Ko Phi Phi Longtail

So, I Moved to Thailand Full Time


For the last three years, I’ve lived and worked summers in the wilderness of Alaska and spent winters in the bustling city of Bangkok. As you might imagine, it has been awesome.

But, having my life on two continents became too much. So, after 14 years working summers in Alaska I recently “retired” and I’ll be living in Bangkok full time.

Since I gave my notice at work, I have constantly been asked the same questions by family, friends, and co-workers.

Are you going to miss Alaska?

Of course! I absolutely love Alaska. I will miss the raw wilderness, empty hiking trails, the northern lights and fall colors. I will also miss all the friends I’ve made over the years. When I travel in the future I’ll have to seek out places like Alaska, especially since I’ll need a respite from the bustle of Bangkok.

Glacier Bay Sunset

I will absolutely miss this.

What are you going to do for work? 

I don’t know! At age 40, I am taking a gap year which is sort of exciting. I’ll live off my sugar momma wife until I find the right job or she stops supporting me.

When you are unemployed in Bangkok, what do you during the day?

I start my day with some sunrise Tai Chi with the old women in the neighborhood, then head to the coffee shop and drink six cups of black coffee and smoke a pack of cigarettes with the retired old men in my neighborhood. In a cloud of smoke, we bitch about our wives, the corrupt politicians, our wonky hips, and the weather.

During the afternoon, I pay takraw with the local kids or play chess with the old-timers in the park.

Seri Thai Park


Do you have any upcoming travel plans? 

Now that I have summers free for the first time in 14 years, I am looking forward to visiting places in the northern hemisphere like Iceland, Northern Europe, Mongolia, Japan, and Central Asia. Our next big trip will be June/July of 2019.

In the more immediate future, I’ll be spending two weeks in Myanmar again this October.

Schwedagon Pagoda

Yangon, Myanmar

Bangkok is a crazy city. Why do you like it so much? 

Bangkok is crowded, chaotic, sweltering, and in many ways, hard to love. However, we live in a neighborhood about eight miles from downtown, and about 13 miles to the Grand Palace area. Our neighborhood has parks, lakes, trees, street food, friendly people, and a slow pace of life, so it is like living in a Thai village surrounded by Bangkok. I am not sure I’d enjoy living anywhere else in this city.

The only downside to our neighborhood is that we are not close to the metro so getting to the cool sites downtown takes effort. However, right now they are building a metro line that will come within 750 meters of our house, and when it is completed in six to 60 years, give or take a coup, it will be super convenient to get to downtown!

Now that you aren’t working in the Alaskan tourism industry, are you going to write tell-all blog posts about crazy tourists and wild seasonal employees? 

Maybe. If I wrote about the madness I’ve seen working in Alaska the last 14 years, it could be like Bourdain’s Kitchen Confidential that could launch a career as a Travel Channel host. But if it didn’t become famous, I’d be a pariah and never work in Alaska again. Let’s see how this job search goes first.

Bear Spray Accident

Now I am free to tell more stories about tourists shooting their balls with bear spray.


Thanks for reading this update.

Do you have any suggestions for where we should travel in June and July next year?

Any advice for someone making a big life change at 40? 




Posted by

Currently living in Kaohsiung, Taiwan. I travel, write, take photos, and stalk street cats. ~ planetbell1@gmail.com

40 thoughts on “So, I Moved to Thailand Full Time”

  1. Marilyn says:

    Congratulations on your move and new life style. I know you and Kristi will enjoy each new day, each new experience and each new place you travel to. Take one day at a time. I will look forward to all your photos and stories of your new experiences. Best Wishes to you both.

  2. Mongolia. Splurge on a 14-day Gobi excursion. We did the Trans-Siberian rail across Russia and down to Ulaanbaatar. I highly recommend staying at the Khongor Guest house/hostel because it’s cheap and comfortable and a great source for excursion options. Either way, I have wondered about you as this if the first post in a while. Glad that you are well, even though we have never met. Currently, we are in Haines house sitting for a fisherman who’s gone for four months. Good luck fellow traveler, and congratulations on your decision to wander for a year!

    • Thank you Ron. The Trans-Siberian and Mongolia are very high on the list. I never thought about the Gobi but I’ll check it out. Enjoy Southeast Alaska for me!

  3. That’s big news and a big change! Congratulations Jeff and best wishes in your job search. I’m sure you have many interesting days and adventures ahead of you!

  4. Sweet! Sounds like a fantastic life choice and location near Bangkok — one of my absolute favorite cities. My husband and I are in a similar situation — he’s in his fifth month off while I support us on my income. We’re currently enjoying cabin life in Lake Tahoe while he decides what’s next on his career path. We love alternating/trading off between work and play so that we can both enjoy life in a more balanced way. Can’t wait to read more posts about Thailand and your next chapter there. Best of luck to you!

    • Your husband is funemployed too! For the first 10 years we were married, we worked about 9 months a year, each with Oct-Dec off. The last three years was hard without the same time off together. She was free while in Alaska, I was free in Bangkok. It should have been in reverse because I’d have enjoyed hiking and exploring Alaska and she’d prefer the city life. That is cool that you have traded off working. Seems like a great idea.

      • Funemployed! What a perfect description! You know, Bangkok and Alaska — that’s a pretty dreamy yin/yang balance. Really cool that you made it work. Thanks for your reply!

  5. Exciting news, Jeff – two continents does sound a bit complicated, no matter how much you love both spots. Enjoy your time off and I wish you good luck in finding the next job when you feel it’s time!

    • Thank you. As fun as it was, it gets hard when your wife and cats are on the other side of the world part of the year.

  6. So great to get an update from you Jeff! I’m all over gap years. Enjoy this time but don’t smoke too many cigarettes with the old guys. Consider southern Africa (Namibia, Botswana, Zambia, South Africa) for a June/July trip. Lots of wildlife during these months, dry, and not too hot. All the best!

    • Thanks for the suggestion. We went to southern Africa about 6 years ago and I’d really like to go back. Maybe we will soon. I’ll try to not smoke so much with the retired men 🙂

  7. Nice to read you again Jeff. I wonder if living in Bangkok “full time” will feel qualitatively different, or if it just means that instead of going back to Alaska you will go travelling to more new places… which is what I am gathering…?

    I am chuckling at the description of your day, it sounds pretty fun. Its going to be a great “gap year”, no doubt about that! Nice collection of photos.

    Yeah Sri Lanka of course.

    Advice: enjoy the ride! 🙂


    • So far it seems the same. I don’t work in October through December anyway, and then I used to work remotely for my Alaskan job from January through April, then spend May-September in Alaska. It will certainly feel different after the new year, and especially next spring as my friends gear up for another work season.

      We will no doubt make it back to Sri Lanka someday. How much longer do you plan to live there?

  8. Good to have you back! And that final cartoon still makes me chuckle. Gorgeous photos – of all the places mentioned. I think you lie about the coffee and cigarettes 🙂
    After nearly 10 years in the Yukon I still crave that kind of wilderness. Here in Vancouver a 4 km hike through the forest around an urban golf course works as a (mostly) daily nature fix, but days of hiking in that total wilderness – I still miss that.
    OTOH I can see the appeal of Bangkok – so fascinating and exotic, especially since your place sounds like a bit of an oasis.
    Enjoy your free time!

    • Nothing can replace that Alaska/Yukon wilderness. It is so pristine, so wild. It is good for the soul. I think I have enough green space here to keep me sane, and I can eat a MUCH healthier diet here vs. Alaska so that should help.

  9. I just came back from a two-night express trip to Hua Hin, though Bangkok wasn’t on the itinerary as I had to fly in (and back out again) via KL! The the bit about spending your days doing tai chi and relaxing over coffee and cigarettes made me laugh – surely there will be an hour or so dedicated to photographing Bangkok’s street cats every afternoon? I saw one lounging outside a shop in Hua Hin and your hilarious cat cafe post instantly came to mind.

    • I saw you were headed to Hua Hin. How was it? You were on assignment, right? Of course, there is time for street cat photography every afternoon. I am trying to become the #1 cat photographer in Bangkok.

      • I liked Hua Hin, and I would have enjoyed it even more had I been on holiday (rather than on assignment), but I think being in Indonesia has really spoiled me when it comes to beaches. The beach there is long but completely disappears at high tide, though my contacts there told me it’s most beautiful in February and the water becomes crystal clear. Being rainy season, it looked quite different.

        Still, it was great being there on weekdays as Hua Hin was pretty quiet and totally laid-back; I’ve heard the place fills up with Bangkokians on weekends. Food was a major highlight and there was this great little night market (albeit a slightly hipsterized version) with all kinds of dishes just 10 minutes’ walk from where I stayed. It’s called Tamarind Market and runs from Thursdays through Sundays; the adjoining (and much larger) Cicada Market is more art-focused though it wasn’t open when I was around.

      • That pretty much sums up Hua Hin. I like to leave Bangkok to escape the city, but Hua Hin is a city on a beach. I can attest that the water is nice in the dry season. Thailand has some great beaches but they are really busy. Indonesia is certainly better in that regard.

  10. I for one can’t wait for the next bear-spray story. But what’s it going to be…an elephant-spray story?

  11. First, I’m really happy to know that you finally made the ‘right’ choice — moving to this hot and humid part of the world is always the best decision, isn’t it? 🙂 But that means there’s even less reason for us not to cross our paths sooner than later; I have been thinking of going back to Thailand to see Ayutthaya and Buriram, but for the time being they have to wait a little bit. Or maybe it’s you who go to Jakarta — sure you miss the Big Durian!

    • We want to come back to the Big Durian and do it right this time! Last time we were so jet lagged that we basically spent two days just trying to stay awake. We will make this happen sooner than later.

      Ayutthaya is cool. I know you like ancient history, but Kanchaniburi and the Death Railway has some interesting WWII history that is not far from Ayutthaya. Another smaller but I think maybe more beautiful spot is Sukhothai.

      It feels good to be back in Asia for sure! I missed the food. I lost 8 pounds the first three weeks!

  12. Good for you! I’m sure Kristi is happy you will be together more. Such a stark contrast is living arrangements. Wilderness to wildness. I’ve been going back and reading some of your posts about the Denali area, making plans for our Alaska exit. We have an interview in the Denali area. We’ll see. I enjoyed our 4 months on the peninsula, but I’m ready to see another part of the state! I should have written about combat fishing. I look forward to your adventures. You need to find a coffee drinking, cigarette smoking cat who plays chess! Best of luck.

    • You might as well work in different parts of Alaska. The peninsula is really spectacular, but there are some great RV camping spots in the interior. The Denali HWY is awesome, and the road to Chena Hot Springs has several pullout along the river that are great. There is a lot of good food in Denali too. Make sure and eat at the 49th State Brewery in Healy, and Prospectors Pizza in the Canyon area across from the Chalet resort. If you like beer, both places have 49 beers on tap!

  13. So happy to see a post here Jeff. If moving to Thailand full time means more time making us laugh hysterically, showing us your astounding photography skills and what not to do with bear spray I’m all for it. We feel unbelievably fortunate to have visited you in Alaska in the final weeks of your stay. We are forever grateful for that and for our time with you in Thailand.
    As to where you should go next June July well a cross country trip across Canada of course! I know a great place you can base out of while in Alberta.

    • Thank you Sue. I certainly have more time to blog since I am “funemployed.” It was great seeing you and Dave in both Alaska and Bangkok. I’m glad you made it to AK while I was there.

      A cross-Canadian road trip is in the future for sure. I know I’ll miss the mountains and nature and I can’t think of many places better than Canada to visit.

  14. Adventures in Kevin's World says:

    Congrats on the big change! I hope it works out for you. And – I hope you enjoy being able to explore some places in the May-August timeframe.

    My travel budget was extremely limited this year for multiple reasons so i didn’t get overseas, but I just returned last night from Orcas island in Washington. What a revelation to be able to travel in months that are not November through February.

      • Adventures in Kevin's World says:

        Where in Colorado? I was supposed to do a 14er yesterday with one of my friends, but we both got sick so we had to cancel the hike. Double bummer because I was looking forward to 2 nights camping.

  15. I’m so glad to see you back, Jeff. We’ve missed you, but it sounds like you’ve been having a blast. It’s cool you decided to relocate to Bangkok – it’s such a fascinating part of the world. And you have such great access to truly interesting parts of the world. We always say to each other, “It lasts as long as it lasts.” So just take it a day at a time and enjoy the ride. 🙂 All the best, Terri

    • Thanks Terri. I have missed blogging and reading other blogs but I’d getting back into it. Thailand is great, but we live 20 minutes from the airport so we can easily explore the region. Where are you and James this summer?

      • Jeff, we moved our basecamp to a little house in Lexington, Ky – our college alma mater and close to family and friends. We still do loads of travel, then come back to a cool place we call home. ~Terri

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