Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Revolving Doors

                    What’s past is past…
                 What the future Holds…
                 is yet to be discovered 
                       and embraced!


For those who have been following my musings 
over the past few years…you will be all too 
familiar (up to a point) about my comings and 
goings. If you’re new to my Blog then…I need 
to back up a bit so that you might better 
understand…where I’m coming from and what 
I hope will be forthcoming.

I started my Expat life and journey back in 
December 2005. This was when I took my first 
trip to Thailand. From the first moment I set 
foot on Thai soil…I new this place…steeped in 
its mystical ways…would have deep seated 
meaning(s) for me.

Once I arrived in Chiang Mai…I experienced a 
major epiphany and knew instantly…that this 
city…would be my new home. This all proved 
true as within a little over a year…I was a newly 
rooted resident of Chiang Mai.

I’m not going to delve into my past living 
experiences in Chiang Mai… as that would be 
redundant. I will say however that…I lived in 
Chiang Mai for almost three (3) years. But…
as life usually has unexpected surprises in 
store for all (or many) of us…and without 
rehashing what does not need to be re-
visited…I will tell you that my tenure in 
Thailand became somewhat…”abbreviated”.

After my departure from Thailand…as many of 
you know…I chose to take up residence in 
Cuenca, Ecuador.

My past musings in Cuenca... can be found in 
their entirety by clicking on the this link… 

I now present to you…
the next upcoming chapter of my life!
With the previous paragraph(s) 
out of the way…I now welcome you…
to my newest adventure in living and into…

My "Re-Expatriated" Life...in and around
            "The Rose of the North"
               Chiang Mai, Thailand

Of course this will proceed hand-in-hand with 
whomever…whatever… and wherever…my 
continuing expat life leads me next.
So for now…a “Pre-Welcome” into my future 
I sincerely hope…you enjoy the ride with me 
as your guide. That said…maybe…my writings 
will awaken a “travelers quest” in you and just 
maybe…you’ll visit both me and Chiang Mai 
for yourself…in the not to distant future.

      until my actual “new” Blog launch…
Sawadee Krup...which means Hello/Good-bye…
   (“Krup” for a male…”Ka” for a female)
     "See you already learned some Thai"

FYI…my new “upcoming” Blog address is:                          
Have a great day (มีวันที่ดี in Thai)

                 A Special Note…
       To my Cuencano Amigo’s 
        North American Friends.

I have lived amongst you for about 15 (fifteen)
months and…have made many friends and 
acquaintances. Some have developed into real 
honest-to-goodness “highly-valued” friendships. 
For those (you know who you are) friends…
I sincerely hope that distance will not interfere 
with our relationships.

For those whom I consider “acquaintances”…
I truly hope that we can stay in-touch as…
I value whatever level of friendship has 
developed with each and every one of you.

Thankfully…technology makes contact quite 
easy…utilizing e-mails… FaceBook…SKYPE etc. 
and I hope [at least] some will take advantage 
of this.

So my friends…
I wish you happiness and well-being.
(Tan mis amigos…le deseo felicidad y 

Once Again…FYI…my new Blog address

Ciao for Now…Barry

Saturday, June 18, 2011

On the Move Again (Almost)

June 18, 2011

As I was perched on one of my chosen benches in 
Parke Calderone today…it came to mind that 
I hadn’t written anything in quite some time. 
Well, nothing has really happened with the 
exception of my recent trip back to Thailand.

So…I rushed back to my apartemento and 
started writing. This is the result. 

I know…I know…Exciting isn’t it? :) :)

Just as a tiny refresher…my latest trip to Thailand…
occurred about 2 months ago and lasted a whole 
month...in the Land of Smiles.

For those who do not know (even though I 
mentioned this in my last Blog)…I have decided 
to return once again (this time to stay) to Thailand… 
specifically Chiang Mai.

The reasons (3 major) are few but for me…
powerful (forgive me if I am repeating myself 
from the previous Blog).

The reason(s)…
Wine…Women…and Song…Just Kidding :) :)

No…the real reason(s) for me are the following:

Firstly…is the Weather. Yes it’s eternal spring in 
Cuenca…which by the way… is located “high” in 
the Andes (elevation 8500 ft). This keeps the weather 
(depending on each of the two seasons) in the low 
40F’s [at night] to mid 70F’s [mid afternoon] on a 
daily basis. 

Now… for most folks this would be ideal. 
For someone (like yours truly)…who because of 
my ten (10) “beach living” years in S. Florida 
and three (3) years in Thailand…not so ideal.
In fact…mornings and especially evenings…
it is Downright Chilly (if not cold).

Yes it’s warm to hot in Thailand year-round but…
I’ll take that over being chilled and/or cold 
anytime…"more my speed".

Scondly…is the food. I’ve said this many times 
before so…forgive me if you feel I’m repeating 
myself (I am). Nobody…Not Anywhere and at 
Anytime…can even come close to the Taste of 
Thai Food. That by the way…also includes 
multitudes of fresh fruits and vegetables that one 
can stand. ‘Nuff said!

Thirdly: (but definitely not least)…and remember…
me being a single guy…are the Thai Women
Once again…’Nuff Said!

So there you have it…my three (3) main reasons 
for returning to “LOS” (Land of Smiles). Now…
don’t get me wrong…as there are many more 
reasons than the three I just mentioned.

The following is a gentle touch on this 
“incomplete” list of reasons. 

I would need to first mention…the easy 
going and smiling Thai peoples…the simple 
life-styles…the plethora of entertainment…
”in” and “nearby” country travels…the 
availability of modern goods…foodstuffs etc. 
This along with many and varied venues of 
entertainment…world class (and very low cost
medical treatment…and you may now...
understand some of the reasons for my deciding 
to return to Thailand…specifically Chiang Mai.    
On my way:
In my last writing...I mentioned that I had not yet 
made any concrete dates for my return. 
Obviously that has now changed.

For those interested…I will be leaving Cuenca 
on September 1st…leaving Ecuador on 
September 2nd and then…spending time with 
family and friends in South Florida for a week. 

After my Florida fling…it’s back on the plane 
to Upstate and Downstate New York for more 
family. This will encompass a few days and then 
back in the air and…onward too Chiang Mai, 
Thailand via Inchon, S. Korea.

What Next?
As my mind is always thinking ahead…it hit 
me that (and this is extremely important!)...
I need to settle on a “New Title” for my Blog 
(told you it was important) :)  
Something tells me that “A Single Expat in 
Cuenca”...when I’m going to be living in 
Thailand…well…just won’t cut it.

So…now comes the real work. If you think 
coming up with a good solid title is easy…
well…plain and simple…It Is Not and…
not by a long shot! So…I‘m throwing this 
out to anyone who is interested in assisting me… 
in my quest for a new title. No…I’m not 
promising I’ll use your suggestion but…
maybe :)

Oh yes…for those that may be looking for 
compensation re: the above…let me say this 
now and upfront and in a friendly way. 
Ain’t No Way No How! Plain enough? 

That said...
all your suggestions will be welcomed!

Back in Cuenca
As of now…I’m basically living in limbo. 
Some (not all) of my compadres in Cuenca 
know of my upcoming re-expatriating to 
Thailand. That said…word (I believe) is 
spreading rapidly. This is after all…
a fairly small Gringo community.

One of my personal grievances here in 
Cuenca and a fairly strong reason behind my 
move (no…its not a big deal) is finding things 
to do along with other people (many married 
couples...which complicates things). This…
has never been easy. I personally like to be able 
to share experiences. 
Where’s the fun in sightseeing solo?

So…for now I am biding my time and “just” 
starting to think of putting items up for sale…
thinking of pre-packing luggage (YUK) and…
a few thousand other small things that need 
to be addressed.

Rest assured that when things start popping 
and I have some news for you…I will 
definitely “wind up my thinking cap” and 
send off a new…updated Blog.

BTW…Please (and seriously)…
if anyone has a title suggestion for my Blog…
for when I’m residing in Thailand…
please let me knowWho knows…
maybe one day you can tell your friends that...
my Blog title was your idea. 
Now…wouldn’t that make you feel “special” ? :) 

Until next time…Have a great day J

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Past...Present & Future

Thursday, June 2, 2011

So…it’s been a couple (OK a few) months since I last 
wrote anything of consequence But to tell you the truth…
to me…my own absence has been somewhat refreshing. 
You see… writing the Blog had almost become almost 
(I shudder...to use this term)…a job…YIKES!

Anyway…for those of you that have missed my epic (?) 
scribes…you may relax as I only took a little detour 
regarding my writings. For those that have “not” missed 
me… well either read on or…go on your merry way…
”up too you”!


I’ve been mulling over what to write about and…have 
decided to forego all (well not all that much) that may 
have happened during this non-writing period. With that 
in mind I will start this Blog as of a few months ago

THAILAND (part deux)…that’s the number two…
or those that have no inkling of French.

I don’t recall if I previously mentioned the situation that 
I had…with my Thai Ex-wife Aor…regarding the selling 
the property in Chiang Mai, Thailand. As it turned out…
any Thai Consulate and or Embassy in the U.S. proved
to be a completely worthless endeavor…with regards to 
obtaining the required paperwork (can you say…
MASSIVE RED-TAPE). This left me with one available 
means in which to bring my real estate debacle to an 
amicable close. How you ask?...
By making another round-trip to Thailand.


Now if one is flying within ones own country or even a 
neighboring country in the same hemisphere…one can 
imagine a “normal” (and somewhat affordable) flight 
schedule. That said...and being that I am presently 
residing in South America i.e. Ecuador….well let’s 
just say...“it’s a game changer”.

After numerous searches on the Internet for a flight to 
Chiang Mai and…after many weeks of searching…
I came across a flight that would allow me to by-pass the 
Good ‘Ol U.S of A entirely. My route took me from Quito, 
Ecuador to Paris, France, to Bangkok and finally to...
Chiang Mai. 
This “little” trip only took me 50 (yes fifty) plus hours and 
by the way…was each way. “Not” a fun trip by anyone’s 
standards (except maybe the airline)!
After all is said and done I have to say the flights were 
all pleasant…overall the service was good and more 
importantly “safe”.

Soon after my arrival in Chiang Mai and after catching my 
breath…I got in touch with Aor (my ex) and we got down
 to business (real business).
Off we went to what is loosely translated from Thai…as 
the “land office”. This is always a fun place…as is any 
government agency throughout the world. I must say 
though…they did get us in and out as quickly as possible. 
Whether this is the rule or the exception…I have no idea …
nor do I care! 

After a short wait I signed where they told me to sign…
and Aor likewise signed. I then paid the exorbitant 
fee of roughly U.S.$5 dollars...and wah-lah…we were 
done! Now and hopefully soon…the house will sell and 
I’ll be the recipient of a good portion of my original 
monies…I hope!

You know the old saying “Never Say Never” well this 
proved very apropos.

When I left Thailand a bit over year ago…I basically 
said good-bye to LOS (land of smiles) and hello to 
Ecuador. This…to the point that I even applied for and 
received my…”legal residency” in Ecuador. However…
coming back once again to LOS…that same feeling of 
years ago (this being my very first visit to Thailand) hit 
me like a “ton of bricks”. 

The feeling that I am referring to occurred on the first 
morning of my “first trip” to Thailand. This feeling very 
simply…was an internal voice that simply said…
”I’m Home”!
Guess what…my latest trip last month was in essence…
”déjà vu”!

Anyway…to continue on with my little story...after doing 
the legal stuff…I made contact with some of my friends 
in Chiang Mai. This [meeting friends] also gave me a 
chance to re-acquaint myself with the city and it’s surrounds.

Unfortunately…everything didn’t go as smooth as I 
thought it would (what a surprise). The first thing that 
threw me…happened the day after my arrival. This day…
being a Saturday…was also the now “once a month” 
meeting of the Chiang Mai Ex-Pats Club. I was somewhat 
excited as I “new”…I would get to see more than a few 
of my Chiang Mai friends.  

I arrived the customary ½ hour before start time. This 
BTW…is to give everyone a chance to socialize a bit…
while sampling some coffee and “goodies”. Apparently 
people got mixed up (as I found out later) regarding 
the meeting date. The result…out of the average 2-300 
or so people that show up regularly for these meetings…
maybe …maybe 60 made their presence known. 
Of the 60 people…I new exactly 4…yes “four” people. 
It wasn’t a total loss however as I did get to spend some 
quality time with [granted] a few friends.

Now…you know there is always a down side to a story. 
This being no exception…here it comes...

My downside…happened once I rented my motorbike (yes…
the same make and model that I owned while living in 
Chiang Mai). After renting said motorbike…I got on the 
inner-moat roadway that surrounds Old Chiang Mai City. 
My purpose was simply to get back to my Guesthouse. 
This was when I did a “very…very stupid thing”! 
At approximately 40 mph…I decided to adjust my side- 
view mirrors. HELLOOOOOO….

It’s said that at the moment of an accident…ones brain 
shuts down. I now know that…this IS a truism if there 
ever was one…because…one moment I was riding and 
the very next moment…I was...”kissing the pavement” of 
the roadway. To say that I was extremely lucky is a huge 
understatement! Luckily…nothing was broken…that with 
the exception of my pride. And of course bruises (possibly 
I think some torn tendons).

To make a longish story short…I went to Maw Pan 
(pronounced "paan") my old doc in town and after 2 visits
 (a week apart) with some medication and 2 weeks hence…
doc and I decided I needed to get an X-ray. This …just to 
confirm his original findings. So…off I went (on my 
motorbike) to the hospital. 

To say that they [hospital] are efficient would be a gross 
understatement and that…in capital letters. I entered into 
the outpatient area…went to the front desk and was 
immediately and literally handed over to a very pretty 
English speaking floor nurse. She understood that all I 
needed…was X-rays and an X-ray report for my doctor. 
She then physically led me to the x-ray area on the other 
side of the hospital. I was then “asked” to wait.

X-rays (2 of them) taken…I waited a bit more…was 
handed my report along with my x-rays and with the 
verbal report that told me “all was well” and I was done. 
Total time in the hospital…under 1 (one) hour. 
Complete cost for the X-rays…500 Baht or U.S. $16.66

Total cost for my two (2) doctor visits, medications and 
along with the outpatient hospital visit with x-rays… 
under U.S.$55 (fifty-five).

So…now after another fun 50+ hour trip back to Cuenca 
(Ecuador)…I am and have been for a bit over a week…
once again back in my “departemento” (apartment).

For those that do not already know…I have decided to 
return…once again to live in Chiang Mai. 
I guess this statement makes it “official”.

There are a few major reasons for my decision.
The first reason…being the weather.
You see…after living 10 years in S. Florida…on or very 
close to the beach and then followed by 3 years in 
Thailand….I am convinced that my body will never be 
comfortable in a 50-70F  degree temperature range…
such as it is in Cuenca. 

In actuality the range as of late…has been 50 to low 60’s 
under clouds or rainy skies…YUK! This by the way...
will get worse as Ecuador is coming into the colder 
months! Incidentally…there are those that would say…
well move to the warmer climes near Ecuador’s Beaches. 
To that I say…”been there-done that”…and no thank-you!

The second reason is food. 
I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again…
No place… Nowhere…even comes close to Thai food…
’nuff said!

Thirdly …but definitely not lastly…are the women.
Now don’t get me wrong…as there are some beautiful 
women in Cuenca. Again I am only basing this on my 
one year in “Cuenca”!

The problem as I and many other single men in this town 
see it…is this simple fact:…”life is all encompassed in a 
very strong Catholic upbringing”…wherein ”marriage” is 
the only acceptable way of life for a woman…period 
end-of-story. I for one…am not inclined to marry again…
so life (for me anyway) in Cuenca/Ecuador is…well...
a very lonely affair!

Now I am not saying that women in Thailand don’t care 
about marriage. They do…and I don’t blame them…it is 
after all a way for many Thai women …to lift themselves 
out of a...shall we say…underprivileged-type lifestyle. 

That said…”IF” marriage proved (for me) to be the only 
way to have a long lasting relationship…so be it. 
However…in Thailand (as in many other countries) there 
are two ways to get married. 

One way of course…is under religious vows etc.  
The second way is...marriage by way of a Civil Contract…
which of course binds one legally. That leaves me one 
option (if it comes to that)…which is a religious ceremony 
and without legal parameters.

The Big Question…
When is my upcoming re-expatriation to Thailand...
going to happen? The answer simply is this…
I am planning…but as of this writing no reservations 
have been made…to leave Ecuador the beginning of this 
coming September…visit family and some friends in the 
states and then off to Thailand i.e. to renew my Thai-
type lifestyle.

So there you have it folks and until next time…
Have a great day and embrace life for what it is …”wonderful”  :) :)

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

A Bit of Exploring in and Around Cuenca

Cuenca Sightseeing...
the "Old", "New" and

Finally…I have a choice of sightseeing companions. I’m
sure many of you are aware that I have this dislike of
“not” having somebody in which to share the joys of
discovery. The result…except for a rare occasion…
well…I refrain from doing much in the way of

This has always bothered me somewhat because life in
general can get boring...doing and seeing the same thing
day in and day out.

Recently my friends Ellie & Wally left the heat of
South Florida and are now vacationing in Cuenca for a
month and…yours truly has a couple of willing sight-
seeing companions. This by the way…has giving me a
new level of enjoyment with regards to Cuenca and
its environs.

I’ll get back to these forays in a moment but first I want
to give you a hint as to my “almost” new arrivals.

My friend Jim is do to arrive in Ecuador in a couple/few
days. We met while he was here…a few months ago…
for what I call a “look-see” regarding Cuenca. He is now
after a very long…cold and very rough Chicago winter…
moving here!

So Jim…here is a hearty pre-welcome to you.

Also on my welcome list is Jeanne…whom I met at a
Gringo Night a few months ago. I met her incidentally…
the evening before she was returning to San Francisco.
Months later she once again returned to Cuenca for a few
days…secured an apartment for herself and a few(?) pets.
Jeanne is due to arrive in literally a few days.

So Jeanne…a pre-welcome to you too.

Whether or not I’ll be busy helping my two new amigos
sightseeing or just having more friends to hang with will
remain to be seen but…I am looking forward to their

Now back to today’s...

As a start to our sightseeing…we decided to start small
and took advantage of The Cuenca City Tour. This by
the way cost all of five ($5) bucks per head and lasted
just about... 2 hours. Now I need to back-up a bit. 

Today’s trip was planned for the day before but…we
found out that the time we planned for (1 pm)…well…
there was no tour scheduled [anymore] for that hour.
Hence today’s trip…started at 11 a.m.  All this actually
turned out for the better…as today’s weather…was
gorgeous (yesterday was overcast).

The tour took us around Parke Calderone (Cuenca 
Centro) and then headed out through various parts of

To me it was interesting do to the fact…that we were
sitting in an open aired double-decker bus. 

This afforded a view of the city…quite different than
what one is used too while walking…i.e. street level!

Where we were going …I had no idea. Where we ended
up…was in a place that I briefly visited when I still a
“very green”newbie. The place is situated high above
Cuenca. The destination name…is Turi [pronounced
TOO REE] and is known for it’s high look-out point over-
looking Cuenca. It also is highlighted…by its very white
church just above the lookout point. 

While…well above the city (cuidad) of Cuenca…and as
all tours generally do...we had about 20 minutes to roam
around this quaint mountainous town...while enjoying
some refreshments (can you say beer) J and taking in the
sights of Cuenca Cuidad (City).

It was then time to reverse the trip and return back to
Cuenca proper. Once back…and two hours later…
we decided to take in some well deserved “shade”
(remember we were sitting in the sun…up on the upper-
tier of a double-decker bus) to cool off.

Being that it was well after one (1) p.m. …one can
imagine that the ‘ol stomach alarms…would make
themselves known…and “they did”!

Now being that between the three of us (I being the one 
living here)…the onus unsurprisingly fell on guess who...
to find...a place to eat.

Now I’ve never eaten lunch there but…as I’ve reported
on previous Blogs…California Kitchen soon came to mind.
This…especially since Ellie & Wally have never been there.
Guess who made a good choice in this suggestion?
Me…that’s who!

Anyway after a pleasant and very fulfilling lunch…we
parted company for the day and also to…maybe take a
nap...(especially Ellie)


I was going to continue this Blog as different trips made 
themselves known. Unfortunately Ellie & Wally have
cut their stay in Cuenca short for personal reasons and
are heading towards the coastal beach areas. 

Hasta Luego guys...

So… now I prepare myself for the next amigo(s) arrivals
and we shall see if and how busy I may (or not) be.

Hasta Pronto mi amigos y amigas :)