One Year in the Land of Smiles


Time has really flown by, it seems like it was just yesterday that I landed in Thailand with way too many bags and no real clue as to what the move would have in store for me. I’ve thought a lot about my first few weeks here in Thailand as an expat over the past week as I moved into my new apartment. Before I moved to Thailand I had to downsize my life, or at least my baggage in order to simplify the move and that simplification of my life has carried forward throughout the last year.

De cluttering my life and removing all the extraneous bits that weren’t really needed was hard to do at first but once you realize that the material things are just that it brings into focus the important things in life, sure, having a 5 speed mustache trimmer is nice but when you no longer have a mustache whats the point. It’s amazing the things we human beings hold on to. 2 years ago I had all brand new furniture in my big ass expensive apartment, living room set, dining room set, a beautiful armoir to hold my big ass TV set and yet that stuff didn’t really make me happy and it never got used much, but that’s what I thought would make me happy…it didn’t.

In comparison I am now down to one room 10,000 or so miles away from my past life and I am as happy as clam pig in sh*t Me, and thats really damn happy. I just downsized again and I couldn’t be happier, I went from a 44 sqm condo to a 30 sqm apartment, and yes, that includes the balcony and bathroom :) The best part is I also downsized the living expences quite a bit going from 15000 baht a month rent down to 6000 baht. Of course I had to make a few purchases to make the new diggs more comfortable and I was able to do that cheaply as well. A few lamps, fan, sofa & Coffee table for the lounge, bedside tables and of course a new dining room set for the veranda all for 7000 baht delivered.

New Apartment

Entertainment/Pantry/Laundry areas Self Cleaning Bathroom The Lounge

The Veranda/Dining area/Kitchen The Kitchen The View

Some of you may look at the pictures above and think ” Wow, how sad, I couldn’t live like that” or ” he’s hit rock bottom” or ” that’s pathetic” …I think it’s lovely and every bit as nice as the Grand Palace itself. The place even comes with a self cleaning bathroom, because every time you take a shower you clean the bathroom, very efficient. It’s all about what makes you happy and if a beautiful expensive 3 room condo with lavish furnishings is your thing then by all means have at it. I realized 2 years ago living alone in a huge 3 bedroom apartment surrounded by expensive furniture that I was miserable, Today as I write this on my Veranda I have a huge smile on my face. I have everything I need, it’s all within arms reach and I plan on staying here for quite a while :)

Another nice thing about the new apartment is that it’s located on a very quiet soi with a great breeze that funnels right to my 5th floor abode negating the use of the ac…just a fan will do and I’m not sure if it’s my 5th floor height or huge smile but I haven’t seen a mosquito yet which means sleeping with the balcony door wide open :)

I chide you not, I felt like I was a kid again moving into my first apartment. My friend Mo helped with the move ( she flagged down a baht bus to move me ) and as we got the last of my stuff into the new room we decided the bed looked quite bouncy, so, we did what every adult dreams of but never does, we jumped up and down on the bed for a bit and laughed our asses off.

Anyway, a year ago I had plans, designs, and ideas because I knew what direction my life was heading and most of those things have changed as well. Funny how things always seem to change.

My first round of Thai courses are over now and the next round starts in January. I think it’s been the best money I have spent in Thailand. My Thai, while not great, is significantly better and I can usually understand whats going on around me and let people know what I want, need or just what I’m thinking.

I don’t want to get too long here but I thought it worthwhile to let you know that I’m still here and so much happier than I ever thought I would be one year on…I’ll update on all the other bits in time but for now a little piece of advice as I close this one out.

The old saying goes ” You’ve made your bed now go lie in it” I never cared much for that sentiment so I’m going to change it to… Go find your bed and make sure it’s a bouncy one then jump up and down on it with a friend…and laugh…and smile…and live.


39 Responses to One Year in the Land of Smiles
  1. adrian
    August 22, 2011 | 12:27 pm

    As i start my 8th year in Bangkok, i can relate to this….. I too, downsized and cut back, and have never been happier… though 30 sqm would be a bit claustrophobic for me.. so i have a bit more space than that.

    • Talen
      August 22, 2011 | 9:40 pm

      Adrian, I thought 30sqm would be a bit small too but with the brightness of the room it seems bigger than it is and quite comfortable.

  2. Paul Garrigan
    August 22, 2011 | 12:34 pm

    Hi Talen, that year has sure gone by fast. I remember when you were making your plans to come here. I don’t’ see anything wrong with your new place; it looks like the perfect bachelor pad. I was disappointed to see that you have no pink towel on display this time – it’s missing the feminine touch :)
    We actually visited Pattaya yesterday. My son needed a bit of sand-castle time. I was amazed at how quite the beach was. Mind you, when I saw all the box jellyfish that were being washed up on shore I could understand why.
    Good luck with your next year in Thailand.
    Paul Garrigan recently posted..Working as a Writer is Great but I Miss the Security of a Regular JobMy Profile

    • Talen
      August 22, 2011 | 9:44 pm

      Paul, the year really did fly by. The new place works for me, might be on the small side for some but it’s not like I’ll be sitting in my room 24 hours a day anyway. Ahh the famous pink towel…it died a horrible death by fire at the hands of a very scary little Thai chef who lost control of her meal plan.

  3. Camille
    August 22, 2011 | 3:23 pm

    Congratz Talen,

    That year did fly by indeed. I hope that big smile won’t disappear soon!

    Will let you know when I hit town so we can have a drink or two.
    Camille recently posted..More vintage scuba equipmentMy Profile

    • Talen
      August 22, 2011 | 9:45 pm

      Thanks Camille, the year did fly but the smile is firmly in place. Looking forward to meeting up when you hit town :)

  4. Joe
    August 22, 2011 | 5:38 pm


    Enjoyed reading your adventures for the past year and wishing you many many more.

    Live life to the fullest and be happy.

    • Talen
      August 22, 2011 | 9:46 pm

      Thanks Joe, hopefully I will keep the adventures on an even keel this year.

  5. Catherine
    August 22, 2011 | 8:19 pm

    Talen. Wow. That went fast. It seemed like forever waiting for you to reach Thailand and after a looooooooooooooooong stretch you were finally here. And now you’ve been here a year? But what adventures you’ve already had :-)

    I too downsized when I came to Thailand. And then I downsized again to where I am now.

    To keep from outgrowing this place I have a “something comes in, something must go out” policy.

    So far, it’s working for everything but books.
    Catherine recently posted..Chula’s Marching Song: John Brown’s Body. Thai StyleMy Profile

    • Talen
      August 22, 2011 | 9:48 pm

      Cat, it has been a great year and hopefully this year will be even better…I plan on making it to Bangkok more often :)

      Downsizing to move here was a no brainer but spending the year watching the efficiency of the Thai’s doing so much with so little has really rubbed off on me.

  6. Josh
    August 23, 2011 | 2:09 am

    Talen, are you in BKK proper? Also, how is your Thai language coming along?
    Josh recently posted..Thai Culture: The Way of the Wai (ไหว้)My Profile

    • Talen
      August 23, 2011 | 2:22 am

      Josh, No, I live in Pattaya and my Thai language is coming along nicely. Between classes and Thai friends I’ve learned quite a bit in the past year.
      Talen recently posted..One Year in the Land of SmilesMy Profile

  7. Lawrence Michaels
    August 23, 2011 | 10:58 am

    Congratulations on your first year Talen. I too have really downsized my life since moving to Thailand. You realize that all the ‘stuff’ you had in the West doesn’t really mean much. Why do I need a 27k baht iPhone4, my 800 baht Nokia works just fine. Unfortunately, I have a girlfriend and she really enjoys her ‘stuff.’ So it is a constant struggle to keep my life simplified.

    • Talen
      August 26, 2011 | 3:11 pm

      Lawrence, so right you are…I believe we have the same cell phone too :) The last thing I wanted was an iPhone especially with my propensity to lose/break phones. My cheap Nokia does the job and has lasted the year and hopefully the next.

  8. Snap
    August 23, 2011 | 2:42 pm

    Talen congratulations on your one year anniversary! I think more people should down size. Before coming here the amount of *good stuff* we disposed of, was embarrassing. Our life compacted into a 6 x 2 metre storage unit… with room to spare. When we return, I won’t be bringing it all back into the house, I’ll downsize again. In Thailand, because our stay is temporary, we agreed not to accumulate more than what would fit into a taxi (minus the scooter).

    Downsizing shows us just how little we need to be comfortable/content. It’s a very cleansing process, I think.

    • Talen
      August 26, 2011 | 3:10 pm

      Snap, it really is a cleansing process and you feel so much better when you’re through. I think I have gotten my life down to 3 suitcases and a backpack for the electronics and I could probably do without 2 of the suitcases :P

  9. ChuckWow
    August 24, 2011 | 3:18 pm

    Hmmm… I believe anyone who would think the derogatory things you mentioned in your article about your new apartment has never been to Thailand.

    Personally, it looks sooo familiar.

    • Talen
      August 26, 2011 | 3:08 pm

      Chuck, familiar is good isn’t it? Some people have to live it up and have all the nice furniture and embellishments…I’m quite happy these days with my little apt. and plastic dishes :)

  10. Rambone
    August 25, 2011 | 11:16 am

    I swear I have heard the name ‘Talen’ much longer than a year ago, has this website truly only been up one year? Were you a big time visitor to Thailand before? I read your story and instead of seeing a small home I see dollar signs in my head – $200 rent per month can help stretch funds for someone wanting to stay a long time in Thailand. I live in an apartment in the US and everyone (including my Thai wife sometimes) asks me why I don’t buy a house. At one time it was important to me, like “this is what you’re supposed to do when you grow up: get married, get a house, have kids”. Alot of things have happened to me over the past few years and that “status symbol” stuff just doesn’t have as much appeal anymore.

    • Talen
      August 26, 2011 | 3:06 pm

      Rambone, While I’ve only been living in Thailand for a year I’ve been writing TLoS for 4 years now so that’s probably why you heard the name well before a year. I’ve been coming to Thailand for almost 6 years now. I know what you mean about the house and status symbol stuff…I thought thats what I was supposed to do but am much happier now.

      • Rambone
        August 28, 2011 | 8:20 am

        Well that clears things up. I even thought we might have been on a Crawl together – in Oct 07? It’s hard to keep track with all those psuedonyms, the only ones I can be sure of are Skygod and Hammer.

        • Talen
          August 28, 2011 | 3:22 pm

          Rambone, we very well might have been on a crawl together and you probably met me through Skygod…Sky and I spent our entire first trip to Pattaya together with a few friends.

  11. Jake
    August 25, 2011 | 10:39 pm

    It’s been fun to listen to your stories and time away… I hope I can make it over to Thailand soon.

  12. Martyn
    August 26, 2011 | 2:04 pm

    Talen a 9,000 baht a month saving is one hell of a good way to start your second year and your new pad is the perfect size for a single person. You really do seem to have enjoyed your first full time year in Thailand.

    I think over the past year your writing has also come on a long way as this post proves. An excellently written piece with a very inspirational last paragraph.

    • Talen
      August 26, 2011 | 3:03 pm

      Thanks, Martyn…I’ve been starting to look at things a little differently since the living like a Thai experiment and there really is no need for spending too much when you can be quite comfortable with less.

  13. DAN
    August 27, 2011 | 4:51 pm

    Happy anniversary.

    Another Thai blogger hit it on the head when he said, “The more you want, the more you suffer”.

    • Talen
      August 28, 2011 | 3:26 pm

      Dan, when it comes to women that sentiment is definitely true…I have tested it :P

  14. Capp
    August 28, 2011 | 5:57 am

    Congratulations on your first year! I am in the midst of my own downsizing in preparation for relocation to Thailand in February. it’s encouraging to hear of guys who have made it work without going mad or turning bitter.

    • Talen
      August 28, 2011 | 3:25 pm

      Capp, there do seem to be a lot of bitter guys about, usually found on the various Thailand and Pattaya forums. Definitely not going mad and having a blast.

  15. Rambone
    August 28, 2011 | 8:16 am

    Now you are getting closer to that ’200 Baht per day’ living, maybe time to take another shot at that challenge sometime in the next few months… PS do you have hot water? The lack thereof was a major shock when I was staying with my TGF for a few weeks.

    • Talen
      August 28, 2011 | 3:24 pm

      Rambone, yup I have hot water although I have grown partial to cold showers for some reason…maybe the heat. As for the experiment, I took a lot away from it that I am putting into practice now…still making adjustments but over all it’s going well.

      • Rambone
        August 30, 2011 | 10:56 am

        In Pattaya a cold shower can save you 1,000 Baht…

  16. SiamRick
    August 29, 2011 | 2:00 am

    You know, Talen, your Live Like a Thai series is still having an impact on me. Since following it, I eat most of my meals in my neighbourhood, which is brimming with good Thai food. Consequently, my daily food expense is about 60-100 baht, average. I do engage in the odd western breakfast and burger, but the bottom line is I’ve cut my expenses and am very happy about that both for saving money and eating well. (I am addicted to phat krapao gai.)

    Your series was also a reminder about saying “no” to silly expenditures.

    But the seed for keeping life simple was sown before I left Canada a11 months ago when I shed a lot of stuff, promising never to own stuff again. All I have in my BKK apartment beyond the standard provided apartment furniture is a coffee maker.

    Before I flood your Comments section anymore, I have to say you are on the right road, pal! It’s so much nicer to not be snowed under stuff. Which will be a good thing when I leave Bangkok at the end of October. In short, I’m weighing Phnom Penh and Pattaya in my quest for a new home. Will be in touch this week, buddy!
    SiamRick recently posted..My 7 Links at Behind the Noodle CurtainMy Profile

  17. Lani
    August 29, 2011 | 1:01 pm

    Yeaaahhhh! I love reflection posts and de-cluttering is soooo un-American of you! :P Love it.

    Unfortunately, all of my de-cluttering dreams have gone down the drain pipe since everyone keeps moving and giving more stuff to me.

    But it’s okay. I feel myself settling into Thailand….hugs.
    Lani recently posted..being an expat kind of sucksMy Profile

  18. Lloyd
    August 30, 2011 | 10:38 pm

    Congratulations on surviving Pattaya in more or less one piece for one year!

    Having had to suffer through 3 days in Jomtien over the past week on business I cannot for the life of me imagine why anyone would wish to live there on an extended basis, each to his own I suppose.

    With your new linguistic skills are you planning any “up-country” travels over the next year?

    • Talen
      September 8, 2011 | 11:48 am

      Lloyd, I absolutely hate Jomtien…it has a nicer beach but for some reason I can’t abide it. Pattaya I guess is the same for some but I don’t tend to hang in all the well travelled areas and have found some rather nice pockets of the town that are almost unspoiled.

      I am planning to head up country this year as well as down South where I have never been….hopefully my language holds up okay.

  19. Ryan
    September 17, 2011 | 6:49 pm

    Dude, wow, I can feel your happiness through this post. How amazing!

    I’m less than a week into my first visit to Thailand, which I’ve made with the intention of scoping out whether I could make a go of living and working here, and I am the happiest I can remember being in a long time.

    I’m in Chiang Mai, and loving it! I’m glad I found your blog – I think I’ll be visiting here often.
    Ryan recently posted..Being Better ProducersMy Profile

  20. Keith Taylor
    September 26, 2011 | 11:50 pm

    Good on ya, Talen. It’s great to see the occasional Thai ex-pat who hasn’t turned into a bitter, angry red-faced alcoholic :P

    Ryan, my missus and I have just hit the three month mark in Chiang Mai and I’ll be indescribably sad when we head back to Mongolia for the winter at the end of next month. I’ve only got long term experience of CM and Bangkok, but you could do much worse than settle down here for a while.
    Keith Taylor recently posted..What Are the Best Value Mosquito Misting Systems?My Profile

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