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Community Members Spill the Chai on how they maintained strong friendships through disagreements and challenges

by Nikki Kumar

Find out how they turned disagreements into strength and laughter!





I am the oldest in my group of friends, and I was the first one to get married. I moved from Pattaya to Phuket to begin a new chapter of my life. Naturally, I had to adjust to a new lifestyle, which got lonely sometimes, and I was far removed from my friends. 

Tips for Maintaining My Friendships

  1. I often communicated to my friends that I am still the same person, and that my schedule and circumstances have changed, not me. I asked them not to take my silence personally. By doing this, I was acknowledging the change and distance they might have been feeling from my move as well. 
  2. When I am unavailable, I give my friends a time that I will call them back, and I actually do so. My friends and I often have video call dates with three or four of us on a call. 
  3. The number of friends I keep in touch with has decreased – and that’s okay. Initially, I was keeping in touch with a huge number of people. Now, I choose a few to update regularly and keep in the loop because of other commitments and time restraints. 
  4. With friends that I still dearly care about but am not able to keep in touch with regularly, I let them know in advance about my plans to visit. I show that I genuinely am looking forward to meet them. I put in the effort to plan a date and confirm the venue to show that I do care and that we vibe when we are together. I make sure that my planned time with them is uninterrupted. 
  5. My closest friends and I made a promise to one another to send at least one photo a day to the group. This picture could be of anything; a picture of a meal we made, a picture of one of us playing with a pet, anything. If we did not manage to send a picture that day, we owed everyone a small sum of money. This is a really fun and great way to keep in touch and feel part of each others’ lives. The pictures can be conversation starters, but generally they are also self-explanatory, explaining what is going on without the tediousness of using words and formalities like, “Hi, how are you? What’s going on?” It’s a low-maintenance way of being in each others’ lives.


Business Owner


I don’t know much about politics and don’t make a habit of reading the news. However, I cannot steer my eyes away from the casualties and the inhumane treatment of Palestinians at this point in time. I don’t care about any of the backstories, the excuses, and the justification of the merciless killing and despicable treatment of innocent civilians over there, particularly the children. I have realised that this is a line for me and my morality, and it has deeply affected the view I have of some of my friends. I am also aware that there are other sad issues in the world that are occurring, but this event is in our faces every day. 

Life Tweaks to Accommodate this Realisation

  1. Unfortunately, what is happening in Gaza is a genocide. Those that outwardly have defended the actions carried out by Israelis and the US in conversations cannot be my friend – at least for now. I have distanced myself from them. Rightly or wrongly, my opinion is that disproportionate punishment of people, especially innocents, is just not okay, and it’s too extreme of an accommodation for me to be around those that have the opposite view. 
  2. Regarding my friends that are not speaking out outwardly about these ongoing events or are showing a disregard or disinterest in this, I have subconsciously lowered my expectations of them. I am friends with them, but this situation has shed a light on what people truly care about, what they would stand up for, and where they draw the line; and I am honestly disappointed, in most people and some of my friends.


Make-up Artist 


I got married and moved to Hong Kong. Moving out of Bangkok was relatively easy for me initially, as I wanted to leave the community and explore before I even met my husband. However, I discovered quite quickly that I underestimated the ease and value of childhood friendships compared to friendships that you make as an adult.  

Tips for Maintaining Friendships at Home

  1.   I am not great at keeping in touch consistently, which I know is a drawback of my own, but I was lucky enough to have friends that were happy to reconnect more when I was in Bangkok than via other platforms while I was away. They and I both understood that life moved forward for both of us in our respective places, and when we met again, it was a way to catch up and revisit all the great things that kept our bond intact in the first place.
  2. My connection with friends also changed from having many friends to very strong bonds with a few. I have learnt that having a few friends by your side through thick and thin is all that I need – it’s about quality, and not quantity.




I attended university in Khon Kaen. From meeting my friends every day in high school, I barely saw them during that period of time as they were in Bangkok. I feared that my friends would carry on without me; that I would lose my place in their lives. Furthermore, while I was missing them and seeing what I was missing out on via social media, I had to adjust to making and having Thai friends, which was a whole new ballgame. 

Tips for Maintaining My Friendships

  1. My connections dwindled to a few, and I accepted that. 
  2. My core friend group (4-6 of us) constantly kept in touch through weekly phone calls, went on trips during the holidays, sent gifts to one another on special occasions, and sent care packages to each other during the COVID-19 pandemic. 
  3. I was and am lucky to have friends that accommodate me and are available for me when I visited Bangkok. They would let me choose the places that I would want to go and clear their schedules for me. I am truly grateful for them. 


CEO of Umpire Legal 


My biggest friendship trials were when I was setting up my firm. I started skipping social gatherings and dinners, and prioritising my work. Not long after that, I had three children in the span of five years so my entire focus naturally shifted to caring for my little ones alongside juggling the business that I was building. Together, these factors contributed to a decline in some friendships that I had made through the years.

Tips for Maintaining My Friendships

  1. I came to see that my closest friends in the world were, and continue to be, my mum and sister. 
  2. I found a deeper appreciation for the friends who were supportive and understood my sacrifices. These turned into friendships that were low maintenance and could be carried out in gaps of free time, and without meeting. 
  3. I became more open-minded when it came to friendships and expected less from friendships that were high maintenance or unsupportive. 


Low maintenance, acceptance, quality over quantity, understanding, putting yourself in others’ shoes, managing expectations and learning (oftentimes hard) lessons: these seem to be the key concepts repeatedly brought up, and that hold more importance as life takes us through its changes. Friendships change. Yet, with a little creativity, a lot of understanding, and some effort, our friendships will withstand big and small trials, and will continue to be meaningful for all of us who value them.


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