People come from all over to live in Thailand's mountain city of Chiang Mai. Besides its own sizeable local population—numbering more than 350,000—expats are increasingly coming here. They come from all over—the U.S., Europe, and Australia. Recent estimates put the number of Western expats living in Chiang Mai at around 40,000. But it's not just Westerners who are coming. Asian retirees, particularly from Japan, South Korea, and China are retiring to Chiang Mai's relaxing surroundings. And more are coming each year.
It's late afternoon on a warm, sunny Panama day and I'm strolling on one of the most mesmerizing stretches of sand I've ever seen. But it's not your typical powder-white sand beneath my toes…instead it's midnight black sand, with swirls of lighter tan mixed throughout. And it almost glistens, like it's covered in tiny twinkling stars.
The other day my wife Rita and I were sitting in a local restaurant enjoying a $3 almuerzo (lunch special, typically a soup, small salad, rice, and meat or fish with a juice) when I overheard a new arrival behind us say with obvious glee, “I got up today and had no idea what day of the week it was!” I had to turn around and tell him, “That’s nothing. Wait until you can’t remember what month it is!” Sounds odd, but it’s true. Living in Salinas on the Pacific coast of Ecuador, there are few changes to mark the passing of time. This close to the equator the days are always 12 hours long, and the high and low temperatures only change about 10 degrees between the height of summer and the depths of winter. It’s surprisingly easy to find yourself trying to remember if it’s March or October.
Development is coming to Costa Rica’s southern Pacific coast, also known as the Southern Zone. But this region, known for its vast rain forests, jungle-covered mountains, and untamed beaches, remains unspoiled and full of natural beauty and wildlife. While a trip to the Southern Zone used to mean a long and cautious drive along a bone-jarring...
“Here’s your lunch,” my neighbor Eloisa proudly proclaimed as she thrust a squawking, flapping mass of feathers into my arms. “How do you like to kill your chickens?” “Ummm, I don’t,” I replied. “I don’t like to kill my chickens!” She gave me a perplexed look and no doubt wondered how I had managed to survive all these years without knowing how to transform a live bird into a feast for my family. But she graciously took the knife, did the dirty deed, and walked me through the steps of cleaning, plucking, and finally cooking the bird in her wood-fire oven.
As you walk the narrow streets of Cusco, Peru’s San Blas neighborhood you are touching history. A stone wall might be of Incan origin…or built by the Spanish after the conquest. Old colonial homes are now restaurants, bars, shops, and hotels. Hip college kids texting friends with the latest smartphone walk side-by-side with indigenous women garbed in brightly-colored traditional dress. For South African Idelette Aucamp, it’s just the latest stop on her journey through Latin America. So far, she has spent three months in Colombia and a stretch in Bolivia…traversed the Atacama Desert with a friend…traveled throughout Chile…hitchhiked all the way to Patagonia…and headed into Argentina.
It seemed to be a magical evening on the beach. My wife, Susan, and I decided to find a place to sit in the sand to watch the sunset. As we settled in, a couple of friendly dogs that probably belonged to local surfers, joined us. Soon people were coming from everywhere to find their little piece of real estate to watch what was turning out to be a beautiful sunset in Montanita, Ecuador during our first full week of a three-month visit to this amazing country.
Stepping out from strict—and sometimes depressing—office hours to “work” whenever I want allows me to enjoy every moment of my travels around Europe. As a copywriter and blogger, I’ve opened my laptop while sitting next to monkeys on Spain’s Rock of Gibraltar…or sipping a latte in the Belgian city of Bruges. There probably isn’t a better start to a European trip than landing 15 minutes away from the beach on Mallorca—the Spanish island in the Mediterranean— where I took the longest siesta of my life. My days on the island were all about enjoying the warm weather and discovering coral reefs and rocky beaches, which I found perfect for meditating.
After 35 years in soggy Seattle, Pat and Russ Huber were ready for a drier, warmer climate. They thought that Santa Barbara, California, close to friends and family and with much improved weather, would be their solution. They sold all their stuff, putting only a few things in storage, loaded their car, and headed south, looking forward to their new lives. But after about a year in California, Pat encountered a major medical issue.
Selfishly, I thought that nobody knew about the beautiful, cultured, artsy Spanish city of Girona and that I could keep it as my secret place. But it’s impossible to keep a place like this under wraps. I fell in love with Girona and moved here in 2012. This charming, fun, easygoing city checked all my boxes. I can walk or cycle everywhere through beautiful streets that are full of history.