Tuesday, 26 January 2016

Going Vegan

If you have been following me on social media you will know that during November I did a 30 day Vegan challenge, and woah, how my body and health transformed. It was incredible. I told myself I was going to try and continue this healthy lifestyle for the most part, but since the challenge was over, of course, I decided to treat myself to some of the things I had been missing, and slowly but surely over the past month I've had more and more of these 'treats'. No meats, I stopped eating those a long time ago. I'm talking about the doughnuts, the cake, and of course, the cappuccinos.  I feel awful. My body has gone from feeling spirited to lifeless within a matter of weeks.  During the challenge, I'd have healthy snacks such as fruit and peanuts, the stuff that gives you body the energy it needs to run, not these stodgy foods and weigh you down. Enough is enough. I'm going to try my best at being plant based again :)

If you haven't tried it out I'd highly recommend giving it a go,
just see how amazing you feel. It doesn't matter if you slip up now and again, it' bound to happen when you're just starting out, but just try doing it. Your body will thank you I promise!

Check out my little Vegan food haul :)

Let me know if you do try it!

Saturday, 23 January 2016

What I miss about living in the U.K.

Here are five random things I miss about living in the U.K.

 Hey, everyone! I'm a British Expat currently living and Teaching in Thailand. Some of the things I miss about living in England I realised soon after leaving and others were brought to my attention after I'd returned home for a visit. It's like the old sayings go 'you don't know what you've got until it's gone,' and 'you don't know what you've been missing until it arrives'.

1. Conversations

I guess what I mean is, being able to communicate easily. It's something I hadn't contemplated before moving here. I only realised how much I enjoyed being around people who can speak the same language as me when I visited home, and well, you couldn't shut me up! I can speak a bit of Thai, but I'm not fluent, I can't just talk about anything and everything and I certainly could not have a deep conversation in the language. Obviously, I do have English friends here, and my partner speaks English, but it's not the same as being surrounded by people you can communicate with all the time about everything.  Let me know if you can relate with this.....

2. Seasons

And everything that goes with them. 

Thailand only has three seasons, hot, hot and hotter. Even though I do enjoy the nice climate, it can be a bit samey.  Sometimes you just want to crack out your nice boots, a woolly hat and head outside to see all the pretty autumn colours!
Ya know what I'm saying? 


3. Walking

No one in Thailand walks. I guess for one it's very hot in the daytime, so it's much nicer to drive around on your scooter with the wind in your face, or in a lovely air-conditioned car. But also, there is a severe lack of pavements. There are some pavements, but they're usually so packed full of street sellers you're pushed onto the road every few yards. I gave up trying to walk around. I used to live in York in England, if you've never been I'd highly recommend visiting, it's a beautiful historic city in North Yorkshire, and the thing I loved most about living there was that it was so small so you could literally walk everywhere. I've always been one for wanting to walk instead of using transport where I can, but it seems there isn't much choice in Thailand.

4. Organisation

Most of us know Thailand isn't the most organised of places, the roads are horrendous, people rarely stick to plans and the trains are always late. When my Thai partner went to England he was shocked at the fact the doors closed on the trains and left at exactly the right time, I think the words were "shit, they're leaving already?" Uhh yeah, that's the time on the ticket....

Lastly but by no means least,

5. Family

I never appreciated how nice it is to have your family so close by. There are often times in Thailand when I think that it would be lovely if I could visit my mum for a cup of tea and a nice chat. And then there's everything else you miss, all those family gatherings like birthdays and of course, Christmas, which seems to get harder every year. I wish being an expat meant your family came along with you. Luckily, I have a wonderful family who comes and visits me as often as they can, but if I didn't, I might just be sat here writing about why I miss Thailand....


Thank you for reading and let me know if you relate with any of this in the comments!

Lots of love 'n' stuff



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Monday, 18 January 2016

2015 Reflections and New Years Resolutions

xSo I wasn't going to do this post, hence it being a bit late in January, but I've been thinking about it a lot the last few days and I thought how wonderful it would be to look back on it this time next year!

So here it goes....

To be honest, 2015 didn't have the best beginning, I'd moved to Thailand late October in 2014 with my partner and our two-month-old baby. I know, our son was so young, but this is something we had to do due to my partners Visit VISA for the UK running out (he had 6 months). We wanted to keep the family together. Late October 2014, I started work again. I really didn't want to but it was something I had to do to get my VISA for Thailand.

Don't you just love VISAS....

Thank goodness I was at least in a nice school where I could teach something fun to ease me in...

In hindsight, I should have stayed in the UK longer, the good thing was that our family were together but I think overall I felt very low, having to go back to work when my son was very young, moving countries and saying goodbye to my family back home. It was tough.  I really did miss my family and support network in England. We did want to live in Thailand for the better quality of life overall, but I now believe the move was too soon. So during the end of 2014 and the start of 2015, I was feeling very homesick, my partner, Tum, even made this makeshift fireplace at Christmas to try and make it feel more like England....

He's a good'un.

I was also was extremely tired with working and looking after our son, my partner works from home as a freelance architect but couldn't get much work done while I was at work, so when I came home it was his time to work and I would look after Asher. Adding to that, we hated the house we lived in (it was a house we'd found very quickly due to needing a place asap) and my partners family's house was an hour away so they couldn't help out much. I didn't have many friends around either, most of the teachers who were here when I had taught in Thailand in the previous term had left and now I couldn't go out much to meet new people, the party days were over!

Whilst it wasn't all doom and gloom due to our amazing little boy and those precious first moments of seeing him grow, it wasn't easy managing everything.

After I had finally gotten through the first semester of teaching, I then had two glorious months off (one of the most amazing things about living here), my lovely mom came to visit from the UK and things started to look brighter. Although I felt bad because we didn't do any "touristy" things, we just stayed in the neighborhood where I lived and had some nice days out.  I needed the break and I just enjoyed not having to go to work for those few months. I think she understood.

At the end of the holidays, we started looking for a new home, we really wanted to move but it's sometimes very difficult to find a nice place in Thailand. After a lot of searching, we found a place we actually liked, it was double the price of our last place, so we spent a few days thinking about it and during that period, of course, someone else took the house! We were a bit upset but decided that if it was meant to be it would have happened and all that. 

We continued the search and but couldn't find anything else we liked, we had pretty much given up until one night we drove past the house we had originally seen and saw a 'for rent' sign (in English, the owner is Australian!), we quickly stopped and asked the neighbours what had happened and she said the girl who was renting the house previously had decided to move back to her hometown, so it was available. The next day without a shadow of doubt, we paid the deposit and planned our move. It was going to be more expensive, but we figured being happy with where you live is extremely important, after all, it's where you spend most of your time!

That's when things really started to change for me, it just goes to show how much your living environment can have on everything else. Even though it was time to go back to work, I felt refreshed and our son was a little older and I knew he understood more now. The only thing which was still hard was that I still couldn't meet a lot of friends, whilst we did have a lot of nice family days out, I did feel a bit lonely and disconnected from the wider world due to not having a lot of free time to meet friends and build friendships.

But something good definitely came from it, and that's that....

I discovered the online community. 

I started to love reading blogs and watching people's youtube videos, responding to comments and making conversations with people all over the world. I loved it so much that I wanted to feel more part of the community, so one day, when my son was sleeping, I sat down and filmed a video.

My first ever sit down video...

And  few weeks later, another one....

and then before I knew it, I had started a blog,
and so Cola's Place in Thailand was born.

Starting this blog and my Youtube channel has changed my life. I actually feel part of something and it's given me a place when I can be creative, communicate with people and help others.  Even though it's still early days, and even if my blog doesn't grow like I hope it will, it's something that has made me so incredibly happy in such a short time, and that can only be a good thing.

So what are my goals for 2016?
Just that.

Keep working on my blog and Youtube Channel.

And if you are one of the people who has supported me in 2015,
I just wanted to say,

Lots of love,
and see you very soon!


Thursday, 7 January 2016

I Hate Thailand: Response

If you've not seen the video 'I Hate Thailand' here is it:

I hate Thailand

So this video is quite obviously a fake, although they didn't claim so, it was actually funded by the Tourist Authority of Thailand to try to save the tarnished view that Thailand sometimes has (I'm sure you know what I'm talking about). But even though the video is a fake and at times plain stupid (throwing a rock at a car and exposing himself? Really? 
Probably two of the worst things you can do in Thai culture!).

 All of that considered, I think he overall message the video gives actually resonates as true with me, and here's why.

The video first starts talking about the fact he thought that visiting Thailand would be his 'best vacation ever' and goes on the show a collection of clips which represent the typical imagine you get of Thailand before you come, you know, beautiful beaches, massage, great parties etc. That's exactly the impression I had too.

I came here in 2011 to do a TEFL course on a beautiful island in the south of Thailand, Koh Lipe, but before getting to the island, I stayed in two of the biggest cities in Thailand, Bangkok and then Hat Yai (where I currently live). I found Bangkok to be interesting, I did the 'touristy stuff' - it was fun. But, when I arrived in Hat Yai, I had a shock, Hat Yai is not really a tourist place at all, and it wasn't what I was expecting. It seemed to be run down, disorganised, and a city where no one smiled. I really didn't like the place. Thankfully I was only going to be there for a few days before getting the boat to Koh Lipe, at least, that's what I thought.

After I finished my TEFL Certificate on Koh Lipe (which was beautiful) I was ready to be placed in a school (I did a TEFL internship program where they find you a job etc). Before I came to Thailand I'd imagined I'd be teaching in a beautiful location by the beach (another unrealistic part to that video!) but guess where I was placed? Yep. Hat Yai....

Couldn't get much worse I thought. And over the few weeks that followed my suspicions were confirmed. And actually, worsened.

I hated this place. I hated Thailand.

The guy in the film ('James') goes on to try to communicate with the police officer and gets frustrated because he thinks no one can help him. Obviously, when you are in a foreign country for the first time, you are going to struggle to communicate the things you need, be it food, transport or trying to explain you've lost something to a police officer.  It can be incredibly frustrating.  I found my first few weeks in Thailand to be difficult because of these reasons, I felt frustrated because I didn't know what was going on. I wasn't enjoying myself at all. I couldn't understand the culture. I missed the organisation and clarity of things in the west.  Just like the guy in the video, I was desperate. I just wanted to go home. I nearly did go home. I remember saying myself, 'I'll give it one more week', which is what I did, and during that week, something happened, like the guy in the video, I made friends.

Myself and my friends started talking with some of the locals on our street. One of the families invited us to come along to the local restaurant they owned. A few nights later, we went there to eat dinner and have some drinks, at the end of the evening, we asked for the bill, but to our surprise, they wouldn't allow us to pay a thing. Just like the video, and actually, after four years living here, this has happened a lot. Thai people are extremely kind and friendly people, which at that time, I was just starting to learn.

Through going to that restaurant, I made a lot of Thai friends, and I began to understand the culture more and more, which in turn, made me happier and happier. I started to understand why things were the way they were and even see the positives in their culture. I started to relax, have patience and become more flexible. I started to feel at home.

Our new friends also showed us a different side to Hat Yai, not only with the people, but they showed us new places in the city, which we had yet to discover.  It made me realise you definitely shouldn't judge a place too quickly, it takes time to get to know a place.  It's the same with culture and language, it takes time to learn and the more and I learn, the more I love. 

So there we have it, as cheesy as it may be, just like the guy in the video, 'I thought I hated, Thailand, but that's because I didn't know it well enough'.

So if you’re new to Thailand, and it isn’t quite what you had imagined, don’t give up just yet, give it time and you never know you just might finding something better; I know I did.

Let me know your thoughts on the video in the comments below, what do you think about it? Have you had any similar experiences to me? I'd love to hear your thoughts :)

You can watch the video here:

Also, If you've not seen my video about why I love Thailand yet you can check it out by clicking here!

Lots of love 'n' stuff