On March 11th, 2019, I arrived in Thailand. After living in China on-and-off for about 8 years, I was eager to find someplace pleasant to settle for a while. I’d visited Thailand many times on short holidays and so I figured it would be a good place to spend a year.
I was right. It has been a good place. Although I was sceptical about moving to Phuket (one part of Thailand that I really did not enjoy), it has actually proven to be a wonderful place to live. In the past, I had only seen the busy Kathu and Phuket Town areas of the island, but living in the south has been peaceful and pleasant.
I always thought of Phuket as busy and touristy, and it sort of is… but it’s not that bad, actually. Especially in the low season, most of the island is peaceful and quiet. The beaches are beautiful and, in the south, even the roads aren’t that bad. There are also lots of things here that you don’t find in China: good supermarkets, helpful people, excellent international restaurants, decent hospitals, clean bathrooms, etc. All-in-all, it is definitely a place that one could comfortably live.
During my time Phuket, I have worked on various projects that have interested me. After so many years in China, it was nice to focus only on things that I really cared about. I have built up my IELTS business and also completed most of the research for my next book. In fact, I even wrote a short book while I was living here:
During this year, I have not done much exploring around Thailand, but I have made two trips to Khao Sok National Park (photos here and here) and also two short boat trips to nearby islands, including Koh Phi Phi. I also got to visit Singapore, which is just an hour or two away by plane.
Living in Thailand has been great, but it’s not without its challenges. First of all, Phuket is an expensive place to live and it has gotten much more expensive in the past year thanks to the rising baht. Even compared to Bangkok, Phuket is pricey. Although I’d love to stay another year or two, it’s not really affordable for me.
Then there is the issue of visas… Getting into Thailand as a tourist is about as easy as it gets, but staying here long-term is a hassle. Sure, if you’re wealthy, it’s pretty easy… but if you’re not, then you’d better find a job. Sadly, there are no “digital nomad visas” available just yet… and I’m still a few years away from a retirement visa.
My time in this country will draw to an end in a week, and from there I will head back over to Cambodia. I actually lived there in 2013-14 and so I know the country very well. It’s much cheaper than Thailand, although it obviously lacks many of the comforts that one finds here. I only intend to stay there a month or two before moving on – just enough time to write the bulk of my next book.
Ah yes, books… Last week marked the one-year anniversary of something else: the publication of my book on Allen Ginsberg. That one took me about five years to write. Here’s hoping that the next one comes together a bit more quickly.