Chiang Mai has a large expat community. We actually see evidence of this all over. The shopping centers and grocery stores have tons of English. This makes it much easier to shop, of course. Plus, there are many products we are used to.
As an example, in Osaka, one could barely find breakfast cereal. In Chiang Mai, there are many choices of breakfast cereal, and three American brands of peanut butter (plus some brands we don't have in the States), and they sell blocks of cheese including cheddar in what is for the most part a not heavy into dairy country.
But back to my solo adventure. Alrica discovered in doing her research that there was a group in Chiang Mai called Writers Without Borders. It is a group of expat writers who meet weekly to read their work and get critique from each other. So one night I went out, found a tuk tuk (a kind of motorcycle taxi) to bring me to their meeting place, and attended a meeting.
Most of the writers there were originally from the United States, though at least one was Canadian. But everything was done in English. I heard three people read their work. All three were writing things that took place in Southeast Asia. But you write what you know, right?
It was a great night. But not specifically because of what was read or the comments made. It was great because it was a night that I wasn't the father of a family that was traveling, I was a writer. I had a night to be a writer in the midst of writers.
In the States I have been lucky to be part of some great writing groups. In New York, New York I was part of the Lehman Engel Musical Theatre Workshop. In Des Moines, Iowa I joined the Iowa Scriptwriters Alliance. In Appleton, Wisconsin I worked together with my friend and colleague Erin to start The Dying Pen. And in Lancaster, Pennsylvania I was thrilled to be a part of the Lancaster Dramatists' Platform.
It is energizing to see writers who are writing and to be part of a community that understands the desire to write. Plus, they were all so friendly.
I love being on this adventure with my family. It wouldn't be nearly as fun without them. But sometimes it is nice to not be one out of four. Sometimes it is great to just be one. To just be writer.
And it's also great to know that in that, I am not alone.