Us on Turtle Beach in Penang, Malaysia

33 Things to be Thankful For

Last week I celebrated my 33rd birthday here in Thailand. It was such a peaceful day filled with an almond-croissant breakfast at a cute café, an oil massage, swim in our pool and dinner at my favourite Italian restaurant down the road. I could never have predicted that at this point in my life I’d be living in Asia with my favourite person, working online and enjoying the freedom to travel whenever I liked. Somehow, through years of trial and error, I’ve ended up in an extremely happy place. With that in mind, here are 33 things that I’m thankful for.

Dinner at Why Not? Restaurant in Chiang Mai, Thailand

33 Things to be Thankful for

1) Andrew – I sometimes take for granted how lucky I am to have a partner who shares my wanderlust, love of cute dogs and wants the same things from life as I do (travel, more travel and one day, our own pet dog. Oh, and hopefully a ‘proper’ home). Andrew and I first met when we were students and have spent the last 12 (!) years attempting to build a life together that we really want to live. There’s no-one else I’d rather be sharing this journey with.

Us at a tea plantation in Mae Salong, Thailand

2) Passion fruit – here in Chiang Mai I get to eat passion fruit all the time. Every. Single. Day. I love it.

3) Family and friends – over the last four years I’ve been constantly flitting around the world, communicating with family and friends though emails and Skype calls and taking advantage of their generous hospitality when I visit the UK. So, given that on paper I’m a pretty difficult and unreliable friend/family member, I’m grateful to have a group of people back in the UK who I can always count on. Through travel and blogging I’ve also been lucky enough to make some amazing new friends over the last few years.

Holiday dinner with some of my family in Spain

4) Health – I’m alive and I don’t have any awful illnesses. This is worth celebrating.

5) The pool – how incredible is it that I can put on my bikini, ride the lift down to the 5th floor of our apartment building and jump straight into an outdoor swimming pool every day? That’s the kind of luxury I could only have dreamed of when we lived in the UK, especially in the middle of winter.

Swimming pool at Trio Condo in Chiang Mai

6) Travel – I have no idea how to sum up how incredibly grateful I am for everything travel has given me. All I know is that leaving the UK to explore the world in 2013 was the best decision I’ve ever made. Choosing to build a life around travel is far from the easiest path, but through it I’ve seen incredible places, met all types of people and learnt so much. I am forever thankful to have the life circumstances that allow me to travel.

7) £2 cinema tickets – another top benefit of living in Thailand. When we lived in London we sometimes paid £15 each to see a film! Crazy!

8) My nephew – I struggle to remember what life was like before my nephew Alfie sprung into the world, but now he’s one of my all-time favourite people. I always look forward to visiting Alf, he is one of the funniest little creatures I’ve ever met and he spreads so much happiness in our family.

My nephew Alfie on holiday in Spain

9) No alarm clock – I am not and never have been a morning person. Just ask Andrew, or my Mum. So, it’s amazing to me that I’ve managed to create a lifestyle that is totally free of alarm clocks! Well, unless I need to catch an early flight, but that’s for travel, so it’s fine.

10) Blogging – when I started this blog nearly five years ago I really had no clue what would become of it or how long it would last. Now, I can’t imagine my life without it. Writing here helps me organise my thoughts, record precious memories and occasionally make a bit of cash. The best thing about becoming a blogger is that I’ve stumbled upon this world full of other people who share the same passions as me, some of whom have become friends. Blogging is one addiction I’m happy to have in my life.

Us in Squarm Lake, New Hampshire

11) Working from home – this means I can live almost entirely in my pyjamas, I rarely have to put on a bra and I can make as many cups of tea as I like. I can wake up at 8am and be at my desk at 8.05. I can take long lunch breaks if I want to, pop down to the pool or even have a nap in the middle of the day if I’m so inclined. Or, I can end up working until 10pm and answering emails around the clock, which is also a likely scenario.

12) My UK passport – ok, so thanks to Brexit in a couple of years my UK passport won’t carry quite the power it does now. However, until/if the whole Brexit mess gets sorted, I am fortunate to have a passport that lets me visit almost any country in the world.

View of mountains from a plane window

13) Happiness – this year has been a bit up and down for me. In fact, it started on a low note and sunk down steadily towards despair before finally bouncing back. So right now I’m thankful just to wake up each day feeling happy. On a bigger scale, nothing truly awful has ever happened to me and my life to date has been generally full of happiness. I know that makes me so unbelievably fortunate.

14) Parcels! – lately I’ve been lucky to receive a few parcels from family in the UK filled with cards and British treats like Marmite, Earl Grey tea bags and packets of cheese sauce. I love living in Thailand, but these small, familiar tastes from that rainy little island I reluctantly call home make me really happy.

British food goodies

15) Education – I feel thankful for having grown up in a country where I was given a mostly good, mostly free, education. I know that’s more than many children in the world get, especially girls.

16) Mountains – I only discovered how much I love mountains when I started travelling. Now, I can’t get enough of them and some of my favourite spots in the world are the tiny mountain villages I’ve visited in the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam. Every day here in Chiang Mai I wake up to an epic view of green-furred mountains that never fails to lift my spirits.

Our trekking guide from Sapa O'Chau

17) No commute – I remember what a drag it was to have to head out into the often cold, rainy morning and jostle my way onto a packed train with a herd of other zombie-like commuters when I lived in London. Now, the only commute I have to take is the 30-second one from my bed to my desk!

18) Cheese – if there’s one thing travelling and living in Asia has taught me, it’s that I simply cannot live without cheese.

Selection of Cheese in La Boqueria Market in Barcelona

19) Massages – last week I had one of the best foot massages I’ve ever experienced. It cost just £6. Thank you Asia for your cheap amazing massages, even though they sometimes involve flaming hot towels and sharp-ended sticks (I’m looking at you, Vietnam).

20) Dogs – what would life be without hounds? One of the only things I don’t like about our nomadic lifestyle is that we can’t have a dog. We do have plans to change that over the next few years though and one day I hope to have a whole pack of our own.

Dogs in Christmas outfits

21) Sunsets and sunrises – a couple of months ago we took a trip to Mae Salong and at the insistence of our guest house owner, got up at 6am to see the sunrise. Yes, I do hate alarm clocks, but watching the sun rise over a sea of clouds nestled between mountain peaks was well worth it. In ‘normal life’ I never took the time to watch the sun do its daily rounds, now I’m thankful that travel has given me the chance to watch many incredible sunsets and rises.

22) Freedom – I have more freedom than I ever thought possible in life. Freedom to go where I please, live however I like, write and be with the people I like most. I’ve come to realise that freedom is literally the key to happiness.

Sunset in Koh Chang, Thailand

23) Future adventures – I love the anticipation of new adventures on the horizon. So far in 2017 we have trips to Vietnam, Nepal and Sri Lanka planned as well as the possibility of more new destinations in the autumn.

24) Teaching – yes, I know I often complain about how traumatising my year teaching in Vietnam was, and while I hope never to step into a classroom ever again, I am thankful for that experience. I learnt so much about kids, patience and how to make myself heard in a room full of people through teaching.

Teaching in Hanoi

25) Perspective – travel affords me the luxury of perspective, which was lacking in my UK life. Us Brits like to complain about so much, but the fact is that we have a justice, health and education system that works reasonably well. We have democratic freedom, beautiful surroundings and ample life opportunities. Travel has taught me how rare these privileges are in the rest of the world.

26) £5 meals – I never cease to be amazed by Chiang Mai’s stunning array of vegetarian-friendly restaurants where I can eat an amazing meal whenever I like for less than £5.

Warm Brie Salad from Rustic and Blue restaurant in Chiang Mai

27) Cheap air travel – I am lucky to live in an age where, with a bit of saving, I can afford to fly literally anywhere in the world. No travel dream is too large.

28) Freelancing –the future I long to create depends on my ability to work remotely. So, while I’m still at the beginning of this journey, I’m thankful that I’m currently managing to make a modest living through freelance work – here are 8 things I’ve learned so far.

29) Skype – do you remember what life was like before Skype? I can see and speak to family and friends, for free, from wherever I am in the world. It’s really sci-fi come true and a dream for travellers.

A Native Gnome at Jamaica National Park

30) Travel blogs – before we left the UK, I became obsessed with travel blogs. Reading first-person accounts of how other people had managed to build a life around travel truly gave me the courage and inspiration to step away from life in the UK and start my own travel adventure.

31) London life – travel hasn’t shaken my love of London and wherever I am in the world, there’s a tiny part of me that longs to be back there. I’m forever thankful for the years I spent living in London and I hope that one day we’ll return.

Us in Central London

32) Possibilities – I’m thankful to have been able to create a life that is full of endless, exciting possibilities and potential adventures.

33) You! – if you’ve managed to get to the end of this incredibly long post, thank you for reading! To everyone and anyone who has ever read this humble little blog and supported our adventure, I truly appreciate it.

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What are you most thankful for?

  • Loes
    Posted at 12:10h, 15 December Reply

    <3 This post makes me smile!

    • Amy
      Posted at 12:14h, 15 December Reply

      Great to hear that Loes! Hope you have an awesome Christmas and one way or another we have to get together again some time in 2017!

  • Nikki T
    Posted at 13:05h, 15 December Reply

    Love the post and Happy Belated Birthday. I agree with everything you posted. Almost. One exception – missing Marmite, but I understand it’s a British thing 🙂

    • Amy
      Posted at 15:26h, 15 December Reply

      Thanks Nikki! Yep, Marmite is definitely an acquired taste, I was weaned onto it early in life and now it’s as essential as tea!

  • Kate Green
    Posted at 14:20h, 15 December Reply

    Lovely post and so many good things in the world that we need to remind ourselves daily to be grateful. The animal issue is hard for travelers. We struggle with it too. Our beagle is 3 years old and was born in Thailand! We got him in Dubai and he then traveled to Paris and onto Florida. This spring he will hopefully be heading to Mexico with us. So it can be done but it’s harder than taking kids for sure! If you ever want Florida (St Petersburg) we might need dog sitting:)

    • Amy
      Posted at 15:29h, 15 December Reply

      Glad you enjoyed and can identify Kate. I love Beagles and I’m so interested to hear how you’ve managed to integrate travel and a dog into your life. We would definitely be keen to dog sit for you, sounds amazing!

  • Rhonda
    Posted at 16:41h, 15 December Reply

    An excellent list! We all have so much to be thankful for, and it’s important to remember those reasons when the challenges of this lifestyle rear their ugly heads.

    • Amy
      Posted at 04:57h, 16 December Reply

      Thanks Rhonda, that’s so true 🙂 I hope you guys have a great Christmas!

  • Gilda Baxter
    Posted at 09:02h, 16 December Reply

    Happy belated birthday Amy…33 how lovely, I can hardly remember being that age now. I love this post and it is so great to remind ourselves every day to be grateful. I loved that the first point is Andrew, you guys have such a lovely relationship. But then passion fruit comes before friends and family?? hahahaha…just kidding I know it’s all in no particular order. Loved this post?
    Have a very merry Christmas and I hope 2017 will be a fabulous year for you both x

    • Amy
      Posted at 09:26h, 16 December Reply

      Thanks Gilda 🙂 Lol, yes, I did think it might look like I valued passion fruit to a somewhat crazy extent! You’re right though, they’re in no particular order. Thanks for the holiday wishes and I hope you have a great Christmas too, I look forward to hearing about your travel plans for 2017!

  • Finding Beyond
    Posted at 11:40h, 16 December Reply

    Such a great post….I think I would have to include cake somewhere in the list but overall agree with everything. ? very glad dogs and cheese got a mention aswell.

    Glad you had a great day celebrating….so exciting not knowing where you will be to celebrate your next birthday.

    • Amy
      Posted at 11:43h, 16 December Reply

      Thanks guys! Yes, I totally should have included cake too! That’s a good point, I really have no idea where we’ll be this time next year 🙂

  • Victoria @The British Berliner
    Posted at 08:12h, 19 December Reply

    Many congratulations Amy! Wow! You’ve done so well. I’m sure your family and friends are enormously proud.

    I agree with you on everything especially Andrew (in my case, my husband and my son), expat opportunities in a foreign country, my blog, and British food. I’ve just finished the last box of PG Tips and I’m all in a flurry!

    • Amy
      Posted at 14:17h, 19 December Reply

      Thanks Victoria! Oh no, I think you need a new stash of teabags for Christmas 🙂

  • Patti
    Posted at 19:44h, 20 December Reply

    Happy Birthday, Amy! We have similar lists in that I love working in my pajamas, not having to commute and no alarm clocks – all very important in my current life as I spent way too many years “not” having those things.

    As someone who’s been with you since the beginning of your journey, I look forward to continuing right along with you and Andrew, two of the sweetest people we’ve had the pleasure of actually meeting face-to-face!

    • Amy
      Posted at 03:39h, 21 December Reply

      Thanks so much Patti, it was great to meet you guys too – I can’t believe that was a year ago! Glad you agree on the pjs and alarm clocks 🙂

  • Alyson
    Posted at 06:08h, 23 December Reply

    Happy Birthday Amy! My list would be very similar, but I’d have to write 50, and that would take too long. Can I say my kids 17 times just to bump up the numbers? And did you forget Marmite. Bunnies too, bunnies are nice, and snow and skiing and passive income. Yay for passive income! Let us know if you want to swap your apartment for base camp Romania any time 😉

    • Amy
      Posted at 06:21h, 23 December Reply

      Thanks Alyson! Yes, I decided not to add Marmite this time, I talk about it so often people are going to start thinking Marmite is paying me per mention (its not, by the way!). We’re going to be sad to say goodbye to our CM apartment in April 🙁 We’d love to check out base camp Romania and pet sit the bunnies if our plans for next autumn work out and if you need a sitter! Happy Christmas 🙂

  • Louisa klimentos
    Posted at 22:23h, 23 December Reply

    Absolutely loved your post and i hope you enjoyed your birthday.I feel so sad when i don’t get a chance to read your blogs.Well i said to myself that on Christmas eve,Iam going to read your blogs ,without fail and that is what i just did.When i was going through a rough time in my life,i would read and comment on your posts and that was what helped me cope with life.Thankyou Amy and Andrew for providing us with your amazing travel Blogs.i hope you can make it Down under one day and that you will experience the real Australia.Try Kakadu in the Northern Territoryand i hope this place will tough your heart.Please have a merry Christmas and may the new year bring you more amazing adventures.By the way my son Michael is leaving on boxing day to visit Thialand for a week.He definately got the travel bug.Keep all your posts coming ,love Louisa

    • Amy
      Posted at 03:22h, 24 December Reply

      Aww, thanks Louisa for such a lovely comment. I hope you’re well and have an amazing Christmas and New Year. I’m sure your son will have an incredible time in Thailand!

  • Louisa klimentos
    Posted at 02:58h, 29 December Reply

    Thanks heaps Amy and give my regards to Andrew,love louisa

    • Amy
      Posted at 12:22h, 29 December Reply

      Will do, Happy New Year 🙂

  • Donna
    Posted at 18:32h, 31 December Reply

    A lot of good things on your list. Happy Birthday!

    • Amy
      Posted at 05:40h, 01 January Reply

      Thanks Donna! 🙂

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