Painting and light festivals

Today was day 2 of painting our condo that we are renovating, I think it should be done but tomorrow we will see if it needs any touching up anywhere. Had to leave the balcony door open because it’s so humid it wasn’t drying otherwise so hopefully we don’t find the walls dusty or find any bats or centipedes (etc lol) inside tomorrow… 🙏🏻 It’s pretty windy tonight!

Can’t wait to see this unit done, getting closer!

After painting we came home and got in the shower/changed and rode over to Nai Harn Beach to see the light festival!

Got there in time to catch the sunset too 😊

Home now and getting ready for bed, but all in all it was a good day! I really love our lives here. All the work it took to get to today, totally worth it.

-Rebekka

Our 13 year anniversary

Monday was our 13 year anniversary (and 1 year wedding anniversary). We have been attached at the hip ever since we met, we moved out together within 3 months and since then we went to school together and then I helped him with his many companies… seriously we spend every single day together ❤️ He has been the biggest gift and brightest blessing of my entire life! 13 may not seem like a big one, but it’s our first since we walked out our front door and set on to this new adventure we find ourselves in so it deserved celebrating 🍾

First we booked a bolt to take us and our bikes to Khao Rang Viewpoint
We fed the monkeys (ie got robbed by monkeys 🐒)
The bathroom was very intimidating 😳
We then rode down the hill and went to Central Mall where the largest aquarium in Thailand is located.
After the aquarium we went exploring on our bikes and ended up at this beautiful Chinese temple ❤
Tonight we went exploring again and found this beautiful restaurant and had a special dinner which was the only thing we didn’t get to do Monday 😊 the drink was honestly the best drink I’ve ever had, I forget all the ingredients but it had Thai Tea infused Gin and Jasmine in it 😍

Fintech and floor boards

Sometimes life gives you lemons, and sometimes it gives you floods… While removing the kitchen, a cabinet fell and hit the kitchen pipe which was not installed correctly to begin with. The pipe burst and everything after that is a blur in my mind. The poly seal I painstakingly applied 3 coats of by hand, was beautiful but imperfect. The floor had been water warped before and had cracks that I simply could not fill. The ensuing flood soaked through and warped everything irreparably in the kitchen and small bedroom. So goes renovations of older units though! Things happen. Thankfully in Thailand every unit is a concrete box with trim so the damage stops at the floor boards. We started removing them ourselves, worked for hours and got the kitchen area ripped out but Dana decided to go look for help. We found some migrant workers from Myanmar working at the villas next to us who were willing to come by after work to rip out the rest. After they arrived I went to go buy them snacks at 7-11 but by the time I got back (15 minutes tops) they were already 70% done! Made us feel really old… In an hour they were done and had taken all of it out to the trash area for us so we asked if they do tile, they said they do so we will hire them again once we purchase the tile. They were so fast and clean and careful, we were very impressed! They had said they’d do it for $15 each but we paid them $30. Im so grateful we can afford help here, back home we would be in over our heads by now. Deliveries are piling up though, new kitchen arrives May 6th, but thanks to these guys we should be fine! 🙏🏻 Picking colors now is a challenge though, and making it cohesive… but I’m sure it’ll work out?

After sealing, pre-flood
The warp was hard core…
This took us a couple hours…
This took them 15 minutes!
We left just the front bedrooms flooring (for now, still debating about it…) all the deliveries are stored inside. The biggest debate about re-doing that room is the built in wardrobe would also need replacing (and things are adding up fast, furnishing/repairing this unit will cost around $7,000) But we might just redo it, we will see how the rest goes first.

In other news, we have given up our work in fintech. We tried, tried hard, worked hard for years, did well, did worse, but now we must give up. It was a hard week, full of physical and emotional challenges, but I think it was all important. As a couple of tiger years, this is our natal year. That generally means difficulty and lessons to be learned! The last 2 tiger years definitely brought much pain and hardships and lessons that couldn’t be fully comprehended until years later. But this time I feel that it is illuminating things that are not sustainable. Forcing us to face them and fix them before they get worse. Ripping out the floor we found years worth of mold underneath, this wasn’t a matter of if, it was a matter of when and when better than right now while its still fairly empty? As for trading the markets, the stress and sedentary lifestyle is slowly killing us. My heart condition requires me to be constantly active, and my husband’s dangerously high cholesterol requires the same of him. He has chronic back pain also and we aren’t getting any younger. I’ll be 36 in June. We spent the last decade working non stop, never really going anywhere, never stopping to enjoy anything, we lived so we could work more. Now, that priority is changing for us. It is not sustainable. It’s painful that it was all “for nothing” but I know it must have it’s point and one day we will understand. For now, we change gears. Scary and exciting. I was so afraid for a long time as this built up, the lack of stability was crippling. But now, we are adjusting. Re-programing. And we feel lighter together as we face this new unknown. A new challenge to accept, another round to play. With everything happening in the world right now it’s less scary to pursue living even if its uncertain than to continue banging our heads against the walls of an unstable prison. Life may not be forever, but today, right now, we have the power to choose.

-Rebekka

Last night’s ride

So apparently the festivities go all weekend! Last night we walked over, got a watermelon shake, watched the fire dancing, and decided to go on a ride! Ends up local festivities are only where we live, none in Chalong that we could see. But we had a nice, low traffic ride to the Chalong pier. We bought some Soju and drank at the pier and talked, accidentally got a bit drunker than we planned so we headed to the restaurant on the pier to sober up. Saw a cute little cicada chilling on the guard rail who was 100% unphased by my tipsy self taking his pictures. We both are really happy drinkers, so we had lots of fun and laughed a ton! Rode back home very late, almost midnight. Here’s some pictures 📸

Cicada, minding their own business..
The little beady eyes crack me up!
Entrance to the restaurant
There were people and live music when we got here but we stayed until closing so…
$16 for two, ocean view, with leftovers to boot! Not bad at all. Coconut prawn curry is so good!
New year couple selfie 🤳 ✨️

Last day of Songkran

Started our afternoon with a quick dip at Nai Harn, seemed fitting for Songkran! Songkran is a water festival, and getting wet is auspicious. Supposed to wash away bad luck! Seems this local pup had the same idea.
He reminded me of a chibi size Foo dog
Dana likes to build sand forts and then stand back and leave them to the kiddies to enjoy.
Rushed back to our condo to shower and change and walked across the street to the festival!
They worked hard transforming our street into a gorgeous festival. We had been home working for days and didn’t even realize it..
I don’t think I’ll ever get used to the edible bug vendors…

Happy Songkran 😊

Visas, God’s, and tuktuks

Visas visas visas how tired I am of them.. But we got some clarity today on why exactly everything is so weird, and it’s because our case needs a bit of a custom solution. Decided to let the lawyer handle it, best chance is in his hands now. No need to leave Thailand, that was apparently to save some money which after doing the math, wouldnt anyway. So very expensive visa, but we can do mine the normal way at least once Dana’s is approved! 🤞🏼

That decided, we went to Phuket Town today where Dana got his covid extension for another 60 days. Mine is already extended so I walked to old Town in search of a Guan Gong statue. Why, you may ask, would I need that? Well… I guess you could say out of superstition. But the thing about superstitious people is they generally fall into one of 2 categories. The first being the people who would believe anything, the second being those who have experienced too many weird things they cannot possibly explain. We would be the later group. However, as is often the way when you constantly face otherworldly phenomenon, you eventually find things that help and that you cannot explain but just know they work. And we have learned that Guan Gong scares the pants off of spirits, demons, ghosts, poltergeists, etc and I just “know” he helps. Sadly our large beautiful Qing dynasty era statues had to be left stateside with the rest of our belongings that we cant afford to ship anytime soom so I was in the market for a new one! I’ve grown quite fond of having Guan Gong, Guan Yin, and Laughing Buddha around to be honest, they really do have a tendency to clear the air!

I walked 5 miles looking for a shop I had seen them in and when I finally found it…. I found that all the Guan Gong statues were poorly made resin, painted, with fuzz glued on for the beard…. it was too weird I couldn’t accept it. Especially not for $115! I can’t help but feel that Guan Gong himself must be furious at that depiction of him- for a scalpers price no less! Definitely couldn’t do it. So I walked back, met Dana at an Manga coffee shop, and called a bolt home.

Speaking of bolts we were a bit startled to see one of our bolts today pull up and was a bright blue tuktuk! Never seen one of them on bolt before but I’ve always found them to be really neat so here’s a selfie from inside 🤳

Bright blue decked out tuktuk

As for Guan Gong…. I ordered one on Lazada haha I hope it’s as described and not a let down 🙏🏻

-Rebekka

Sunsets and (unsuccessful) bike thieves

Tonight we went down for a late afternoon ride to find that somehow someone had gotten in to the complex last night, past security, and broke open Dana’s new e-bike throttle switch in what looks like an attempt at hot wiring it. They obviously failed as we have locks on the disc brakes, hard to notice but they’re there, and the obvious point- no batteries! We charge them up in our unit at night. Our bikes are way too heavy to try to carry much less getting past a security guard, napping or no! But frustrating regardless, we just fixed them… Dana was able to rewire it though and we ordered a new throttle that’s coming in from Bangkok so it should arrive soon.

After fixing it for now, we rode part way through the jungley mountain to Kata Beach, stopped at one of the elephant attractions and had our hearts broken.. stressed elephants in chains is hard to stomach. (We didnt pay for admission, just looked and left..) Rode back, and went to the pier to enjoy a sunset. Something I’ve been regretting not doing more of as we will be leaving in the coming month or two. It didn’t disappoint! My heart always feels a little heavy with longing though, watching the boats go by. One day I hope to live on the sea! The only thing that can make me want more is that. But it’s good to have dreams too, gives you a point to strive towards! One day.

Back home now, going to make a late dinner and maybe a watermelon shake in our new blender then study the trading charts before bed.

We sent emails to the Thai embassy, consulate, and an office in Bangkok about our investor visas, hopefully Monday we can get some clarity and maybe be able to avoid going through the official our lawyer goes through… He changes his mind too much and it’s stressful. Hoping for good news next week!

-Rebekka

A very eventful day

A giant cloud passing our condo this morning

Today began overcast and cloudy, looking like rain, but, as is common here, it suddenly passed over us revealing the most beautiful day! We had some work to do on the computer but were eager to finish and head over to Nai Harn (we just finished upgrading my bike yesterday so we wanted to test it out. Yes, it took forever and the mods kept evolving but finally its done! I LOVE it!) But… as we finished work the clouds were back and we figured might as well do something new. So as I came up with a new plan… The lawyer messaged us.

Apparently in order to switch to a new visa (investor visa from a tourist visa in this case) we must first leave Thailand and then come back on the new type. Unfortunately though, the official our lawyer works with is “interpreting the law at his discretion” (basically how everything works here, its up to each government official to decide how they want to do things today….) And the official is deciding that even though legally married couples are entitled to both get the investor visa (money was both of ours after all) they only want to approve one of us. It was a huge blow honestly and really scary because it creates so much uncertainty in our future. We eventually plan to apply elsewhere for mine in a different city with a different lawyer/different official but it will cost another $2000 in lawyer fees and there is no guarantee even then. So I will apply for a student visa for the first year while we save up to try again… That costs closer to the $1000 range for one year and includes Thai lessons which I am DYING to learn anyway, so consolation prize..?

So now we must decide where do we want to live so I can find a school there and apply, then we will book a trip out of Thailand so we can both come back on the new visa type. Why are we moving? Well work has been dealt some major setbacks, things are really stressful right now.. But the cost of living up north, Bangkok for example, or Chiang Mai or Pattaya, is MUCH cheaper than in Phuket. Phuket by all rights is a luxury vacation town and the prices of everything reflect that (and it’s an island which always costs more). This is why we invested our life’s savings here though, it is a good investment. Our condo was $200,000 (on discount, was supposed to be $250,000) and it can rent for $2000 a month (its a nice and very large luxury condo), the second unit can rent for $1000 (tourism permitting of course) vs the rent in Pattaya for example in a nice ocean front unit can be as cheap as $170 a month… Then consider groceries, clothes, basic needs are all cheaper too. So basically it doesn’t make sense to keep living in our place, even though we love it so much! So we will head up north, I will go to school, and we can start paying off some debt (and continue to budget!) It will be an adventure, and hopefully we can rent somewhere without wallpaper because oh man do bunnies LOVE wallpaper (why buns, why…) Our “luxury” condo is currently covered in protective cardboard! *sigh* Maybe moving will be better for all of us after all?

For the visa switch we will be heading to Vietnam soon. Thankfully there are some very nice girls who work downstairs in reception, hopefully I can hire one to check on the bunnies for me its too hard to bring them in and out of Thailand. It will be a very short trip though, a couple days to a week tops. Then we will be back here to finish setting up the second unit and finding a rental company then off to most likely Pattaya! So many big changes and all before 3pm!

After quickly discussing this and coming up with that plan, we set off for a bike ride, 4 miles each way, to a GORGEOUS wildlife refuge in the mountains in the jungle and yes we had to push our bikes up the last half because it was STEEP. We were so tired at the top and didn’t have the energy to walk around too much but man was it beautiful! I hope one day I can return.

To end off the days epiphanies, I finally decided to get on estrogen therapy yesterday. I knew I needed it (osteo is destroying my spine and joints) and my endocrine has been mentioning trying it for the past decade… Well its actually affordable here so I finally tried it. Oh man today I felt like an Olympian!! Even at the mountain top I wanted to go further but knew Dana was tired and overworked so refrained.. I feel SO GOOD it’s unreal! So it got me thinking… I did some research and apparently every single serious health issue I have can be triggered by low estrogen and estrogen therapy is a newer treatment plan for them, I had no idea! I wont go into my issues too much as I am not offering medical advice and my issues are all a bit unique, but the point is I am so incredibly relieved to be feeling better, clear headed, happy, with energy, and no brain fog! And even happier with the hope that it may bring bigger relief of other problems! It’s literally a miracle and just.. Baruch Hashem, Baruch Hashem. My glass just got that much fuller!

-Rebekka

“Home” is a feeling

The sea was so blue today! I have to share a picture of it 😊

Every day here I spend in constant awe… I can’t believe we get to live here! Dreams really can come true I guess. For 7 years we planned, worked, struggled, failed and restarted… but finally we are living abroad in a place more magical than we ever imagined! The birds, monkeys, giant lizards.. The storms- especially the thunder. The ocean with its beautiful clear warm water and the jungles that creep in through the cracks of the city. The temples, and the cats that congregate there as if remembering the days they, too, were worshipped… And dont even get me started on how welcoming and sweet and kind the Thai people are! Im so eager to learn more about Thailand and the Thai people, culture, and language. I feel so safe here, and welcome, things I never felt back “home”. Some people are just born in places they dont really belong in, but leaving to find “home” is scary and difficult. Im so grateful that we made this journey and I hope we never have to leave this place. It’s stolen such a huge part of my heart and soul. The world is so scary right now, it’s true, but if everything ended tomorrow I’d have no regrets now. My cup is full and I am so grateful for every last second of everything. Grateful to finally have found “home”.

-Rebekka

Blue sea and condo renovations

We walked next door to the rental unit we just finished buying to register ourselves with management as the new owners, then walked across the street to watch the waves while waiting for our Bolt. It’s so beautiful here, we have been so busy we haven’t spent enough time just enjoying this beautiful view! A storm is blowing in so the water is extra blue and there’s more waves today.

And now off to Phuket Town! Got alot of things to buy to get the new unit ready to rent! Also excited about the new kitchen we ordered, the existing one is the only part of the unit that isn’t salvageable. Again, cost of living info: new kitchen, new range hood, delivery and installation including custom cutting the counter top- $1445. Hard to say no to that!

Rest day

Today I gave the floor a day to cure before adding the final coat. I’m doing pretty thick coats so I want to make sure the layers all dry right. It’s my first time using oil based poly so I’m just going by what makes sense in my mind, but it looks beautiful so far! I’ve got blisters on my fingers though from holding the brush, and my feet from bad sandals, I’m covered in huge bruises from a bike accident (tire went into a storm drain in front of Lotus Fresh), and I’m covered in 20+ bug bites! I feel I must be quite a sight 😅 So we rode over to Nai Harn this afternoon to relax and go for a swim. Tomorrow I will do the final coat on the floors! 🤞🏼

-Rebekka

A day in my life here

Yesterday we got the keys to our second condo unit! It’s an older unit and will need a little work to freshen it up. We mopped and cleaned and took stock of things yesterday and today we decided I would go to buy polyurethane sealant and start sealing the floor. The unit has been sealed for years and because its ocean front (high humidity) the floors had gotten a bit mildewy. We got rid of that yesterday but wanted to seal it up to eliminate the chance of it returning!

Today I got a bit of a late start. The local hardware store did not have enough polyurethane available, either. The owner recommended a large big box type store nearby and gave me directions, it was a bit far for me but I’ve gone further before so I decided to go. I stopped at a 7/11 for a quick snack (super tasty! I accidentally got a sandwhich with a little ham in it, but I picked it out. 51THB/$1.50 for those curious about cost of living type stuff here!)

As I was finishing my lunch I looked up and saw a pick up truck drive by with 3 monkeys in the back! They were loose and looked like they were having a great time but it was so surreal to me! One of those “you aren’t in Kansas anymore” moments for sure. My friend says she sees them alot where she lives, and that they use the monkeys to harvest coconuts. In any case, I went on my way again, it was a long ride. 10km each way. I passed the night market we like to buy our produce at, turned left at the “circle”/clock tower in Chalong, kept going.. watched the city fade behind me and the jungle creeping in, the giant Buddha on the mountain in front of me getting nearer and nearer.. then out of nowhere, a home depot equivalent store appears! (Global House) I got 3 gallons of sealant, creatively loaded up my tiny little ebike, and was on my way! Marveling to myself how beautiful and simple my life here is! I mean of COURSE the “home depot” would be below a giant Buddha, in the jungle, past the monkeys. Where ELSE would it be? Surreal.

I am way too tired to seal the floor today, it was a very long ride for me, especially the way back with all that sealant! I’m gonna go rest by the pool now, float a bit and maybe read after. Been a very physically intense 2 days, but I look forward to transforming the floor tomorrow!

Lastly, this is my bike. It’s wonderful and I love it but it definitely feels a bit clown car ish when it’s all loaded up with stuff! I got some laughs today, but I just laugh with them! It is funny, and also a norm here in Thailand to carry bizarre, large, or numerous things creatively on bikes, but it’s not normal for foreigners to do it so much 😉

-Rebekka

Evening thoughts..

I recently deleted my entire Instagram, before that I got off Facebook. Its not that I want to completely close myself off, but rather that I am just so very tired.. Tired of people turning on each other, tired of people being radicalized by the little bubbles the ai virality algorithms put them in, tired of war, death, pain, tired of the shallow attempts to instill jealousy so common on Instagram, tired of “sides” and judgement. I’m just tired. I actually have some health issues that activate when I am under stress, and its looking more and more like my heart has serious issues. I am only 35, 36 soon, and more than anything I just want to enjoy whatever life I am lucky enough to live. I started blogging more for myself than for anything, I have trouble keeping normal journals and my minds getting bad with dates and memories if I don’t write them somewhere, so it just made sense. But if anyone reads this, I hope my blog can bring hope to your day, inspiration to your own dreams, I hope I can at the very least show you a bright little corner of this world through the lens of my stubbornly optimistic, albeit tired, mind. I hope I can spread a little love, a little light… Not because I am ignorant of all the pain in this world, but because at the end of the day a world is made up of little people, like me and like you, and a little light can push away a whole lot of darkness! And, because Tolkien really does tend to say everything best… Here are a couple quotes I have been meditating on.

“The world is indeed full of peril, and in it there are many dark places; but still there is much that is fair, and though in all lands love is now mingled with grief, it grows perhaps the greater.”

“If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world.”

-Rebekka

A lazy day, with jellyfish

Recently we have had some promising results from some of our trading algorithms so we have had more time to go out. (We work for ourselves in Fintech) Looks like they are mostly debugged too, so we are pretty excited to see them running! This is definitely the dream we have been working super hard towards so fingers crossed this time it works out!

We took it easy today and enjoyed a day at Nai Harn Beach, my personal favorite beach so far. Today I think we finally confirmed what the stingy feeling we sometimes get in the water is from! I think they are some kind of jelly fish? They are so weird, thankfully more annoying than anything though. The stinging doesn’t last long and the sun helps soothe it alot. Even seeing countless jelly blobs today wont deter me though, I cant get enough of that water!! It’s heaven.

After the beach we got some tofu and fish ball skewers on the ride home, 100thb ($3) for around 10 skewers I think?

That’s about it though for today, just a lovely day being beach bums 🙂

-Rebekka

A wonderful day in Phuket Town!

We began the day a bit stressed. For some reason my visas in particular are running into unpredictable snags so we were concerned about it being approved today (it expires tomorrow!). Thankfully it all went smoothly this time and we were on our way quickly to boot! The bolt from Rawai to Phuket Town cost us 288thb ($8.50) though so we figured for once we should look around Phuket Town before heading back. First we got lunch not far from the Immigration Office, it cost us $3 a person for Seafood Pad Thai and sweet chrysanthemum tea! I didn’t get the name of the shop sadly, but the restaurants here are very affordable and delicious! We also stopped by a Chinese shrine which was beautiful and said a quick prayer. We then continued our walk to Old Town and ran into a taxi guy who started talking to us.. First thought was oh no… But in fact he was a very nice man and pretty honest too! Now we are no expert in taxi fares, but he was asking for a fraction of what Bolt was charging. 400thb ($12) for a ride to China Town, where he would drop us off until we messaged him saying we were done, then he would take us to Khao Rang to see the view and the monkeys, then off to Central Mall and then he would drop us off at our door in Rawai. To prove his sincerity and commitment to his price he would not charge us a dime until we were safely home! My husband and I were a bit nervous (sounded too good to be true?) we looked at each other and after some couple telepathy we decided we could not find a scam angle anywhere so might as well enjoy the day! We had been very eager to see monkeys, and they were very cute. Shrewd bargainers though, you only matter to them if you bring food! (But that was to be expected) Old town was lovely too! After Central we were pretty tired, and ready to go home. All in all a surprisingly nice day trip to immigration haha

We really do love it here.. Tomorrow we will have been living here for 2 months, here’s to many more!

-Rebekka

Finding “Home”

I recently left my home country (America) with my husband and 2 bunnies on a journey to find “home”. We sold our house, my car, donated most of our belongings, and packed up the rest so they can be shipped to a destination we had yet to determine upon leaving.. We set out from California, to Estonia, stayed in Poland, almost moved to Ukraine but ended up in the tropics, on an island called Phuket in Thailand. We bought a condo within a week of arrival and we now call Rawai home!

I know it sounds sudden and impulsive even, but the truth is we have been working towards the goal of leaving America for over 7 years now. During the pandemic we were busy getting our work up and running best we could and prepping for the big move. I renewed my passport, we got married finally, bunnies got vaccines and pet travel papers. We spent a long time researching Earth to figure out which country would be the best fit for us. We had a few criteria… Somewhere with less chemicals, esp on food, as we are incredibly sensitive. We wanted it to be safer than where we had been living crime wise. Somewhere with a culture compatible with us, where we can live an active life, preferably most of the year! Cost of living should be affordable and it needs to have decent visa options. We also need to be able to buy property and they must allow bunnies in!

We originally fell in love with Ukraine and were very set on it, but decided Thailand should be our backup “just in case”… Because we have bunnies we could only fly Finnair in the pandemic so we set out to Estonia first, and decided to go from there. A week in Tallinn in November however was enough to send us on our way to Poland quickly! It was just too cold for us.. We really fell in love with Krakow though, and debated for a couple months about it.. During this time, one of my bunnies got sick and sadly passed away, but she passed slowly and we stayed in Poland longer for her sake. Because of this delay we saw the writing on the wall of events that have since come to pass and decided to not move forward to Kyiv and fell back on our “safest” choice, Thailand. We had never been before, and perhaps the European winter made us all too eager to run away to the tropics, but it was definitely the best decision of our lives! We have found the feeling that makes a home here, our hearts minds and souls are absolutely in heaven! I never knew we could be this happy in a place we just landed in.

And its all thanks to my sweetest angel, may she rest peacefully on the other side.. That part is very bitter sweet. I truly believe she was heaven sent to us. She saved our lives a couple of times but the details don’t really matter here.. Just that she was very special and everything we have now is thanks to her.

So where from here? Well first things first, we go to Immigration again in the morning to pick up my passport! Having a bit of difficulty with the investor visas too but once thats sorted theres some work bugs to work through, and then after the tedious bits, we just.. live. And I couldnt be more excited about it!

-Rebekka