Sorry, I’m Too Busy. I’m Retired In Thailand You Know.

April 30, 2014

The following is taken from my follow retirement bloggers Billy and Akaisha Karderli’s, very informative Retire Early Lifestyle.

They asked the question, Are you afraid to retire?

One person answered the following:

Thank you for your web site, at 53 I have 25 times what I need in retirement income. I really think that that is enough, 4 percent withdrawal rate. I am having trouble with severing the ties and just doing it, retiring. I seem to be so institutionalized to work that the fear of retirement is real.

I think that this is a pretty common feeling for people getting ready for retirement. They’ve saved and lived frugally all their lives and now that they’ve reached a certain age and the conditions are right to make that next lifestyle change, they balk.

If they have enough money to retire then the questions arise like “What will I do with my time?” “Will I get bored without the stimulation of a job and responsibilities?” “Will I be satisfied spending time just going out and playing golf?”

I am loving being retired just as much as I loved how I used to spend my working time – but now I am home just hanging out, like I always dreamed of. And now I have so many things I am interested in doing that I could never find the time to go back to “work”.

So I thought I would share some of the activities that I have taken up in my retirement. They are not suggestions for you. More like examples of “If I can find all this ‘stuff’ to do then I am sure that you can too.”

Here are some of the things that I have started doing since retiring.


As you have probably guessed I spend a lot of time writing. Besides this blog (This is the 79th monthly post in a series that gets about 2,000 hits a month.) I also contribute to the Thai Learners’ website Women Learn Thai – and Some Men Too with posts on learning the Thai language.

I have written a few eBooks, a number of English textbooks, now turned in apps for smart phones and tablets. I wrote a retirement column for Chiang Mai City Life for 5 years, then retired from that. Now with only a couple of monthly blog posts to produce I have cut down some on writing and I have time for other stuff.


I always used to joke that in my next life I wanted to be a blues pianist. Then I thought, hey, retirement IS my next life, so I started teaching myself how to play the piano.

Really, my goal was to play well enough to accompany my singing. I bought myself an inexpensive keyboard. I used the Internet to find out how to play all the piano chords I needed, and then I downloaded the lyrics and chords for the songs I wanted to sing.

The next part is the hardest, and the most fun. I sit banging away on the piano for hours every day fantasizing about singing songs that any lounge-lizard-piano-man would sing. I am now up to 300+ songs that I sing and play well enough to keep the door to my room locked tight. It might be awhile before I open it, but right now I am having loads of fun pretending to be Billy Joel or Elton John.


With raising a family and work, the time I had to read was cut way down. But now I can turn on the stereo with some Mozart or Springsteen in the background and read as long as I want. I have made a bucket list of all the great books I have never read and it will probably take me into my 90s. Don’t get me wrong, I still love reading mysteries and detective novels, and the Game of Thrones and Hunger Games series, but now I can read some of the stuff I am “supposed” to have read.

Currently those are Melville’s Moby Dick, I read one chapter a day because it is just too overwhelming to read more; the very recently passed away Nobel Prize winner Gabrial Garcia Marquez’s One Hundred Years of Solitude, a much cooler book than I thought; a thousand page history book Gettysburg, The Last Invasion, Allen C. Guelzo, the U.S. Civil War has always fascinated me; and Markus Zusak’s The Book Thief, saw the movie, had to read the book.

I’ll be adding to the bucket list as I go along but I am not sure when Tolstoy’s War and Peace or Joyce’s Ulysses will be added to it. I just might have to wait for my next life for them.


I never knew much about opera, but now I have the time to check it out. YouTube has complete operas and there are lots that can be downloaded. Here is what I do. I search for an opera, say Mozart’s The Magic Flute. Then I go to Wikipedia and copy off the synopsis. If I can find a version of the opera with subtitles, that’s great, if not Wiki works out fine. A friend just told me that if you can’t get a synopsis of the opera here is how it usually goes: “The tenor falls in love with the soprano and the baritone tries to get in their way. And usually the soprano dies at the end – and sometimes the tenor too.” And if the cellos are playing in a minor key then something really bad is going to happen.

Then I sit back and get blown away – often with tears in my eyes (Check out Maria Callas singing arias from La Traviata for a good cry even if you don’t know what she is saying.

I never knew that the human body could make sounds like that? I recently watched the Queen of the Night aria from The Magic Flute sung by Diana Damrau and my jaw just dropped. Now remember, I’m no want-to-be dilettante and I didn’t know anything about opera until just a few weeks ago. I love crying so it looks like opera will work for me. You can watch The Queen of the Night from The Magic Flute here.

I’ve changed my mind. In my next life I want to be a coloratura soprano.


I have written previously about the mountain tortoises that we saved from the cooking pot. We raised them in our garden for a few years and when we found a suitable place away from hungry poachers (the Chiang Mai Zoo offered us a protected area at the base of the Doi Suthep mountain) we released more than 100 tortoises that we saved back into the wild, and the more than 30 babies that were born in our garden are now living at the zoo itself. Our thinking was that the babies would probably never developed the skills to live in the wild.

Now we are content with a few rescue rabbits and a flock of parakeets. I can hear the babies calling out for more food right from here.


My bucket list for places to travel to and visit has mostly been accomplished since I have spent so many years overseas, but now we are planning to visit lots of the towns and national parks and beaches right here in Thailand itself. That should take a couple of decades.


Our garden is a daily taskmaster and I can spend from 1 – 2 hours every day working in it. Pikun doesn’t let me make any decisions about what to plant so I am the guy who waters, and carries the cow manure, and prunes the trees and rakes the leaves.

I found out that there is a Thai monk who has developed a meditation technique while sweeping and raking. Now all I need is one for carrying cow poop.


The activities we plan for our retirement should be things that will last us a lifetime (as much as we have left anyway); gardening, and learning the piano and reading and learning about operas will take me a while. But not as long as it will take me to learn how to hit a gold ball straight I am sure.

I have written before that golf is the hardest sport I have ever done. It is so hard, Tiger Woods once said that the golf swing uses every muscle in your body and because of all the other things involved, distance, ground, and weather, the variations to the swing are basically infinite. That makes getting out onto a beautiful setting surrounded by trees and grass and lakes and streams and trying to hit a golf ball where you want to just perfect for the guy who has the rest of his life to play with.

Sometimes I even have enough time to do the things I used to do before retirement like study Thai, go bird watching, and hiking, and hanging out at open air markets, and volunteering, and my day wouldn’t be complete without some TV and movie binge-watching.

And I always make the time to take at least one power nap every day.

8 Responses to “Sorry, I’m Too Busy. I’m Retired In Thailand You Know.”

  1. You’re a rascal: you didn’t tell us you moved to another planet where the days have 62 hours! Sounds like things are very fulfilling.

  2. Lani said

    You are an inspiration Hugh. Loved reading every bit, and what a great quote to start it all off. Hugs from Chiang Rai 🙂

  3. Eric said

    Retirement sounds as busy as not retiring! 🙂

  4. Larry Cress said

    I have a question? At national parks they charge the Thais a low price and a much higher price like 10 times more for non- Thai. How does one who lives there full time get Thai price? I am married to a Thai and have two small children they are half Thai.

    • Hi Larry,

      Yes there is a dual price system here which makes a lot of people angry. I myself never pay the tourist price. I show my Thai drivers license and say I live here and that the price is only for tourists. But I speak Thai so I can do that. If your Thai is good enough you won’t ever have to pay the tourist price. Maybe your spouse can do the talking. A lot of the people at the gate will not know the law but you can tell them that the law states that a foreign resident of Thailand does not have to pay the tourist price. Good luck.

      BTW, the national parks are usually well worth the price, even the tourist price, probably about $12. It’s more than the Thai price but it’s not outragous.

  5. Bruce MacDonald said

    Yay. A new month, a new post. Thanks for the inspiration, Hugh. How long is your power nap? I find napping tricky, because suddenly I’ve been asleep for an hour and a half and then sleep poorly at night.

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