Hi, I am Elizabeth (or Miss Ellie if you are one of my 5 year old students) and I am a homeroom teacher at an international school in Nonthaburi. I moved here from South Korea where I lived and taught for a year - two weeks before the Thai floods last October. I've wanted to live and travel in Thailand for as long as I can remember and the last eight months have been eye opening and challenging, as well as rewarding.
So much of my life has changed since I moved here and I have been writing about my experiences for the last few years on my personal blog. Moving to Asia from a small town in America was a shock but I have gotten used to expat life, with its ups and downs, and while some days I swear I am ready to move back to the simple American dream, most of the time I love my life and the people in it.
This journey hasn't been tough all on my own. I live in a one-bedroom apartment with my best friend and new husband, who is not a teacher, but has an online business where he can (kinda of ) work from anywhere. We have travelled together through most of Southeast Asia and I am so thankful he is there to diffuse stressful situations when my American hot temper might get the best of me.
We have been engaged since our trip to the Philippines last January and were haphazardly planning a destination wedding where our friends and family from America would come and celebrate our union. I am a woman and like most I have been planning my wedding in my head since I was but a wee young girl. Yet, when it came down to organizing, financing and entertaining all our loved ones in the same place on the other side of the world, it was a bit of a nightmare. I know some brides have the gumption for this great task, but it turns out I am not one of them. It was stressing me out before we even set a date and I could see it turning into something much bigger than I wanted for my special day.
For almost two years, we have been traveling and getting away with tourist visas for my non-teacher partner but Thailand and its strict visa policies finally got the better of us. My partner realized that he wouldn't be able to leave Thailand for another tourist visa and for sure be able to get back into the country. About three weeks ago, we realized that this dilemma could haunt us for the rest of our lives or rather as long as we are travelling and living together in foreign lands. We had to make a plan - a long term one that could ensure we could continue to live this vagabond lifestyle we have chosen.
So last Thursday we got hitched. In a span of three days, we rushed to figure out what we would need to get legally married, since we are planning on get married anyway, right? We will just do the legal paperwork and call it a visa! I took a personal day from school and after a visit to the US embassy, a translator, and the immigration office at Cheang Wattana (three times) we took our Thai friends with us down the street from our apartment to the local Amphur office in Bang Kruai.
We were the first 'farang to farang' marriage they had ever seen and it took a few tries to correctly translate our names into Thai. Our great Thai-speaking neighbors helped translate the whole process. We had to be approved by the main official and were asked questions about why we wanted to get married in Thailand. After he wished us a long and happy marriage filled with children, we were given our marriage license, completely in Thai and apparently legitimate according to the officials at the visa office. We drank expensive champagne (ok, sparkling wine) that night and I went to school the next morning.
The next day we went back to Cheang Wattana and applied for my groom's dependant non-O visa. All went smoothly and we will go back in a couple weeks to get his golden ticket to stay in the country. It was an easy decision really. It is the best way around all the crazy rules and loopholes here and was a fun experience that we will always remember (we wore matching t-shirts and of course there were lots of pictures taken.) We also spent the long holiday weekend in Kanchanaburi for a romantic "honeymoon" (I guess I'll have two!) along the river at a beautiful resort (a nice treat for us budget travelers.)
I am now planning an intimate ceremony in August, somewhere in Thailand (if you have any suggestions, please let me know!) because I just can't NOT have a wedding (mostly I just want to wear a beautiful dress) I want to have an actual wedding that I can have pictures of, in my own way, and that means no drama and relaxing in the pool on the day of the event.
Some people have considered us crazy, others congratulated us and asked when the baby was due. In reality, I am just a young, wanderlust crazy fool in love, living my life exactly the way I want it - even if I never envisioned myself eloping at 25. My story is actually turning out better than I could have ever imagined.
If you would like to read more about my life and my adventures, then please take a look at my personal blog site.