A reflection of life two years at home after traveling and living abroad.

Two Years of Home

A reflection of life two years at home after traveling and living abroad.

December 15, 2015.

I remind myself regularly of this date. When I’m up at night, my brain whirrs as I count the days, weeks, months and now years since I turned my back on expat life.

It seems like no time has passed at all, and yet all the time in the world has passed.

December 15, 2015.

It hovers over me at times, gently bringing back memories.

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What's it like to re-enter after living as an expat? An honest look at returning to life as a recovering expat.

True Story: I’m a Recovering Expat

What's it like to re-enter after living as an expat? An honest look at returning to life as a recovering expat.Editor’s Note: This should have been published on Dec. 15, 2016. I was hella sick so never published it on the actual one-year anniversary of surrendering my status as an expatriate. Better late than never, right?

Hi. My name is Diana. I used to be an expat. For almost four years, it was how I defined myself. I was an expat. Living in Chiang Mai. Living in London. Living in Madrid.

I was a writer. An animal rights activist. A digital nomad. But, most importantly, I was an expat. It was all-encompassing.

It was the one word which I felt the most closely connected to. The word which summed up my story in a pretty little package.

Expat.

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Midnight in the Garden of Good

Midnight

There’s a cacophony of crickets, frogs and dogs barking that wake me before my friend, Jodi, does.

Laying on the bamboo floor in her hut constructed of the same at Elephant Nature Park, I am still. Present in the total darkness as the world softly whispers outside the slats in her walls.

Her soft footfalls come from the bedroom and into the main room where I am splayed out, tucked under some thick blanket a top a Thai mat typical of what people sleep on.

She approaches me, and in a hushed voice so as not to wake her son in the other room, or the two dogs and cat somewhere nearby, she asks if I’m awake.

“Yeah,” I whisper back, slowly peeling back the blanket from my body and standing up. The floor creaks softly the way woven bamboo does when walked upon. It’s a sound I haven’t heard for months. Since I left the park in December 2014 to start one of many new chapters in my life.

“Follow me,” she instructs, opening her front door.

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Not sure what to do at night in Chiang Mai? From casual beer to upscale bars to hip nightclub, this Guide to Nightlife in Chiang Mai has something for everyone from dtravelsround.com

Guide to Nightlife in Chiang Mai

Not sure what to do at night in Chiang Mai? From casual beer to upscale bars to hip nightclub, this Guide to Nightlife in Chiang Mai has something for everyone from dtravelsround.com
Compared to the thumping and thriving nightlife in Bangkok, Chiang Mai at night is sleepy and reserved. But, sleepy and reserved in a way that isn’t really sleepy or reserved at all.

From backpacker enclaves to seedier lady bars, to local dives and the places where the hip and fabulous hang out, there’s something for everyone.

The Drinks

Before we get into where to go, depending on what you’re look for, let’s talk about the booze and prices.

The cheapest bottle to be had that guarantees a buzz, if not more (as well as a hangover the next day) is the popular Sangsom. A dark rum, but referred to by locals as Thai whisky, is one of way to kick off an evening. Often combined with soda or soda water, you can also order it by the bucket. Yes. Bucket. There are some other liquors out there that are cheaper than Sangsom, but I don’t recommend them. Yes, I’m looking at you Hong Tong and Lao Kao.

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Because Sometimes You Don’t Realize It’s Love Until It’s Gone

Sometimes you don't know love until it's gone. A look at returning to Thailand, a former home, after being gone. A personal essay on loving a place and leaving.
My heart races as the cab driver pulls up to the International Terminal at Madrid. I’ve been here before, but this time, it’s different. This time, I’m not hopping on a short flight to London, or heading to the States to procure my Spanish Visa. This time, I’m going back to Thailand. The longest place I have called “home” in what seems like a lifetime.

I stand outside, looking at the cloudless blue sky and the barren hills which line the airport.

In 20 hours, my view will be a tropical paradise.

I’ve flown in and out of Bangkok more than any other airport in the world, and yet, on this occasion, I’m not flying to my moat-encircled city in the north of the country. I’m not returning to my Thai house. To the elephants. I’m heading to Thailand to speak at an event, and with that comes a tidal wave of raw emotions.

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Thailand: That Old, Familiar Smell

Have you noticed that Thailand has a distinct smell? Thoughts on the scent and returning to what was once home.
“There’s a smell,” the man seated next to me explains as we circle the airspace above Bangkok. “I can’t describe it … but … it’s this smell. It’s distinct. It’s Thailand.”

I smile at him, weary from traveling for 24 hours and not looking forward to an overnight at the airport.

“Ah,” I remark half-heartedly. “I’ve never been.”

“Well, you will know when you step off the plane, it’s unmistakeable.”

When we step off the plane a few minutes later, it’s hard to get a whiff of anything as we move slowly from the jetway into the massive airport. But, when I step outside, it hits miss.

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