Six months ago, I was sitting around my 55+ community pool in Boca Raton, Florida, listening to the daily “organ recital.” Not the musical kind—the kind where all the snowbird New Yorkers complain about which “organ” is giving them the most trouble. I heard more liver, heart, gall bladder, kidney, etc., stories that day than I would have wanted to hear in a lifetime. And after that, the group was trying to figure out which place had the best early-bird dinner special on Tuesdays. Now, I also don’t mind saving a buck here and there, but having to eat dinner at 4:00 pm to save $1.25 was not really my thing.
Fast forward—today and for the last six months, I’ve been living in Chiang Mai, Thailand—probably permanently. In the last week, I’ve spent a day at an Elephant sanctuary feeding rescued elephants, visited a Burmese refugee camp to help displaced kids, got two of the best 90-minute massages (for $12 each), celebrated my 100th day of being vegan, and hiked up a mountain before dawn where I witnessed the most spectacular sunrise with three stunning Buddhist temples and hundreds of orange-robed monks in the foreground.
The Land of Smiles
Thailand is known as the “Land of Smiles”—and frankly it earns its nickname every minute of every day. People are happy. Very happy. I’ve been fortunate to have lived and traveled all over the world—I have never seen a culture of pure joy with total respect for others as I have experienced in Thailand.
“I have never been healthier or happier. I’ve lost 35 pounds, and I am off all of my prescription medications.”
And unlike so many other countries where, divisiveness rules—inclusion is the core here. There appears to be an absenteeism of ageism, racism, sexism, genderism. It’s like a “vicious circle” of niceness. I decided to come/move to Thailand for two main reasons—both for different aspects of wellness.
Personal Wellness & Business Wellness
From a personal wellness perspective:
Frankly speaking, in the US, I was overweight, on prescription meds for high blood pressure and high cholesterol, and stressed and bored. And yes, perhaps I could have hit the gym harder in Florida, or started eating more fruits and veggies versus ravaging through Ben & Jerry’s nightly.
From a business wellness perspective:
As CEO/Founder of Global Halotherapy Solutions, our company mission and passion is to help people from around the world breathe better. Our company is driven towards Global Wellness. With the horrific air pollution in Beijing, New Delhi, Vietnam, and yes—even in beautiful Thailand—I wanted to establish a company division in Asia. Thailand is equidistant to many of the countries with the worst air pollution. And I am so fortunate to have a very talented team of great people who help lead our booming Halotherapy business in the US—which gives me the freedom to be in Asia!
From a personal wellness perspective, I have never been healthier or happier. I’ve lost 35 pounds, and I am off all of my prescription medications. It has been so easy to become a vegan, as I am surrounded by so many vegan restaurants with colorful, diverse vegetables cooked in sauces that my tastebuds crave. I’ve started taking yoga and meditation classes for $3 an hour. My 2x per week Thai massages have removed kinks in my muscles that I thought were permanent parts of my anatomy.
I walk through the mountains of Chiang Mai, and visit the most amazing waterfalls regularly. My super-high-end condo costs me only $600 per month. My delicious veggie Pad Thai dinner last night cost $2–with tip.
I listen to live music two to three times per week on patios with beautiful streams running next to them. I’ve met so many healers from around the world who believe Chiang Mai is one of the five to six spiritual vortexes in the world. There is virtually zero crime. It seems like the worst thing you can do in Thailand is to get loud and mad—which I’ve never seen. It ain’t a bad place to live.
And from a business perspective, our company now has great wellness distribution partners in a number of Asian countries that I often and easily visit. And most importantly, not only do we partner in selling to the high-end spas around Asia, like we do in the US, but we have a concerted plan to help the many poor people in Asia breathe better, as well. We are working on setting up places to receive free Halotherapy, as we don’t believe being poor should be a crime—with the punishment being chronic respiratory disease/poor health.
Bridging the Cultural Divide
And in terms of giving back, five of my fellow entrepreneurs (Thai and non-Thai) just created the Chiang Mai Entrepreneurship Association. Our goal is to help all entrepreneurs in Chiang Mai improve their businesses, meet like-minded people, and perhaps most importantly—bridge the cultural divide between the Thai and foreign business communities.
Life is not perfect in Thailand. And I certainly miss my friends and two sons in college. But it’s been the best decision I have ever made for both my personal wellness and for the respiratory wellness of others in Asia.
If any readers of InsidersGuidetoSpas come to Thailand, I will be more than happy to buy the first Mango smoothie for you! I guarantee a level of relaxation and wellness you may not have ever reached.
Kob Kuhn Krab. (Thank you for reading.)
Steve Spiro is the CEO and founder of Global Halotherapy Solutions, and the Chairman of the "Exploring Salt & Halotherapy Initiative" for the Global Wellness Institute. A highly successful entrepreneur, he was on the original startup team of Audible.com which was sold to Amazon.com for $300 million, and the first investor in Bond.co which was recently sold to Newell Rubbermaid. Steve has extensive international business experience, having lived in Tokyo and China, where he managed 60 distributors in 40 countries. His time in Asia introduced him to the power of natural healing modalities.