Why I haven’t been blogging…

Paper Planes Chiang Mai blog

I managed to write 12 blog posts in 2017 and that was pushing it. There were months that I didn’t write a single post or share anything on social media.

A quick update: I’m still alive. I’m still living in Chiang Mai. I’m still writing. But just not here.

Here’s why.

The past year and a half has been rough

I turned 30 and things got real. It was like, “Welcome to your life – here is a bunch of shit to deal with – good luck!” Every month there has been a new disaster to deal with. Family deaths. Visa issues. Sudden expenses. Sicknesses. Taking care of others in the hospital. Doing the long distance relationship thing. Getting attacked by dogs and watching them rip into Manee. Nursing her back to health and visiting the vet every single day for weeks. More hospital and vet and immigration and lawyer visits…

Social media kind of sucks

I don’t like being on social media. I understand it has the potential to be used for good, how people are sucked in and why it’s an important tool for businesses. I like planning and creating content for clients and helping grow their communities. But for me personally, I find being on social media a drag. Particularly as an American, for the last year and a half scrolling through Facebook can be depressing AF. Plus, I really don’t care what people I have not been in touch with for years are up to. I have had enough to deal with in my own immediate world to have noise from social media taking up space in my head.

When it comes to traveling, I’ve never been one to naturally share what I’m doing as I’m doing it, preferring to experience things in real life without constantly updating my feeds. That feeling also started to bleed into blogging.

(Where do you stand on this? Are you still on the social media bandwagon or preferring to disconnect? What types of things do you like to see or follow?)

A photo of a photo of a photo
Meta. A photo of a photo of a photo.

I have a job

Spoiler alert: I don’t make money from having a blog. Some fun perks? Sometimes. A few small affiliate sales or commissions here and there? On a good day. Random new work and writing opportunities? When I’m lucky.

Money? No.

I don’t make much money from blogging and am not willing to put in the time, resources and effort to try and make more. I don’t feel comfortable building something that can be immediately and negatively affected by new algorithm change by Google or Facebook.

I also have a fulltime job.

The beginning of 2017 marked my official foray into the world of Thai business. And it’s been rocky. My work and clients are great – I offer copywriting, editing and content creation services for Thai and international businesses that are mainly in the travel/hospitality industry. But trying to figure out rules, regulations or expected business practices in a country and language that is not my own, and is not up to speed with people working non-traditional jobs, has been a constant source stress, frustration and doubt.

Between keeping up with client work, playing by the Thai rules and traveling every once in awhile, I haven’t had the time to write for this site. Or if I have had the time, I mentally couldn’t write. another. word. When you’re on the computer typing all day for work, the last thing you want to do in your free time is sit in front of the screen some more and try to be clever.

My travel has changed

The shift started in 2016. Looking back I wrote several posts, like this quick mention of my five-year anniversary of being in Asia, this moan about being sick of traveling solo and this look at traveling less but trying to have richer, more crafted experiences. I am well past the backpacker/long-term travel stage. I will happily stay on friends’ couches and in hostels (though only in private rooms – even while I’m traveling I’m always working and a dorm does not cut it), but also have thoroughly appreciated spending more for more comfortable or more unique accommodation.

Part of this shift came from being tired of traveling alone and traveling without any real purpose. Part of it came from having more consistent work and more money. While you can easily do Bangkok on a backpacker budget, it’s undeniably more fun when you have some extra cash to spend…and why go to the trouble of planning an adventure if you’re not going to be able to make the most of it? (For example, this hotel added a level of fun and memorability to a stay in Bangkok, instead of staying in a basic concrete room for less.)

This change in traveling has meant I’m exploring less than I used to and have different priorities. I won’t go out of my way to go on a press trip or do a hosted hotel stay, and when I do travel it’s more personal. Altogether, it means I’m not researching or sharing as much travel info here.

Penang Malaysia
Wandering through Penang while waiting for visas to be processed.

I fell out of love with Chiang Mai

After I first moved to Thailand, I distinctively remember my eyes filling with tears at just the thought of one day leaving Chiang Mai. This past year, instead of loving it and feeling at home half way around the world from Seattle, I have felt continually frustrated and disheartened in Chiang Mai after doing everything possible to build a life here. The trade-offs became too tough or irritating, whether it was dealing with legal stuff or doing daily errands. For instance, I own a motorbike, have the proper paperwork and licenses, and have never had any issues driving. But almost every day I’m flagged as a foreigner and stopped by the police. After being somewhere so long, it’s tedious having to continually prove yourself. Also, since the dog incident, I’ve been scared to take Manee out and still feel a flash of fear walking, or even driving, past dogs on the street.

My last priority was writing about what to do in Chiang Mai when I didn’t even want to be here.

The best dog in Chiang Mai
That little face!

Of course, there were still good things. Seeing the sun almost every day is still better than surviving the Pacific Northwest’s dark winters. Khao soi is still delicious and you can’t beat the cost of living in Chiang Mai. I also have met some of the best people in the world in Chiang Mai and have numerous friends who I can call upon at any moment for help, even if that means taking my broken dog to the vet when I’m out of town. My landlord will pick me up at the airport when I arrive back from a trip without me even asking. All of my clients are nice, interesting, flexible, and I like them and their businesses – something that I did not experience while working in Seattle. My partner handles bad news and tough times more patiently and gracefully than I do, and made things better for me even when it was all falling apart or when he was really the one who needed support. There were, and are, still many, many good things.

And I think I’ve made it out onto the other side. Hopefully.

So what will I be doing in this space?

I’m still not quite sure. I know it’s not going away and will be trying to post more consistently, but it is also not a priority. I will be sharing more insight into traveling and living in Chiang Mai starting with a couple different series focusing on the common questions I always get asked (What are the highlights for two days in town? Is it safe to travel in Thailand as a solo female?).

Yellow Crafts Brewing in Chiang Mai

I also have started exploring the city more after what feels like a year of hibernation – there are so many more cafes!

If you have questions about Chiang Mai, as well as Thailand in general, please let me know in the comments below. And thanks for continuing to follow along.

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45 Comments

  • Posted January 4, 2018
    by Michel

    We need to plan some fun adventures. I also need to get out more. I’m up for exploring new things. Let me know when you’re back.

  • Posted January 4, 2018
    by Joella

    Thanks for posting this! Sorry to hear you’ve had a rough time with certain things over the last year.
    I’m with you on social media. While I do still look at Instagram (what alerted me to your new post), I find myself frequently unfollowing accounts and I don’t post on it often myself anymore. I hardly look at Facebook. I don’t mind using either platform to follow or stay in touch with people I like but I’m not interested in using them to grow a blog following- it’s too hard unless you want to game the system. Not that I have blogged much recently anyway. Like you, I don’t have the time but I do plan to try and get a few posts up over the next few weeks. Anyway, Happy New Year! I hope your dog has recovered now and things are on the up. I’ll be reading whenever you choose to post next. :)

    • Posted January 4, 2018
      by Alana Morgan

      Thank you for reading! I hear ya on building followings on social media…I’ve not done anything different on Instagram this past year and am losing hundreds of followers a month. Don’t get it and don’t care to keep up! The dog has recovered for the most part…it’s me who’s still emotionally scarred ;)

  • Posted January 4, 2018
    by Dave

    Can relate to just about everything there. As far as blog posts go, it’s a damn impressive one and worthy in its own right…if for nothing else that not painting the world in a glowing glossy light, acknowledging change, and highlighting the rough with the smooth.

    There’s value in reading this for us SEA ex-pats, given the often transient nature of friendships and colleagues in this part of the world and the all too present uncertainty about what lies around the corner (lack of healthcare, lack of pensions, lack of real integration in to the local culture, political discourse in realms way beyond what we are used to in the West…)

    • Posted January 4, 2018
      by Alana Morgan

      I know things could fall apart anytime, anywhere…but I do think we’re taking a bigger risk than many other places by trying to build a life in Southeast Asia. This past year it’s also been made incredibly obvious that even if I live and work in Thailand for years – heck, even if I were to get married to a Thai national and have a child – I will never receive any benefits, protection, rights or true integration. So why do it all then? There are certainly still plenty of pros, but the cons are starting to seem too concrete.

      • Posted January 5, 2018
        by Dave

        The “why” you probably know already….because those benefits we lack are only really vital when it rains. And as SEA is almost always sunny – metaphorically and literally – you can live well 99% of the time without that safety net….but when it rains, it really pours!

        Even with full benefits, I’d imagine many first-generation immigrants even in established Western countries still feel like outsiders. I spent the second 20 years of my life living in England. Yet even as an English speaking, white anglo-saxon NZer with a British passport I still felt foreign and as if I would never fully fit in. The only saving grace is I was amongst hundreds of thousands of other immigrants in London, so far from alone. The lack of ever being fully connected with a place is universal I think.

        Fortunately Thailand is, for the most part, developing benefits for all. Or at least provides levels of support we can only dream about here in Cambodia.

  • Posted January 4, 2018
    by Diana Barton

    Hi Alana,
    Thank you for your honest post. I wonder how quickly social media platforms would fail if more of us were not only honest about our feelings, but followed through to cancel our ‘membership’.
    I have only been blogging for a 18 months, and I still really enjoy it, but am waiting for eye surgery, and while I wait, working on my computer is very difficult. But there is this social media treadmill. Facebook lost its luster for me sometime ago, and while I make no money on social media (I am retired and travel and blog for fun) there is this expectation to post and respond.
    What to do?
    I hope that whatever you choose to do, that you find more peace, satisfaction and fulfillment than you have right now. It’s a new year. Time to do something new.
    Regards,
    Diana

  • Posted January 4, 2018
    by Phil

    Sorry to hear about your dog! Poor little thing. I’m always scared to take my dogs out into the neighbourhood for the same reason.

    I’ve missed reading your stuff, but the way you explained it makes total sense. Wishing you better luck for 2018!

    • Posted January 4, 2018
      by Alana Morgan

      The dog has been one of the hardest parts! She’s really doing fine (for the most part), but now I’m totally paranoid. It happened last September and a couple months ago I realized I had been scared for a year…that’s not where you want to live. Hope things are going for you :)

      • Posted January 5, 2018
        by Mark Elliott

        Hey Alana – you may regain your peace of mind if you take some kind of proactive action like carrying a squirt gun or spray bottle filled with a mixture of ammonia or vinegar and water – the web has all kinds of info on safe dog repellents.
        I’ve never had an experience like yours with lingering emotional trauma but you will probably feel much less anxiety on your outings if you take action to regain a sense of control when you go out. It’s worth a try anyway to see if carrying a dog repellent helps reduce your stress and anxiety.
        Best wishes for a good 2018 and finding greater peace in dealing with the roller-coaster of life.

        • Posted January 6, 2018
          by Alana Morgan

          Thank you! Some people have suggested carrying pepper spray but I wasn’t comfortable with that either…I never thought of searching for any alternative…

  • Posted January 5, 2018
    by veena

    I will admit I have missed reading your updates on here, but I completely understand. Sometimes you just need some time away to reflect on everything. I also very much feel you on falling out of love with a place — I lived in Bangalore for so many years and loved every single thing about it, but then I slowly caught myself not enjoying it any longer: we were simply growing in different directions. I eventually decided to leave and come back to Memphis, because that was the right decision for me, but I hope that you find yourself loving Chiang Mai once again. And I will look forward to reading more about your life there when you decide it’s the right time to write about it. Sending you good wishes for a great year ahead!

    • Posted January 6, 2018
      by Alana Morgan

      Thanks for reading and take the time to write a note. How was it readjusting to Memphis??

      • Posted January 9, 2018
        by veena

        It was pretty easy for me, for a few reasons:
        – I went to undergrad here and know the city really well
        – my family had been here the whole time I was back-and-forth to India, so it continued to be my home base whenever I was back in the States
        – I still had a number of friends here, so it was easy to slide back into those routines
        – I was so over life in India by that point

        I think it was really the last one that helped me adjust the best. When I came to the States for grad school in 2011 I had a tough time because I was trying to figure out if I wanted to settle in India long-term or be back in the States and was just really confused about all of it. When I moved back in 2016 I had no doubts.

  • Posted January 5, 2018
    by Beverly J Weber

    I am sorry to hear about your year, your dog, all that yucky stuff. I am a 53-year-old widow, with serious plans to move to Chiang Mai in about three years to “retire”. I have elderly parents who likely will not be around beyond this year or next, so the three year delay in making the jump is intentional. I need to take care of all that “stuff” (emotional, financial, etc.) before heading overseas. I have truly enjoyed your blog (and others) as I can read through them to help me prepare for the move. This latest blog certainly points out challenges that a newbie would not be aware of or even think about, so thank you for your honesty.

    Again, I am sorry about your year and wish you all the best in 2018!

    • Posted January 6, 2018
      by Alana Morgan

      You will love it over here! Truly I still do like it and there are a ton of perks – I’m not totally ready to leave yet – but naturally after being here so long I have plenty of negative experiences that have piled up as well. If you haven’t found it yet http://www.thailandretirementhelpers.com has a lot of interesting information about retiring in Chiang Mai :)

  • Posted January 5, 2018
    by Elizabeth

    I’m sorry to hear that your year was so crappy! I hope that 2018 will be a lot better, full of tons of business success, fewer visa issues (those are really the worst), and relaxing travel plans. As for social media, I like it to an extent, and I do find that when I’m posting on Instagram and Facebook more regularly, I get more clients, so I’m trying to focus on that for 2018. Best wishes!

    • Posted January 6, 2018
      by Alana Morgan

      Visa issues are the worst no matter where you are! I know I need to keep up with social media to an extent…just trying to figure out where those boundaries are ;)

  • Posted January 5, 2018
    by Twin Jalanugraha

    Sad to hear about your dog, I have missed your updates.

    • Posted January 6, 2018
      by Alana Morgan

      Thank you for reading :) She is doing well now, just gave me a good scare!

  • Posted January 6, 2018
    by Sheri

    Alana,

    I’ve long followed your blog and am sorry your are in a rut. I hope something snaps you back and uplifts you to feel inspired again. I didn’t write much on my own blog last year. I feel similar about my creative pursuits, they don’t earn a living. I hate judging success on likes and followers of social media. I don’t care for facebook much either. I think I’d much rather have a good book to read these days! But I still love writing and photography so I’m keeping at it, even if much slower. I can hear the tired feeling in you and recognize it in my own voice. ‘Til you figure out your next step, hang out with your partner and friends. A good laugh with loved ones makes life’s low points better. Maybe finding a new passion, exercise routine or fun class could help too. :) Chin up. You still rock and I still love your blog and photos.

    • Posted January 7, 2018
      by Alana Morgan

      Thanks for taking the time to comment and the kind words :) Things are going fine…but I am just kind of tired like you said. Something will shift though.

  • Posted January 6, 2018
    by Nancy

    Sorry to hear about your dog, I would be scarred too. I gotta ask… What happened and how was she attacked?!? For context, I am a dog lover and dog owner and I am living in Chiang Mai. I have travelled throughout most of Asia and only in Chiang Mai have I been chased by a dog… TWICE! The dogs here are much more aggressive, and I am so scared of them.

    • Posted January 7, 2018
      by Alana Morgan

      It was really odd, we were walking on my soi and there what looked like two little bulldogs (French bulldogs?) walking toward us. They stood out cause I had never seen them before and they weren’t typical Thai street dogs. I picked my dog up to walk past them (which is what I’ve always done and never had a dog come near us if I was carrying her) and they started sniffing at my feet then jumping up on me trying to get at her and I let go. Then they tore into her like she was a toy. I was yelling and trying to kick them then luckily some guy driving past on a motorbike got off started hitting them as well. There had been a couple young monks too who were trying to help but of course weren’t doing anything aggressive. It was just really weird and terrible – we were at the wrong place at the wrong time.

      • Posted January 7, 2018
        by Nancy

        Holy smokes that is crazy, but I am not surprised. I’ve seen these bulldogs tore into shoes/dog beds/toys and rip them to shreds. I can’t believe they would attack your dog like that though! I’m so sorry to hear about your dog, and I hope your little one makes a full recovery!

        • Posted January 8, 2018
          by Alana Morgan

          I don’t know if they thought she was a toy…? They didn’t seem like they were out to cause destruction…just got caught up in the moment and their energy fed off each other. I still hate them though…

  • Posted January 7, 2018
    by Charlie Evans

    Nice post. Just subscribed. Looking forward to reading more.

    I love Chiang Mai, and Thailand, looking forward to being back there later this year.

  • Posted January 7, 2018
    by Phil

    Being a blogger is like having homework every night for the rest of your life.

    • Posted January 8, 2018
      by Alana Morgan

      Ha so true – that’s the freelancer’s curse. Yes, I can work from anywhere….and I do, all the time! ;)

  • Posted January 8, 2018
    by Adam

    I just discovered your blog and find it quite informative I live in Thailand during the winters starting this year, so your insights are helpful

    I semi quit Facebook this year and it was the best thing. I unfollowed all my friends with the exception of family and a select few If I had not had an actual live conversation with a person within a year, I unfollowed. Now I just follow specific Groups ie Thailand Travel etc. If it turns political, I unfollow My overall attitude and mood improved greatly.

    Did you learn how to speak , read and write Thai. I am learning now. I can read pretty well, although I don’t often know what I’m reading and speaking is slowly coming along.

    • Posted January 9, 2018
      by Alana Morgan

      I have taken private lessons off and on for years and can read/write (though spelling is a whole other thing…). I have a good foundation but have never been in a situation where I was constantly surrounded by Thai and hearing it used naturally consistently so I’m really embarrassed about how low my level is still. Good on you for learning…most people don’t even try at all!

  • Posted January 8, 2018
    by ed

    Just found your blog and it’s great. Almost nine years in Udorn now for me, and have gone through a lot of the same kinds of changes. I had to stop taking morning walks after being attacked three times by soi dogs; oh well, it got me into a regular gym, and that is much better for me anyway. Look forward to following your posts, if you get back to them.

    • Posted January 9, 2018
      by Alana Morgan

      Soi dogs can be terrifying! Thank you for taking the time to read and comment :)

  • Posted January 8, 2018
    by Naomi

    I feel the exact same way about social media and blogging in general! Being in the moment and experiencing it is so much better though I know it’s good for business and growth to do social media. Ugh.

  • Posted January 9, 2018
    by Adina

    It hurts my heart to hear it’s been a rough year Alana—although its great to read your writing. And falling out of love where you have loved seems new. Definitely agree with warm weather days and sunshine ☀️. I’m sorry about your puppy. Lofa was left out over night and I felt so awful. Thankfully we have great neighbors who she ran over to. I wish we stayed in touch more as always. And social media has its good—but I feel like sometimes getting lost without a phone for 2 weeks sounds majestic and charming. Almost romantic—like vintage. Timeless. Stillness. There’s something aboulike being present in nature that can seems to cure all the tech use. Either way, it’s a new year! 😊 many blessings.

    Ps… agree about the sunshine everyday—it beats the grey hands down. And there is something about being outdoors that offsets Social Media—but like you said it’s part of work now. —the ocean is my oasis now. Happy New Year old friend, wish we could see each other more.

  • Posted January 22, 2018
    by Danielle

    Hello there! I found your blog last year while planning a trip to Thailand and have loved your perspective on living abroad (I’m a Portland, Oregon native now living in Madrid).

    I’m so, so sorry to hear about your dog and all of the other struggles that have come along with this season. I appreciate your honesty about everything, and especially how at the same time it doesn’t mean you’re done with Chiang Mai. It’s a weird division I think a lot of “expats” face that people on the outside may not completely understand. It’s possible to be happy and unhappy in the same place. Life is life, no matter where you are.

    One last thing about social media. I take periodic breaks but especially with the current political climate, I’ve been much more proactive about my feed. I’m not shy about unfollowing and hiding stuff I don’t want to see. I’m on Instagram to see your beautiful travel pics and dog and my niece and to find out about great new Madrid restaurants. I surely don’t want to see ignorant memes and I’m not afraid to say so long to all that. Anyway, cheers to you and a new 2018!

  • Posted January 22, 2018
    by Jasbir Singh

    Hey Alana. Great post as always. Coming to Thailand again on 2nd Feb, my third visit, this time for a Marathon in Bangkok. Should I go to Phuket or Chiang Mai? Can you suggest some good cafes in Bangkok?

  • Posted January 31, 2018
    by Sandy

    Alana! You’re back in CM. Gosh, awful news about your doggy – glad to hear he’s recovering well. Sounds like it’s been a challenging time dealing with traumas and life events. It’s certainly harder when you’re living the expat life in Thailand. I can relate somewhat. Whilst I hold a deep affection for Chiang Mai, after six years (on and off) here, it’s lost that initial lustre. And, that’s probably down to my experiences, seeing it change and trying to do long-distance relationships. I hear you about writing for fun, when you’ve been writing for work. A surefire motivation killer. Thanks for your frank post – it hit home on a lot of points for me. One thing’s for sure, we are spoilt for coffee shops. I swear there’s a new one opening every week!

    • Posted February 6, 2018
      by Alana Morgan

      Chiang Mai definitely has lost a bit of its appeal for me…but there are still so many things I appreciate. Overall it’s just with most thing — the more you see and experience, the more likely you are to have some negative experiences in the mix unfortunately. Thanks for reading and taking the time to comment… I’m responding from a new coffee shop right now ;)

  • Posted July 4, 2018
    by Carrie Veatch

    Hi Alana
    Thanks for posting this! I’m so sorry to hear about the rough patch over the past year. I can’t imagine how difficult it is to deal with death and trauma and things so far from home. And I hope your doggy is doing better too!

    I’m completely with you on social media. I love it somedays for connecting with like minded people and using it to work on my brand, but in general I honestly mostly hate it when it comes to personal life. I’m amazed by how much it has inundated our culture and friends are unwilling to reach out anymore and rely solely on social media. Definitely not connection to me and not how I want to spend my time. Constantly updating and showing off my travels to the world is not something I want to do, even though the majority seem to prefer it. It is a constant challenge for me with my blogging and social media for sure.

    I’m in Chiang Mai this week and do appreciate all of your posts to information on this place though. So thank you. I also completely understand how places lose the appeal after awhile. As I’m currently solo traveling, I’m extremely aware of how travel is very different than living somewhere.

    Best of luck with the new business!
    Carrie

    • Posted July 12, 2018
      by Alana Morgan

      Thank you for reading and taking the time to comment! I hope you enjoyed Chiang Mai – it’s still a wonderful place and I do love it…just not with the rose tinted glasses I used to have on ;)

  • Posted September 20, 2018
    by Rhena Clark

    This post hit so close to home for me. I have been living in Bangkok with my family for almost a year. Shifting from the career I had in the US to freelancing is so frustrating and there are so many moments of doubt.

    I’m right there with you on the social media thing. Facebook has become toxic and divisive and everyone’s “best lives” on display on Instagram can be demoralizing if you let it. Don’t even get me started on Twitter… I’ve really been using the channels to keep my professional skills fresh.

    So glad I found your blog!

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