Moving to Thailand was one of the most difficult things we’ve done as a family. And some of our experiences living here have been harder than we could have imagined.
And yet, I am so happy to have gotten to spend this time in the Kingdom.
Living in Thailand has caused a mindset shift for us as a family. We went from everyday American consumerism (which, at the time, I thought I was mostly immune to) to seeking minimalism in a developing country, surrounded by generous people and breathtaking landscape.
Thailand will always hold a place in my heart. The first time we traveled here, I was in my mid-twenties, smitten with my then-fiance, and dreaming of a big, bold future together. We stayed in Bangkok and Koh Chang, and I was struck by the sensory experience of this place: rich colors and distinct aromas, set against a backdrop of city and beach.
This time, we came back as a family of four. We arrived in Phuket, a large island in the south of the country. This was the first time we’d traveled internationally with kids. Part of the reason for this move was that Doug and I were determined to break out of the norm and into the world—to define life the way we want it. We wanted to raise global citizens who are empathetic, curious, and brave. And we wanted to be that way ourselves too.
This place has brought out a new side of me: stronger, more courageous, more confident. The things that mattered so much back home have little bearing here. I’ve become more focused in my work, more present for my family, and happier in my everyday. While there have been hardships (and there have been hardships), I wouldn’t change a thing. I’d do it all over again, in a second.
I know memories of this place will fade over time, but there are many I hope I’ll remember. There’s Max shutting down the office at Lily’s school with his big smile and insistence on hugging every single one of the fifteen people, sitting on each person’s lap and giving them a solid squeeze. There’s also Max walking up to nearly every Thai woman he sees, taking her hand, and saying, “I go with you,” causing a burst of giggles. There’s watching Lily play with kids who don’t share her language, but learning to communicate through friendship.
There’s the trip to Vietnam, sharing our previous home with our two children, exposing them to the soul and spirit of Ho Chi Minh City. There’s the weekend in Koh Khao Lak, where we stayed in a terrible “beach front bungalow” (which was really a bad hotel room on the beach) but had the best time—Max and I would wake up early each morning, and he’d say, “Let’s go to the ocean!” So, still sleepy, we’d walk the short distance to the waves, and he’d play in the wet sand and early morning waves.
There’s Sunday afternoons at our favorite local beachfront resort, where we’d order veggie burgers and pizza, swim in the resort pool, and wade in the sea. There’s our housekeeper, who the kids love dearly and we call their Thai grandma. There’s the night markets, crazy traffic, incredible (and cheap!) delivery food, array of nationalities at Lily’s school, good friends, fried rice with cashew, elaborate mall where we’d go to escape the heat, coconut banana smoothies, Thai people (who are some of the kindest people I’ve ever met), Big Buddha, and the closeness we’ve developed as a family.
Thailand is so much more than tuk tuks and smiles, though it is those things. It’s the place where we became different. It’s the birth of a new life for our family. It’s an evolution of myself as a professional, a deepening of my ability as a creator. Being connected with the world, and with each other, has changed me. It’s changed all four of us.
And now, our time here is about to come to a close. We’re rounding out ten months in Thailand, which is a bit less than the year we’d planned on, but it feels right. In a little over two months, we’ll turn over the keys to the darling home we’ve been living in, board three planes, and arrive back in Boise. But we won’t be staying.
Our next international adventure is coming, and we are ready for it. I’ll share more soon. But for now, I want to say: goodbye soon, Thailand. We love you. We will be back someday.