This time will be different

“This time Israel will be different.” I tell everyone who will listen to me, not really for them, but to remind myself how much I have changed.

“This time, I’m going for different reasons.”

“This time, I won’t be miserable. I won’t cry into my too expensive glass of wine each night, wishing away my time here. I won’t sit on the beach and close my eyes and feel like I am sinking, sinking, sinking into the soft sand. I won’t wander the holiest city in the world and only see it in one dimension. This time …”

A sidewalk in Tel Aviv

It’s been eight months. That’s it. Eight months since I last landed in Israel. Eight months since I last wandered Ben Yehuda in Tel Aviv, hopped on a motorbike and checked out the flourishing street art scene in Tel Aviv. Got so drunk, I cried myself to sleep. For three nights.

30 Life Crisis Blog Israel Middle East

The lure of Prague

There is a history in Prague — and the rest of Europe — which suspends these places in time. Freezes them in moments only my brain can whisk me to.

The view from the airplane of Prague

Old communists blocks in Eastern Europe, bombed out buildings in the former Yugoslavia which wear their pock marks like badges of honor, of a reminder of the dirty past, hopeful future and the cruelty and beastly tendencies of man.

Here, in Prague, the former capital of Bohemia (it even sounds so whimsical), the winding Vlatava River etches its vein through the city. Graffiti sprinkles crumbling brick; old apartments with grand chandeliers hang in the entry ways to apartments where people who have their own stories and will never meet live; the contrast between what goes on under the veil of darkness and the light of day is apparent and beautiful.

Blog Czech Republic Europe

I feel the earth move: the earthquake in Chiang Mai

“I want you to take over control … take over control … take over control …”

My feet pedal furiously to the beat as I try to sweat the fever out of my body.

Six more songs. Only six more until I’m done and can go home, shower and take medicine, then pass out.

Except, sometime during the chorus, I feel my body begin to sway on my spin bike. Rocking, slowly, steadily, back and forth.

Holy shit. I’m super sick. I need to stop pedaling immediately.

Asia Blog Thailand

The Europe seduction

There are times I find myself staring at a map, just lost in the possibilities of the world and all of its wonders.

Then, the wanderlust begins to bubble up … to slowly seduce me into a world where backpacks, trains, hostels, waking up in a new city are the norm. Are romantic. These little tendrils of travel creep into my mind and plant their roots. They whisper to me at night, “Diana … book a flight … Diana … come to me.”

Like a hangover, I shake these thoughts away because, let’s face it, the beginning of 2014 saw me barely making it to Chiang Mai Gate, let alone across town … how in the world am I going to leave the country?

Asia Blog Europe Thailand The Comfort Zone Project

Celebrating Passover in Chiang Mai

Rabbis clad in the Orthodox suits stand upon chairs, clapping their hands with smiles on their faces as our makeshift congregation of travelers and expats clap along.

Celebrating Passover in Chiang Mai

 

“Day-day-enu, day-day-enu, day-day-enu, dayenu, dayenu, dayenu,” we all sing together, accents melting into the chorus of the Passover song.

It’s the first night of Passover, the first seder, and instead of being with family or friends or out reveling in Songkran, which takes place simultaneously this year, I am sitting in a ballroom of the Centara Hotel in Chiang Mai’s red light district. I’m surrounded largely by Israelis who have come together on this special night to bring in Passover together.

Asia Blog Expat Life Thailand Travel Tips

The blessing of Chiang Mai

Living in Chiang Mai, I am constantly treated to spectacular visual beauty, thanks to the hundreds of temples and religious activities which regularly occur here. Any given morning, en route to work, I get to see people praying to monks and offering alms to them to bring back to their respective temples.

The beauty of Buddhism is constantly on display in the city I call “home.”

Today is no exception.

Chiang Mai monks making pilgrimage

The first of 500 Dhutanga monks enters the shot.

Asia Blog Expat Life Thailand

Breaking up with booze

The Comfort Zone Project and my quest to not be “fat” in Thailand are leading me down a path of mindful eating, five-day-a-week workout sessions (three of which are with a personal trainer) and breaking up with booze.

OK. So, not really “breaking up,” but more like “we’re going into a very restricted relationship. Almost like a break-up, but from time-to-time, we can still hook-up and remember how much we loved each other.”

Cause, yeah … I’m not ready to quit you, sweet red wine. I just need more time for me than you.

Expat Life The Comfort Zone Project

10 tips for visiting Chiang Mai

Chiang Mai's moat

A moat surrounds the Old City of Chiang Mai.

Chiang Mai, the second largest city in Thailand, is a far cry from the hustle, bustle and general chaos that is Bangkok. I’ve found that there are two types of people who come to the largest city in Northern Thailand — those who love the moat-surrounded city, and those who don’t.

If you’re looking for action, heaps of shopping and thrive on true urban life, then Chiang Mai isn’t for you (although we do have a total of five major shopping malls in the city). Chiang Mai is chill. It’s laden with coffee shops, adorable little restaurants with gorgeous patios, quaint guest houses, locals who will chat with you on a songthaew en route to your destination and a night life scene that isn’t truly a night life scene (but still heaps of fun). As someone who has lived here long-term, it is easy to see why travelers come through town and end up staying far longer than intended.

Travel Tips

Daily Wanderlust: Rainbows in Koh Samui

Koh Samui can be described in one word: paradise.

Yes, this gorgeous island located in southern Thailand offers paradise to travelers in need of a break from the crowded Bangkok, the land-locked Chiang Mai or even the backpacker loop of SE Asia.

Here, you can unwind in adorable bungalows, sip exotic cocktails, party like you’re underage and just chill out. During my time in Samui, I chose to just chill, and let me say this: it was freaking awesome.

Destinations