This month was spent entirely in Thailand, and it was perhaps our best month on the road yet. After 2 months of slow, albeit continuous, travel, we were ready to settle down.
After we spent 144 hours in Shanghai, we flew to Bangkok where we spent 2 days, most of which was spent sleeping in and lounging around as we fought off the colds we caught in China, before flying north to Chiang Mai. We had heard amazing things about Chiang Mai, and we were ready to settle in for a month of work and restoration. I know, those 2 words don’t usually go hand in hand, but if I’ve learned anything over these 3 months it’s that working + traveling is much harder than it sounds. It’s this constant pull between feeling like you should be working and wanting to explore, and while trying to balance both, all forms of relaxation go out the window.
We arrived in Chiang Mai and checked into the apartment that we had booked for a month. It was a luxurious bachelor suite with a kitchen, 2 desks, a table, and an awesome living room. The older I get, the more I realize that dorm rooms are just not cutting it anymore. I need to sleep, especially if I’m expected to do work. And if I’m going to spend a month somewhere, it needs to be in my own space.
While in Chiang Mai, our day-to-day life sort of went like this:
Praxis calls most weekday mornings, followed by breakfast at the apartment. A couple hours of work before we headed out for lunch at one of the many delicious restaurants in the Nimman area where we were staying. We would either head back to the apartment or find somewhere to work in the afternoon, or perhaps split up for a couple of hours before reconnecting for yoga in the evening, followed by dinner.
In 28 days, you would think that we would have tried nearly every restaurant in Chiang Mai, but we found a few favorites that we continuously went back to. My favorite was a vegetarian restaurant called Anchan, which was right near our apartment. We also had a yoga studio on the ground floor of the building, which made practicing yoga also super convenient.
There were many days where I went from the apartment to Anchan, back to the apartment, down to yoga, back to the apartment and had to refrain from eating at Anchan a second time. There are a ton of great restaurants in Chiang Mai, so it was good to explore further than the block our apartment was on! Some of my favorites were a Mexican restaurant called Salsa Kitchen, a healthy café called Food4Thought serving GF alternatives and kombucha in wine glasses, Rustic & Blue who has possibly the best brunch in town, Accha for Indian food, and Mango Corner for mango sticky rice, amongst others.
While in Chiang Mai, we connected with an acquaintance from TBEX in Manila, who quickly became a friend. We also had dinner with a podcasting acquaintance, and met a few people through the weekly Nomad Coffee Club, where different speakers were showcased to talk about travel, entrepreneurship, etc. Chiang Mai is known as a digital nomad hub, and it’s one of the first places that we’ve traveled too where it wasn’t “weird” to be working while traveling. It felt good to be connecting with like-minded people who have set out to live a life similar to ours.
So what exactly were we working on?
We are still advising with Praxis, and I am still working for The Yoga Lounge. I did a number of interviews for M.B.Om, and got a few of them ready for January to save myself the time while on our early January adventure to Myanmar.
We also completed a number of projects for The World Wanderers, including backlogging 6 episodes, getting caught up on blog posts, reaching out to potential sponsors, and scheduling interviews for our stint in Bali in January /February. It often doesn’t sound like much, but podcast production is a lot of work.
We also caught up with friends + family while we had good wifi, and I had a couple of Skype dates every week while we were in Chiang Mai. It felt normal to be working nearly 6 days a week, doing yoga regularly, and having good enough wifi to catch up with people back home. As much as I love travel, I crave some form of normalcy when I’m far away.
Chiang Mai has a number of activities to do, so we made time each week to do some exploring. We made a trip to the walled city to see some of the most famous temples, watched the sunrise from the mountaintop temple of Doi Suthep, and took a trip with Voyagin to Thailand’s highest peak, Doi Inthanon. We also spent an afternoon bathing elephants at Chai Lai Orchid elephant sanctuary, and spent a day exploring the White Temple and Black House in Chiang Rai. We took an amazing cooking class where we learned to make some of our favorite Thai foods, including pad Thai, green curry and mango sticky rice; and we saw 2 luxury movies at the nearby movie theater. Hello lazy boy and popcorn delivery service! Finally, I got a bamboo ink tattoo of a world map on my rib cage, something that I’ve been wanting to get for a couple of years now.
As it approached Christmas time in Chiang Mai, it was strange to find that there were hardly any Christmas decorations due to the fact that most of the people in the country are Buddhist. I found myself missing the comforts of home during the holiday season, but luckily we were able to attend an amazing Christmas Eve dinner with a few of our new friends, put on by Rustic & Blue. The night was fantastic, and it really got me in the holiday spirit.
Ryan and I spent our 3rd Christmas together, and since we don’t do presents, it was a relaxing day. We watched movies, ate food, and treated ourselves to delicious Christmas-y Starbucks beverages. If I am being honest, it didn’t really feel like Christmas Day, but it was a still a great day spent together.
Christmas came and went, and our time in Chiang Mai came to a close. We were both sad to leave Chiang Mai. I really loved the city, and it was a place that I could see myself coming back to time and time again. It has everything a traveler could want – nature, good restaurants, good coffee, great wifi, and a community of like-minded people. But for now, we are off on an adventure to Myanmar!
I think that my biggest take away from our month in Thailand is that I really do enjoy working + traveling when it’s done at my own pace. I don’t like feeling guilty because I need to do work when I actually just want to explore. Having a month in Chiang Mai allowed us to explore leisurely and guilt-free, AND get a ton of sh*t done. It was really the best of both worlds!
I have found that as I get older, I crave more semblance of normalcy and comfort. There is a part of me that feels guilty for not wanting to spend every night meeting new people and sleeping in dorm rooms, but a greater part of me that knows that it’s okay to grow + change. I don’t like travel any less than I did when I was 22, I just like to do it a little differently than I did before.
Stay tuned for month 4 + what we think of Myanmar!