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Columnists > Anne O'Connell

Anne O'Connell
A published author and freelance writer, Anne O’Connell, has been an expat since 1993 when she and her husband escaped the cold of Toronto, Canada and moved to Fort Lauderdale, Florida. They enjoyed the sun and sand for 14 years, while she worked in the PR field, and then decided it was time for a new adventure. Heading for even more sun and sand, they moved to Dubai in late 2007 and then on to Thailand in 2011. Visit her website at or read her blog.

Anne O'Connell

To Everything… There is a Season

Posted by: Carole on Tuesday May 20, 2014 (15:35:14)   (2773 Reads)
Anne O’Connell
The birds are happily singing away this morning and, even though the sun is poking its face out in between the clouds I know at some point today without looking at the forecast, it's going to rain… and rain hard. Why? Do I have some type of crystal ball? No, of course not. I know because monsoon season has begun in Phuket.

It’s actually a welcome change though. We were experiencing almost drought conditions and locals and government officials were tsk tsking and wringing their hands. One resort owner even told me they were trucking in fresh water. Yeesh, we’re on an island! Surrounded by water.    more ...

Anne O'Connell

Yoga And Writing… My Winning Combination For A Happy Expat Life

Posted by: Carole on Friday April 18, 2014 (03:40:47)   (2630 Reads)
Anne O’Connell
As I look around me, more and more people are turning to yoga for overall health and well-being and general fitness, me included. Several years ago, after working 14 years in the PR business, I hit a wall and was diagnosed with a chronic illness for which the main symptom was bone numbing, mind-fogging fatigue. I was in a trough so deep I had to have weekly iron injections along with vitamin B-12 shots three times a week, which I eventually gave myself to save on travel time to the clinic (talk about overcoming my fear of needles for the greater good). I also took daily doses of extra vitamins that came in the form of about eight pills. I kept working… long hours… although some of it was because my pace had slowed down from what I normally could sustain.    more ...

Anne O'Connell

Wandering Around The ‘Old’ Town Of Phuket

Posted by: Carole on Friday March 21, 2014 (14:40:19)   (2167 Reads)
Anne O’Connell
When getting to know a new place, whether just visiting, or moving there for good, learning about the history and culture is always in the top three of the ‘must do’ list for me. If it’s a place steeped in centuries of history it’s always a treat to explore the ‘old town’ if there is such a thing, and visit any preserved historical sites, taking in the architecture, ambiance and aromas.

Phuket hasn’t disappointed. An afternoon excursion into Phuket’s ‘Old Town’ at the heart of the main city, rewards visitors with the colourful glory of Sino-Colonial architecture. Mansions built by tin Baron’s in the 18th century still stand and streets are peppered with ancient herb shops, fabric sellers and tailors.    more ...

Anne O'Connell

Phuket Is Still Peaceful

Posted by: Carole on Monday February 17, 2014 (04:53:09)   (3718 Reads)
Anne O’Connell.
I’ve never been a political animal… and, never will be, but I would be remiss as the Thailand columnist for this forum not to share my impressions of the protests and the election that never really was.

Most people who ask us about the situation are obviously concerned for our safety. They needn’t be. We have felt absolutely no repercussions in Phuket from the protests since they were reignited in November when the current prime minister attempted to pass an amnesty bill that would have allowed her brother, the ousted PM, to return to Thailand without facing the corruption charges he would have to otherwise.    more ...

Anne O'Connell

Exploring The Outskirts Of Phuket

Posted by: Carole on Monday January 20, 2014 (17:23:28)   (2936 Reads)
Anne O’Connell
When living the expat lifestyle it is important to establish a routine. Each time you move to a new country, routine is what will help you ease into life in a new place. However, try not to get too lulled by the boring rhythm of the coffee mornings, school pick-up if you have kids, stop ‘n shop, mani-pedi type routine. You’ve got to shake it up once in a while.

Now that we’ve been in Thailand for a couple of years, we’re into a nice routine. I’ve started a writers’ group that meets once a month and I also help out once a week at a local school. Then I work on whatever writing project I have under way the rest of the time. Sometimes I have to remind myself that I live in a different (even exotic) country and exploring beyond the local grocery store once in a while is highly advisable to have the most enriching experience possible.    more ...

Anne O'Connell

Find The Hospital Before You Need ‘The Intervention’

Posted by: Carole on Monday November 18, 2013 (23:01:02)   (2128 Reads)
Anne O’Connell
Whatever country you’re living in, the day to discover where the closest hospital is, how much healthcare costs, what the quality of service is or what ‘exactly’ your health insurance covers, is not the day you wind up in the hospital.

We have been in Thailand for two years now and have not needed any emergency care. The odd intestinal bug, ache, bump or scrape, can be remedied by going to the corner drug store where, upon describing your symptoms, the pharmacist will make an educated guess and sell you pretty much anything you need, over the counter pretty cheaply.

We’ve had all of the above but generally speaking, we’re both healthy other than the run of the mill, getting older aches and pains… the sick one in the family is the cat, but that’s another story!    more ...

Anne O'Connell

Building Your Own Tribe In Thailand

Posted by: Carole on Friday October 04, 2013 (02:48:09)   (2868 Reads)
Anne O’Connell
Being an expat and moving to exotic locations around the globe can be exciting… yet, often terrifying and sometimes lonely. Advice on how to make friends in new places abounds on expat forums, and I’ve even pontificated myself on blogs and in my book on how to get settled in Dubai. The truth is, no matter where you’re moving to, the advice on settling in can be repurposed with simply swapping out the city and country name.

In the book Expat Women Confessions: 50 Answers to Your Real-Life Questions About Living Abroad they offer some sage advice on finding local groups and networks that you might like to join. “If you don’t find a group, network or association that interests you, do not be afraid to set one up yourself,” say the authors, Andrea Martin and Victoria Hepworth.    more ...

Anne O'Connell

Learning Thai And Talking The Talk

Posted by: Carole on Thursday September 19, 2013 (03:19:16)   (2207 Reads)
Anne O’Connell
If they call French the language of love they should call Thai the language of simplicity. Not because it’s easy to learn, because, believe me, it isn’t, but because they don’t waste words or include a litany of bothersome little connecting bits or complicated tenses. The downside is, not wasting words also means the same word can mean several different things. To differentiate, they’ve added five different tones that, applied correctly, make the same word mean five totally different things. For example, the word Khao, with different inflections, means, him/her/his/hers, knee, ‘to enter’, or mountain. Not to be confused with Khaao, with a drawn out ‘aaaaa’, which means rice, news or white.

As you may have guessed, after two years in Thailand, I’ve finally started taking Thai lessons. My husband began practically the day we arrived and his Thai is coming along so well that I thought I’d better catch up.    more ...

Anne O'Connell

How Big Is Big? It’s All A Matter Of Perspective!

Posted by: Carole on Thursday August 15, 2013 (23:09:47)   (2346 Reads)
Anne O’Connell
Adapting to a new culture takes time and effort, sometimes a little studying, a few language lessons, immersing yourself in the local flavour (that’s easy… I love Thai food) and, above all, accepting and celebrating our differences. I was content to do that until the other day when an unexpected exchange left me hurt and wounded.

Just to set it up…

In the Western culture, thin is in (so advertisers would have us believe) and so many women are constantly battling their weight. I’m very fortunate that, other than the odd kilo here and there, I’ve never had to worry too much about that. Admittedly, I fall into the pattern that many expats do of gaining a ‘few’ every time a new move occurs or with each ‘home leave’, which I have just returned from with more than a little extra ‘fluff’ around the middle.    more ...

Anne O'Connell

Anticipating The Return To Thailand

Posted by: Carole on Wednesday July 17, 2013 (01:41:01)   (2552 Reads)
Anne O’Connell
'Tis that time of year again where many of us expats feel emotionally conflicted… torn between wanting to continue spending time with family and friends in our home country versus chomping at the bit to get back to what we loosely call ‘routine’ in the life of a global nomad. As I wrap up my visit in Canada, wipe the lone tear rolling down my face while simultaneously calming the excited fluttering in my stomach in anticipation of returning to my adopted home, I can’t help but start a list of the first things I will do upon my return (after the jet lag has passed):

5 things I miss most about Thailand:

1. Massages on the beach – this one I can actually do while still in the throes of the evil jet lag. I can envision the wooden platform on the beach with the faded umbrellas precariously perched on the sand, providing the much needed shade.    more ...

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