Our Version of “No-Regrets Radical Sabbatical” in Chiang Mai, Thailand


Hi friends, Sawatdee-Kup! (I’m supposed to end the greeting with “Kup” since I’m a dude, but prefer the way the ladies say it, with an extended “Kaaaaaaah” at the end.  Ask M, she can say it very well… =)

Although we’ve been very active on Twitter and Facebook (maybe overactive), we have not posted a new “detailed” blog entry in quite a while.  As you may know, we’ve pretty much sold 90% of our possessions (Check out A’s posts about The Empty Closet and The Empty Lexus) for this move to Chiang Mai (I’ll use CM, since I’m lazy, plus I’ll add minutes to the end of my lifespan by  not having to spell out the words.  But this unnecessarily long monologue alone makes up for those saved minutes, so I guess I’m breaking even).  After a two-week road trip from Houston to Los Angeles (we may get around to highlighting this one day, who knows), we flew into CM in late July, 2010.   We have already accumulated many life experiences here in CM, very worthy of blog posts to record for our M.  So many stories to tell – we need a sabbatical to write about our sabbatical!

GotPassport Family Traveling by Bike!

Almost a decade ago, we were inspired by a TV show on the “Fine Living” cable network (one of the HGTV networks), entitled “Radical Sabbatical.”  The show described everyday people who found joy and fulfillment by taking risks and pursuing their dreams.  Well, our dream has just begun..

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do.  So throw off the bowline.  Catch the trade winds in your sails.  Explore.  Dream. Discover.”   ~Mark Twain

Let me give you a brief update on our lives…

M ~ She’s starting “Year 3” in her international school, or the U.S.’s 2nd grade equivalent.  It’s quite a change from her small Montessori school in Houston (entire elementary had ~25 students, her class alone here has 22), but she’s adjusting fairly well.  The curriculum is in English, but she also has Thai class daily, which we think is awesome.  She comes home and teaches us Thai.  It’s quite adorable actually.

She is reading a book a day as part of her homework, in addition to her work at school.   We have a pretty good idea about her teacher and based on our interactions thus far, we are so glad M’s in good hands.  If you ask M, she’ll say the highlight of school is being able to swim twice a week!  She’s usually hungry by the time we pick her up from school which is around 3pm.  She loves going to the indoor playgrounds which you’ll find at most malls here.

She is writing notes back and forth with a 12 year-old Korean girl (neighbors  in our building, her name withheld for national security reasons-sorry, always wanted to say that) and likes to hang-out with the 10 year-old Burmese Australian girl growing up in Thailand at Hmwe Burmese Restaurant.   We’ll have plenty to share about the trials and tribulations of moving to a new city, country and school from our 7 year old’s perspective.

We may even ask M to type up a blog post of her own!  Apparently, 2 laptops for 3 people is not enough, she wants her own computer!   Oh, yes, her writing is VERY GOOD!

A – Hmm, what can we say about the GotPassport’s fearless one? =)  She’s a Carpe Diest (is there such a word, well it is now!)  She’s hit the ground running here in CM, connecting us with several NGO (non-governmental orgs) and/or non-profit agencies.   Through these connections, and her social media skills, she’s managed to help spread the word via Twitter/FB about these organizations, and is helping  to recruit volunteers for them.  No, she does not get paid for the work- it is entirely voluntary -she does so because she enjoys the work in helping these organizations succeed.

We have also met many Burmese residents here in Thailand, who are quickly becoming good friends (Did we mention that A is Burmese American, fluent in the Burmese language?  Comes in very handy here in Thailand).

Our hope to inspire travelers coming through CM (even for a short visit), to spare some time to give to these remarkable organizations.  It will be a win-win for both parties.

She’s also  cooking up a storm on our balcony of our tiny apartment (tiny compared to our house back in Houston!)  So look for more food posts coming from A and the balcony.

J – Well, the “Radical Sabbatical” show often involves quitting a long-standing job and moving on to something that one is really passionate about.  That’s the case with both of us.  Back in 2007, A left her well-paying, ‘Director’ job of nearly 6 years @ a non-profit in preparation for something more in line with her passions.

Though I had hoped to be teaching on-line full-time, develop and lead an international service learning program for the college, I am no longer teaching for this college in Texas.  This is a college with which I dedicated 10 years of my professional life.  I won’t go into the details, but let’s just say we simply do not share the same vision, so it was necessary to move on.   I still teach, as it IS a passion of mine, with a college in WA state, where I teach 1-2 online (or distance learning) classes per quarter.

One of our goals is to create International Service Learning opportunities for college students abroad.  Invitation:  come to CM and work on various humanitarian projects with us! The NGOs  mentioned earlier are very excited about this prospect, so I’ll keep you up to date on how this progresses.  It’s all about fostering partnerships between the colleges and the host organizations, and creating programs that are low-cost to the student.  There are many organizations out there that charge an exorbitant fee for volunteering overseas.  We hope to decrease the cost while increasing access so more students can have a life-altering service experience.  In other words, we hope the college students today will be the service leaders of tomorrow.

Speaking of service, we do practice what we preach:  back in the US and here in Chiang Mai. I’ve started volunteer-teaching ESL for one of the organizations, and am loving it!  A will be teaching ESL in the future.  It’s nice that M can come along with us too so she can see first hand how we give our time to those who need it the most.

You may have seen occasional tech related posts here on our blog, mostly related to Nokia products (only because I was able to get free trial phones via WomworldNokia-big thanks, Nokia!).  Well, those few posts were good enough to help me land a blogger job (all together now, “normally an oxymoron”) with a very large mobile tech information website (yes, large, as in millions of viewers).  I don’t want to jinx it, so I’ll share this information later once I start blogging for them.

No, neither of our ‘blogging jobs’ pay enough to live on – NOT EVEN CLOSE – but we’re not doing this for the money. That’s not the point.  We are pursuing endeavors we feel passionate about, and if we get paid for it, great!  If not, that’s fine, too.

Part of this Sabbatical is not about escaping real life.  We ARE living a REAL LIFE….. in Thailand.  We are living, working, seeking, learning, and giving back.  We are making as small an environmental footprint as possible.   We contribute to the local economy by living here – we pay rent, electricity, water, etc.     We also contribute by being of service to those in need.

Our “No-Regrets Radical Sabbatical” is about re-prioritizing our lives by consuming less meaningless *stuff* and gaining MORE meaningful experiences.

More stories to come.  Stay tuned!

The saddest words in the English language are “if only” ~Zig Ziglar

We Say No to the Status Quo

Live Small.  Live Green.  Give Large.  Take Little.

Take Notice.  Take Action.

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7 thoughts on “Our Version of “No-Regrets Radical Sabbatical” in Chiang Mai, Thailand

  1. I don’t think you could have picked a better city to be “radical” in. Keep the post coming. Congrats on the blogging assignments coming your way.

  2. I’ve been reading your updates and seeing your photos posted on Facebook, but it’s nice to get a longer story of how you all are doing and settling into life in Chiang Mai. Congratulations on not only making the move, but in making it successful for everyone involved!

    1. Thanks, Audrey! We hope to write more ‘regularly’ about life in Chiang Mai… it’s amazing how many new friends we’re making here! We call ourselves “Team Chiang Mai,” and we’re adding new members weekly it seems!

    1. Yes, it’s important to us to live life without regrets. It doesn’t always mean things turn out as well as expected, but at least we can say we tried. For example, I love basketball, and decided to try out for the JV team in High School. Got cut, early on.. but don’t regret it at all! It’s a fond memory, and I feel satisfied that I tried out for the team!

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