I interview my friend Charlotte, a chef and, like me, recent Koh Lanta resident. Charlotte has moved her whole life to Thailand, recently getting married on the beach here. She has totally immersed herself in the local culture, creating colourful dishes from traditional ingredients, as well as starting a Thai language course.
Like me, Charlotte is a remote worker and when she isn’t working from home, she spends her time studying art and learning Thai. We also often go to a Zumba class together and are currently trying to sample all the best coffee on Koh Lanta. Although she does have some of the best Swedish coffee I’ve tasted, which she brews at home.
What made you leave Sweden and move to Koh Lanta?
I have travelled to Thailand few times, and the first time I came, I was going to celebrate my 30th birthday in Thailand. I went to Phuket and I just fell in love, don’t really know what happen to me, but I just felt this was my home. After that I been to Thailand 3 times more. I have been travelling a lot to other countries but it had never made me feel the way I felt then when I was standing on the beach of Phuket and looking out of the ocean. I always loved to ocean, the smell and the sound of it. I was so amazed of the magnificent mountains, the Thai people, the food and the nature itself, it was truly the paradise I had just seen on TV and on cards. Everything just felt so relaxed. You could just feel the calmness.
When my vacation was over, ( I stayed for 3 weeks), sadness came over me, and I didn’t want to go back home. In Sweden I had a good job, I have been working for the same company for 11 years, but everyone is so stressed nowadays, and everything felt so grey…during that time I was really depressed. In my hometown Gothenburg, it is often rainy, and in Sweden very cold during winter time. I hate snow.
I remember sitting on my desk at work and thinking, “Is this life? Is this what it is all about? Every day same thing?” I got so sad and emotional and looked out of the window. Everything was grey…and I started to thinking about Thailand again.
So after that I started to talk about Thailand with my boyfriend at that time, now my husband, that we should try to live in another country, he also got to love Thailand so for us, it was no question about where to move. We looked for information about where other people moved to in Thailand, and what kind of visa they were using to be able to stay. Then we found on google that you can study Thai language and get visa for a whole year and found Koh Lanta language school, never been to Koh Lanta before, and the school had good reviews from other people who had study on that school and the principal was Swedish. Even got better when I saw the pictures of Koh Lanta, it was breathtaking.
So we applied, got in to the school, then taking a year off from work (now I have quit my job) and that’s how we ended up on Koh Lanta.
What did you expect from life in Thailand – what did you want to achieve in Koh Lanta?
Well, I didn’t expect that much, try it out, if it works it works, otherwise you just get home again, but if you never try you will always wondering what would have happen. I´d rather regret something I did than something I never did. Life is to short to not at least try to follow your dreams.
The one goal I wanted to achieve in Koh Lanta was to find my inner peace, find my self again, I that time I was lost. I wanted to do things that is good for me, take every day as it comes. But live here and now.
What are the best parts about living in Koh Lanta?
Koh Lanta is not only a beautiful island , nice weather, it very relaxing island. The food is great, friendly people. Not a party place same as Phuket and Pattaya. Suits for family with kids, and for those who wants relaxation. The one thing I didn’t know before we moved here, is that a lot of Swedish people live on the island.
What struggles have you come across?
The struggles with living in Thailand is that, they don’t think about time in the same way that we do, we are very stressed, and they are really relax. For an example, if you booked a pick up, they don’t always comes at that time you want to go, they will come maybe one hour later, (not if they know that you are going to the airport).
Also, you have to think about how you speak to Thai people in a way so the don’t feel offended. They have a really bad temper, not all of them but most of them.
Another thing is that they don’t really know how to take care of garbage, they throw a lot in the nature, like plastic etc.
What are your greatest achievements whilst being here?
I have to say, that I have learned to relax, not get all stressed up about things. Taking day by day. To be grateful for the little things.
Where do you see yourself in the next five years?
Probably living in Thailand, not sure if it will be Koh Lanta. But pretty shore that it will other wise be another country with hot weather.
Can you offer some advice for moving abroad?
Taking your time to get information about the place you want to move, don’t move too fast, for me it took two years of planning. Work so you have enough budget to make a living in the country, or make sure you will be able get a job or get money some place else.
Be aware that the grass is not always greener on the other side. You will do some test and it will be hard in the beginning. Example: Thailand has many rules, and it is not easy to get a job here, just because you are not allowed to work with something that Thai people can do.
The country you move to will not change for you, you decide if you manage to handle it and are able to change, not the other way around.
You can follow Charlotte’s travels on her blog.