North Carolina sure is different than what I’ve experienced overseas the past 5 1/2 years. First, the car culture is evident, and they drive fast here. I miss not being able to walk out my door and being able to find food right outside. Not to mention the cost of food here.
And when I am among other people, it seems so weird, like I’m a spirit who is watching, not participating.
The cold weather doesn’t help either. And for some reason, the skin on my lower arms and legs has contracted some sort of rash, apparently caused by wearing new clothes – socks and long-sleeve shirts. Even washing them doesn’t seem to have an effect so maybe I’m just used to shorts, sandals and t-shirts and my skin is rebelling against the fabrics.
It is also weird not seeing roll cart stores along the roadways and on the sidewalks. Of course, you can’t just set up shop like that here, as they do in Asia. But clear roads and sidewalks just seem so strange now.
After two weeks of boredom in North Carolina, I had decided to go on the road again in two weeks. My daughter, however, the reason I made this trip to the U.S., objected strenuously, so I have booked my departure for after the holidays.
And where will I be headed? The page this post is on might give you a hint.
Hua Hin has won the 2 Bags and a Pack tour sweepstakes. On Jan. 6, courtesy of JetBlue and Emirates Airlines, I will be traveling to Bangkok, from Charlotte to JFK in New York, and then on to Dubai before heading to Thailand.
My plan is to spend two nights in Bangkok, where a friend wants to see me and plans to meet me at the airport at 1 am. On Sunday, I will hire a minivan for the 2-3 hour journey to Hua Hin.
My plan is to reserve a hotel room in Hua Hin for a day or two, giving me time to walk around to find an apartment. I understand this is the best way to find a place to live – walking around, looking for rental signs and calling the phone number on the sign. That call should prove interesting, given the language differences.
Hua Hin is located on the long, narrow stretch of Thailand that extends from Bangkok to Malaysia. It is the summer home of the king and a favorite vacation destination for Thais, especially from Bangkok. The city of about 100,000 stretches out alongside a 3-mile-long white sand beach, reminiscent of the beaches in Sarasota, Fla.
There are more than 3,000 Westerners living there, mostly European, and the town offers a lot of what expats need in terms of shopping and entertainment.
My understanding is that I can get a furnished, 1-bedroom apartment for about $300/month, in walking distance to shops and the beach. There is a fresh market for food and a night market for whatever else you might need. There is also an upscale mall with a grocery with all the Western foods you could want – albeit at a price.
I’ve also decided to use the 90-day tourist visa option, which means I will have to leave the country every 90 days to have my passport stamped. The best option for such visa runs is Myanmar, which will offer another interesting trip down the road. It takes a day or two for the run and I might have to stay overnight in a country far more third world than Thailand.
Visa runs also can be made to Laos and Cambodia via ground transport, but that takes considerably longer.
I will be posting more on this next adventure as details emerge and my research progresses. And here’s another selfie in front of the fire last night. It’s too cold here!