Change is inevitable: Thailand, Land of Smiles 3 Years on

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I knew moving to Thailand was going to be a big change in my life but this is something I went into with my eyes wide open. Oddly enough the last two weeks have shown me that I did indeed make the right choice but, I failed to realize that although I can shape my own destiny I don’t have any control over a lot of the other changes happening around me.

Some of the changes have been welcome and others not so welcome but not completely unexpected either. One of the unwelcome changes that is actually good happened earlier this week in the form of a 403 Permission Denied error. Thailand, Land of Smiles will be 3 years old at the end of this month and it has grown steadily in that time to a point where Thursday night there were too many users on the site doing too many things at the same time. Unfortunately,  Hostgator had no choice but to take the site down for a few hours until I could address the problem; Thailand, Land of Smiles was using over 40% of the cpu in a very small time frame.

While I didn’t like the fact I was blocked I certainly understood why and made some temporary back end changes until I could do what was really needed. This week Thailand, Land of Smiles will be moving to a new shiny server of it’s own. The upside is that I will be able to implement some things I have been thinking about without fear of hogging the cpu and being shut down.

Three years ago I was thrilled to see 1 or 2 visitors a day and never imagined a time where I would have 1500-3 thousand visitors a day and anywhere from 50-80,000 page views a month. There is no downside here, I love writing about and sharing Thailand with anyone that wants to listen and I hope I get to keep doing this for many more years to come.

Thailand, Land of Smiles has been a very fulfilling and rewarding endeavor for me over the past 3 years just in the friends I have made alone in the Thailand blogosphere and in Thailand as well. I hope in the years to come I can make many more friends through this site and hopefully share a beer or two them. While I have made some great friends, Thailand, Land of Smiles has also opened up some incredible opportunities for me in the past year. I have been asked to write multiple articles for 2 different travel guides that will be published by the end of the year and if all goes well I may have some pretty big news to tell you by years end as well.

On a more personal note not all the changes of the past 2 weeks have been happy. After 3 years and much talking, Pookie and I have decided to go our separate ways. This had nothing to do with the decision to live in Pattaya and there are no salacious stories to tell. This came down to one part of Thai culture that is still hard for many westerners to get a full grasp of; Family and Face. This was not completely unexpected, There were many talks about my moving to Thailand and budgets. You can’t live in Thailand in holiday mode but you also can’t plan on staying here on a budget and be the family caretaker.

While I am certainly on a budget it isn’t a stay at home 24 hours a day budget but it also doesn’t include houses, cars and other worldly trinkets for those less fortunate on my dime.  “Face” won the day and while that is unfortunate I do wish Pookie and Fa the best and I am sure we will still catch up regularly. As for me I’ll be fine as I have much to keep me busy including language classes 3 days a week and constantly exploring the land I love, Thailand. My life in Thailand has been an open book for some time and everyone would eventually be asking when I didn’t seem to write anymore about the relationship so I thought I might as well get it out of the way now.

Lastly I want to thank all of you who come to Thailand, Land of Smiles. For those of you that regularly comment and add your invaluable experience, you are a huge part of what this site has become and your input is always valued and much appreciated. For those of you that lurk, STOP LURKING! Join in and add to the conversation…this place is nothing without the people. I’ll continue to keep up my end of the bargain by writing the best content I can and bring you the best of Thailand as I see it through my eyes.


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36 Responses to Change is inevitable: Thailand, Land of Smiles 3 Years on
  1. Thai Connoisseur
    September 12, 2010 | 1:28 am

    Congratulations on making the big move over to Thailand. After 3 years together it must be gut wrenching for you and Pookie to part and I wish you both all the best. Your visitor numbers are pretty impressive and I look forward to continue being one of those visitors and reading how you settle into life in Thailand. Let’s hope the welcome changes outweigh the unwelcome changes.

    Thai Connoisseur recently posted..Unusual signpostMy Profile

    • Talen
      September 12, 2010 | 10:24 am

      Thai, thanks…Not gut wrenching really…sad but I knew that something like this could happen once I made the move.

  2. Joe
    September 12, 2010 | 3:38 am

    Thank you for your straight-forwardness, and how you report things up front.

    I did get blocked out of your site a few times but am glad that issue is now behind us.

    I hope to have the pleasure to meet you for a beer in Pattaya near Thanksgiving, if you are in town.

    Best Wishes to you on your journey thru life via Thailand.

    • Talen
      September 12, 2010 | 10:25 am

      Joe, Beer at Thanksgiving in Pattaya…wouldn’t miss it for the world.

  3. Oneditorial
    September 12, 2010 | 3:59 am

    Choose life and be happy is one of my favourite mottos. Sometimes change is good; it depends on how you look at it.

    • Talen
      September 12, 2010 | 10:26 am

      One, excellent quote and one I plan to live by…

  4. Paul Garrigan
    September 12, 2010 | 5:19 am

    Hi Talen, I only discovered your blog a couple of months ago, but I get a lot of enjoyment out of it. I understand how family can be the death of relationships between westerners and Thais. I have been so fortunate and have never really given anything to my in-laws. Luckily there is an older sister who has a bit of money.

    For a long time when I first came to Thailand I lived in my wife’s village near my in-laws; it was obvious to them from the start that I didn’t have a pot to pee in. I was also told in the beginning that my father-in-law isn’t to be given money because he is a drunk and my mother-in-law seems content with what she has; her main concern is that I take care of her daughter.

    I never had a problem with my in-laws until my son was born. There have been a few concerns since then. I once saw my mother-in-law try to give my son rain water to drink; she did this with her own children but she wasn’t gonig to be doing it with mine. She also wanted me to change my son’s English name because she didn’t think the local ghosts liked it. These problems all got sorted, and we get on well most of the time.

    I have seen a lot of other westerners have their relationship hit the rocks because of family. It is a shame.
    Paul Garrigan recently posted..The Miracle of Mindfulness and How It Makes Living EasyMy Profile

    • Talen
      September 12, 2010 | 10:29 am

      Paul, Family is usually the the culprit in relationships as you say. In this case it was a few friends as well who have married off to stupid falangs that open their wallets at the drop of a hat.

  5. Lloyd
    September 12, 2010 | 6:52 am

    I don’t know a great deal about WordPress or PHP but I have been administering and developing internet based applications and servers for more than 18 years and never would I imagine putting a site the size of yours on its own server. A single processor Unix server is capable of handling 10 times the volume your site is likely to see, if it is designed, setup and configured correctly! I would look for a host with either higher bandwidth allowances or simply a better provider.

    Looking at the site through a web proxy will give you an idea of the files served, file sizes and bottlenecks.

    FYI, less than 40% of the content from your ‘site’ actually comes from your server, of that content much of it could be ‘hosted’ on free services, like picassa et al for images.

    “This came down to one part of Thai culture that is still hard for many westerners to get a full grasp of; Family and Face.”

    What you have alluded to has little to do with ‘Thai’, or Asian, culture and face and more to do with individual wants, desires and greed. Wanting anything from a relationship always needs to be balanced with what both parties get out of it, it is actually healthy for any relationship for people to have wants and desires, especially financially, its what keeps people motivated to work and live a lifestyle they enjoy. Greed however is a different matter!

    I hope you are happy with your decision and life will move on happily for both of you.

    • Talen
      September 12, 2010 | 10:35 am

      Lloyd, normally the traffic alone wouldn’t warrant a move but with wordpress and the amount of databases used 2-3 thousand people a day puts a big strain on the back end. The database calls are usually the culprit. I have put certain tools to work like cacheing plugins but after a while even they can’t do the job and eventually the site becomes slower.

      There is also the issue of limits, where bandwith and storage are not a concern files and bytes used are. Right now TLoS is sitting at 8 gigs in total and most hosts will not let you do a manual backup on a site larger than 4 gigs.

      TLoS doesn’t need a server on it’s own but it will allow me to expand more and I will have about 15 other sites on the server as well. The site should definitely speed up and I’ll have room to grow.

      • Lloyd
        September 12, 2010 | 12:33 pm

        I don’t want to sound condescending but you might want to use some of your budget and seek advice from a professional architect, DBA or developer (or all), or even through a reputable hosting company. Your site is not ‘that’ big, if you look at the content as simply text and images then 8Gb is rediculous, Buddha only knows how bad WordPress formats and stores data! (I just scraped all the text from every link on your domain and got less than 270Mb)

        My guys in Singapore manage a couple of sites that generate in excess of 3 million unique page view per month that are hosted on shared servers that we pay $16.95 per month for, through Crystaltech in the states (we use only Windows servers and .Net).

        Greed is probably what ruins most relationships in Thailand.

        • Talen
          September 12, 2010 | 1:26 pm

          Lloyd, I assure you I know exactly what I have and where. You are correct that the text and links only generate a small amount…now add in over 8000 jpg’s and databases and you’ll start to get an idea. TLoS is also not the only site I run.

          While TloS doesn’t need a full server on it’s own I will be able to expand into other areas and also run more sites.

          I find it hard to believe that anyone runs a couple of websites that see over 3 million unique visitors a month on shared hosting. The visits alone would eat cpu and no shared hosting would allow it when they have upwards of 280 sites per server. Plus why would anyone with that amount of traffic take a chance on a shared server?

          • Lloyd
            September 12, 2010 | 3:39 pm

            The sites are what remains of Asia largest property portal and web based CRM systems that until late last years were used exclusively by 7 of Asias top 10 real estate and property development companies. The sites were used to persist and expose contact, lead and client data through HTML and XAML based data services, more than 120 real estate sites still receive content and access data and web services from the current shared service. The company was called OPS Asia (Incorporated in Malaysia), Overseas Property Systems Ltd. ( and Overseas Property Systems) and is based in Bencoolen St, Singapore, two of our largest clients were Schroders Asia Pacific and CBRE Asia. At its peak more than 2000 users logged onto the CRM system via the web based UI per day, I sold the systems and ‘rights’ to the code in early 2009 and we have been reducing services since that time.

            “Plus why would anyone with that amount of traffic take a chance on a shared server”

            Do visits eat CPU power?
            Does serving files or cached data at high speed eat anything but bandwidth? There are no complex calculations or data manipulations being done on blog or comments systems just cache, persist and return data.

            Like I said, why try and manage 8000 images when you can pay for cloud storage and bandwidth, the same with cloud based or ‘shared’ database servers.

            There are so many factors that make using shared hosting favorable, especially when the host provides services in a mutually beneficial manner, ie; you work with the hosts as much as use the services they provide. But unless you seek professional advice you aren’t likely to get the right advice with expensive trial and error.

            Anyway good luck with whatever your plans I’m sure you will learn as you go along.

    • Talen
      September 12, 2010 | 10:46 am

      Lloyd, forgot the second part. I think you are right that there was greed involved and face was used to enhance that greed. Children feel a very strong need to have to take care of their families…especially the Thai females and the families know just how to pull those strings.

  6. Catherine
    September 12, 2010 | 8:09 am

    Talen, congrats on your imminent move to your own server! With all your guests and slideshows and such, I can see how you’d want a home of your own.

    As you know, back in May (Red Shirts) my site was getting megga hits for a short time and it did take it off line just the once. Thanks to your advice, I’m now using Hostgater. Same money, with HG better able to handle surges. But I have good long while before I’m anywhere near your number again.

    Sorry to hear that Pookie and you have parted ways. And you are right, a separation is best if her financial wants and yours do not mesh.

    So your life in Thailand really is going to be brand spanking shiny new. All over.
    Catherine recently posted..AUA Thai Videos on YouTubeMy Profile

    • Talen
      September 12, 2010 | 10:38 am

      Cat, everything is newe and I’m looking at it as an opportunity. I will definitely have more time to do the things I want without fear of upsetting the significant other. So, if I have a wild hair to go see a penis shrine in Bangkok on the spur of the moment I can. And who knows there might be someone else out there waiting for me…an orphan….a deaf mute orphan…I joke :P

  7. Mike
    September 12, 2010 | 9:13 am

    Talen, I had a feeling something was imminent from a comment you made the other day.
    Your web traffic, compared to most of our circle is huge, but like said Lloyd I too am a little surprised you are heading to a dedicated server(if I understand you correctly). Perhaps you have other plans afoot :-)

    Regarding your relationship with Pookie. Firstly let me say I hope that everything works out for both of you.

    I know that long distance relationships and their requirements are very different from day to day living together in Thailand.

    I am exceptionally lucky in that Duen’s family are not very demanding. Sure I help occasionally but on my terms. I also chose to live a good distance from them.

    Almost three years down the line we are now striking a good balance in our cultural mix. The journey so far has not always been easy but I believe it will continue to improve.

    If anyone ever asked for my advice on Thai/foreigner relationships(unlikely) then I would tell them that clear ground rules need to be set and that its a lot different living here 24/7 with someone(and possibly their family), just like it is back home.

    Good luck with all your coming ventures.
    Mike recently posted..Nam Tok Huai Yang National ParkMy Profile

    • Talen
      September 12, 2010 | 10:44 am

      Mike, there are definitely other plans rumbling around and the thought that I have other sites that will be on the server as well. I love wordpress but it is definitely bloated software and when you have a lot going on database wise as I do then things need to change.

      The one thing I’ have noticed about most of the successful relationships in Thailand is the fact that the family lives no where close to the couple.

      I think the long talk we had when I arrived which laid down clear ground rules as you suggested was the stumbling block. We had other conversations but my budget seems to have been a deal breaker…mind you my budget took very good care of Pookie and her daughter but me thinks Mama was not too satisfied.

  8. Steve
    September 12, 2010 | 9:49 am

    So sorry to hear about you and Pookie, you have my sympathies.

    Nice to see the increase in traffic here though and sounds as if you have some pretty bright prospects coming up. Enjoy the move to the shiny new server as well :)
    Steve recently posted..7 Don’ts To Save Your RelationshipMy Profile

  9. Talen
    September 12, 2010 | 10:54 am

    Thanks Steve, Hopefully traffic will start to increase even more for all of us now that the political problems have simmered down and people are starting to think about Thailand again.

  10. Martyn
    September 12, 2010 | 5:12 pm

    Talen I am also sorry to read you and Pookie are going separate ways but if you feel it’s for the best then it’s better to be done now.

    I can guess the kind of strains mama and co might have put on your relationship because I’ve tasted a bit of that myself. Luckily I think I’ve drunk myself through that stage and Wi’s mama now understands that I’m not going to subsidise the family to any great lengths. I look after Wi and in turn if she wants to look after her family then so be it. It kind of works but we’re talking long distance. My troubles could start the day I arrive long term.

    I hope you find happiness in your new life and I’m sure you will. Being single in Pattaya isn’t a bad thing at all.
    Martyn recently posted..A Dilemma of Dog Sized ProportionsMy Profile

    • Talen
      September 13, 2010 | 9:36 am

      Martyn, Family…can’t live with them can’t live without them…it probably is best that it happened now instead of later.

      there are definitely a lot of worse things than being single in Pattaya …now if I can just get the ladyboys to stop following me around town.

  11. Kevin
    September 13, 2010 | 8:21 am

    OK you got me. I will stop lurking ;)

    I really enjoy your blog. Nice short yet informative posts on Thailand. I am looking at moving to Thailand late next year after I get all moneyed up from working in the Alberta oilfields here in Canada. I spent a couple months in Thailand in 2006 exploring it and it was the one Asian country I knew in my heart that I would eventually return to, not to mention the friendly Thais that I met along the way. After receiving all my regular travelogue emails in 2006 my dad wants to move to Thailand as well for half the year.

    I am just starting to learn the Thai language with a few free sites online. How are your Thai lessons going so far? Are they starting you off with their writing and pronounciations first? Besides the free sites I was wondering if there was a better way to learn Thai that I could buy? Anything you have heard good things about as being a good program to learn Thai since I don’t mind paying for a good one since I don’t live in Thailand yet.

    I am sorry to hear about you and Pookie. As far as the cultural differences go it is something that I have wondered about for awhile now after looking through some of the Thai dating sites. I am interested in finding a Thai wife but don’t know if I would be willing to support her family if I am living in Thailand. I don’t mind supporting her and letting her quit her job etc.. but I have read where the youngest daughter takes care of the family and am unfamilar with their customs and culture and what would be expected from me since they would naturally assume I am rich. Similar to yourself if I live in Thailand I would be budgeting accordingly to have a decent lifestyle that can easily be maintained and I don’t mind giving out a bit of money here and there if I think her family needs it (IE like a few hundred bucks) but certainly wouldn’t want them to expect that every month like some residual income source. Is this something that many Thai women would expect from me or any farang from the west?


    • Joe
      September 13, 2010 | 9:18 am

      Do read up and prepare, but nothing teaches you better than experience. I would suggest doing a few more trips to see you if you really like the place year-round.

      • Talen
        September 13, 2010 | 9:43 am

        Excellent advice Joe.

    • Joe
      September 13, 2010 | 9:18 am

      Do read up and prepare, but nothing teaches you better than experience. I would suggest doing a few more trips during the different seasons to see you if you really like the place year-round.

    • Talen
      September 13, 2010 | 9:43 am

      Kevin, Glad to see you come out of lurk mode I also appreciate the kind words.

      What Joe said is sound advice. You might want to come a few more times and explore more. I knew I wanted to move here after my first trip but I still made trips just to make sure.

      As for learning Thai, my language classes are going very well and I’m still using various other resources to bolster my learning. Cat over at Women Learn Thai and Some Men Too has put together a ton of amazing Thai language resources that are extremely helpful. Learn Thai Podcast is a really good learning system to use.

      I think the biggest thing concerning learning Thai is finding the right system for you because when it clicks it will feel so much easier instead of a constant struggle.

      As for family, face and money…it really depends on the girl you meat and where you meat here. A lot of girls from Issan do take care of their families and will need money each month to do so but sometimes it’s not much. As for me I am now looking for an orphan with a really good job.

  12. Jon
    September 13, 2010 | 10:38 am

    Hi Talen,

    Sounds like you have some serious plans on the go, looking forward to hearing more about the empire.

    Sorry to hear your split with the lady, I can imagine it can be tricky to have a partner with children from a previous relationship but I’m sure it will work out for you. As Martyn said, being single in Pattaya has its benefits.

    “The one thing I’ have noticed about most of the successful relationships in Thailand is the fact that the family lives no where close to the couple.”

    I don’t think this is strictly true, I have a great relationships with my in-laws, it can be done. Though I think dating someone while living in Thailand will be more straight forward than your previous set-up. Good on you for following your conviction and laying down the law with Pookie – many a foreigner has gone in against his will and suffered the consequences.

    Let me know when you venture out of Pattaya, beers on me…or you when your super venture comes through!

    • Talen
      September 15, 2010 | 1:04 am

      Jon, My empire is more of a mole hill but I like to think it’s a gigantic mole hill :)

      The split with Pookie is what it is and actually having a partner with previous children really wasn’t tricky and never entered into the equation to split.

      I probably painted with too broad a brush when I said the best relationships in Thailand live no where near the family. Yourself and a few others I know have proven that not to be the case.

      I will definitely be in your neck of the woods at some point and would love to have a beer with you.

      • Jon
        September 16, 2010 | 12:01 pm

        Sounds good to me – am in BKK which simplifies things hugely on the social front.
        Jon recently posted..A long overdue updateMy Profile

  13. SiamRick
    September 14, 2010 | 1:47 pm

    Hey Talen, don’t know where to start. Stuff happens . . .

    I commend you without qualification for putting your foot down (maybe both!) when you were given an ultimatum, which is what it sounds like. What’s the point of having principles when you give one or two of them up under external pressure? If the relationship was going to founder on the rocks of family greed, you’re better off moving on. I can say this as a detached observer. I would have done the same thing. I do mean that. I don’t doubt you bent here and there, but there were poisoned waters ahead and they would have been hard to avoid because of the momentum of family pressure. Then the price for the mistake would have become too high.

    I couldn’t understand most of what you and Lloyd were talking about but I do understand 50,000 to 80,000 PVs a month. Wow! Applause! And well deserved. I thought my quick run-up from 3,000 to 4,000 PVs/mo over a 6-week period was cool. Ah, well, like you said, the most valuable thing about churning out The Noodle Curtain is meeting fellow bloggers like yourself, virtually anyway.

    Happy 3rd anniversary! Will have to toast you personally next month. 17 more days to touchdown in LOS.
    SiamRick recently posted..A visa for every occasion in ThailandMy Profile

    • Talen
      September 15, 2010 | 1:09 am

      Rick, I think you have a pretty good grasp of observation and you are so right that later down the line the price would have been high.

      The numbers for TLoS have been great and continue to grow but the best part really is meeting everyone and exchanging thoughts and ideas…I have no doubt that many of the Thailand blogs will have comparable numbers just due to the great writing and what seems like bigger interest in Thailand these days.

      And since you will be touching down soon enough we can dispense with the virtual meetings and have a real beer in real life Thailand.

  14. Angella thai girlfriend Advisor
    September 23, 2010 | 10:43 pm

    This is a great site..i have only just found it but enjoy reading some of it…my bf will like this too as he is Farang who loves Thailand and wants to come here more….congratulations on your success..very inspiring…Ag
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    • Talen
      September 24, 2010 | 7:19 pm

      Angella, thank you for the kind words.

  15. Camille
    September 24, 2010 | 8:34 pm

    Hi Talen,

    Finally caught up with your split with Pookie. Guess it’s for the better after having read your post.
    My in laws live 500 meters down the road. My luck is that they have money of their own but I can see and understand where this can become an issue if the situation is different.
    They helped me out on various occasions, also financially.

    Good luck with your server and sites, amazing amount of visits and page views.

    Even more good luck being single in Pattaya, what a horrible thought. Just tread careful my friend.
    Camille recently posted..PADI- diving and Instructor Development IDC around Thailand- Instructor Specialties for September are in the bag deliciousMy Profile