Thai Travels

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“My feet are cold. My heart is heavy. I think I must be getting closer to discovering exactly what matters in life.”

It was 28 years ago I made this trek to Thailand with my Thai father and siblings for the funeral of his mother. I remember I wore red shorts a huge no-no as they were too revealing for the modest Thai culture and especially on a petite but curvy 18 year old. My dad was beside himself!

Nearly three decades later, the shorts are long gone but my feet are what’s bare today. Dressed in sandals that my sis brought home from Greece, I’m ready for Thailand but not the first layover in Beijing! The fact that I’m heading to Thailand is very surprising in itself. I never thought that I would return to see his family without him. For those who have perused The Plant-Based Diet site, you may have read that I launched this Website in 2010, several years after my dad died from prostate cancer in 2002, and after I studied under T.Colin Campbell’s program on whole-food, plant-based nutrition.

The pain I suffered from losing my dad, who was just barely retired at the age of 72 years old, was something I didn’t want anyone else to experience. Cancer has claimed xxxx lives and emotionally damaging those left living.

Before my dad died, I started researching everything I could to help keep him alive. The most compelling alternative health advice was eating a mostly, if not all plant-based diet, along with keeping his body alkaline. Cancer thrives in an acidic body. I studied, tried as many thing s as possible all while working as a TV news reporter in San Diego and all while fighting against the clock…cancer, as the doctors said, would take his life just two years after being diagnosed.

This is my Thai Travel journey back to the land of smiles, a place where my father was born and where the diet is indeed mostly plant-based using meat as a condiment rather than a main dish as we do in the U.S.

Why am I here? To create healing memories, let go of the pain that has been a nagging reminder of a significant loss. To open doors to greater wellness, empower my soul.

After my dad died, I left the TV station that I had been working at for about 15 years. I had no clue who I would become…all I ever knew was TV news. I started at 10news as a reporter when I was barely 19 years old.

In some ways my dad’s death liberated me to take the journey into entrepreneurship. I never could have imagined what a ride that would be and the journey is really just beginning.

It’s fitting that I am writing this as I sit on the hard chairs, feet freezing, at the Beijing International Airport and remember a time when I was giving a talk at an Asian Association that my dad was attending with me. I shared his story of how he came to the U.S. By working through the Thai embassy where he eventually met my mom (who is white, born and raised in Washington, D.C.).

She was his Thai tutor. They met, had my sister, married and then had my other sister, brother, and finally me. The years between the oldest and the youngest is 13…yes, kind of an oops I’m here…LOL!

My parents divorced when I was 12 so my mother wasn’t on the last trip back to Thailand but she had gone with my dad 40 years ago. Her affinity for the Thai culture has remained strong. She speaks fluent Thai and enjoys studying the Thai dictionary for fun! She’s making the journey with me…a full circle type of closure for me–saying goodbye to one parent and making memories with another elderly parent.

A severe sinus infection caused significant hearing loss but aside from that, at 83 years old, she is still getting around quite well and on no medication expect for taking a supplement for osteoporosis.

I have been taking care of people for the decades. My daughter is just 19 and off to college, my dad had frequent visits to the hospital when he was sick, and now traveling with my hard-of-hearing mother. A busy life as a freelancer on the hunt for new projects that invigorate my soul and pay the bills is a perennial quest. Sometimes we lose ourselves while the “business” of life takes charge. Our souls cry for attention but all too often no one is listening.

And so, the journey inward begins as I look to Thailand to discover things about myself, my family, and my roots all in an effort to heal from a great loss and reconnect with my creativity.

Thanks for coming along…more photos to come soon.


Phoebe Chongchua is a multimedia brand journalist who consults and writes on wellness, all things plant-based, fitness, lifestyle, and travel. She is yoga certified and earned her certificate in Whole Food Plant-Based Eating in 2010 through eCornell and the T. Colin Campbell Foundation. She's also a top podcaster for her marketing/storytelling podcast, The Brand Journalism Advantage at

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