15 Dec 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
What are you most thankful for?