Thailand, my second home!

Update: After my first blog entry below about Thailand, I continued traveling and returned back home (in New York City) at the end of an amazing 13 months. Even though I was back to home in summer, the most fun time to be in the city, I wasn’t able to live in-between four walls in my Brooklyn apartment.
It was great to reunite with my pup Latte I hadn’t seen for over a year but that was it. I felt like suffocating every time I woke up with the bus and garbage truck noises. The lack of bird sounds, lush greens and sunsets was a void I couldn’t accept physically or emotionally. It was truly a shock to be back in my old life in the matrix.

So I packed everything and started traveling again. This time for an indefinite period of time… At least until the end of the Trump era 😉

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A usual red sunset and the peace on Zen Beach
It’s pretty difficult to summarize my life in Thailand in a few sentences so bear with me if I lose my focus. When you stay in a new place for more than a couple of weeks and start blending in the daily life with locals, you enter into the reality of the place you are in. And the reality of Thailand is much more different than the Western cvilization’s.
Thailand represents freedom, fun, spirituality, connection to myself and others, and sweet sensations for me. It smells good, looks good, tastes good, the touch of the sun and coolness of a tropical breeze are the best feelings on my skin.
I can simply summarize this as I FELL IN LOVE with Thailand! If you are interested in yoga and spirituality, please read my detailed article about Koh Phangan, my favorite place in Thailand here.

Why I fell in love with Thailand?

  • It is gorgeous! From the islands to the mountains, rivers, jungles, even the chaotic cities, it’s hands down on the top of the list of the places that kept amazing me every day (including everywhere I have seen in South America, Amazonian jungles, Hawaii, Bali… )
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This is not a postcard, I took this picture. This beach is called Happy Beach and it’s a few minutes from my house
  • Best quality for little money. My beach bungalow cost me $380/month (9000 THB) and I know there are places for $150/month with everything you need in them. Life is so basic in Thailand and you don’t need much. I lived without a coffee maker for months and had only one pot to test my Thai cooking skills. My rental scooter cost $73/month (2500 baht) and it takes me everywhere on the island.
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A view from my morning walk on Hin Kong beach, right in front of my bungalow.
  • The food is delicious and you can find all kinds of variety (vegan, vegetarian, even GF if you can explain yourself) since Thailand is used to international visitors for a long time. Traditional Thai food, which you can find easily at a stand on the side of the street tastes delicious. If it’s too oily or suspiciously contains MSG , you can get boiled rice and veggies in most places. I am vegetarian and didn’t have any difficulty finding good food especially in Bangkok and the islands. I am a huge fan of tom yum soup, fried rice, papaya salad, and delicious tropical colorful fresh fruits…even Durian. I am feeling much leaner and healthier since I’ve started living in Thailand.
  • Life is sweet and easy!
    • It’s easy to get a visa before arriving in any Thai consulate as long as you provide a return ticket, hotel booking, and bank statement (of course with some money in it). You don’t have a visa? You can automatically get a one month tourist stamp at the airport, which you can extend an additional month without leaving the country.
    • It’s easy to communicate with the locals. You can get by even if you don’t speak Thai since people are so used to tourists. They don’t stare at you or try to scam you. OK some Thais are friendly, some are not but who cares, we are the guests, not them 😉 I always greet and thank them and throw in some random Thai words and that’s enough to make them smile.
    • There’s not much presence of police like we’re used to in the west (at least in Koh Phangan and Pai) who breath down your neck. They sometimes stop you for helmet and drug checks but if you know these, you know how to behave and not to get a ticket.
  • It’s inspiring! Expats who discovered all of the above and made Thailand their home are coming from all over the world with their own skills and talent.  People I’ve crossed paths with had been so generous to accept me into their world and share their knowledge. I have learnt so much from the spiritual community I was fortunate to become a part of in Koh Phangan. To give an idea, some of the workshops happening are: Traditional and neo tantra courses, various kinds of meditation, yoga (from ashtanga, hatha, vinyasa, Iyengar, restorative, to nidra..), rebirthing, ayahuasca and cacao ceremonies, kambo, reiki, ecstatic dance, fire dancing, yoni/lingam massages (here’s an online resource to understand what that is), dreamcatcher making, meditative drawing, macramé jewelery making, raw vegan cooking, and so on… Taking these workshops and learning about these mind opening practices has been totally a unique and great experience for my personal growth.
  • They treat their animals GOOD. As Gandhi said “The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.”
  • There are ways to get a long term visa:  If you are planning a longer stay, there are several type of visa options from 6 month tourist visa to education, volunteer, retirement, elite visa, as well as you have the option to open a business and get a work permit.

Digital Nomading in Thailand like I do:

Yes

No

Weather ☀️

✔️

✔️

Keep in mind: Rainy season: October-December and dry season April-June.

Good Internet 💻

✔️

Awesome super fast internet in most of the places I’ve visited. A lot of nomads live in Chiang Mai, Koh Phangan, and Pai.

Safety 🔫

✔️

Clean Water/Air 😷

✔️

Fresh Food/Produce 🥦

✔️

Cheap 💰

✔️

1 month rent for an apartment or bungalow: $250+

In nature 🌴

✔️

Awesome jungles, national parks, and beaches

Conscious community 🧘🏻‍♀️

✔️

In Koh Phangan and Pai

Eco-friendly 🚲

✔️

They still use a lot of plastic and there’s no recycling program in most places

How to backpack in Thailand solo? 

Like in my previous adventures in South America, I wore my detective hat and tried to find how and where to avoid the tourist trail. I socialized with other backpackers who gave me the vibe they could be like-minded, looked for flyers that gave tips about interesting events, made turns to unknown narrow streets to discover hidden beauties, chose public transportation over taxis, found yoga places and studied their boards to get clues on related places/events.  I haven’t had a single bad experience as a solo traveler so far, moreover following my gut and taking a few calculated risks just added more to the experience.
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Haad Yao Beach

How to travel in/to Thailand?

I use Skyscanner to book all my trips. In Asia, it’s super cheap to travel between other Asian countries, I am talking about $50 flight tickets! and Kuala Lumpur is the best/cheapest hub for transfers. Air Asia, Lion Air, Nok Airlines, Thai Airlines and Bangkok Airlines are the local airlines but the first 3 offer the most economic options within Thailand.

You can also choose the bus, train, ferry and minivan combinations as a cheaper alternative from Laos, Myanmar, and Cambodia. But I highly recommend flying to save time and save your patience for other things.

Sadly, traffic rules are not followed in Thailand and it’s not uncommon to to hear terrible van or bus crashes every day. So after a couple of personal experiences, I am no longer traveling on minivans making 120 kmh to get to/from places. It is too big of a risk to take to save a few dollars.

Thailand has been my great teacher, my safe haven, and an amazing home that aligns with what I’ve been looking for in my life.  So far, I’ve traveled in Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Pai, Koh Samui, Koh Tao and I’m currently based in Koh Phangan. You can find my individual posts about these stunning places here!

11 Comments Add yours

  1. saibhegan says:

    This is such an awesome post Asli, I am so happy to have met and spent a tiny bit if time with you this summer. I wished Id stayed longer than two months and I have the travel bug now!! I am saving and then off I go again! I am so happy that you are goin to Nepal and I cannot wait to hear about our trip there! Maybe see you someday for that yoga class in Cali! xx
    Namaste!

    http://www.saibhegan.wordpress.com

    Like

    1. Thank you so much Saibh. I’ll be on the look out for your adventures 😉 It was great meeting you too! Namaste

      Like

  2. Jon Miller says:

    Great article!
    Glad you found my pages on Chiang Mai to be helpful (http://www.bigboytravel.com/asia/thailand/chiangmai/monk-chat)

    Thanks
    Jon
    Bigboytravel.com

    Like

  3. Asha says:

    Hi, where did you learn yoni massage ? Can you give me that course’s website please ? Thank you.

    Like

    1. Hi, a few people do it on the island but I don’t think they have websites. I did it with Jaya Ji (https://www.facebook.com/jaya.ji.77?fref=ts). You can also find flyers on the walls of popular cafes. I remember seeing some at Green Gallery. Good luck!

      Like

  4. Jess says:

    Great read! Where did you do a ceremony with Ayahuasca? More info please.

    Thank you!

    Like

    1. Thanks Jess! Thailand was truly fascinating! I did a ceremony with some travelers whom I think wouldn’t be there right now. It’s still done quietly as it’s considered ‘drug’. Mother ayahuasca will find you if that’s meant to be 🙂 still feel free to email me asleone@gmail if you have any questions.

      Like

  5. songyugoh says:

    Great information for my upcoming trip to Bangkok, I’m so excited for the food!!

    Like

    1. Thank you! Enjoy Thailand and be careful, you may end up staying like I did! 😊

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Michael J. says:

    Thailand is truly a great place. I love it with all my heart. I enjoy every single second.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I hear you! Feeling very blessed to have the opportunity to wake up on the beach every morning 🙏☀️

      Liked by 1 person

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