Embracing Life In a New City
Published on: October 10, 2021
Seasoned expat Megha shares her secret sauce for making the most of your time in this Land of Smiles.
By Megha Jindal
Being a tourist in Bangkok is totally different from making a life in this city. Wouldn’t you agree? If you are new to the city and still finding your way, read on!
I arrived in Bangkok 8 years ago as a mother to a 7-month-old boy. Within a week of arriving, the rose-tinted glasses came off. No family or friends, an alien language and city, a plunged-into-work husband, and a baby in my arms. Things looked grim. I did not want to stay. Fast forward 8 years. My little boys are 5 and 9. The biggest boy is not so busy with work. Bangkok feels like home. I do not want to leave.
What has changed? I have! Looking back, there are three tips I would give to my newly arrived self and anyone else in my shoes.
1. It’s a Gift
This move, this empty canvas that’s staring at you, is a gift. You don’t know how to fill it yet. It can feel like a lonely burden, but it need not be. I have witnessed countless fellow expat women navigate all kinds of constraints to blossom in new ways. They volunteered, led support groups, converted hobbies into professional-grade skills, acquired new skills, started businesses, became fluent in English and Thai, traveled the length and breadth of South East Asia, made new lifelong friends, and more. All while raising their families.
Any of this can happen for you. It starts from recognizing this opportunity as the gift that it truly is. Not convinced? I recommend reading this gem of a book by the late Roger Welty “Successful Living in Thailand”.
2. Build Your Tribe
Motherhood is the strongest reminder for women that we thrive in a tribe. Expat living demands that we create our own tribe. As a new mum in a new city, I found ANZWG’s Bangkok Guide and the Expat Mummy Club Facebook group to be my pit stops for countless everyday questions. Next came BAMBI playgroups, which gave social stimulation to both mummy and baby. That led to serving on the BAMBI committee for four fulfilling years, dotted with rich friendships and experiences. I accumulated the network, confidence, and skills to forge my path ahead once I outgrew the BAMBI age range. I have found myself organizing workshops, events, leading community projects, learning Thai, and embracing my fear of public speaking. Each project became possible because of support and friendship from members of this diverse tribe that I wove for myself.
Show up with curiosity and a willingness to contribute in places, online or offline, that interest you. Your new tribe awaits you.
3. Find Your Bonfires
Bonfires have a way of bringing people together, sharing stories and food, creating a sense of belonging. Tribes thrive around bonfires. BAMBI was my first bonfire in Bangkok. An Iyengar yoga studio in Thonglor is another. For the last four years, Toastmasters (a public speaking club) has been my big bonfire. Sometimes bonfires can be found. Sometimes they need to be created. Last year, I ignited the first two chapters of the Buy Nothing Project in Bangkok, in Ploenchit and Sathorn. It encourages neighbors to connect by giving, sharing, and receiving gifts of goods and their time.
Your friends will come and go from Bangkok, but your bonfires will stay. They will nourish you and attract new members to your tribe. Find your bonfires, help stoke them, and create some of your own!
We arrive in Thailand filled with hopes of new adventures and fears of uncertainties. How we navigate these hopes and fears determines the quality of our stay here. I wish you a fantastic ride in this Land of Smiles, filled with gifts, tribes, and bonfires.
Photos from freepik.com.
About the Author
Megha has been at home in Bangkok since 2013, along with her husband and two boys. She is best found stoking her bonfires. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org
The views expressed in the articles in this magazine are not necessarily those of BAMBI committee members and we assume no responsibility for them or their effects. BAMBI welcomes volunteer contributors to our magazine. Please contact email@example.com.