Meet Nancy Naiyapak Bhumipak (@happynancyfranky) , a 29-year-old travel blogger, ocean activist and owner of @gluckhappyswimwear.
Take it from Nancy, darling, it’s better under the sea. Although overqualified to become an actress, Nancy decided to take the more scenic route, underwater. Nancy has shown us the depths of the sea, the creatures that live there, as well as how to keep their homes safe and plastic-free. Furthermore, her positive energy and motivating messages about body positivity has inspired numerous women across Thailand to just put that bikini on!
⚓️ || How It All Began || ⚓️
· What did you study?
I studied Theatre at Thammasat University. Throughout my childhood, I acted in a few Indonesian and Singaporean commercials. I’ve also performed in a few Thai movies.
· First job?
I was an acting coach for children at Character Club but then moved to Superstar Academy.
· When did you start to dive?
After graduating, I was driven to do something I’ve never done before – so I learnt to dive and went to the Similan Islands.
It felt magical to be surrounded by the sea; I woke up on a boat, ate fresh seafood, and explored the underwater world 4 times a day.
The diving community is so warm and friendly too. They share a great love for nature and thirst for knowledge – everyone is so open-minded and ready to create positive changes.
· How did your “Happy Nancy” blog come about?
It was a happy accident 8 years ago! [laughs] Originally, I meant to share a video of my diving trip to a small group of divers. However, at the time, I was far from tech-savvy – I didn’t know how to use Facebook so I accidentally shared the video to a public audience.
Over night, thousands of people shared my video and commented:
“Where is this place?”
“I want to go there!”
“I’ve never seen these sea creatures before!”
Reading all these comments energized me, so that was the starting point of everything.
· How do you manage your work-life-travel balance?
Balance? What balance? [laughs] When I first started out, I couldn’t manage anything – I just knew I was passionate about exploring oceans and went on diving trips every weekend. I poured all my money into the sea … figuratively, of course.
As I grew up, I found that too much of anything is never good – its important to live in moderation. For example, living off cheap meals like boiled eggs may help you save up for an exciting trip, but its important to feed yourself healthy food too.
Therefore, investing in nutritious meals may delay your tropical adventure by a bit, but perhaps that’s what helps create the balance in your life. Find what works for you.
🐠|| Save Our Seas || 🐠
· What’s your favourite thing about diving?
It’s when I have time for myself, it’s my kind of self-care. Under the sea is where I get to think and reflect about my life. Also, I love talking to manta rays. [laughs]
· Have you always been deeply connected to nature?
Yes! Since I was young, I’ve always loved the wilderness – I climbed trees, played with dirt and all that. My family are also very eco-conscious. We’ve been recycling plastic for over 10 years, way before it became a hot topic.
· What triggered you to speak out about environmental matters?
Over my years of diving, I noticed that schools of fish have gradually been replaced with dozens of plastic bags and all sorts of rubbish. This is the Similar Islands! It’s miles away from everything … there shouldn’t be any plastic bags here! [eyeroll]This is wrong!
In fact, my latest trip to Koh Kood was like visiting a sea of protective masks. There must’ve been over 500 masks just floating around … I wanted to cry!
I just want people to know what’s really going on with our waters and take action.
👄|| Up Close & Personal || 👄
· Any past experiences that shattered your confidence?
Definitely! During one of my diving trips, I was editing a photo of myself I took in a bikini. One of the guys said:
Is that a map? Your butt has so many stretch marks. So many lines and patterns, like a map!
I was stunned because nobody has ever spoken to me like that before. Especially, not a stranger on a boat!
It really hurt my feelings, but made me realize so many other women must’ve received mean comments like these before. This sparked my idea for the Bikini Project, a social media campaign advocating body love and body positivity.
· Tell us about the Bikini Project!
At the beach, I believe women should wear bikinis, regardless of their body shape, cellulite and stretch marks. Thailand is hot, don’t sit there sweating in jeans. That’s crazy! Learn to love your body and ignore the haters.
· Because of your reputation, do you ever feel pressured to look happy all the time?
This is a great question! [smiles] I’m genuinely happy 90% of the time, but there are moments when I do feel frustrated, for whatever reason. There was this one time when a fan asked for a selfie … I took it with her, despite tears streaming down my face. [laughs]
“Oh, no! What’s wrong, HappyNancy?”
“I’m alright, its just a stomach ache.”
· In your own words, what is love?
Love is when 2 people understand each other. When you understand each other, everything will come together, naturally.
· How did you meet your partner?
On a surf trip! Both of us just ended our 10-year-relationships, heartbroken and turned to surf therapy. [laughs] Sometimes, you’ll meet the right person in the most unexpected places.