I don’t exactly remember when Amy and I set our date to leave our place in Chatswood, Sydney. Probably around the beginning of 2017. We booked some tickets – one way for her and return for me, for the beginning of August.
We set about planning, packing and selling. It was a big decision, especially for Amy, as I was the main driver for the move to Thailand. She was initially reluctant when we had discussed it in previous years but by now she had come round to the idea, particularly with the increasing cost of living in Australia, especially Sydney.
Amy’s main complaint about returning to Thailand was having to deal with the culture there again. Whilst I could mostly avoid getting involved in situations that might prove to be annoying and petty, she would have to bear the brunt of it.
Amy was really born in the wrong country. She doesn’t know why she thinks the way she does, she wasn’t particularly exposed to Western thinking and culture but especially she since had moved to Australia she could immediately understand the benefits.
Thailand still suffers from a superstitious cultural history and there are many customs that must be observed by the locals, things that to outsiders seem quaint but significant. Because of reliance on superstition and luck there can be a lack of rules around things that we in the West might find important. This leads easily to a society of gossip, rumour, innuendo and, eventually, corruption. Amy is a practical person and has railed against this, mostly internally, all her life.
The plan was to ship our life over to Thailand and whilst Amy arranged the building of our house, I would return to Sydney, living in a cheap room, earning money until we decided we had enough to continue to the next stage. Over the years we have had many discussions and plans, changing periodically based on new information, savings and exchange rates. Amy buried herself in house design blogs and web resources as we planned a palace we couldn’t afford, but ending with what will hopefully turn into a long term home.
As our time to leave approached we had many parties and dinners as separate farewells to our friends. We managed to strike a deal with our real estate agent and some Thai friends, where they could move in in place of us and they would buy most of our furniture – this save us a great deal of effort and gave us a bit of extra cash into the bargain.
Just a couple of weeks before our flight I found out my job in Sydney would be relocated to Adelaide. This presented us with a choice we needed to decide on quickly. I could just go to Thailand and not return – and to allow for this possibility I quickly procured a one year spouse visa. Or, if I could wrangle it, relocate to Adelaide on my return to Australia and work a bit longer to give us a bit of fallback financially. Luckily my office agreed that this was a good deal for them too, although they don’t know about my plans to leave again just yet.
With that last minute decision, we packed the cats up, got a Thai courier to pick up the boxes of our lives and jumped on the plane.
Now it is five months later, our house is halfway built and it will be a couple more months before I get there – finally.
These five months have been both difficult and easy. From moment to moment our feelings can vary mightily and this is particularly heightened for me working shift work. Even at the best of times odd random thoughts pop into my head as I feel like I suffer from permanent jet lag. One day I can be full of energy and enthusiasm, the next depressed and sleepy, sometimes this can amplify to an hourly change. Dealing with the difficulties of maintaining a relationship during this period hasn’t been an issue as we know our situation is temporary and that every day we move closer towards a deadline, one which was made permanent last month when I booked my one way ticket out of here.
Amy and I talk two or three times and day and I usually have very little to report. She varies between boredom, particularly before the house was started and complete stress of having to make decisions about the house that she can’t be sure are exactly what we want. She calls me and asks for my opinion about everything but as I am not there in person it is very difficult for me to visualise precisely how one thing might effect another. I offer my opinion where I can and defer to her choices elsewhere. I’m very easy going with these things and just need a safe space to sleep and eat – everything else is a bonus. I know this puts a lot of pressure on Amy to be key decision maker but I’m happy for her to have everything exactly the way she wants it. She was also into this idea so much she contemplated building me a separate small shed where I could live and sleep by myself. A separate space would be fine but I would at least want it connected to the house so that I still felt that I belonged. This idea will have to wait anyway but we are already discussing potential renovations to extend the living room and add another bedroom if we ever fall into more money again.
I realise that the idea of building a house is outside most people’s reach and in the UK or Australia it would be far outside of ours too. This was a key factor in our decision to move to Thailand. I had managed to save most of a big redundancy payout in 2013 that basically covered the cost to build a house in Thailand. Without having to work our asses off just to pay rent each week it would, hopefully, mean a more relaxing lifestyle and the possibility to travel through other close by South East Asian countries. Obviously our incomes would become comparative but with only facilities and minimal maintenance required we hope we’ll have enough spare cash to fill our liquor cabinet and provide open invitations to our friends from all over the world to come and visit and stay a while.
I’m writing these updates at work. I’m on my second night shift tonight – usually my last shift but I’ll be working another two nights to cover someone else who is on leave. I’m already zonked tonight and could just ease back into reading the internet. I do do some work whilst I am here too but I’ll describe more about that another time.
I have more to add to the above too, and the myriad paths that lead to this point. I have a lot of things left to tell you.