Who am I, and why am I here?

I mean, in Bangkok, not in an existential way.

Like most blogs, Greg to Differ is part ego trip, part literary outlet and part info dump. The seed was planted in 2007 when I fielded one too many dumb questions from friends and friends-of-friends about what to expect on their visit. I got bored of people assuming this city was a simmering cesspool overflowing with pussy and booze, and that the anything-goes attitude that you see on Khao San Road or at the Full Moon parties applied to every street and soi in Bangkok. Pro tip: it doesn’t. Put a shirt on and buy some normal pants.

Greg to Differ isn’t a resource for tourists. It’s not another blog relating the story of how I [sweep arm at the horizon] “Quit the cubicle life and sold my stuff to travel the world, never planning more than one week in advance!” [freeze, hold smile for ten seconds]. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, it’s just that an awful lot of people are doing that these days.

No, this is just my thoughts on setting up a life in an exotic city and dealing with the sometimes funny, often frustrating, always entertaining day-to-day foibles of trying to understand it all. Essentially, I wanted to let people know that it’s possible to live a fairly normal, yet still adventurous life in Bangkok without having to dip your toe in anything skeezy, or without wrapping yourself up in any of the tourist drama that makes it to the front pages of every travel blog about Southeast Asia.

So, that’s the gist. I don’t advertise and I don’t get a ton of traffic, but I do get to keep my thoughts in a (somewhat) organized manner. I also don’t write as much as I should, but I’m hoping to change that in 2016. As a result, not every post will be breathlessly exciting, but then again, neither is life in Bangkok. Sometimes it is…but most of the time it’s not.

And that’s cool.

I was born in Toronto but grew up in Victoria, British Columbia, and Calgary, Alberta. I’m Canadian, if you haven’t figured it out yet, and proud of it. Canada’s an amazing country – huge, incredibly beautiful, multi-cultural, free, fresh, and full of moose and maple syrup. My heart will always be red and white, so why’d I leave? In 2000 I was working in the film industry and putting along quite nicely, when my best friend and roommate at the time tabled a proposal.

“Let’s go to Thailand.”

“I can’t just ‘go to Thailand’.”

“Why not?”

“Because, uhhhh…I don’t know.”

And that’s how this whole damn thing began. Our original plan was to start in Chiang Mai and meander south for about four months until we ended up in Bali, and perhaps even Australia. But on our 12th day my friend said he was going back to Canada. Turns out, he liked the idea of traveling rather than actually traveling, and had had enough. To hell with you I said. I’m staying.

The rest can be summed up fairly quickly: putzed around northern Thailand for a while, ran out of money, and lucked into a job teaching English in Bangkok. A few years later I was hired to do corporate training and teambuilding for big, important multinationals, but hated it. I worked as a freelance writer, then at a media monitoring agency, then a magazine, and now in online travel. In between I’ve worked in the film industry, as an actor in cheesy movies and commercials, and performed standup comedy, all the while selling my services as a freelance writer.

Now I’m a married father and have dug into Bangkok so deep I don’t think I’ll ever go back to Canada. I know, never say never, but it’s been a long time since I landed in mid-2001 and this city (and country) still fascinates me. It infuriates me. I love it most of the time and hate it some of the time. It boggles my mind, and makes my heart (and stomach) swell. There is always just one…more…layer to pull back and investigate; one more book to read; one more person to meet; one more street stall to try. And until I tire of investigating, reading, meeting, and eating, I think I’ll stay.

A lot of people ask me if I do the cartoon banner on my site, but sadly, the answer is no. Drawing is a talent that I’d love to have, but unfortunately my artistic skills fall somewhere between writing my name in crayon and the pictures of animals on prehistoric cave walls.

Thankfully, a fellow named Simon Ng excels at illustration, and kindly took up the challenge many years ago to help me come up with a visual identity for my site. With this latest redesign in early 2016, he knocked it out of the park again with the buffoon-like images of yours truly that grace the top of each page.

If you need any type of artwork done, he’s your man. Check out his website here.

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Came to Bangkok: July, 2001

Favorite part of Thailand: Tie – Doi Mae Salong, Chiang Rai province | Khanom, Nakhon Si Thammarat province

Favorite Thai food: Laab moo (ลาบหมู), spicy minced pork

Favorite movie: Die Hard

Favorite Christmas movie: Die Hard

Favorite book: Snow Crash

Family: One sister. Younger. Cooler.

Hair color: Is that a joke?

Top 3 things about Bangkok: Food everywhere; Always interesting people to meet; No Canadian winters

Bottom 3 things about Bangkok: It’s no longer a cheap city to live in; Lots of laws, seldom enforced; No Canadian autumns