Spirit of Thailand

Spirit of Thailand

Culture, Relationships,
Thai Massage, Traveling

How did I end up moving to Thailand?

The author Shama People ask me all the time: “How did you end up in Thailand?” The truth is that it was nothing planned at all. It just happened.

I have to admit that moving to another country was not such a big deal for me since I had lived in eight countries  previously during my lifetime. But the big deal is that I never stayed in those countries for long, but I have been in Thailand for well over a decade now.


tour busSo how did it happen? During the 90s I used to work as an international tour guide. It was my job to show people the world – by bus, by train, by plane, or by cruise ship. Tour guiding is a seasonal job. Mostly you work a lot during the summer season and take the winter off. People like to travel during the nicest season, not when it’s cold and rainy.

So I made my money during the summer season, and then went somewhere cheap to spend it. If you make your money in dollars and then spend it in pesos or Thai baht, your dollars go a long way. But if you stay in dollar land, you can go through them quite fast, especially when you are not earning any.

A Mexican man singingFor years my off season destination was Mexico. That was when it was still really cheap there and before there were major drug wars going on.

But still, after 6 winters in Mexico I thought that I  should try out a different destination. Where would I go? Europe is expensive, Australia is expensive, I had no attraction to Africa, so that left me with Asia. I knew Asia has a warm climate and is cheap and exotic.

Bangkok templeI looked at flights to various Asian destinations, and Bangkok, the capital of Thailand, turned out to be the cheapest. There you have it – that was my entire decision making process.

In those days traveling was still quite easy. It was pre 9/11, most people did not have mobile phones yet, and hardly anyone traveled with a laptop and a bag full of cables and accessories. You could even take a bottle of water on the plane – imagine such a prehistoric concept!

A stack of travel guidesI landed in Bangkok with no plans and no itinerary. I did have a Lonely Planet guidebook so I could make it up as I went along. It looked great. Food, travel and accommodation was really cheap.

In those days the dollar was strong and the Thai baht was not so strong. That was a great combination since I got 45 baht for one dollar. In comparison today, in 2011, I only get 29 baht for my dollars. In other words the dollar lost 35% of its purchasing power since then in Thailand.

Or you could say that I was 35% richer back then. Add the fact that in those days prices in Thailand were much cheaper than today, and I could really live very well on a few dollars. Timing was just right, it was my lucky streak.

Open air Thai massage shopOne of the first things I noticed was there were shops everywhere offering Thai Massage. What in the world is Thai Massage? I had never heard of it before. I tried it and immediately liked it.

First of all it is very convenient. You can keep all your clothes on (or you are given comfortable  massage clothes to wear) and just lie down on a simple mat. Not only is privacy not an issue, but the massage shops are often a lively social scene.

Second I liked the fact that Thai Massage originally comes from yoga which I had been practicing off and on for most of my life. Many times I was too lazy to practice yoga, but here in Thailand I could have someone give me practically a passive yoga session. How convenient. That’s why some people like to call it “lazy man’s yoga”.

Back in those days the going rate for a one hour Thai Massage was less than $2.50 an hour. Who could NOT afford that! Today, 12 years later, the prices have doubled which is still quite affordable.

Thai Massage became a love affair for me. I took a course, then another one, and soon most of my time was spent studying and practicing Thai Massage. But that’s the beginning of another story. I will save that for next time. For now you know how I ended up in Thailand.

11 thoughts on “How did I end up moving to Thailand?”

  1. Ha! Great story. I didn’t know you were a tour guide before. I thought you were a yogi in India or something. Why don’t you do a youtube video about the whole story – Shama from the time he was a little boy – and what all you were about? That’d be cool to watch. I’d watch it anyway! – Cheers, Vern

  2. Hi Vern, I am not so sure that people would be THAT interested in my story hehe. But I will soon have some pretty cool videos on youtube although I am not as productive in this respect as you are!

  3. Hi there! I just stumbled across your site and I am finding it to be very helpful and informative. I am graduating from college (in Vermont) in May, and am planning on moving to Thailand in October to teach English for six months. It’s great to read about your experience in Thailand- I am really looking forward to this adventure! Best, Emma Shattuck

  4. Your site is informative and entertaining :) I’m really happy to know that someone – a foreigner – is loving Thailand :D

    • Thanks for your comment. I think there are many foreigners who love Thailand. They just don’t write about it:)

  5. How did you manage to get past the visa restrictions in Thailand. Iam looking to move out there at the end of te year hopefully to work from home, but as I will self employed and not working for a Thai company how can I get past the red tape?

    Great site BTW some interesting footage.

    • Malcolm, it depends on several factors, like where you are from, how old you are, how much money you have, etc. There are several options. Without knowing your circumstances more specifically, I cannot give you a useful answer. But if you want to find out the details, you can email me at shama@shamakern.com and I will be glad to assist you.

  6. Hi Vern, (Picked up your name from the comments)

    I love your site now that I have worked out how to work my way around it.

    Keep it up it is so interesting.



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