how things go and whether or not I can get any necessary permit(s) and how long this will take. I am anxious to see how the country has changed, if it has.
Foreigners were prohibited from traveling to the area where I am going up until a few years ago. The area is considered a conflict zone because of the fighting between the Burmese Buddhists and Rohingya Muslims and violence is ongoing.
A couple of quick tips for people going to Myanmar:
1. Bring dollars but be extremely picky about the quality of your bills. Scrutinize every single bill, preferably 50's and 100's, and I've gone as far as ironing bills with minor creases in them. Those exchanging the bills for Myanmar Kyat (Chat) are ridiculously fastidious about what they will and will not accept. Only accept perfect bills from the bank or you'll be ironing the tiny folds out of them.
2. Expect everything to take longer. If you need to get somewhere in a week, add a couple of days just in case. Just do it, believe me. Delays are common so be prepared.
3. Taxis are often old rust buckets doubling as cars. There won't be a limo waiting for you at the airport Brittany. Deal with it. Negotiate with the drivers. Most speak enough English to suffice.
4. There are now ATM machines in Myanmar. Funds are dispensed in Burmese Kyat. Although most people have said they have had minimal problems getting their money from the machines, do not rely on them for the bulk of your funds.
5. Got a weak bladder or stomach? Consider flying as opposed to taking a bus — roads are poor. If you're the type who vomits after getting off a roller coaster or who needs to pee every five minutes, fly! The roads to Mandalay and elsewhere are kidney shattering and uncomfortable at best so it's best to take your chances on Air Mandalay or Air Bagan.
takes a step backwards. It is impossible to please all Thai citizens and difficult to please the masses. It is not so much about who can best serve the country as it is who is available and willing. Sure, you can get rid of Yingluck, then what? Who will lead the country? Excuse my pessimistic attitude but Thai leaders have a rather poor reputation - again - this is simply my opinion. Who is to say getting rid of one supposed rotten apple will make the boo-boo all better? If you replace one rotten apple with a different, but equally rotten apple, you're kicking sand in your own face.
For those visiting or who live here, refrain from watching the accident on the side of the road. Stay away from the protest areas, only go places if you must, make sure you have plenty of food and water, and wait it out. I doubt this shutdown will get messy but better safe than sorry. If anything, getting around, going where you want, when you want, might be inconvenient. From past experience, it seems being here in Thailand during a protest is inconvenient, but for most, it is still relatively safe.
The 64-million-dollar question; would I come to Thailand right now? Is it safe?
No. Why should I?
There are safer, better options, and if one is set on coming to Thailand, a few days is probably all it will take to figure out if you should postpone your ticket or cancel.
Quite frankly, women are a subject most men love talking about. When it comes to Thai women, there is no shortage or me willing to tell me of their woes or ask questions relating to why they are the way the are.
I am no Dr. Phil or Dr. Ruth. I am no expert on women. How many true experts are there? I'll answer that, not many. At the age of 51, I had my share of relationships and flings. More than the average guy. So while I do not consider myself an expert, after all these years, I have accumulated a fair amount of knowledge. Knowledge is always great but probably the most important thing I have learned is to use common sense!
The most surprising thing I've found is just how many guys come to Thailand and lose all semblance of common sense. Over the course of two decades, I have seen everyone from accomplished businessmen to computer programmers to hardened soldiers all succumb to Thai women, later only to realize the depth of their poor judgement. Don't only blame Thai women though. Many are poor and struggling and view western men as their golden ticket. And as PT Barnum said, "There's a sucker born every minute." With a never ending supply of men willing to believe in love with impoverished Asian women, is it any surprise the needy find one another and end up in disaster?
Watch for the upcoming video on Today's Thai Women vs. Thai Women of the Past.
From the time I began traveling on my own at the age of 17, I have heard from all the naysayers and those who were content to travel from their homes in the U.S. to another state, or Canada or Mexico. When I first moved here, my friends and family questioned my motives. Some believe if you move to Thailand or somewhere else in the world, there is something wrong. You must have a reason for running away.
Yes, I have a reason — I want to see the world.
People who read this blog and watch my videos actually know very little about me. I have a family, my personality is straightforward and blunt, I have lived in Thailand for 18 years, and I might seem to be happy-go-lucky. Some people think they know this much and my personality on YouTube is my personality at home or out and about. Sometimes it is, sometimes it isn't. Simple as that.
What do I do every day?
I answer emails, YouTube comments, and take care of my social media — this takes and hour or two per day. Then I will write for anywhere from an hour to four hours. Sometimes I'll write something for my blog, other times I'll work on one of my books. Depends on how I feel.
Of course, I'll eat breakfast and lunch at some point, sometimes at home, sometimes around town or in The Mall. Some mornings, instead of writing, I'll pick a place to photograph, grab my bag, and go.
My YouTube videos usually take a couple hours per day to shoot, edit, and upload. Three to four times per week I'll look over my photos, edit, classify, and upload any I feel are worthwhile.
At the end of each day, or on weekends, I spend a few hours with my wife and two sons. By this time, I'm usually worn out. Whenever possible, I'll squeeze in a little private time and watch documentaries, or a movie, and conk out. If this isn't enough, I'm now including exercise into my day.
One other thing I do that takes up quite a bit of time is research. I spend hours researching projects and places I want to photograph and figuring how much is necessary to take these trips. There's a lot of little things I need to do every day — I don't know how I would do it if I were back in the US working 8-10 hours a day. But then, things would probably be quite a bit different.
What are some things people might be unaware of?
For better or worse, I am a fly by the seat of my pants sort of guy.
I love reading literature by Hemingway, Conrad, Michener, Mailer and recently, Stephen Clark.
Although I can be very lazy at times, most of the time, I work until I cannot stay awake any longer.
I am an insomniac.
I am rocker through and through, but I like blues and classical music too.
Both my wife and I are the same — we are always doing something — type A personalities.
So what's my point?
If you're young, or not of retirement age, and you plan on moving to Thailand, in this day and age you better have a plan, a back-up plan, and a second back-up plan. You should also have some marketable skills. The old days of teaching English are slowly becoming a thing of the past. For the time being, if you have a TEFL certificate and/or a degree, you can get by quite well and prosper. But in the coming years, more and more Thais will speak English and the Thai government's requirements will get more difficult. Come prepared — financially, mentally, and career wise — that's my point.