Category - Travelling Around The World

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My 2 Weeks in Bangkok and Hua Hin
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STM & F5 Amsterdam Meetup on May 3rd
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Moving to Thailand: Why I’m Going Back

My 2 Weeks in Bangkok and Hua Hin

Want to feel energised, more productive and ready to take on the world?

Take a holiday.

My advice: Go to Thailand.

I am freshly returned from a 2 week hiatus spent lolloping on beaches, soaking in the blistering heat of a subtropical summer at the peak of its powers.

Some random observations:

Jesus Christ, it’s hot

Thailand in April is hot with a capital HOT.

I should have remembered this from living there.

Given zero chance to acclimatise by London’s damp fart of a spring, I can tell you that 38 degree heat is a recipe for an extremely sweaty afternoon.

On the hottest day I had to stop my routine of reading by the pool because I couldn’t control the amount of sweat that was dripping in to my eyes.

Hot.

I’m pretty sure you’d find more salt on my sun lounger than in the entire Gulf of Thailand by the time I’d dragged my scorched carcass back to the pool.

Hot, hot, hot.

I miss it already.

Westerners and their Thai brides

I don’t think there’s anything wrong with a guy moving to Thailand, retiring, meeting the cliche ‘Thai bride’, and starting a new chapter in his life.

I can see how and why it happens.

What I find distasteful is that for so many Westerners, this type of romance isn’t built on reality.

It’s a power trip.

Many times I would catch sight of a Brit treating his Thai wife or girlfriend as if she were sub-species. Just because you can exert that control and get away with it, doesn’t mean you should.

Thankfully there’s a younger generation of expats in Thailand who aren’t committed to fantasies of domestic totalitarianism straight from the 1930s.

But for the crustaceans who are… good luck if you ever run out of money.

Mental breaks from work

It’s amazing how the mind slows down when you disconnect physically from your work space.

I don’t mean to take a walk, or go to the pub. But to eject yourself completely from anywhere that resembles work or its associated habits.

By spending entire days away from the computer, you get a fresh perspective.

I often find that it takes this distance to allow myself to drop projects that are going nowhere, or to align my focus on those which actually mean something to me.

Reading fiction instead of non-fiction helps.

Escapism is the best distraction.

Japanese tourists and cameras

I swear to God, what is up with Japanese tourists and their infatuation with taking pictures?

In Hua Hin, one couple would sit in silence for breakfast, occasionally taking bites but mostly interested in snapping each other.

Constantly.

From every angle.

In eerie still silence.

Who needs to talk, or take in the stunning views, when you can just sit there vacantly taking pictures to live through when the experience has already gone?

I really don’t get it.

One of the group even stopped to watch me make a cup of coffee on my balcony, presumably because I was only wearing my boxers.

Normally if I caught this, I’d challenge them, “Why don’t you take a picture? It’ll last longer.”

Pretty fucking irrelevant if they already are.

Shameless!

Songkran public target number one

You’ve got to admire how the Thais celebrate their New Year (Songkran).

Bangkok turns in to a gigantic water fight with water guns, buckets and even fire hoses.

In possibly my favourite moment of the entire holiday, my girlfriend and I were wandering towards Emporium when a nervous, smiling Thai officer approached us with a tin of what looked like Quality Street chocolates.

We were already completely soaked through, so we knew the drill.

I ducked my head and winced.

“Sorry, sorry!” he pleaded, before walking straight past, tottering up to my girlfriend, and slowly pouring a full tin of water straight down her top.

It was one of the politest pre-meditated street assaults I’ve ever seen.

It got me thinking though.

What if you were visiting Thailand for the first time and you didn’t know what Songkran was?

How do you react when a Thai wanders in your direction, blasts you with a SuperSoaker, and carries on walking without taking his eyes off his phone?

I’d probably get back on the plane.

Old people and flying

If you are over 75, with a dodgy bladder, and extremely bad hearing… I’m sorry, but I don’t want to sit behind you on a 14 hour flight.

Old lady: “We’ve been flying for 9 hours.”

Her husband, shouting profusely, clearly deaf as a door mat: “I know. I’ve pissed myself twice.”

There’s something comical about hearing an old couple bicker, oblivious to their incredible decibels, marbles long gone and replaced by wholly British arguments, like:

Why is my blanket wet? I want a dry one. No, not that one. I want a dry one, dunn’ae.”
“No YOU ask the lady. I don’t bloody know why it’s wet do I? I probably pissed myself over India.

But after 14 hours sat there, awoken at one point by a strange outburst of applause and hollers — Old Man’s reaction to the end of Phantom of the Opera — I did want to kill myself.

I flew Malaysia Airlines, by the way.

You could sense the palpable hearts in mouths every time the plane changed course on the tracker, especially in turbulence.

Can’t imagine how difficult it must have been for cabin crew in the days immediately following MH370.

‘Cuties’ on the BTS

Ever wondered what Nicky Cakes is up to these days?

Well, here he is, captioned as Justin Timberlake (Timbercakes?), appearing on a Facebook page titled ‘BTS CUTE GUYS’.

Timbercakes

Un-be-lievable.

I won’t lie. I did check the page to see if I’d made an appearance.

Not a god damn whisper.

So what happens when you go viral as a ‘BTS cute guy’?

This, apparently:

Timbercakes FB

I expect Cakes will be extending his visa.

Seduced by Thailand again

It’s difficult to leave Thailand.

Every time I visit, I question what ever convinced me to move back to London.

In reality, there were a number of factors. But it doesn’t stop the mind from wandering.

You think of the weather, the people, the food (God, the food), the beaches, the pace of life.

It doesn’t get any better.

Does it?

If you haven’t visited Thailand, I highly recommend it.

Pics from the trip

A collection of pics from Bangkok, Hua Hin and Samphram, April 2014:


STM & F5 Amsterdam Meetup on May 3rd

Another year, another affiliate meetup in Amsterdam.

On May 3rd, StackThatMoney and F5 Media are hosting what promises to be an epic night of networking, schmetworking, boozing and (probably) red light district cruising.

This is going to be one of the biggest affiliate events of 2013, and you don’t want to miss out. The meetup also coincides with Queen’s Day on April 30th.

What is it about Amsterdam that attracts the world’s top CPA marketers?

We probably shouldn’t answer that question. It’s obviously the stroopwaffles.

STM Amsterdam Meetup

Queen’s Day is a national holiday in the Netherlands, and this year will be even more chaotic than usual. Prince Willem-Alexander will be succeeding his mother to become the first King of the Netherlands since 1890, thus turning Queen’s Day in to King’s Day.

The Dam is sure to be bouncing, and in more ways than usual.

How do the Dutch like to celebrate a changing of the monarch? The same way they celebrate every other day: by being awesome, slurping mayo, and staying vocal all night.

…Albeit in a slightly oranger shade of clothing and hair than usual.

The downside to this national event is that hotels and flights to Amsterdam are going to be more expensive than usual.

Book accommodation early or be prepared to spend your evenings paying €50 per 15 minutes to curl up feebly in a hooker’s nest. You snooze, you lose.

For more information and to RSVP, check out the official Facebook Page.

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Moving to Thailand: Why I’m Going Back

12 months ago, I traded the stifling heat of Thailand for the leafy safety net of West London’s suburbs. I wouldn’t say I made a bad decision. But like many expats returning from a tropical paradise, all I can think about is what I left behind. And why I left it.

Coming home was the weary culmination of a year exploring Asia and realising just how ‘safe’ I’d been playing my life. My passport was stamped to shit, my visa was running out and everything about Asia was a million miles from the home that I considered my own.

It’s only when you’re clung to the back of a Cambodian tuk tuk as it cuts up a group of veering motorbikes that you start to think, “Jesus, London might be plastered in chavvy little shites, but at least it never put me through a real-life game of Mario Kart…

It’s difficult to move to a new country. Especially when that country has such a unique and foreign culture, not to mention a whole new language. There are mistakes I made in Thailand that held me back from ever calling it home.

When you are disconnected from friends and family for the first time, you imagine what’s going on without you. You see the photos on Facebook, the news on the BBC, and you feel like you’re missing out on the lives of those closest to you.

It’s only when you get home that you realise the nature of the illusion. All that you’ve been missing is a semi-occasional ‘catch up’ where everybody shares how little has actually changed. Rarely is it worth waiting for.

It’s a year since I arrived back in London and the only noticeable change is my own rising intolerance to the mundanity of these same old empty streets.

I am paying £1500/month to rent a house full of shagged fixtures, albeit in an area with good schools and a reasonable commute to Central London. It would be nigh on perfect if I had to commute, or if I had kids. But I don’t, and I won’t, so what in the heck am I doing here?

That’s the question I’ve been asking. And that’s why I’ve decided to do the sensible thing… and move back to Thailand.

If you’ve been following this blog for a while, you may be starting to sense a pattern.

‘He gets bored, he bitches about it, he moves to the other side of the world, he rinses and repeats.’

That’s pretty close to the truth. But there are lessons I’ve learnt, things I will do differently.

Admittedly, breakfast on the beach in Koh Samui won’t be one of them:

Breakfast at the Library

So what did I learn?

Well, if you’re thinking of putting a boot through your apartment and escaping to a sunnier part of the world, these reminders will do you no harm.

Adopt the country as your own.

It doesn’t work otherwise. The reason I failed to settle in Thailand was because I never really tried.

I was guilty of treating it as an extended holiday rather than a permanent move. Small decisions like decorating my apartment, or buying new furniture would turn in to a personal revolt. I wasn’t fully committed, which is the equivalent of embracing a life in transit.

You need to put in the effort to make your home feel like home, not simply a residence where you’re staying for a short period of time. And if you work from home too, that means pimping out a proper office. Not getting by on the tiny bloody dressing table that serviced me in Sukhumvit.

Learn the language.

My target is to be semi-fluent in Thai (speaking it, not writing it) within 3 months of touching down. The difference language makes to your overall happiness is incredible. Not being able to communicate is a real pain in the balls. It’s like a wedge between you and the city.

Even though Bangkok is an easy place to get by without speaking Thai, it’s impossible to fully enjoy the quirks and sideshows if you can’t speak the native tongue.

I’ll be taking a year of language classes in Bangkok. It’s dirt cheap (only £500), and it gets me the education visa that takes care of another big stress…

Visa issues are a bitch.

Oh yes they are.

How do you settle abroad if you don’t know where your next visa extension is coming from?

It’s frustrating enough having to exit Thailand every 90 days to get a new visa, but the situation is even worse when you have no guarantee that said visa application will be accepted. I had my extension denied in Singapore and was forced to choose between an education visa, or returning to London. I eventually chose London.

If you’re going somewhere with the intention of settling for the short to mid term future (1-3 years), you better have your visa path mapped out like a hawk – or be prepared to relocate within 14 days and lose your existing deposits.

Make an effort socially.

When you relocate as a couple, there’s less pressure to push yourself in to social circles and get to know new people. You share experiences with each other.

While that is nice, I definitely want to spend more time meeting new people in Bangkok – and to network with the strong expat community. You’ve got to make friends and connections for any city to feel like home. As a couple, it’s easy to unintentionally insulate yourself from all the meetups and events that are going on around you.

I met up with several affiliates on my last trip, including some familiar bloggers like Andrew Wee, Justin Dupre and Nick[y Cakes].

This blog gets a ton of traffic from Thailand, so it’ll be great to catch up with a few more marketing scumbags when I get the chance.

If you miss ‘home’, visit it.

By speaking to a lot of expats you will notice a recurring trend. They move to Thailand, they move back home, and then they move to Thailand for good.

Sometimes this is down to visa issues, but more often it’s a case of homesickness followed by the realisation that home isn’t what it once was.

It’s not just expats that encounter the problem.

Even students who’ve enjoyed the time of their lives at University can suffer from boredom and unrest after returning to their hometowns. You learn a lot about yourself in the time away and when you return, you’re not quite the same person.

Often the place where we grew up isn’t the place where we feel we belong. But we’re always going to miss the friends and family that we associate with that place.

This time, when I’m feeling homesick, I’ve learnt enough to realise that I can fix it by visiting home for a couple of weeks and catching up with everybody. There’s no need to move back for good.

Nothing crazy or otherworldly will happen while I’m gone. It never does.

Bangkok at Night

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