This is Ron's story of how he overcame some personal obstacles in his life to visit Thailand, a trip that he says changed his life. If anybody has any short articles they would like to contribute then we would be more than happy to post them, if they relate to the channel. The content does not have to be related to Thailand; so the day I climbed Mount Everest would be a great blog (especially if you have pictures at the summit). Or if you have bought a gadget and want to review it, then please feel free to send us the review and we will publish it giving you full credit for the article. Anyway back to Ron, this story is also accompanied by the video below which is from around two years ago, where Ron goes into more detail, well worth a watch.
Hi. My name is Ron.
Some of you might already know me. For those of you who are newer here, I will give you a short summary of how I got to Thailand. It was a journey that took nine years and finally concluded in 2018.
Ron on the infamous 'Bridge over the River Kwai'
The first step was not my choice, in January of 2009 I got laid off, just as the recession hit the lowest point. After finding no work at age 63, I finally retired at 65. I was able to get on Medicare but my wife was six years younger than me, and she was not eligible for Medicare. Because of a minor pre-existing condition we couldn't afford private insurance either, five months later she was diagnosed with Leukemia. After three and a half months in the hospital, she died and I then began taking care of my 95 year old mother by myself. She died eight months later. I fell into a deep depression and literally became a hermit for five years, I seldom left my house. If I could do it on the Internet that is the way I did it. I had played a little bit of online poker for a few years and had met several people on the Internet who supported me during that five year period. One was a Canadian called Clay, who had met a lady from Thailand while she was visiting in Canada. They developed a relationship and he visited Thailand several times. Soon after that, they got married. He began trying to get me interested in Thailand hoping that that could get me out of my depression. He sent me many YouTube links to videos about Thailand and as I watched them I admitted that it was a beautiful country. But, being in my seventies, I couldn't see myself traveling halfway around the world to visit a country where I didn't know a word of its native language. It was simply out of the question as far as I was concerned. Clay didn't give up, and soon I began to search videos about Thailand on my own. But still, I had no intention of actually traveling there. During my wanderings on YouTube, I came across a channel that had three or four thousand subscribers. The channel was run by a taxi driver from the UK, and he told his stories about the time he lived in Thailand. He told them very well, and I subscribed. The channel was Land of Smiles Thailand (LOST) and of course, the taxi driver was our friend Simon. I didn't have a clue at the time, but my life was about to take a 180 degree turn. Once I was following the LOST channel, I began to make comments and ask questions on the videos, which Simon answered quickly. Eventually, I emailed him and we became Internet friends. Not long after that Simon asked if I would be willing to help him on a story that he was putting together for a video. He was short on time to work on it and even though I had no experience I told him that I was willing to give it a shot. He sent me the information, and I got started. He liked the work that I had done and he incorporated quite a bit of it into his video.
Simon and Ron Simon mentioned me several times, and his subscribers began to know me (and some of my story) and often responded to my comments on that video and many later ones. This helped me to climb out of my shell somewhat. Everyone kept asking me when I was going to go to Thailand, I explained some of my hurdles to them and mentioned that my not knowing anyone there was probably one of the major ones. Not long after that, Simon and his wife, Mem had the opportunity to retire to Thailand in March of 2018. They offered to provide me with a base from which I could explore Thailand. They (and Clay) felt that this was a good solution to one of my major hurdles and should tip the scales for me and get me over to Thailand. But, I still balked feeling that my age and other circumstances were complications that I simply could not overcome. I had been all over the U.S. during my years, but I had never been out of the States. I didn't even have a passport. I didn't have a clue as to where my birth certificate even was, I hadn't needed it in fifty years! That was necessary in order to get a passport, on and on, excuse after excuse, Something that I had grown used to doing during my hermit years. But (and, there's always a but), the pieces were beginning to fall into place, even though I didn't realize that at first. My only close blood relative is my nephew, he and his wife, my brother-in-law, and my only two close friends all began to encourage me to take the plunge and head to Thailand. My vet offered to board my two cats (one who is diabetic and requires insulin shots twice a day) for a major discount from her normal fee. One of Simon's subscribers (a fan of the "Drowning Love" videos) made me a generous offer if I would just make the trip.
It just seemed to me that life was really pushing hard on me to get me to go to Thailand, I still balked at it all until January of 2018. One night, I was watching one of Simon's videos where he again mentioned me (I don't remember which one), and I commented on it as usual. Then, I read the other comments and again, his subscribers were all but begging me to travel to Thailand. I sat there and contemplated all of the pros and cons about a trip to Thailand. Cons being my age, not speaking any Thai, my circumstances, etc. Pros were my family and friends encouragement, my vet, the support from the Thailand community, Simon and his subscribers mostly, life in general, and it was obvious to even me by now pushing me in that direction, etc.
After a LOT of soul-searching, I finally pulled out my credit card, searched the Internet thoroughly and found the best deal available, and booked my flight, for May and a 30-day stay in Thailand! BOOM! DONE! OMG! Trust me, that was one of the most difficult decisions that I had made during the entire prior nine years. I had "buyers' remorse" incidents many times during the next four months. I came close to canceling the trip several times. But, I knew how that decision would disappoint my family, my friends, Simon and many in his community, and of course myself. So, I didn't cancel out on the trip. And so, as they say, the rest was history. Who the hell are "they" anyway? So, why am I writing this blog? Well, I want every reader to understand the one thing that needs to be very clear about my story. That being:
Unless you have physical or financial issues that make it impossible, you are never too old, never too depressed, and/or never too stressed to go on an adventure such as the one that I eventually experienced. Whether it's a trip to Thailand, elsewhere in Asia, Europe, Australia, South America, Africa, North America, or even Antarctica, you CAN overcome any hurdles. I am living proof of that! But, I realize that had an unending volume of support. coming from the community that Simon and a few others have built up over the years. Obviously, that was one of the major factors that finally tipped the scales for me. I'm not special in any way. I'm not unusual (although some might have a differing view on that) in any way either. So, before you make any decision, particularly if it's your first such adventure get involved with a community, that is no doubt already established for the place that you want to go. Participate in the discussions in that community, that can and probably will make all of the difference in the world for you, it certainly did for me. I had the adventure of a lifetime and, it was mostly due to Simon, Mem, Jonny, Andy, Chris, and so many others, some of whom would not want their names mentioned but they know who they are. And, to the people who, out on the streets of Thailand, just walked up to me and introduced themselves simply because of my exposure on Simon's and Jonny's YouTube channels! A truly strange experience, my 15 minutes of fame, as it were. Thanks for listening to this old codger's story! Ron
This trip even convinced Ron to create his own YouTube channel, please subscribe or take a look by clicking on the picture below.