Monday, August 4, 2014

Living the Dream #5: Dave Catudal

Kristie Kellahan continues her series looking into the enviable lives of ex-pats living in Thailand.

Who: Dave Catudal, 32

Where: Phuket

Dave and Simone

Why: Dave and his wife Simone Bargetze lived in Los Angeles from 2000-2011, and have been traveling the world for the past three years looking for a tropical paradise to call home. They lived in Bali, Brazil, Spain, Costa Rica, and the South of France, and finally found their dream location in Phuket.

What are they doing in Phuket: Dave is the Health Director at Phuket Cleanse, a fitness and detox retreat. "I perform seminars on organic nutrition, specialising in Raw Foods, and consult guests on the appropriate detox protocol to help them achieve their goals," he says. "Phuket Cleanse is the most exciting and professional wellness education centre I’ve ever experienced; what our guests experience with us is life-changing and it’s the most rewarding job I could ever imagine. Simone is also working with Phuket Cleanse, as the video producer for our marketing and advertising department. It’s a dream to be working in paradise together."

Life before Thailand: "While living in LA, we both had such high-intensity jobs," Dave says. "I was a celebrity fitness trainer and nutrition consultant, and Simone was a stuntwoman, working on films such as Avatar, Transformers 3, and Iron Man 2. In late 2010, Simone donated a part of her liver to her mother in a cancer organ transplant surgery, but there were complications after the procedure and her mother didn’t survive. At that point, we decided to give away everything that we owned in LA, bought backpacks, and flew to Bali with no plan in mind except to explore the world. After three years of adventures, searching for our own little paradise, I was brought to Thailand for a 4-day fishing tournament in Phuket, and we fell in love with the island and decided to make a life here."

How could you not fall in love with this place?

Biggest culture shock: "We’re fairly experienced with culture shock from our travels, but I have to say that Thailand was a shock to us almost immediately," Dave says. "We were driving on my rental motorbike, looking for a store to buy batteries, and as we turned a corner uphill, out of nowhere appeared an elephant, dragging a log behind him like a runaway dog dragging a leash."

Biggest challenge: Not speaking the Thai language. "I love languages; I’m fluent in English, French, Portuguese and Spanish, and Simone speaks German and Italian, but we haven’t been able to connect with the Thai language," Dave says. "Luckily, many locals here understand enough, and hopefully with time, we can learn and become more engaged with the locals."

Best thing about living in Phuket: "We absolutely love it here," Dave says. "It’s the perfect mix of wild but clean, busy but not overcrowded, and natural yet accessible. There’s international hospitals, very good international schools, and it’s an extremely safe place to live."

Top 3 Phuket restaurants: The Two Sisters for local food that is "perfectly seasoned, fresh and always consistent". When the mood for international food strikes, the first place on Dave's list is Trattoria Buenogustaio. "We go there for sunset, order an authentic Italian pizza, a glass (or bottle) of red wine, and have tiramisu for dessert," he says. "Watching the sunset from the cliff on the restaurant patio is just such a treat." An Indian restaurant close by their house is a new favourite for Dave and Simone. "It’s called Tandoori Nights, and I can honestly say that it’s the best Indian food we’ve ever had," he says. "It’s probably the best Indian food in Thailand."

Favourite downtime activity: "Walking the coastline along the rocks, somewhere near Prom Them cape, and looking for a piece of secluded beach," Dave says. "Other that that, we hike around Kata, through the ridge trails that give us an amazing cliff view of the bays and beaches below." When Dave and Simone have more time, they fly to Bangkok for a weekend of fun times in the big city.

Favourite Thai expression: "I don’t know many Thai expressions, but my wife always makes me laugh because every time a Thai local says "Khrap-pom", Simone thinks they’re saying "car bomb", and can’t control herself from repeating that word, and laughing hysterically."

For more information on Phuket Cleanse,

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