Welcome to Barefoot Luxe, my website on Asia luxury travel & wellness, best Asian spas, top hotels, resorts, and lifestyle inspiration in Asia and beyond.
Hello. Kick off your shoes and step into my world…
Are those my own feet?
Why is my world barefoot?
I live in Asia, where we take off our shoes when we enter people’s homes, palaces, and sacred places.
I also think that many of life’s best luxury moments happen when you’re barefoot – restful slumber between plush hotel sheets, soothing oil massages in a spa, walking on the buttery smoothness of a bamboo floor, or eating melt-in-your-mouth sushi seated on a tatami mat in a Japanese restaurant. And you have to be barefoot to walk on the beach.
To me, luxury isn’t necessarily about money, materialism , yachts, super cars, jewelry and owning bling bling things. Luxury is a state of grace. It’s about experiencing beauty in life and the enjoyment of good taste and good things. Luxury is about having authentic experiences that touch the emotions, senses, and memories. It can be simple.
Such as … walking barefoot on a bed of roses with your best friend is a luxury few people ever experience.
Time out to relax is a luxury. Connecting to nature is a luxury. Perfect health is a luxury you take for granted until you lose it.
Privacy is a luxury when you live in a congested metropolis. Peace of mind is a luxury when your brain is stressed to the max.
Even getting enough sleep is a luxury!
And these are things that are best enjoyed barefoot! So think of this Asia luxury travel and wellness blog as a sacred space where going barefoot is the threshold to a journey into leisure.
Going shoeless is sometimes part of my job too.
What sort of job is that?
I’m a luxury travel / wellness / lifestyle writer and communications consultant based in Bangkok, Thailand, and a contributor to CNN Travel, Conde Nast Traveller, Travel+Leisure, Spafinder USA, DestinAsian, AsiaSpa, and many other international magazines, guidebooks and newspapers.
I write on a range of lifestyle topics, and am best known as an Asia luxury travel writer, author, Asian spa expert and media influencer on holistic wellness and wellness travel.
Since 2008 I’ve been a Judge for the annual AsiaSpa Awards, the region’s leading wellness industry awards. I’m also on the Experts Panel as Wellness Travel Expert for Spafinder USA, the world’s biggest wellness marketing and media site. I write about hotels, cuisine, resorts and spas.
Along with this, I have a side job too. Sometimes I need to be the model when I’m working with my photographer colleagues on assignment shooting spa, wellness, and travel photos. And it’s usually a shot of the back of my head. Not that there’s anything wrong with my face. But whenever we’re shooting a scene and need a body, I usually have to jump in and start posing, which means staring into the distance as if lost in a dream. So it’s not a typical 9-to-5 job in a cubicle.
Ooh. Sounds cool. How did I get into in this career?
It’s in my blood, in a way. I didn’t have a typical childhood either. My father was a career diplomat and an ambassador, and I’ve been a traveler since the age of two. I was born in Bangkok, raised in embassies and educated at international schools in Washington DC, Bangkok, New Delhi, Tokyo and New York City.
Growing up around the world through my dad’s various postings, I’ve always been fascinated with the culture, history, and art of the countries we lived in. As kids our favourite family reading material was National Geographic, and uprooting the entire household, kids and dogs to a new country, new culture, new house, new school every few years was normal and exciting for us.
I’m a bookworm and love stories. I love discovering new hotels, old buildings, unique people, and the stories behind them, from the humblest bamboo beach hut to extravagant luxury resorts and crumbling old palace hotels. I’m fascinated by places and people that have a unique character or history.
I guess that’s why I enjoy being a writer and journalist – I have an insatiable curiosity about the world and a natural instinct to find the story, and tell the story.
OK, that explains the travel part. Why the focus on wellness?
I suffered from chronic fatigue, stress, and anxiety for most of my adult life. It took me years to realize I also suffered from chronic depression. But I didn’t know it and thought I just needed more coffee, coffee, coffee to keep going.
In those days, anyone who tried to talk to me before my first morning coffee would face a snarling, frothing-at-the-mouth, angry beast. (This poor person was usually my flatmate at the time). I had a high-stress, low-health, super social, big city lifestyle. I was always tense, usually woke up with my jaw locked, teeth clamped, back clenched, and sometimes screamed in my sleep, which would freak out the person sleeping next to me.
Along the way, while working as a travel editor I started writing about new spas and discovered that spa treatments had surprising effects. After my first 3- hour aroma oil massage plus heated body wrap package, I emerged feeling completely refreshed, and amazingly light in body and mind. I was amazed at how uplifted I felt!
Around the same time, I discovered yoga while on a trip to Rishikesh, India, the birthplace of yoga. Until then, I didn’t know a thing about yoga but I found that it amazingly helped relax my tense body and calm my overworked mind. I loved it! I bought yoga books in India and started practicing yoga every day on my bedroom floor on my own, because that was the time before yoga became trendy, and nobody was teaching it in Bangkok. (These days when people ask where I do yoga they look surprised when I say “at home alone, on my bedroom floor”, because they expect to hear some trendy studio).
In pursuit of this wonderful light feeling, I kept exploring more spas, yoga, reiki, alternative therapies, and holistic health retreats.
I got trained in Reiki and studied crystal healing. I wrote spa books and wellness travel guides, which changed my health and shaped the path of my writing career.
Did all this help my chronic fatigue and depression?
Eventually, yes, though the path wasn’t entirely smooth.
One beautiful, shiny day in Bali, I was run over by a motorbike while crossing the street to join my friends. My friend Wendy who was waiting in a café said she saw me bounce off the motorbike and go flying into the air so far that she couldn’t even see where I landed.
But I didn’t realize any of that. All I know is that I felt a thump and suddenly I was flat on the ground looking up at the bright blue sky framed by a circle of worried faces bending over me. (The motorbike, driver, and passenger were splattered on the road nearby but nobody was hovering over them, so they got back on their bike and sped off before they could get blamed for my death).
I ended up with an excruciating spine injury that became 2 years of terrible, chronic pain, along with … fear, anxiety, and more depression. I became afraid to leave my house and started having panic attacks while driving in Bangkok I would drive on the expressway with my heart pounding like crazy and body shaking all over with fear, and become terrified when big vehicles came near me.
I kept searching for holistic healing through various alternative therapies, and eventually my back was completely cured. These days I can even do a split!
So you see, it was a long, layered process. Finding balance, whether physical or emotional, is an ongoing journey.
Why? Because you never expect the unexpected. You can think you know your path – and suddenly get hit sideways out of nowhere. A surprise illness, a relationship breakup, a job crisis, family issues, financial stress. You could get run over by a motorcycle when you least expect it.
I often come across fabulous, quirky, and amusing places, people and experiences. Writing a magazine or newspaper article is always restricted to a limited word count or topic, so I don’t always get the space or freedom to write whatever I want, such as the weird or wacky backstories that happen along the way.
Over time, a lot of the little moments and great memories have merged into a psychedelic blur. So before it all sinks into the quicksand of time, I started this blog as a sort of album, and to share these experiences with anyone who might be interested or inspired by them.
I’m also grateful for discovering holistic wellness and how it’s improved my health, given me a way to live a better life, and be a happier person.
Now I see other people struggle with the same unhealthy lifestyle, health, and emotional issues that I suffered, and I hope that sharing my stories can inform and inspire others to find more balance like I did.
Am I all balanced and perfect now?
It’s a work in process. Because, you know, life keeps throwing stuff at you. But I’m in a much better place physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually, than I was before I started engaging in holistic wellness.
What responses do I get from this blog ?
Google “best Asian luxury travel blogs” , “best Asian spa & wellness blogs” and “best Thailand luxury travel”, and my site Barefoot Luxe is at the top of the list.
Barefoot Luxe has over 172,000 unique views, over 116,000 unique visits, and growing fast. The highest hits are the wellness stories. These hits come mostly through search engines from readers in 197 countries on 6 continents.
So I know that people out there are actively seeking some kind of wellness, de- stress, detox, or weight-loss solution. That’s why this is a travel & wellness blog. I hope my stories can inspire and help others the same way it helped me.
Why I am I asking questions to myself like this?
Don’t be afraid. I don’t normally talk to myself in this twisted first person as subject/object manner. I’m shy and feel awkward babbling about myself. As a journalist, I’m used to asking questions. So I might as well interview myself for my new blog readers out there. Hello, new readers!
Want to know more about my work?
You can see some of my professional work for CNN Travel, Conde Nast Traveller, Travel+Leisure, and more here
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