Still Smiling in Thailand

Still Smiling in Thailand

Well, it’s been radio silence here at but if you’ve been following us on Facebook (as you should, tsk tsk!), you already know we’ve been in Thailand for a while.

Actually, we’ve been in Thailand for over six weeks and four of those weeks were spent with Todd’s son Jake. He came to visit us for his winter break from college. Having the band back together after six months apart was better than old times and it brought happiness to our souls. It’s so cool to relate to your kids when they become adults. College changes them and I’ve loved watching Jake grow into this version of himself.

Christmas in Chiang Mai

For all three of us, Thailand became more of a second home than a vacation destination. Sure, we did many of the touristy things: we visited Buddhist temples, hung out with monkeys, took boat rides on rivers, snorkeled the turquoise-blue waters of the Gulf of Thailand, partied on Kho San Road, got tattoos, ate tons of spicy street food and lit lanterns for the New Year – sending our wishes for good luck into the dark night. Mostly, we lived “normal” lives in our temporary country and went to the movies, played charades, talked, laughed, ate new food, drank a few beers (he’s 21 now!) and fed stray cats and dogs.

Monkeys resting with Buddha – Lopburi
More monkeys in Lopburi

Right now, Todd and I are again alone – Jake left us over a week ago – and back in Chiang Mai for a month. We spent Christmas with Jake in Chiang Mai, Thailand’s second largest city and decided to return for some R&R. It’s a relaxed city with a compact old town spilling out of it’s moated confines to the nearby mountains. Chiang Mai is teeming with expats, digital nomads and backpackers so it was a natural choice for us to spend a month decompressing and making a few transient friends.

Temple ruins at Ayutthaya

We met Neil, a 65-year old British expat, at a “Monk Chat” session at a temple in Chiang Mai. He spends a few hours a day at the Monk Chat teaching Thai monks and local Thai teenagers English as they help him learn Thai. Neil is that special kind of person who emits positive energy and has a kind smile – much like many Thais. He told us that he first came to Thailand ten years ago, after going through a dark time in his life. In Neil’s words, “I came to Thailand and found my smile.”

It’s no coincidence that Thailand is called the “Land of Smiles.” It truly is a warm, welcoming country and the people are the kindest, calmest and open I’ve ever met.  During our first day in Bangkok, Bally, the owner of our guesthouse, picked us up from the metro station and bought us lunch.  Bally and his family became our family for the week we stayed with them and it was hard to say goodbye.

Koh Phi Phi

For Thais, there is no separation between me and you and the rules of karma apply in this minute as well as in this lifetime.  A smile received from a smile given is instant karma.  There is no such thing as forgiving because Thais rarely hold grudges.  How healthy is that?  Varada, our landlady here in Chiang Mai, explained that Thais may get angry with each other but within an instant, they let the anger go.  We Americans spend thousands of dollars in therapy to do learn how to forgive and manage our anger!  Imagine if we just let shit go and didn’t become angry in the first place?

It’s no wonder why many travelers, like Neil, come to Thailand, find their smile and stay.


So…what do you think?

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