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It’s a big, bittersweet day around here at Wanderland HQ. One month from today, I’ll be flying out of Thailand and towards Brazil. As excited as I am for my next adventure, I’m already – as usual – heartsick at the idea of leaving Koh Tao. How will I miss thee? Let me count the ways. Literally.

Thailand Photography

1. Three Meals (and Multiple Snacks) Per Day

I love me some massaman curry and mango sticky rice, but it’s not just the traditional Thai fare I’ll miss. Koh Tao is bursting with delicious restaurants serving up cuisines from all around the world, and I straight up don’t know how I’m going to live without the short list of health food restaurants that supply the vast majority of my meals. And giving up my daily fresh coconut? I’m thirsty already just thinking about it.

Don’t get me wrong. There are plenty of foods I crave from home and elsewhere (I’m looking at you, cheese and plentily available flavored rice cakes). But when I leave Thailand, mealtime is one of the things I miss the most.

Picky Eating and Travel

Eating Koh Tao

2. Massage Monday

And Spa Sundays, and Foot Rub Fridays, and all the other various holidays I’ve invented to justify my minimum two-a-week massage habit. Can you blame me? At $9 an hour, it would be rude not to.

Post-workout, mid-hangover, pre-bedtime… when I’m not in Thailand, my muscles literally ache for a rub down.

Spa Days on Koh Tao

3. Effortless Commutes

Living on a 13 square-mile island has its challenges. Getting around in my daily routine is not one of them. The longest drive I make is about twelve minute from one tip of the island to the other, which I do once or twice a week to go to one of my regular yoga studios. The rest of the time, I’m rarely on my motorbike for more than a few minute worth of wind in my hair.

Koh Tao is one third the size of Manhattan, with like, however-many-roads-there-are-in-Manhattan-minus-one less roads. While there are crazy drivers just like anywhere else in the world, I appreciate that here on Koh Tao a traffic jam worth reporting to your friends at the bar pretty much means your bike had to make a full stop rather than roll through a turn.

Dogs on Koh Tao

Driving in Thailand

4. The World’s Greatest Fitness Regime

I can’t begin to express how spoiled I feel by the big beautiful fitness paradise that is Thailand. I do yoga outside in a lush garden, hike to gorgeous island viewpoints, swing from an ocean-view trapeze and go for runs through tall palm forests.

Let’s just say it’s a bit of a shock to return to the US and work out in a strip mall.

Acrobatics on Koh Tao

Hiking in Koh Tao

5. Doing WTF Ever You Want

Want to buy your motorbike cash in hand with no paperwork? No problem. Want to ride that bike with no helmet? You got it. Want to pretty much just casually live your life without the constant fear of being sued or the relentless pressure of being micro-regulated? Thailand’s got ya.

I do appreciate many of the broader rules and regulations that some might find restrictive at home (you won’t hear this allergy sufferer complaining about indoor smoking bans). But not being immersed in an overly litigious society is refreshing, and I cheer every time I get to a viewpoint without a guardrail or go for a wild adventure without signing a waiver.

Koh Tao Sunset

6. Living By The Sea

I don’t ever want to not, not ever again.

Sail Rock, Gulf of Thailand

7. Not Getting Priced Out

In the US, I regularly think to myself, “I can’t afford that.” I almost never find myself thinking the same in Thailand. And yes, the low cost of living is a big factor – I live alone in a beautiful apartment, I eat out or take away almost every meal, I drop off my laundry and I hire a cleaner, and I save money that I use to travel to more expensive parts of the world later. Those are all luxuries I don’t know if I could afford at home. And that is great. But it’s bigger than that.

You know that Henry David Thoreau quote, “all good things are wild and free?” On Koh Tao, it’s true – and there’s not much else to lust for. There are no expensive clothing brands to covet – they aren’t sold here. There are no fancy nightclubs to splurge at – bars on the beach are the best we’ve got. There are no pricey outings to go shopping, see a show, or take an expensive spin class – instead we snorkel in the sea, summit a local viewpoint, or sit back and watch the sunset… all for free.

Does that mean everyone earns the same amount of money? No. But there just aren’t as many diverse ways to spend it. Sure, a few people have marginally nicer bikes or nicer apartments than others, but for the most part the economic disparities that caused anxiety in my circles back home don’t really ruffle my community here.

Baby Rasta Bar Koh Tao

8. Endless Summer

Even as a child I despised the long gray winters of Upstate New York. Southeast Asia captivated me right from the get go with its simple lack of snow.

I’ll always remember traveling in deep Thailand and someone asking me, “When does it rain in your country?” Sure, in Koh Tao we have the monsoon every November, but I’d take rain over snow any day. Rain is basically god telling you to stay inside and binge watch an entire season of House of Gards. (The geckos in my apartment are really into watching season four with me right now.) Snow is god reminding you he’s still pissed about what you did at church camp. These days, I pride myself on not just surviving but thriving in three-digit temperatures.

Koh Tao Longtail

Snorkeling on Koh Tao

9. The Exotic Becoming the Everyday

There’s a reason I chose to live the majority of my year outside the US and it’s bigger than cheap massages and forever sun (though admittedly, those are major factors).

I love losing myself in a world so different from the one I was raised in. I love when something foreign and unfamiliar becomes just another blip in my routine. And most of all, I love meeting the person I am when I am somewhere far away.

As Pico Iyer once wrote in a passage I tore a page underlining, “abroad is the place where we stay up late, follow impulse and find ourselves as wide open as when we are in love.”

Burmese Temple in Koh Tao

10. My Island Family

The eight items above are nice and all, but there’s one thing that keeps me coming back to Koh Tao over and over (and over) again: my little island family. As with any transient community, this one ebbs and flows. Some of the friends I have here have been an integral part of my life for six years. Some just six months. But we share a bond that units of time can’t quantify.

When I strip away the commuting, the bureaucracy and the chores that took up so much of my time back in the states, I have a lot more space in my life for people. On Koh Tao there’s always a friend who has time to meet you for a sunset paddleboard, always a friend to meet for a fresh coconut, always a friend to marathon a documentary-athon with.

I adore my friends at home. But despite the fact that we made a pact to stay tipsy and commitment-free well into our fifties, many of them are juggling high-powered careers, many of them are starting families, many of them are bogged down by responsibilities to which friendship takes a back set. I’ve heard friends back in the big city say they can go a month without seeing one of their closest confidantes – here, I have separation anxiety if I don’t see my crew for a day. I don’t begrudge my busy babes at home a second of their success and happiness. But I’m grateful for a community here that places such a huge priority on face time with friends.

Beach Bumming on Koh Tao

Thailand Friends

Sunset Koh Tao

. . . . .

Thirty days. Four weeks. Ten reasons to take stock, count my blessings and appreciate all that I have. I know I’m going to cherish every moment of this next month ahead.

Fresh Coconuts on Koh Tao

What do you miss about the place that has your heart?

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104 Comments...
  • Kacy
    March 16 2016

    I’m constantly trying to convince my husband that he needs to find a remote work job ASAP so we can move to Thailand (or elsewhere in SE Asia) for all of the reasons you’ve listed here and more (and have I mentioned I’ve not been there yet?) This post just makes me more determined!
    And while I have to admit it wasn’t always easy finding food I loved in Brazil (so much meat, so many carbs – good in moderation but not every meal), they do have fresh coconuts there on the streets so at least you’ll have that little reminder of “home” 🙂 I may have already said it but Casa Jaya in Sao Paulo and ZaZa Bistro Tropical in Rio are restaurants I can totally see you digging. Highly recommend!
    Enjoy your last month of bliss!
    Kacy recently posted..Visiting the Jack London State Historic Park

    • Alex
      March 17 2016

      I’ve added both those restaurants to my Brazil doc 🙂 I’m so excited for them! And I had heard rumors f fresh cocos on the streets — that makes me immensely happy.

    • Sam
      May 15 2016

      That’s exactly what we’ve just done. We now work remotely around the world. It’s amazing if you’re interested check out our blog and follow us around 🙂

  • Annika
    March 16 2016

    I adore Pico Iyer. Heard him speak a couple of years ago at PURE and he is amazing. So his quote very much resonates with me as does everything else you wrote. While I am not sure if I’d be cut out for island life (though I adore Koh Tao) for more than a couple of months, I daily miss Thai food, the ocean and the sunshine!

    • Alex
      March 17 2016

      It’s funny, I used to think of myself as such a city girl…. these days I spend a lot more time on islands and I feel right at home. I do miss some of the beauty of urban living sometimes but I guess I just love this more.

  • Miriam
    March 16 2016

    Aw, my heart aches for you. Thailand is the most amazing place on this planet and I’m heart-broken every time I leave, too. But, just think of how excited you’ll be when you return. Oh, happy day 🙂
    Miriam recently posted..Winter wonderland in Denmark

    • Alex
      March 17 2016

      Oh yeah… always have to have a return trip on the books, for sure 🙂

  • Cate
    March 16 2016

    I’ve always wanted to go to Thailand, it’s definitely on my top 10 list. I know you make friends when you travel, but how do you make so many close friends?

    • Alex
      March 17 2016

      Hey Cate, that’s a great question because I actually think of myself as a slightly introverted person! Honestly, I think the secret is going to a place where there are really cool people. Koh Tao seems to attract a group that I just really easily click with, and like I wrote, there’s plenty of time here to go on friend dates and get close really quickly. I’ve found it easy to fall head over heels in friendship love with quite a few of them!

  • Rob
    March 16 2016

    Aww I am longing to get back their now that I’ve read this post and I love it for a lot of the reasons you’ve gave but when I get asked why I like it so much I’ll always answer ” you can do WTF you want “

    • Alex
      March 17 2016

      Ha ha. Who would have guessed I felt so passionately about living in a relatively rules-free society.

  • Rika | Cubicle Throwdown
    March 16 2016

    I’m in the middle of getting ready to leave Roatan permanently in a month and these are all ringing true for me. At least you know you’ll be back 🙂 I hope time goes as slow as possible for us both for the next 30 days!!
    Rika | Cubicle Throwdown recently posted..A Canadian Winter

    • Alex
      March 17 2016

      Oh, Rika. I can’t imagine how you must be feeling! I remember when you were getting ready to move down there! So excited to follow your next step.

  • Yumi
    March 16 2016

    Hello Alex! I loved this post so much!
    This is the first time I’m leaving a comment here, and as a Brazilian-Asian girl, I greet you for your first time in Brazil! I’m sure you’ll enjoy here, but I warn you to be careful in the big cities… Especially in São Paulo and Rio.

    1 Year ago I was looking for information about Thailand, so I found your blog and I’ve been reading everything you write about your amazing experiences since then.
    I traveled to Thailand last December for the first time and I feel that my heart is still there! Unfortunately I couldn’t visit Koh Tao because of unexpected issues, but this year I intend to go back to that lovely country and know that island you love.
    I do admire your job and lifestyle.

    • Alex
      March 17 2016

      Thank you so much for reading, Yumi! Glad you found me — and sad as I am to leave Thailand, I am very excited to get to Brazil!

  • Thuc
    March 16 2016

    Oh Alex, I feel nostalgic for you already! Beautiful post. It’s home for you so take comfort in the fact that you’ll be back!
    Thuc recently posted..An ode to mountains from the Blue Mountains’ Cliff Top Track

    • Alex
      March 17 2016

      It definitely is indeed. I feel homesick for this island when I’m not on it!

  • Paul and Carole
    March 16 2016

    We can relate to these, Thailand is certainly a special place and very close to our hearts. Our bodies crave the massages, that’s always our first stop, oh and the fresh mango and the noodle soup…..we could go on and on!!! Enjoy your travels to Brazil!
    Paul and Carole recently posted..Taxis – the cost of transport in Koh Samui, Thailand

    • Alex
      March 17 2016

      Those first 24 hours indulging in all the things you’ve missed are always bliss 🙂

  • Joella
    March 16 2016

    Ahh my previous comment didn’t work! I’ll try again… I can’t believe how fast that went! Thanks for sharing the beauty of Thailand with us. I’m looking forward to reading about Brazil too but I’m sure you will be back “home” in Thailand before long- you definitely belong there! Enjoy your last 30 days 🙂
    Joella recently posted..Why You Should Travel To China

    • Alex
      March 17 2016

      Oh man, tell me about it Joella! I can’t wrap my head around the fact that HALF A YEAR has gone by since I got back. Simply. Cannot. Compute.

  • Halex
    March 16 2016

    I’m sure Thailand does seem like an enviable paradise for the groups of privileged white expats/vacationers who don’t care that it’s a country currently in political crisis under a military dictatorship. Will you miss that as well?

    But I guess discussion of that wouldn’t really be “on brand.”

    • Alex
      March 17 2016

      Well Halex, the post wasn’t titled “Ten Things That Break My Heart About My Favorite Country,” or “Ten Total Bummers About A Popular Vacation Spot,” or “Ten Things I’m Afraid to Write About Because The Country I’m Currently Residing In Doesn’t Consider Free Speech A Human Right.”

      The post was titled “Ten Things I’ll Miss About Thailand.” And no, I don’t think very many people would list a military dictatorship among them.

      • Michelle
        March 20 2016

        There are very few times when I wish the Facebook “like” button was universal. Your response to Halex’s comment is one of those times.

        I, for one, think you do a phenomenal job balancing a lot of the good and the bad about the places you visit, including Thailand. I’ll be visiting as part of a round-the-world trip later this year, and I’ve already sent my friend your posts on ethical elephant encounters, noting that I won’t be riding any elephants, even if I get Insta-shunned for it.

        Promoting RESPONSIBLE tourism and traveling, as you do, helps create systemic change where we, as tourists and travelers, can actually perpetuate that change. Calling into question the politics of your adoptive nation doesn’t really help anyone.

        I guess, in the wise words of T-Swift, haters gonna hate, hate, hate, hate, hate!

        • Alex
          March 21 2016

          Thanks Michelle 🙂 I really appreciate your sweet words!

  • Shannon
    March 16 2016

    Ok the food and the amazing workouts got me. Guess I’m going to have to book my ticket now. Best of luck on your adventures in Brazil!
    Shannon recently posted..Inspiring L.A. Restaurants to Try

    • Alex
      March 17 2016

      Oh, how I’m going to miss both! Though I’ll do my best to find new versions in Brazil 🙂

  • Dylan
    March 16 2016

    This post has my heart aching and I can’t tell if it’s from longing and anticipation (I’m moving to Koh Lanta September-January!) or if you’ve got me feeling your nostalgia before I’ve even gotten to Thailand. (How did you do that??) In any case, thank you for sharing! You have no idea how much easier your Thailand posts have made my last few months of working / saving / daydreaming.
    Dylan recently posted..Exploring More in 2016: A (Belated) Resolution

    • Alex
      March 17 2016

      That makes me smile to hear, Dylan! I still haven’t been to Koh Lanta yet — what a crime! It is high up on my Thailand wish list.

  • Leah
    March 16 2016

    Aww this is so sweet! Makes me think of how at home I felt in Chiang Mai, and even Koh Tao in a way when I was there recently. I love the comfort of an old familiar place. I can’t WAIT for my trips to SF and NYC this month 🙂
    Leah recently posted..25 Enchanting Photos of Sweden in Winter

    • Alex
      March 17 2016

      And I can’t wait to read about them <3

  • Aunt Karen
    March 16 2016

    That was so beautiful, Alex ❤️ I’m basking in all the incredible parts of this wonderful life you have made for yourself. You are my treasure. Love you.

    • Alex
      March 17 2016

      Love you too Aunt Karen! Janine and Ian and are determined to get you on a plane out here one of these days 🙂

  • Eva Casey
    March 16 2016

    I can totally relate to the last point. Not that I’ve ever been an expat anywhere (yet!) but one of the things I love most about travel is getting to form relationships and be around friends so often. I used to live in NYC and had the exact same experience as your friends. It’s so frustrating to be in such a big city where so many of your friends live and yet to feel so isolated!
    Eva Casey recently posted..The Most Unique Hostels Around the World: Selina’s in Panama

    • Alex
      March 21 2016

      I totally get it though. The days just aren’t as long in a big city where you spend so much time running errands, getting from Point A to Point B, and working to afford your rent! It’s a totally different lifestyle, for sure.

      • Eva Casey
        March 21 2016

        Oh yeah, absolutely! I’m just as guilty of not making as much time for friends when I’m in the city as anyone else! I guess I’m just realizing that lifestyle isn’t for me right now. I thought I could travel for a few months and be ready to get back into it but…nope. Too much of the world to see!

  • Gemma
    March 17 2016

    Leaving B.C after six months was heart wrenching! I miss being near the beach, I miss the vintage shops and people telling me they are 1/4 Scottish (with some obscure family link), I miss being close to Whistler for skiing. Most importantly, I miss my Van pals! It’s the first time in the past year of travel we made an actual ‘life’ as opposed just being on the road. Feel for you girl! Also miss all the peanut butter.
    Gemma recently posted..A Local’s Guide to Las Peñitas

    • Alex
      March 21 2016

      Ha ha ha… oh, I remember my Scottish ex-boyfriend was always SO baffled by the American impulse to identify with the heritage of a country that they weren’t personally born in. To me, coming from a melting pot country, it seems natural that people cling to the place their distant relatives hail from. But I can also see how those actually born in those countries find it hysterical 🙂

  • wes
    March 17 2016

    Heart shaped food that is both heart shaped and not stupid would be a clear number 11 for me.

    • Alex
      March 21 2016

      It’s a small but crucial category in this game called life, for sure.

  • Ijana
    March 17 2016

    Koh Tao sounds like an amazing place! I considered myself very much not an island person for my whole life, but all your posts about Koh Tao have really made me consider giving it a go. Who knows when it will actually happen but reading this article I seriously just brainstormed where a few months on your island could fit into the “life plan” I have for the next few years 🙂 It really is the people who make a place. I love finding places where you somehow just click with the people.

    • Alex
      March 21 2016

      I’m not sure I could have imagined myself as an island girl a while back either. I thought I’d live and die in a city! But my heart is definitely a little more island shaped, these days.

  • I love your post and photographs Alex. Gorgeous!
    I like Thailand very much but I’m a strange one. I’m from the North of England. I prefer colder weather! I know!!

    I’ve already found my dream destination – Berlin but there’s another place that itches. It’s Hong Kong! I’ve only been there once, but it still brings tears to my eyes for the fabulous time that I had there!
    Victoria@ The British Berliner recently posted..An English Education: The misadventures of a post-graduate student at the University of Chester.

    • Alex
      March 21 2016

      Hmmmm, people who prefer cold weather… I have heard they exist 😉

  • Rachel Taylor
    March 17 2016

    After living abroad in Malaysia, China and South Korea leaving a country that has been your home for so long is really hard but makes you appreciate the beauty of where ever you are living. I think it is great how you are moving to such a completely different place and I can’t wait to read all about it!
    Rachel Taylor recently posted..Kapas: the ultimate guide

    • Alex
      March 21 2016

      Well, I’m not quite moving to Brazil, just spending six weeks there 🙂 Very excited to touch down somewhere new, for sure!

  • Megan
    March 17 2016

    I loved this post!! It made my my heart pine after Thailand! Enjoy your last month there 🙂
    Megan recently posted..Brno: The Czech city you’ve probably never heard of.

    • Alex
      March 21 2016

      Ah, my heart is always in some state of pining for Thailand. I love it so!

  • janice
    March 17 2016

    Hi Alex,
    I felt a tad wistful reading this post.
    And love the big brown sunglasses your rockin!!!!

    • Alex
      March 21 2016

      I’m always wearing the biggest pair of sunglasses I could get my hands on 🙂

  • Carol
    March 17 2016

    We just got back from Thailand a week ago – first trip which included five areas. We didn’t get to Koh Tao, but we did do Koh Lanta and Phi Phi. I miss the sun and warmth, wearing shorts and swim suits, the ocean, fresh mangos, walking, the low cost of everything, the smiles and friendliness of the people, the beauty that is everywhere and just the relaxing feeling that came with the islands. I hope one day to get to Koh Tao! Thanks for your article. It made me smile during my readjustment to “reality” again.

    • Alex
      March 21 2016

      And thank you for commenting Carol — you make me smile too!

  • Susan
    March 17 2016

    This was a great read Alex and you might have solved my small issue with what to read next! How can i not have heard about Pico Iyer before?! Had to Google and I just listened to some TED talks and like what i hear:)
    Susan recently posted..OPEN WATER DIVER CERT IN TAGANGA

    • Alex
      March 21 2016

      Oh, he is amazing. One of my favorite travel writers for sure. He just totally captures the heart of a place!

  • Bianca Bialk
    March 18 2016

    Didn’t think I could I want to move to Thailand any more than I already did… until now. Can’t wait to live what you’re living.

    • Alex
      March 21 2016

      Soak up every second Bianca! I’m excited for you!

  • Chris
    March 18 2016

    You are going to love Brazil! I spent a month there back in June 2014 during the World Cup and had a blast. The beaches definitely rival those in Thailand.
    I can definitely relate to finding it tough to leave a certain place. I try to look on the positive side though, and be thankful for all of the experiences that make leaving so hard.
    Looking forward to reading about your adventures!
    P.S. Definitely dip into the Argentinian side of Iguazu, I enjoyed seeing it from the two different countries, as they both offer different vantage points.
    Chris recently posted..Volunteering at Patara Elephant Farm

    • Alex
      March 21 2016

      I’m definitely heading to the Argentina side. Can’t go all that way and only see one! 🙂

  • Andrea Anastasiou
    March 18 2016

    This is exactly how I felt before I left Koh Lanta and my heart still aches for that place. And Ubud, too. I guess I cannot quite put into words what it is that makes me pine for these two places; it’s more of a feeling that I get every time that I think of them.

    Best of luck with the new adventure.

    • Alex
      March 21 2016

      That’s a beautiful way to describe it, and one I totally relate to. Thank you, Andrea!

  • Indrani
    March 18 2016

    These are indeed ideal reasons to get to Thailand. Now I am tempted too. The pictures are so well taken, particularly that of the coconut leaf. I am dying for that food.
    Indrani recently posted..Armoury of Tipu Sultan, Bangalore

    • Alex
      March 21 2016

      Thanks Indrani! I love photographing this beautiful country.

  • I haven’t even been to Thailand yet and I already want to plan a return trip! I only had a few days at the end of my trip and settled on Phuket for convenience (and Starwood property) but so wish I could tack on an extra week to explore all the other beach towns.

    Enjoy your last month, can’t wait to hear about Brazil!

    • Alex
      March 21 2016

      You’d need a lot more than a week 🙂 I definitely have a feeling you’ll be back, though!

  • Dominique
    March 18 2016

    Aww what a lovely post! Enjoy your month in Thailand! And remember, if you really love it that much you can always return. The world is your oyster 🙂
    Dominique recently posted..Bonaire – Kralendijk and Rincon

    • Alex
      March 21 2016

      Oh, I never leave Thailand without a return trip on the docket 🙂 I can’t wait!

  • So what you’re saying is you’ll be back there come September so I can finally come visit?? Massaman curry and mango sticky rice is my love language!

    • Alex
      March 21 2016

      My life will not be complete until I have the opportunity to guide a Kristin Luna Tour to Thailand.

  • Cortney
    March 18 2016

    Alex, how much Thai do you speak? Now that you are officially living in Thailand part of every year for the foreseeable future, are you studying the language? I totally get not wanting to invest in it when you are traveling/not sure how long you will be there, but I don’t recall you mentioning language study before and I am curious how much time you invest in it now that Thailand is your second home. Language study is my favorite thing about living overseas/traveling and I am always interested to see how other people approach it.

    I spent two years living in Laos and spent lots of my vacation time in Thailand- this list has me missing home big time. Enjoy Brazil!
    Cortney recently posted..Where I’ve Been, Where I’m Going

    • Alex
      March 21 2016

      Good question Cortney! And one with a bummer of an answer. I speak next to no Thai, something I looked forward to correcting during this very long stay… until the only Thai language school on the island shut down so the owners could open a hotel (sob on so many levels). It’s pretty challenging to learn here on Koh Tao as the population is largely Burmese and expat workers from the Western world. Koh Tao was borderline uninhabited when the diving industry moved in here, so there was/is a relatively small native Thai population. With no industries aside from tourism, almost every single Thai person on the island speaks English — and is unamused by attempts by Westerners to speak Thai.

      I am however on the hunt for a Portuguese speaker here on Koh Tao to give me a few lessons before heading to Brazil, as I’ve heard a bit of the language is essential there!

      • Lu Castro
        March 21 2016

        I will be in Koh Tao from 16/04 to 19/04 – can help with few portuguese lesson! 😉

      • Cortney
        March 31 2016

        I had no idea that Koh Tao had such a small native Thai population, but it makes sense from how it was built up.

        I would highly suggest DuoLingo and Memrise for language study- they’re fantastic, and you can spend about 30 minutes a day and learn a ton. I am living in Sweden and pretty much everyone here not only speaks English, but speaks it really well. I get most of my practice online as a result. iTalki is also great for getting really cheap language exchanges.

        Good luck with the Portugese!
        Cortney recently posted..Praying for Sunshine

        • Alex
          April 6 2016

          Thanks for the tips, Cortney! I’m definitely starting to get a little nervous about my lack of Portuguese.

  • Lu Castro
    March 18 2016

    Hi Alex! Researching about Thailand I found your blog and I’m completely in love with! My hubby and I are flying to Thailand on the 8th April and will reach Koh Phangan on the 13th. After what I’ve read here I’m considering a couple of days in Koh Tao . The only thing I’m struggling is to book/find the night train from Bangkok to Surathanni. On the 12goAsia website shows all the time that is not available/fully booked. A friend of mine said that they make it available 15 days before the departure date. Would you have any tip on this?
    I’m so glad I found this blog before finishing my plans because certainly I’ll change them!
    Also I’m pretty happy you are going to my country – Brazil! I’m pretty sure you will enjoy the places you’ll be visiting, they are real gems!
    Lots of love,
    Lu

    • Alex
      March 21 2016

      Hey Lu! One VERY IMPORTANT thing to take into consideration is that Songkran is April 13th, so you do NOT want to travel on that day. You will be soaked, and it won’t matter if you are carrying backpacks! You might consider contacting the travel agent I use here on Koh Tao, Island Travel. Johnny, the owner, will probably be able to help you sort the train tickets ahead of time! Good luck!

  • Freddie
    March 18 2016

    Brazil is great! And Brazilians are really beautiful people (inside and out!). I’m not sure if you’re planning on getting any diving in, but I believe the best place is Fernando de Noronha, though it’s not the most accessible. About three hours north of Rio is a place called Arraial de Cabo which is a totally chill little beach town that has pretty decent diving too (though surprisingly cold!!).
    Freddie recently posted..Summer reading

    • Alex
      March 21 2016

      So far we are planning diving in Ilha Grande and Arraial de Cao but I’m not sure if I will make it all the way to Fernando de Noronha… at least not this trip 🙂 But the end of the trip is still up in the air so might happen!

  • Simone
    March 19 2016

    What a great post! I am leaving for Koh Tao in a month’s time for my DMT. Your posts gets me really excited and I can’t wait to explore this paradise. Your underwater shot looks great! May I know which strobe and camera are you using? And I was wondering on the safety on the island. I read a few articles on diving incident. Any advices of help please?

    Thanks again Alex and have fun soaking in the sun, and sea! 🙂

    • Alex
      March 21 2016

      Hey Simone! No strobe, but you can check out my camera info on my Obsessions page 🙂 I’m not sure what diving incidents you are referring to so hard for me to comment on — maybe you can send me the links? The only thing I’d really be careful about is that Koh Tao has busy dive sites above and below the water. Definitely pack an SMB (though that is pretty standard for any DMT course) and use it liberally with all the boat traffic in the area! Enjoy!

  • Cate
    March 19 2016

    Hi, again, Alex! A 9$ massage is a pretty good deal, but do you know if the workers are paid well and not involved in te sex trade that is all over Tailand? I am just wondering, as that can be a common occurence there. (or so I’ve read)

    • Alex
      March 21 2016

      Hey Cate! Good question. All I can say is once you’ve been here a while, you know 🙂 For the most part anyway — I’m sure there are exceptions that I’m oblivious to. But I’ve walked by enough seedy massage places, and patronized enough legitimate ones to know the difference. I get the majority of my massages in traditional Thai-style places where the massages are done in big communal rooms (generally only the more upscale places have private Western-style treatment rooms) so I know exactly what is going on around me.

      And while there is absolutely prostituttion on Koh Tao, one of the reasons I love the island so much is how very rare it is in comparison to other popular tourist destinations. It all comes down to demographics — Koh Tao mainly attracts backpackers, with a few fun honeymooners and adventurous families thrown into the mix. There just isn’t a market for sex tourists here compared to Pattaya, Patong, Bangkok, etc.

  • Lu Castro
    March 19 2016

    Me again! Yes Freddie you are absolutely right! Fernando de Noronha is very precious. You should fly to Recife then get a boat to Fernando de Noronha. But worth it 100%!! If you have time you should consider going there Alex. I’m sure you will love it!

    • Alex
      March 21 2016

      It’s a contender for the last week of my trip, for sure 🙂 However, from what I’ve read the only way to reach the islands is by air?

      • Lu Castro
        March 21 2016

        Yes you’re right however if I’m not wrong between December and April they have cruises crossing the sea then it can be reached by boat otherwise only by air. But it worth it every penny, every second, every breath! It’s one of the most beautiful places to dive in Brazil.
        Also I couldn’t find Island Travel contact, is it in your blog?? Defo I will need help cuz we leave Bangkok on the 12th to arrive in Koh Panghan on the 13th April! Must be mystical because I even planned to be there on the New Years!

        • Alex
          March 29 2016

          Hey Lu, I don’t know if you have the flexibility to change your plans but I STRONGLY recommend against traveling on April 13th in Thailand. If you absolutely must, be prepared to be soaked — having a big backpack on will not protect you — and be ready to wait a long time for cabs and other transportation. Make sure your electronics and other valuables are wrapped very tightly in plastic. Good luck!

  • Ella
    March 19 2016

    I really love this post! It’s always so awesome to hear\read about someone enjoying the life that they’ve built for themselves. I find it really inspiring and I wish the same for myself and everyone else. Enjoy your last moments in Koh Tao and have fun in Brazil! I can’t wait to read about it 🙂

    • Alex
      March 21 2016

      Thank you Ella. I can’t remember the last time both I and my readers were so excited for a trip 🙂

  • Julia Nix
    March 20 2016

    nonono, don’t leave for the US of A yet. Too far too far, stay here stay here. BB and the crew should find a way to make a permanent base for you there.

    • Alex
      March 21 2016

      I consider it a semi-permanent base 🙂 Not heading back to the US just yet — Brazil first!

  • Sarah Moss
    March 22 2016

    Nice blog post.. really loved it.

    • Alex
      March 29 2016

      Thanks Sarah. Missing Thailand already and I haven’t even left!

  • tila
    March 24 2016

    I definitely miss thailand too!
    tila recently posted..Where To Stay In: Bali

    • Alex
      March 29 2016

      Time is moving way too fast 🙁

  • Beth Gregory
    March 24 2016

    Urgh, I’ve only been back in the UK for a few weeks and you’re making me want to up and move to Koh Tao! I never made it there last time I was in Thailand, but I think I’d love it.
    Beth Gregory recently posted..Skiing in the French Alps

    • Alex
      March 29 2016

      It’s a special little island. I love it here.

  • Timothy W Pawiro
    March 27 2016

    Now I want to go to Koh Tao! Haha …

    Anyway, the place that has my heart is actually Bali … I don’t know why, but every time I saw my photos when I was in Bali, the photos just drawn my mind into that period of time. Lulz 😀
    Timothy W Pawiro recently posted..Introducing the Sumbawa beach

    • Alex
      March 29 2016

      I would really like to spend some more time there, Timothy. Agree that it’s a crazy special island!

  • Liz Fisher
    March 29 2016

    What a great post, Alex. It must be so hard to leave Thailand for all those listed reasons. I’m glad you can come back again.

    • Alex
      March 30 2016

      I always have a trip to Thailand planned — can’t function without one 🙂

  • Kirstin
    June 10 2016

    I’ve just booked a flight to Thailand to fly from Canada on Oct 14th and fly home on Feb 14th. Other than Thailand I’m planning on visiting Nepal, Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam (however, after scanning through your blog I’m fairly confident I won’t have enough time for all). I’m really looking forward to using your blog as a jumping point of places I must see! Thanks 🙂

    Kirstin

    a job fills your pocket, an adventure fills your soul.
    Kirstin recently posted..[Wo]man’s best friend

    • Alex
      June 10 2016

      That sounds amazing Kirstin! I recommend a minimum of 2 weeks for Laos, 2-3 for Vietnam and 2-3 for Cambodia and 3-4 for Thailand though of course you could spend a lifetime in any! Haven’t been to Nepal yet, but would love to make it there someday.

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