Our summary of one year living in Thailand as we look back over the last 12 months
It seems almost impossible that this time last year we were in England, suitcases packed, travel papers printed and the majority of goodbyes spoken. Checking on my passport every hour or so to make sure it was still where I left it.
Yet it was a full 12 months ago that we breathed in the London air before wrenching ourselves out from our known bubble of familiarity and we now have one year living in Thailand under our belts.
Our first year in Thailand has opened up what can only really be described as a Pandora’s box of opportunities. Things we could only ever have dreamed about happening back home have become believable, never realistically becoming available to us had we stayed put in England.
Yes, it is true that as soon as the lid was pulled back a stream of surprises hit us full force but overcoming these initial hurdles, we are left with a real sense of freedom. I feel fortunate and lucky each day (almost!) that we are here.
I can feel us flourishing as people, having the time to chase our dreams and make tracks down our own personally created path.
The startled and awe struck expressions of our first few weeks here gradually left our faces as we grew into our surroundings. No longer does seeing a family of 5 on a moped carrying a whole host of household equipment make us gasp. I still laugh and point at the more ridiculous ones but so accustomed we have become to our Thai life, we barely bat an eye lid.
I have even been known to hop on the back of a bike clutching a mop and bucket, 3 large bags of laundry or sometimes, even our dog. Maybe someone somewhere is now pointing and laughing at me.
It may sound cutesy and sickly or that I have painted our life here as amazing and fantastical when our old life was suffocating and miserable. It isn’t and It wasn’t.
There are things I miss about being in England, even a slight longing for the cold weather and snow has cheekily crept in. I miss friends and family, I miss having an oven and baking, I miss ringing up someone and being able to see them a few minutes later rather than waiting days for a reply to an email or message.
Before we came here and in the initial planning stages of this trip, we had the idea to take our Wedding Photography business, Edenexposed, to Thailand and start up an exotic location weddings side to our company. I emailed many photographers already living out here and it did seem feasible for a while. There’s only so much research you can do online and it wasn’t until we actually arrived in the country and looked into the requirements of setting up a non-Thai business that we realized maybe this wasn’t going to happen after all. The cost of the set up alone was way beyond our means and when we actually thought about it properly it wasn’t something that we wanted to invest our entire lives in.
Living off the income from our established online photo library on iStock was what kept us going. The next plan of action was to dedicate all our time to building our Stock Photography content even more. Which we did do and have continued with throughout our time here. What we didn’t expect to happen was for 8 Miles from Home to become what it has.
We had the idea that we were going to start a blog before we left, came up with the name and had plans to create a short video every week to keep our family and friends in the loop.
That ‘one video a week’ quickly turned into ‘one video a month’ as us being us, it’s not a case of slapping together some random footage and chucking it online halfheartedly.
It was through these videos we created that we were lucky enough to have a travel company offer us a year’s work permit to make short videos for their website, promoting their various tours and destinations, which is how we are now able to stay in Thailand, for another year at least.
We met with and had contact with several other travel bloggers who told us to stick with it and build up our blog. Blogging is a great path if you have the time to dedicate to it in the beginning. Time was thankfully on our side and our eyes have now been opened to the beneficial world of blogging, something we hadn’t even thought of before coming to Thailand.
I am incredibly glad we took these steps to getting here and that we can see a positive future now.
Our Thai life is pretty much the same life, only better. We still pay rent, but on a 3 bedroom detached house, not a 1 bedroom flat. We moan about being too hot rather than being cold. We are our own boss and can work when we want to work. Deciding to go out for a coffee in the middle of a Tuesday afternoon, because we can.
This also leads me to say that it can also be rather stressful and strained. It is up to us and only us to get things done, make money, and build our business. There is no one else to fall back on or to blame if something doesn’t get done. There is always an ample list of things to do.
Jmayel and I get to spend every day together, in fact we have been apart for a total of 2 nights this entire year. Practically every waking hour has been spent in each other’s company and we are still happily married!
Our friends and family have come and gone for their holidays and we get to stay here for another year and explore this alluring country. If we want to go away for a few days we can just look at the map and find somewhere beautiful to go almost instantly.
Things seem clearer at the end of our 1st year. Although I do have days where I wonder what on earth I am doing, thankfully though these are few and far between.
Since my last ‘look back post’ at the 6th month mark, our financial situation has improved greatly, you may remember the carrot situation. Having to pool together all the coins we could find around the house in order to be able to get some dinner. Well I am pleased to inform you that carrots are now in plentiful supply. We have just recently bought a motorbike to add to our car and we no longer have to budget down to the very last coin to survive.
Is life in Thailand what we thought it would be before we left the UK a year ago? Considering we didn’t really know what we were getting ourselves in for, yes it is. We have yet to make it down to the South of Thailand as our love affair with the North has continued to grow the longer we are here. (plus I’m still working on a bikini body that’s not quite ready for the sun, sea and sand of the islands yet!!)
When we left, in search of more – we didn’t know what was going to happen, we really were jumping into the unknown with both sets feet, plus 4 extra paws, and all we had to keep us going was an idea, a want and a need and just like at the bottom of Pandora’s box, a whole lot of hope.
As it turns out we came out the other side of the jump relatively unscathed with smiles on our faces. If we had kept worrying about it or tried to plan for every eventual outcome, we would never have left. And I’m so pleased that we did!
As I ended the 6th month post on a quick numbers showdown, I’ll do the same now…
8 Miles from Home in Numbers:
Total visits to the blog: 17,763
No. of blog posts so far: 169 (inc this one)
Twitter followers: 313
No. of tweets so far: 898
Facebook likes: 740
Youtube subscribers: 420
Youtube video views: 41,168
Videos made: 11 cinematic episodes (No. 12 is currently in production)
No. of times we have been recognised in the street: 11
No. of visitors to see us in Thailand: 14 individuals on 5 separate trips
Sacha El-Haj – 8 Miles from Home
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