I’ve always heard it said that when I don’t know what to do, I should do nothing. Though it may sound simplistic, that idea has always worked for me, and the past year has been a prime example. I returned home to Chiang Mai, Thailand, from a trip to Antarctica, Argentina, Chile, and Easter Island on January 12, 2020. Little did I know it would be my last bout of international travel for more than a year. The day after I returned home, the Ministry of Public Health in Thailand reported the first case of lab-confirmed novel coronavirus discovered outside of China. A Chinese female tourist from Wuhan, China, who had been suffering from fever, chills, sore throat, and headache for the previous week, arrived at Suvarnabhumi Airport in Bangkok with a tour group. Her condition was detected by thermal surveillance at the airport and she was immediately hospitalized.
By mid-March, the number of daily cases in Thailand had surged to triple digits. On March 26, the government declared a state of emergency and a curfew went into effect on April 3rd. The following day, all commercial international flights were suspended and lockdown measures were implemented throughout the country. The rate of locally transmitted cases gradually dropped throughout April. When the number of cased dropped to near-zero in mid-May, the government eased lockdown restrictions but the suspension of inbound international flights remained in force. I could leave if I wanted to, but if I did, I wouldn’t be allowed to return.
I’d been living in Chiang Mai, Thailand, for the past 3.5 years and had no desire to leave. But the situation with COVID-19 meant I wouldn’t be traveling anytime soon. I cancelled my plans to visit Spain in April and decided to use the time to publish stories about places I’d visited, but had never had time to write about on my Hole in the Donut Travel blog. That kept me busy for some months, but by November of last year I had whittled through my backlog of stories about international destinations.
I wrote a few stories about what it was like to live in Thailand during the COVID-19 pandemic, but soon felt I had exhausted that subject as well. What to do? Would my followers continue to read my blog if all the content was about Thailand? I had no idea. For the past few months I’ve been gnashing my teeth, trying to decide whether or not to continue publishing the blog. I thought COVID-19 might be the sign that it was time to stop. But I just couldn’t make up my mind…so I did nothing.
About a month ago, there was an update to WordPress, the software that runs my site. When my tech guy tried to install the new version, it broke my site. I had no choice. I had to upgrade my design or shut down the blog completely. In the end, I just wasn’t ready to quit. I found a new theme and have been working day and night on the conversion. The result is what you see today, a fresh new look for Hole in the Donut Travel blog. I hope you will agree with me that the new design is much more attractive. It’s easier to read and has lots of clean white space. I also hope to start writing more, focusing on the numerous trips I have been taking around Thailand over the past few months. It remains to be seen whether or not my followers will stick with me until I can travel internationally again, but I have my fingers crossed.
34 thoughts on “A Fresh New Look for Hole in the Donut Cultural Travel”
Barbara, I\’ve missed your posts. Lovely to see your Pandemic Progress. In 2012, I visited Thailand–a retreat at Suan Mouk, then was shown about Southern Thailand by the father of a former exchange student –I call them \”Borrowed Sons\”. Then I rode the train to Bangkok and joined a tour for a couple of weeks. 6 weeks, in country, in all. I tell you this, in case you\’re looking for ideas for the time you are confined in Thailand. My Borrowed Son\’s father is one of the nicest people you would ever want to meet and, I\’m sure, could enrich any travel you might plan around Sichon. If you are interested, PM me for his contact info.
Hi Charlotte: Thanks for taking a moment to leave a comment. I’m happy to hear you liked Thailand, and to hear that you spent six weeks here. There is so much to see, such diversity around the country, that it can’t really be seen in a couple of weeks. I’m always up for meting locals and seeing new areas of the country. Where and how do I PM you – there are a zillion Charlotte Gants on Facebook.
This pandemic has hit us all in many ways. Your new look is wonderful! Keep at it! I will continue reading about your adventures whether they are international or at your home in Thailand. Well I guess I should say – I’m really interested in your every day life in Thailand and also some of your trips. I have a trip planned for Ireland and Wales when we can travel again. Do you think that will be?
Oh my gosh Irene, I wish I had an answer to that. I think it depends a lot on where you live. I suspect Americans, Brits, and Israelis will be able to travel sooner than others, as they are furthest ahead on vaccinating the public. Here in Thailand, we just got the first vaccines a couple of days ago and they won’t be available to the general public until simmer, so for us I suspect International travel won’t be possible until the third quarter of the year, at the earliest. Glad you like the new look and are sticking with me (but I never doubted it, in your case). 🙂
The new design looks great! Please continue writing, I enjoy your writing style and all the details you include about your travels, near and far. I think your years long knowledge will be needed now more than ever as people slowly but surely ease back into leaving their houses for extended adventures. Thank You!
Hi Sarah! What a lovely thought. I would love it if my writing helps people ease back into traveling. Thanks so much for your encouragement.
I’m so glad you have decided to continue blogging! I enjoy all your posts! No matter where you are or where you’re writing about, I always find it interesting. I look forward to reading more about Thailand and your/the way of life there.
I love your style of writing as well as your excellent photos so you could consider me one of your devoted followers. By the way, your new page design is a sure winner!
Best wishes always!
Hi Sylvia! Thank you so much for taking a moment to leave a comment. It has meant a great deal to me that so many have encouraged me to keep on writing. With all that encouragement under my belt, I’ve been reinfused with energy.
Hello Barbara from southern Colorado! As you know, I started blogging around the same time you did and also ran into technical problems with my first blog (Midlife CrisisQueen) in 2014. That was when started a new one. I also lived in Thailand in the early 1970s.
The decision to keep on writing comes up regularly for me, and finally culminated in this post recently: https://adventuresofthenewoldfarts.com/2021/02/12/why-am-i-a-writer/
I write now because I love the experience of writing! — Laura Lee Carter
Hi Laura Lee: How wonderful to hear from you. I just read your post and I couldn’t agree more.I often say that I write because I have to have a way to get the words out of my head. But bottom line, like you, these days I write for me. Take care and stay safe. Sending a hue hug!
Congratulations for the new look of your blog. I have filed away all your blogs and I intend to continue doing so. I live in Brazil and we are going through hard times what with the pandemic and travel restrictions. More importantly for me, though, is your blog, as I am unable to travel due to Parkinson’s Disease, but I feel I am travelling the world with you. So please never give up! Naturally, I wish you all the best and that you may return soon to your international adventures. For the time being, I will satisfy myself by learning a bit more on Thailand.
Dear Walter: Thank you SO much for your kind reply. You brought a smile to my face and made my day. I am sorry that you cannot travel due to the Parkinsons (I have friends who struggle with it, so I truly understand). But I am happy that what I do allows you to “armchair travel” with me. Stay safe, and here’s hoping we end this horrible pandemic soon.
Travelling brings joy whether its domestic as the sort majority of people in the world can afford or international which only few can enjoy.So if u travelled in Thailand,I would say lucky you.Enjoy and entertain your reader.
Thanks Pkm! I hope to bring loads of new information about Thailandto my readers.
As usual, Barbara, an honest and heartfelt account of your experiences and hope for the future of your blog. I love the new look and look forward to reading about your inland trips. I’ve already ‘saved’ some places you’ve previously written about within Thailand to visit when I return! So…keep on bloggin’!!
I’m on the job Crystal. It’s strange, but just having the brand spankin’ new look has given me new determination to keep writing. I sure hope to see you this coming winter. I’ve missed your smiling face. xoxo
Thank you for your writing. Through your words, my world expands. A few years ago, at 70, I sold/gave away everything and moved to Portugal with the aim of aim of immersing in this lovely country and traveling to other interesting places. After lockdown, I’ll have to make up for lost time! And you give me a peek into fascinating places to explore. Please come for a visit if you have the opportunity to visit Portugal!
I know how you feel Fran. I haven’t been able to travel internationally for almost 14 months now. I’ve done some domestic travel here in Thailand, which has kept me from going insane, but I look forward to a time when we can get back on the road. Portugal is definitely on my list. I’ve only really been to Cascais and Estoril, and briefly through Lisbon, but there’s a mot more of the country I want to see. And the same goes for you. If you ever make it to Thailand, do let me know and I can be your tour guide.
Hi Barbara, If I understand correctly, you’re stuck in Chiang Mai? Please stay well. Larry , aka Lorenzo as you know, is stuck in Italy. Me, I’m stuck in Minnesota. Keep blogging, I always enjoy your perspective.
Hi Mindy: Yep, though I wouldn’t really call it being stuck, since I live in Chiang Mai permanently. It’s more frustration over not being able to travel internationally at the moment. I know Lorenzo feels the same way. Just spoke with him the other day. Have you and I met? I don’t envy you being in Minnesota during the weather.
I always look forward to read you blog, Ms. Barb.
Please continue what you’re doing, be inspired from your followers.
Thank you so much Fe. I knew you would say that! As one of my most faithful followers, you DO inspire me! I hold out hope that we will meet one day. xoxo
Really surprised to see you back writing a new post on your fresh new look site.
Hopefully, this is a sign that things will get back to normal soon.
Anyway, keep on writing, even if it is a short post or just a short snippet about how you getting on with life, wherever you may be based at.
I am sure your readers would like to know how you are getting on.
Hope you continue to keep us updated about your life via your site.
Life is a constant journey of discovery even though we may be staying put in one place at the moment.
Hi Wendy: Yep, I finally got the site revamped. It was more than a month of very intense work, but I’m very pleased with the results. And the new look has given me new energy to write. Stay tuned for lots more stories about Thailand, beginning this week with one about the recent Makha Bucha Day, the second most important Buddhist holiday in the country.
Great new look Barbara! I look forward to seeing more about Thailand from your perspective. Stay well and healthy as travel time is approaching. 🙂
Hi M.J.: So glad you liked the new look. I’m pleased with how it turned out. Stay tuned for more stories about Thailand, coming up starting this week.
We are all navigating uncertain times. I agree with the above comments. Let us know about your daily life in a country so foreign to the U.S., your local adventures, foods you eat, do you cook for yourself? Do you speak the language fluently? If so how did you learn? If not, do you know enough to get by? How do the locals respond to you? What are the customs? Do they celebrate Christmas or other holidays that are celebrated in the U.S.? What are their special holidays? How do they celebrate? What foods do they eat during their celebrations? What do you love about Thailand as compared to the U.S. Do you miss anything about living in the U.S.? Most of us have never lived extensively outside of our own native countries, so reading about how you are managing and thriving would be of great interest! P.S. I was blown away about your comment about the use of the bidet instead of toilet paper.
Hi Kathy: Good to hear that you’d find more stories about my life here in Thailand interesting. I’ll do my best over the next few months to tell you more in the stories I write, but I’ll answer two of your questions right now.
No, I don’t speak fluent Thai, but I’m learning. I’ve been to two semesters of language class and had a private tutor prior to COVID. I will probably go back to classes at some point in the near future, once the vaccinations are well underway. In the meantime, my Thai friends help me to learn more every day. I do all my shopping and negotiating at the markets in Thai. I also have a pretty good handle on directions in order to tell the taxi drivers where I want to go, and I order in Thai in restaurants. There is, however, a fair amount of English spoken in Chiang Mai, as it is a major tourist destination. I don’t know if I’ll ever be fluent enough to conduct an entire conversation in Thai, but I do have a good enough grasp to make myself understood.
Second, we don’t have bidets here in Thailand. There are sprayer hoses with a long flexible hose mounted on the wall next to every toilet. They are used not only to clean the toilets and the floors (which all have floor drains), but also to hose off our “bottoms” after we do our business. It’s the tropics here, so after using the hose we just air dry in seconds. No toilet paper needed. We affectionately refer to them as “Bum Guns.”
I look forward to all your stories no matter what country!
What a sweet comment, Gloria. Thank you so much.
Hi, Barbara, would love to read your Blog on your 3.5 years in Thailand. As someone who lived in Sweden, Great Britian, and for the past 46 years in the U.S. Having leftl in anger my native Eastern Block (Poland) with nothing to lose, and everything to gain, , certainly do not miss the hardships, and the trials of adapting and starting a new on the bottom of social strata. I did work wih Thai women here in the US so I know a little but not enough how they responded to you, An American living independently in their country now.. Like your travel blog immensely, but this one would be an eye opening. Greetings from Chicago
A big hello from one Chicagoan to another, Malgorzata! Thanks so much for your comment. I look forward to writing more in-depth about what it’s like to live in Thailand and the cultural traditions of the country in the next few months. Thanks for hanging in there with me.
I, personally, would find a blog about what it is like to live in Thailand very interesting! Thanks for hanging in there!
Hi Ann. I’ll do my best over the coming months to tell my readers a bit more about Thailand. Thanks so much for your comment and encouragement.