reading about it and I am sick of writing about it. But here I am again, back for more like the masochist I am, not wanting to let my simple dream flicker away.

I moved to Thailand because it was the most exotic place I could think of when young and planning on running away from it all. It always just sounded like the most bizarre place I go could (yet now I know that to be so far from true and now the possibilities seem even more endless, there are so many places I have no idea about.) I remember when the name "Bangkok" conjured up visions of magical floating light, dense jungles full of friendly primates, and a mysterious underworld of things I couldn't even imagine. And that is mostly (kinda) true except reality is much bleaker with a lot more malls.

Now life here is so normal and even mundane, I can't seem find inspiration to write when my weekends are spent at different mega malls or drinking spots, working, shopping and living a life a bit too similar to what I left back home. Bangkok is so modern and can be so western compared to outside of the city or even Seoul, traveling away from the city is what people come here for, not to live in this wretchedly hot, smelly, polluted, crowded urban sprawl. Long teacher holidays are what get me up in the morning and I think I have found the only career which will allow me to have more than 2 months off a year, so I am doing something right. Yet when I see the hoards of foreigners from all over the world enjoying and subsequently ruining the perfect beaches and exploiting the smiles of the people here, I am disillusioned about the travel lifestyle and the habits we as humans deem responsible and kind. It is hard to escape the corruption of money, the destruction and consumption by people all over the world, hard to rise above it, but I sometimes think teaching might just be the one small way I can make a difference (that's so damn chiche but one can only do so much!) With all that is going on in the world today, sometimes it is hard to turn it all off and just live your life, which makes me a cynical person in real life and I am trying not to let that ruin one of the things I love doing.

It has been a long year and after a nice 8 month hiatus from being in the classroom, I am finally back and settled into my new class at my new school in Bangkok. I am enjoying working with kids again for the most part, though it continues to discourage me from wanting some of my own… My 4 years old students are so clever and energetic, always asking questions and falling over and wanting attention, they are exhausting but remind me of the innocence we all begin with.

Many people have asked why I decided to stay in Thailand, even though on many public occasions I despise this place, and the answer is not a simple one, not one I am sure I can even know myself. I live in the city here and that is now obviously the biggest reason for my discomfort. I am not a city girl, I grew up in the woods and though I wanted out more than anything, I am ready to move out of the city forever and lose myself in nature again. Unfortunately all of the opportunities in this third world country are in the city, there is a reason so many people migrate here. I need to pay off all of my student debt back in America before I can move on with my life at this point (no one really tells you how much of a burden those damn student loans are going to be!) and working my butt off and sending as much home every month is my only option at the moment. I am no stranger to hard work, and my years abroad I have been pretty lazy and enjoyed myself, all the time, so it is almost a nice change to be this busy. 

I am working 3 jobs at the moment, including after school tutoring 3 days a week with some awesome Japanese families (and I am now therefore addicted to green tea) and some classes on Saturdays on top of my 40 hour work week teaching Kindergarten at a decent International school in a Bangkok suburb. I am busy, exhausted, full of enthusiasm, thinking positively, all day, you have to be when you are in my line of work. I do find it funny how much routine makes us humans feel so comfortable.

Recently we moved into a new fancy condo, and I will be honest and tell you that it is kind of fulfilling one of my childhood dreams to live in a fancy apartment in the big city (though my original thought was New York, as American children don't tend to think outside the borders) and it still makes me giddy as I look out along the Bangkok skyline from my bed, thinking I have made it. Granted, it is 30 square meteres (I have no idea what that is in American terms, TINY is all that comes to mind) but it is a well designed box that allows us a walk in closet, bathtub, full kitchen (again not in American terms, there is no oven but there is a sink and stove top!) and sweet balcony with an amazing view from the 21st floor. The floor above us has TWO infinity pools and gyms and a perfect escape from the madness below. It is pretty dreamy and I never want to leave my house now. But I have to because I work so damn much. I can finally afford it but I have no time to enjoy it, life is bitch like that.

So anyway, here I am sitting on my couch, looking out on my view of the city, wishing it was the beach, reminding myself that life is precious and I am a lucky girl. Thank you to all of my friends and family and readers who have always been loyal, reading my ramblings with my travels over the years and I am sorry things are getting boring. Who knew I would settle down with a husband and teaching job in Thailand for this long, but it is happening and I even enjoy it half the time (the other half I am plotting my escape.) If you are looking for more, I am quite addicted to Instagram and it is the only thing I update regularly these days, make sure you follow me for more perfect beach sunsets, sure to come when my mom and I travel this new year!

I don't want this long winded post to make it sound like I am depressed or hating life, (not that you should care anyways) I am honestly content with how things are right now, I just find it curious that I have settled into a normal life again in a place I yearned to be so different. It is all sort of the same but totally different and I think that is what I will find about most places in the world, which is reassuring and disappointing all at the same time. 
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August 8, 2013

People around the world -- first edition: fresh eyes

I have been living and writing in Asia for almost three years now and looking back I have learned so much and am completely different than the wide eyed American girl I once was. Writing about my time here lately has made me feel like quite the narcissist plus I have noticed how cynical I am becoming about everything and haven't been writing like a good blogger should. I find backpackers really annoying, hate when my toilet doesn't have a bum gun next to it, have incorporated the Asian grunt into my vocabulary and am the biggest beach snob there is.  It really is crazy how even the madness of Thailand can become normal and mundane and make you into a grumpy old lady who just wants to stay in on a Friday night with her tea and kindle, away from the crowds. So it was the perfect time to experience all the excitement again with my two best friends and fresh eyes.

I sent my friends some questions when they got back to the land of the free and the insightful answers I received back were so interesting and inspiring that I decided to start a new feature on my blog, talking to friends and strangers I meet along this crazy journey, because really that is what traveling is all about. Connections, shared moments, memories, being together. The older (and wiser) I get, the more I realize these relationships are the most important part of life and are really what make life worth living. Corny sounding, I know, but so true. Nothing brings people closer together than experiencing the world together and I am beyond grateful I got to do so with such great company.

 So without further ado, the first edition of...

People around the world: Cameron

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June 20, 2013

island time

My two friends from back home recently took a 3 weeks vacation to come chill out in Thailand with me and I got to play tour guide while enjoying some much needed chill on the beach time with my best girls!  I have lived in Thailand for almost 2 years now (geez!) and have traveled from north to south now, seeing what this country has to offer and I had a pretty good idea of the best way to use the time. On the beach. Plus, I have a few favorites that I was more than excited to show off. Thus;

the perfect 3 week (introductory) fall in love with Thailand beach vacation. 

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June 16, 2013

how to do (and screw up) a border run to Cambodia (but still have a good time)

In the past few weeks I have traveled by foot, train, taxi, songteaw, motorbike, boat, airplane, tuk tuk, Skytrain, minivan, bus, river taxi, long tail boat, bicycle... basically every way there is to transport yourself from one place to another, I have done it. I have been on the road in Thailand and America  since November and I will be honest, I am exhausted and excited about my new teaching job, with a nice stable paycheck and daily routine. Yah, what can I say, all play and no work makes for a lazy girl. That's why I am such a terrible 'travel blogger' when I am traveling, I don't want to do anything but have fun and relax, just like anyone on vacation, but sometimes that line tends to blur over here...

My preferred mode of travel! (Photo credit: Courtney Funk)
When I returned home from an amazing 2 weeks in the south of Thailand with my two best friends where I never strayed too far from the beach, the last thing I wanted to do was get on a bus and head out of the country. But that is exactly what I had to do, to use my second entry tourist visa (or so I naively thought.)  After only one night in my comfy bed, eating cheap Thai street food again, I had to truck on over to Khao San road to (after weeks at the full moon and on Tao mind you, I have never felt like such a travelers cliche here, since I usually travel with a full time job,  it was kinda funny) book an early (cheap) bus out of the country the next day.  Not one to make a transit travel go to waste, we decided to finally explore Angkor, a dream of mine since we missed it the last time we were in Siem Reap and while I was not looking forward to the border crossing itself, I was jittery with excitement for temple explorations.  After a 180 baht (~6 dollar) stay at Peachy Guesthouse and a hearty American breakfast off Rambutturi, we set out nice and early, with a thousand stops along the way, for the Kingdom of Cambodia.

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