Living in Thailand, The First 6 Months of our Life in Thailand

A look back over the last 6 months and living in Thailand

One night after dinner in England before we left for Thailand, we plodded hand in hand along the deserted concrete walking Eden at our local park, the light but steady evening drizzle illuminated underneath the eerie orange hue of the British streetlamps. 
We talked about what our new life would be like in just a few months. 

I had exotic visions of us dining out at cheap but super delicious local restaurants every day. Our house would overlook a picturesque rice field and I’d swing gently in my hammock with a chilled drink in hand, gazing at the sunset over the mountains as the wildlife chirped around me, a cool breeze softly caressing my golden tanned skin.  J would appear before me, like an Arabic Adonis, toned and muscular of course, from all the Muay Thai kick boxing.  Work would become leisurely and stress free.

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Muay Thai J in practice…

Thailand seemed like a dream and even until the day we left it didn’t feel real that we were actually leaving. So please excuse my unrealistic perception of life in Thailand, taken from snippets of glossy travel magazines, loved up holiday makers smiling as they walk along pristine beaches, the only two people in the world.  Azure seas, brilliant blue cloudless skies, remote hideaways and tropical jungles.  I allowed these dreamlike thoughts to swim freely in my head, as the whole scenario felt like a fantasy. 

Now here we are, well into our first 6 months of Thai living and what an experience it has been so far.
Incredibly challenging in some respects, more so than some would think.  
From moving country to setting up home over 8000 miles away, exporting our dog from the UK, riding cross country to find a vehicle, coping with the heat, learning a new language (or trying to) plus much, much more.  It certainly hasn’t been an easy ride.

Like any adventure there have been positives and negatives throughout the whole experience. Right now at the 6 month mark, I can honestly say the positives and negatives of this life changing experience have been acceptably balanced out at 50/50.

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Anniversary in Pai

Some people might refuse to believe that our new life in a tropical country, where we take photographs of beautiful scenery, culture and foods and write about it for work is anything but sheer bliss. But let me assure you, if you plan a life like this for yourself there are many delusions that should be avoided.

These are the things we know now that we didn’t know then…

Let’s start with the world’s most important piece of paper. CASH.
Living in Thailand is much cheaper for a great many things, much cheaper than the west, unless of course you want something from the west. Anything imported will hit your pocket hard. Cereal, Wine, cheese, Forget it. But i’ve written about this before so i won’t go into the details.

Living expenses here can be so cheap that we manage to survive on around $560 USD a month. Including rent on a 3 bedroom detached house plus household bills, fuel for our car, locally sourced food products, laundry costs, broadband internet.  However we have to live on an extremely tight budget to make this feasible and it’s not always fun. Unfortunately we don’t earn much more than that at present so we really have to save up if we want to go on a trip or do anything worth talking about.

Career Choices
Our original plan of becoming destination wedding photographers in Thailand went out of the window pretty much straight away. The amount of Red Tape you have to cut through to get a work permit without teaching English or setting up a business out here is monumental. So we turned all of our efforts into making money online.

Because we were forced to change our focus, we discovered how viable a career in Travel Blogging was for us. We started connecting with the travel blogging community, learnt some trade secrets and before long this blog took over about 60% of our original career plans. We hadn’t intended to start a blog at all, but now it is a primary focus for our future goals. So by combining our Cinematography & Photography talents with well executed, researched written content we plan to make ‘8 miles from home’ the most important part of the future years.

Ok, this might seem obvious to some of you – but Thailand is HOT!
We knew the months of April through to August were notorious of being the hottest time of the year, but coming from England where our summers only last a couple of days and the majority of our wardrobe is made up of jeans and long sleeve tops – shoved into 45 degree heat as soon as we stepped off the plane was hard to take.
We were told it gets cold in Chiang Mai – but 6 months in, though the humidity has just about started to drop, we’re still waiting for that chill to appear in the air!

Our last 6 months simplified….
Arrived, experienced the Songkran festival in Chiang Mai, found a house, purchased a fridge, opened a bank account, Worked out how to watch UK tele, explored Chiang Mai extensively, bought a car, then visited Pai (twice), Almost ate our way through the entire menu at All About Coffee, Celebrated our 1st wedding anniversary, 4 days in Bangkok. Loved and loathed it, Day in Ayutthaya, a night in Sukhothai, 3 days Mae Hong Son, Mae Aw & Ban Ruam Thai, 3 days in Chiang Rai and crossed the border into Burma (twice).  Started a travel blog & videoed everything.

songkran thailand
Songkran Festival in Chiang Mai

8 Miles from Home in Numbers….
Total visits to the blog: 8,930
Most visits to the blog in one day: 693
Twitter followers: 148
No. of Tweets so far: 488 
Facebook likes: 388
Youtube subscribers: 284
Youtube video views: 27,550
Videos made – 8 cinematic episodes & 6 travel snaps
Pounds lost: (Sach) – 14.3lbs (6.5kgs)
Pounds lost: (J) – 6.6lbs (3kgs)
Kilometers driven: 4,000 
Number of times the car has broken down: 4
Number of times we have been recognized in the streets: 5
Countless photos and minutes of footage taken

Highlight of the last 6 months:
Apart from just actually being here, without a doubt it has to be celebrating our 1st wedding anniversary in Pai.  Returning after 7 years and sitting at the same table, where I once penned postcards home, I then wrote my anniversary card to J.

Lowlight of the last 6 months:
Forgetting to request our pay check from iStock on time and running out of money so badly that all that was left on the shelf was half a jar of strawberry jam and some sesame seeds.  We had to pool together all the loose coins from the house and car to buy 2 carrots and a potato for dinner. T’was a bad day. 

In Conclusion
We have made a lot of changes in our lives in the last 6 months, not only in the time we have been here, but ever since we put this plan into action over a year ago, ultimately, we made the decision to come here and we have to take the downs with the ups when they come along and all we can do is learn from them and live with them. 
Making a decision and sticking to it is one of the hardest things. Especially when you don’t have a clue how it’s going to turn out and the doubts are filling your head.
It can be tough at times, being away from friends and family and it’s not always easy to detach yourself from life back home. But we have no regrets on our move to Thailand.

Despite the fact that we eat at home 80% of the time, J has not quite turned into a Muay Thai warrior just yet and I haven’t chilled in a hammock once, even the lowest parts we have dealt with here have been better than our last couple of years in the UK and each day I wake up and head into the city, my Chiang Mai crush grows a little bit more. 

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