RTW Trip 2021- Thailand January and February

TLDR: All of 2020 costed us approximately $23,000 USD each, our bird cam brings all the birds to the stoop, the riot at the US Capitol was an appalling start to the year, the COVID spike in Bangkok has been abating locally, the air quality was hazardous, we spent most of January inside, we were gifted a ton of tea, celebrated Chinese New Year, Jyn is a knitting machine, I am taking Thai Reading and Writing level 2, I am a certified freediver, Jyn is anti-frizzing her hair with gorgeous Thai silk, and we did 38 fun/borderline ridiculous things on my 38th birthday.

Looking at 2021 like… The bird cam in action. Wanna build one? Just wing it. These 2 are coo-rageous. Ignore the odd box.

2021 is Here!

Welcome to 2021! We are super excited that 2021 is here. It can’t be as bad as 2020… And then a bunch of whack-a-doodles stormed into the US Capitol on day 6 of the new year. Hopefully justice will find ALL of them, including the ones who are/were part of the government. Such a disappointment.

Holy Awful Air Quality Batman

On a lighter note… Thankfully, the COVID-19 case numbers in Bangkok are dropping to acceptable levels and restrictions are easing again. Unfortunately, it is the burning season and the air quality is actually hazardous. We have avoided going outside most days. The skies are smoggy gray with pollution. Buildings in the distance have seemingly disappeared. The PM 2.5 count has been as high as 403! For perspective, the PM 2.5 particle count in downtown Los Angeles is ~60-70. To improve our personal air quality, we bought a HEPA air purifier for our apartment, and it helps (we measured). Now, we wear 2 masks when we go outside (one N95 mask and one other for “style”). Geez!

This is almost mid day. Hazardous. January was barely breathable.

Normal. Months other than January and February. Fairly good.

Total Cost for ALL of 2020 (2.5 months of traveling and 9.5 months of living in Thailand)

After crunching the numbers, all of 2020’s expenses costed ~$23,000 USD each (less than $2000 per month)! It’s hard to believe, but given that we have spent most of our time in Thailand during a pandemic, it is more understandable. According to the Backpacker’s Index, living in Thailand should cost ~35% of what it costs to live in Los Angeles ($29 per day vs $84 per day). The Backpacker’s Index ratio is pretty close to reality (within 5% for me!). In LA, I averaged ~$133 of expenses per day. In Thailand, we averaged around $52 per day each (includes everything, even a year of good health insurance). We are not trying to be particularly frugal, but we are mindful of frivolous spending. At $52 per day, you can have a comfortable life in Bangkok. Note: The average Thai salary is about $500-$700 per month.

For the entire year (all countries), we averaged ~$62 per day, per person. Monthly, per person, that roughly breaks down into…

Did you hear the one about the constipated accountant? He couldn’t budget 🙂

How did we average ~$47 per month on tea/coffee? Have a look at this pile-o-tea to start the year. Gifts from family abroad, mostly.

Ready to partea! Our tea stash after Christmas.

She is a Knitting Machine

Jyn has been knitting a bunch and is about to run out of closet space. She, basically, completed six items in January alone, including making a sweater in one day! Some pictures below.

Don’t drive in that. You may get pulled over. Not yoking around.

My exquisite puns make her laugh so she is usually in stitches. (finished Dec 31)

I sweat her.

Knitting with the color copper… can’t stop her…

Cowl on the prowl (February)

“Aced” the lace pattern. Per Ray Finkle “Laces out!” (Bonus points if you recognize that reference) (February)

Yes, I photoshopped the diver into the picture… The diver is the one on the left side. lol.

Freediving has Officially Started (Spoiler Alert: Not Free)

I am in the process of becoming a certified advanced or master freediver. So far, I have completed regular freediving certification and was the only person (that they know of) who held their breath over 5 minutes for the regular certification class. At my open water “final exam”, I went 20 meters deep (~66 feet) and only stopped because that was the bottom. After 1-2 more levels of certification (probably ~1-2 months away), I will surpass my goal of diving to 100 feet deep on a single breath and diving with a whale shark. I can already hold my breath well beyond the time required for 100 feet, my equalizing is adequate, and my technique is okay, but getting certified ensures that I can do it safely. Side Note: Jyn watches over me as I train at the apartment pool to make sure I don’t die.

Waiting for me to come up? Don’t hold your breath.

From Bangkok Freediver’s Instagram

My official Freediving certification picture (for real).

Celebrating my Lap Around the Sun

For my birthday, the COVID restrictions were still impacting our plans so we came up an alternative. Instead of traveling far, we stayed local and did 38 fun things. This was a very fun busy 24 hours. What are those 38 fun things? I am glad you asked. Here they are…

The sign has a point… I am 100 times greater.

  1. Start birthday on the right foot (literally, at midnight, standing on my right foot)
Plotting my birthday activities is afoot!

2. See the sunrise and the sunset

Suns out, puns out.

3. Bring ID and try to get free perks throughout the day (worked a couple times)

4. Breakfast at fancy place next door

Fancy way to break the fast. Free toasts and orange juice!

5. Write Bangkok’s full name in Thai (it took me over 20 minutes because the name is over 100 letters long, and in Thai)

Well, all write.. The longest place name in the world (I made a small error near the end).

6. Buy cheese to have our own cheese night party

We don’t always eat cheese, but when we do, we prefer stomach aches.

7. Buy something for a stranger (I purchased a Coco tea for a little girl and her guardian)

8. Have the delicious donuts that we pass frequently

Donut ever grow up.

9. Do a 15-minute guided meditation

10. Photoshoot fun

Flexing our knitting

11. Pet cute animals

Surrounded by fluffy butts


Along came Polly

12. Pick up trash

Sometimes it’s good to be trashy

13. Send postcard (now that we can send them again)

14. Walk over 15000 steps (did >21000)

Steps in the right direction.

15. Buy self gift(s) (bought Thai spoons)

Spoon me once, shame on you. Spoon me twice… It’s my birthday.

16. Get blended coconut (my favorite. I did. Twice.)

Coconut “buhh neung” (number one, in Thai)

Coconut #2 in holster

17. Have a kakigori dessert

If I were on a desserted island, this would be my choice. The Thai Tea Kakigori.

18. Read a chapter of a book (read a chapter of “What If?” and “Life of Basil” (in Spanish))

19. Communicate only in Thai for at least one hour (went fairly smoothly, from my perspective)

20. Poop in a public restroom (not something I typically do-do)

Just doing my duty.

21. Get my free birthday Sizzler meal (I am a gold card member haha true story)

Sizzler meal. “You should mention how delicious it was”-Jyn

22. Make an unusual birthday “cake” with candles (Had pickled mangos, salted egg chips, and Squidies. Not something I will repeat)

38 going on 15.

Perhaps an entire roll was too much. Not the face of enjoyment.

23. Try a new food (ate an Indian Gooseberry fruit)

Sour, bitter, and tough with an unexpected seed in the middle. Not on my list of edible things.

24. Learn something new about Thai culture (learned about the various Sak Yant traditional tattoos)

25. Dance party for two (bachata in apartment)

26. Watch movie with local popcorn (Lupin on Netflix. Didn’t know it was an unfinished series. We need closure! But Mr.-Bop popcorn was delish)

27. Go to new place (explored top floor of Siam Center)

28. Watch traditional dance at the Erawan Shrine

Bit of a bird’s eye view from a distance, but it’ll do.

29. Get prayer animals (Make a prayer/wish. If it comes true, you give the shrine an appropriate animal offering)

Chicken and elephant seemed appropriate. Probably not to scale.

30. Use camera throughout the day

31. Perform longest breath hold attempt (broke 5 minutes!)

32. Do what I want all day (Donesky!)

33. Get Coco bubble tea

34. Try KFC crab (Well, this is a stretch. We tried. It is not available, but we received bewildered looks instead)

35. Talk to mom

36. Wear nice clothes (we did for a few minutes, but too hot to wear all day)

37. Update FB picture

38. List top 5 goals for 2021

Jyn and Thai Silk

Apparently, silk pillow cases are instrumental in reducing hair frizz. Thailand is filled with high quality silk fabric (and high humidity for extra-frizzy hair). So Chinda went searching for reasonably priced silk, starting at Jim Thompson. Jim Thompson, while well known, is also very expensive. Who knew that something that comes out of a worm’s mouth would be so valuable. But I digress… She found a a few great lengths of fabric in the area near Chinatown and has given them to a local tailor to turn into magical antifrizz pillow cases.

Thai Silk. Which color is prettiest? Could be a tie 😉

Mike in Reading and Writing Level 2

Back in August, Jyn and I started Thai school together. Since she could already speak, she took three months of reading and writing while I was learning to speak (I’m still learning). Now, I am one week into level 2 of reading and writing Thai, which requires significant time. I am back to zoom class for three hours each day followed by an additional three to four hours of studying per day. It is going fairly well overall and is definitely helping my pronunciation. I know all of the 44 Thai consonants, all 32 vowels/vowel combinations, and about 60% of the reading rules. It is strange to look at a paragraph and not recognize anything until I sound out the words. At the end of this month, I will have all of the tools to read/write/speak Thai and will complete the 300 hours of study requirement for my visa. Visa-vie, I should be able to stay until mid-August, if needed.

Recent homework. It was only a matter of Thaim before I learned how to do this.

2 Months into 2021

After two months of 2021, things are pretty good here and seem to be improving around the world, including the US. We will continue brainstorming options for getting the COVID vaccines as soon as we can, which is the key for us to resume travel safely. It is a bit of a race against the clock as we have to finish our travels by the end of the year for our Round the World tickets. In the mean time, Jyn will knit and volunteer at the cat shelter and I will continue studying Thai/diving.

Chinese New Year decorations at Emporium

IconSiam rooftop.

One thought on “RTW Trip 2021- Thailand January and February

  1. Belated happy birthday! I hope you get those vaccines soon and can start travelling again. Very impressed with all the learning…and knitting! Take care both of you.


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