Planning trips abroad… like the really good kind, the kind that change you on a fundamental level, the kind you return to a decade later in daydreams with a buoyant smile— that shit’s hard. And you know what the WORST thing is? You can spend so much time and energy (and $$$) only to come home and realize that you don’t know that much more about the place or yourself than you did before you left.
Like, what’s the POINT of travel, anyway?
We think it’s for two things: the food (duh), and the idea that we can learn a little something from every culture on earth about how to live a little more deeply, wisely, and happily. And why spend the time and money to go somewhere if you can’t take those philosophical ideas home with you alongside a few souvenirs? But it’s so tough to just land in a new country and dive deep if you only have a short time to spend. I mean, there’s also margaritas to drink, because this is your vacation after all.
This year’s Moveable Feast Team (including our special host, Alana Morgan from Paper Planes) has spent a combined decade in northern Thailand, soaking up everything this place has to offer us on living well. And after much debate, we’ve settled on the lifestyle gift from Thailand being summarized in their life motto: “sabai sabai.”
Like New York, New York— sometimes something is so good you have to name it twice. Hence the double emphasis on sabai sabai: deep in my soul all is well, no matter the twists and turns life takes, no matter my current circumstances. Sabai Sabai joins flaner (Provence), sobremesa (Yucatan), and futtitini (Sicily) as this year’s Moveable Feast philosophy to pack with us no matter where we roam. One of those untranslatable phrases that other languages offer us, sabai sabai is our goal for this trip and everyday life afterwards. The Thai word “sabai” translates directly to “happy,” but it encompasses a broader state of relaxation and comfort in all aspects of life, an internal tranquility that the Thai people have mastered. It is used as an adjective: for example, “sabai jai” means “well heart,” a phrase used to express contentment or gratitude. Sabai is a deep undercurrent in the Thai vision for a complete and well-rounded life.
Being busy to the point of stress has become an unspoken value in American culture. If we’re busy, we’re valuable. In Thailand, the line between work and relaxation is a little more blurry— they aren’t polar opposites, and can be shared in the same time and space. Maintaining a peaceful, buoyant spirit is the best way to live a good life. That open-handed approach to life and our role in the world feels much more aligned to us than the endless grind that doesn’t bring joy or peacefulness to the deepest parts of our souls.
If sabai sabai sounds like your cup of local rice whiskey, we would love to fling our doors open to you this November. Sign up for this year’s Moveable Feast right here— we’re ready to feed you, body and soul.