Thailand Is Closing. Time To Find A New Home.

Thailand has gotten rid of covid-19 and they want to keep it that way. When tourists are eventually allowed back into the Kingdom, they will be confined to select areas/islands predetermined by the Thai government. Foreign visitors will no longer be allowed to freely travel the Thai countryside after July 31st. Only retired residents and those with Thai spouses will have that option.

To make matters worse, Thailand is following the “travel bubble” strategy. It does not matter where you live, it matters what passport you hold. Only people from countries that have conquered covid will be allowed in. That list has yet to be finalized but we all know the USA will not be on it anytime soon.

You have to fuck up a country pretty badly to turn one of the most powerful passports in the world into one of the least powerful.

Tens of thousands of other expats around the world just like me are being punished because our birth nation cannot get its act together. Sure, our discomfort pales in comparison to the steadily increasing body count back in the States. But you have to fuck up a country pretty badly to turn one of the most powerful passports in the world into one of the least powerful.

I can count on one hand the number of times I have been back in the USA since moving to Tokyo in 2008 yet because of my US passport I am currently denied entry to the EU and most other nations around the globe.

I started a travel blog called Shibuya Daze in the summer of 2008 while living in the Shibuya Ward of Tokyo but changed names to The HoliDaze after getting tired of the “What is Shibuya?” question.

Talk about a bad time to be moving internationally.

The impending changes with Thailand’s “new normal” policy mean that I — and countless other foreigners who call Thailand home — will no longer be allowed back home. Unless I get married in the next three weeks…..which probably won’t happen.

But you know what? That’s fine. I have been wanting to sell this place and get back to traveling. Especially after spending a full year stuck here recovering from the fire. My feet are itchy. I had four wonderful months of traveling like the good ol’ days before the world closed down and I was thrust right back into my home, my prison.

Once the pandemic comes to an end, Thailand will eventually reopen completely and I will be allowed to return back home. But by that time Thailand will no longer feel like home. It’s kind of like when Indonesia deported me. I couldn’t return for six months and when I did finally return, the country no longer felt like home.

Once you’ve been told you are not welcome somewhere that place never really feels truly welcoming again.

Saying goodbye to my deserted beach.

Back in 2016 I came to Hat Mae Rumphueng in Rayong province for one week while waiting for my laptop to be repaired in Bangkok. It ended up taking three weeks and by then I already had a Thai girlfriend, a group of local friends and a condo on the beach. The relationship ended a few weeks later but the friends and condo have remained.

Flashback Nomad No More: After 2,700 Days I Have A Home

Ever since Thailand has been my home base in between trips and projects in other countries. A place to store video equipment and all the miscellaneous travel gear that is only useful for a few weeks out of the year, like ski boots and wool socks. And to stockpile all those souvenirs I could never buy when I was nomadic, like magnets and shot glasses.

Half bachelor pad, half office with a helluva view, this place has been a nice escape from the chaos of the world. The only downside is the reaction some people have upon learning that I live in Thailand. “Wow, thought only old retired folks and sex tourists live in Thailand.”

Found this Nok Air plane in the woods near the beach in Rayong, Thailand
Found this Nok Air plane in the woods near my home

Living on a deserted beach two hours from an international airport with countless offbeat adventures and activities just waiting to be discovered has been amazing. Turns out that Rayong is was the perfect home.

Since Thailand is closing I have to find a new country to call home. Unfortunately, that is pretty slim pickings right now for everyone with a US passport.

What do you pack when it might be a year before you can return home? Unfortunately, the answer is basically everything. Summer and winter clothes. Stuff for the mountains, stuff for the beach. Tools for work, toys for play. Far more than I could ever fit in all of my suitcases and backpacks. (Turns out that I have five backpacks now, something that I did not even realize until I began packing last week.) So much stuff that I had to purchase boxes to mail items to various countries depending upon when I will be visiting them.

The world is beginning to reopen. Just not to American citizens.

I compiled a list of which countries are reopening when just so I could figure out my options. And to help others, of course. Since I don’t want to move to some Caribbean island nation, that basically leaves me with four countries: Turkey, Serbia, South Korea, and Georgia.

The Blue Mosque in Istanbul back in December 2019.

I’m very eager to visit Serbia, but not so much that I want to commit to moving to a country that I’ve never been before. Spent a while “living” in Changwon, South Korea, and although I enjoyed it very much, I have no desire to call that alcoholic nation home. And Turkey is a great place to visit but not necessarily a country that I would want to call home either.

That leaves Georgia.

Back in December and January I spent some time in Tbilisi and loved it. Unfortunately the death of someone important in my life prevented me from exploring more of the country, but I have been very eager to return ever since my abrupt departure.

The Mother of Georgia watches over Tbilisi

Georgia kicked covid’s ass. They did even better than Thailand in terms of numbers. Less than 1,000 cases total — around the same amount of new cases currently being detected in the USA every 30 minutes!

The country is a shining beacon to the world of what recovery looks like. Georgia has even been praised by the EU for setting a great example. And they will be reopening to all nationalities on July 31st — the same day Thailand is closing. Seems like an obvious sign.

Perhaps even more importantly, I love everything about Georgia and would be proud to call it home. I just wish that I didn’t have to make this decision under duress because it feels like I am settling for second place — and that’s never how you want to feel when moving somewhere new.

The only question that remains is if visitors to Georgia will still receive a free bottle of wine along with their covid test? 🤔

Enjoy it? Tell a friend
About Derek Freal

"Some people eat, others try therapy. I travel."   Cultural enthusiast. Adrenaline junkie. Eater of strange foods. Chasing unique and offbeat adventures around the world since 2008. Derek loves going to new destinations where he does not speak a word of the local language and must communicate with hand gestures, or places where he is forced to squat awkwardly to poo -- supposedly its healthier and more efficient. For more information (about Derek, not squat pooing) including popular posts and videos, check out his bio.

14 thoughts on “Thailand Is Closing. Time To Find A New Home.”

  1. Hey Derek,

    So sorry to hear that you won’t be able to stay in Thailand. It’s never nice when you’re forced to leave or go somewhere that was not on your agenda, through no fault of your own.

    It’s pretty crap actually.

    Luckily, Georgia is very nice.

    I went there last year (gosh, last year sounds soooooo long ago), and I loved it.

    I went to Tbilisi and was only there for a week, but I was awfully impressed.

    The people are lovely.
    The food’s nice.
    The city is a nice blend of old and new and the local prices are ridiculously low!

    Go for it mate!

    • Pretty crappy indeed. You visited Tbilisi last year? Me too! Small world 🙂 Been wanting to return ever since. The city is beautiful and like you said, full of great people and activities at a surprisingly great price. But ohhh that food is going to make me so fat hahaha… Shemomechama 😂

  2. You can still go to Mexico for 6 months if you fly in. Costa Rica too if you test negative. Belize by August 15. If you dig deeper, I’m sure there are others. Get your absentee ballot filed by November and vote the evil ones out.

    • Thanks for the information Tim, will add it to my Covid-19 travel guide in tomorrow’s update. To be honest I had not checked the reopening dates for any nations in the Americas. Completely overlooked two continents in my global search, guilty. Given everything I prefer to stick to this hemisphere — especially since the first places affected are often the first to get the situation under control.

      In regards to the upcoming election, I’m originally from Texas which basically means my vote is useless thanks to the electoral college. However if there was ever a chance for Texas to become a Democratic state again, now might be it. As such I will certainly be casting my vote. Used to think checks and balances prevented bad presidents from fucking up the nation too badly but as we all know now, that is not the case. Something has to change and soon. America went from leader to laughable shockingly fast but it’s not too late to reverse course.

  3. A bittersweet post and a fascinating read. Oddly enough, my ancestors – Russian Doukhobors – were exiled to Georgia, which makes me so curious to visit. The gov’t was hoping the fierce Georgians would kill them off, or so the story goes, but instead they got along.

    • Hahaha interesting story. Georgians can be friendly like that. You know about The Mother of Georgia, right? She stands watch over Tbilisi, a glass of wine in one hand for those who come as friends and a sword in the other for her enemies. That says so much about the country right there 😂

      Hope you get the chance to visit Georgia soon. Although my time there has been brief, it is an impressive country; friendly, delicious and beautiful.

    • Thanks Kerwin, appreciate the vote of confidence. Life wouldn’t be quite so fun if it was predictable. Hope all is well on your end, cheers buddy — we’ll all be back in the air soon!

    • You’re not the only one who has mentioned that to me, sorry about that, Carol. Apologies for putting it so bluntly. I did edit that sentence slightly yesterday to also express my love of Korea alongside my concerns over alcoholism. Actually enjoyed my time in Korea immensely. Happiest months of my life, right before the fire. However it was not just seeing the occasional drunk person passed out on the sidewalks around our place; I also found myself drinking more than usual because alcohol is so common and sold 24/7/365. Thinking back on life in Korea, those are some of my first thoughts, before thinking about the delicious Korean food or amazing Korean culture. All of the other positive thoughts only come as an afterthought. And that is a big indicator that it is probably not the right country for me to call home again. Of course that is way too long to fit the fast-paced flow of the article, so…. my apologies again for causing your heart to skip a beat 🙂


Leave a Comment