An update from Thailand.
When I started this 6-month adventure, my plan was to use my place here in Phuket as a base of operations while I travel around SE Asia, then return to LA in June. However, over the course of the last 3 months here, I’ve changed my plans.
Thailand, and Phuket, in particular, is really beautiful! I have a small, single apartment, but it has a great location in a small valley between lush green hills. From the balcony, I can see the sky and the clouds as they pass over Ban Sam Kong, the small town in which I live. A drive of 20 to 40 minutes will take you to some of the most beautiful beaches in the world. Or, hop on a ferry an visit even more exotic tropical islands. There is shopping close by (Tesco Lotus Extra, a store that thinks it’s a mall), movie theaters, nightlife and even Bangla Road if you are feeling really crazy.
But even just standing on the street and watching people as they live their lives is just fascinating to me. It makes me happy. I am also constantly struck by the irony of the fact that I, at this point in my life, should live in a place where almost everyone rides a scooter. And yet, it feels different here. In LA, on the scooter, I felt like a fish surrounded by sharks. Here, I feel like a fish in a whole school of other fishes, all individuals but all reacting and flowing through traffic like water. They are egoless drivers.
Thai people seem genuinely happy. They live and let live.
Early one morning, I was on my computer in Siem Reap, Cambodia, having just visited Angkor Wat. In a Facebook post, a friend wrote about their situation of living in a different country and still having to pay for stuff back home like car payments, insurance, etc. It struck me that I was in the same predicament. I realized that it didn’t make any sense to travel while continuing to pay for my car, insurance and storage for my stuff. I pay for health insurance, but I can’t use it here.
Currently, I don’t have a place to live in Los Angeles, so when I return to stay, I will need a fairly large chunk of money to get settled in again.
On the other hand, my rent here is 7,000 Thai Baht per month. That’s $200. I can get a great meal for about $4.00. My electric bill was $6.00. In fact, you could live comfortably here for about $500 a month.
I put travel plans on hold and started concentrating on getting an “O-A Non-Immigrant Long Stay” visa, also known as a Retirement Visa. This visa has quite a few requirements, including being over 50 years of age and proof of a certain amount of money in the bank or proof of income. The visa lets the holder stay in Thailand for one year, and can be renewed for a total of 3 years.
I did my research, found help from an ex-pat and a Thai immigration official and, if all goes as planned, in about a week, I will receive my Thai retirement visa.
I started thinking about what it would be like to live in Phuket all year. I was difficult to think of any downsides. I started looking at ads for a different place to live, maybe a house so that if friends from the states came to visit, they would have their own room or I could have an office. The same ex-pat friend who helped me with the visa told me that there was a house available next door to him.
The house overlooks the ocean and a beautiful bay. Seriously, it looks like a postcard. However, when I went to a dinner party at the same gentleman’s house a few days later, he told me that the house had already been rented. Another guest at the party told me that he actually lived in that house for a while. He said that one day he came home from work sat out on the balcony, and looked at the ocean, After a while, he said to himself “This is terrible! This is all I want to do!” He moved out because it was too beautiful to live in.
That’s when I made my next realization. In my excitement, of getting the retirement visa, I lost sight of my initial plan; to use Phuket as a base of operations and travel. It doesn’t make any sense to invest in a larger place. Thailand is beautiful with beautiful people, but there are many other beautiful places and people on this planet. My intention is not to live in an apartment Phuket, my intention is to live in the world, for a while, at least.
So, on March 7, 2017, I will be returning to Los Angeles for one week. I’m so happy to say that I will be staying with my best friend, Laura Hippiechick! I will use the time to liquidate my car and end financial requirements associated with it. I will take my stuff out of storage and, on Saturday, March 11, I will have a Moving Sale at Casa de Hippiechick. We want to make it a fun, kind of party thing, so stay tuned. This week may be the only opportunity to visit with me in person, so if you can’t make the moving sale, let me know and we can arrange another time to meet up.
I’ll be able to travel again when I return to Phuket. I did a financial forecast budget to see how I would be able to live on just my pension and social security payments. If I stick to my budget, by the end of the year, I could have about 10k in the bank, which would make moving back to Los Angeles much more feasible. Moving to paradise to save money. Who knew?
I miss so many of you in LA. There are a few that I miss the most. You know who you are. Please come a visit me in Phuket if you can. I miss acting as well, and working with my awesome agent Mimi Mayer, who started me on this journey by demanding that I get a new passport! Doh!
I’ll return to Los Angeles eventually. I just don’t when. We never know what the future holds for us. When I asked a fellow traveller where she lived, she replied “I live where I’m living.”
Now, that sounds like a plan.
Here’s the info on the Moving Sale and Party! https://www.facebook.com/events/1781697042157803/