It’s official! I’ve found a place to stay in Chiang Mai. It’s in a great location, it’s cheap, and for now it’s mine.
After getting my PADI in Cambodia I was running low on funds. I had a great time in Bangkok, and then made my way up to Chiang Mai. To be honest I was prepared to be unimpressed. So many people had raved about this place that I figured it would be impossible for it to live up to my expectations.
I was wrong.
I seriously love this place. Chiang Mai is the cultural heart of Thailand, but it’s not all temples and museums- it also has a great nightlife and tons to do. Owen Wilson was spotted in a bar we were going to go to the other night, as he’s filming his next movie here (of course I missed seeing him…sigh).
Sure it’s touristy. Here you’ll find McDonalds, Starbucks, Burger King and KFC. But you can also pull up a stool by the Chiang Mai Gate and eat some delicious street food. The other night I went down to the gate with some couchsurfers and had yummy Pad Thai and the best fruit shake I’ve ever had. The meal cost me less than two dollars.
I’m surrounded by mountains and waterfalls, and there’s enough adventure activities around here for me to satisfy my inner adrenalin junkie.
The markets here are the best I’ve seen so far in Southeast Asia, and I’m continually blown away by the great coffee. Of course I’ve already found an amazing sweet shop that does the most incredible chocolate mousse, so I’m a happy girl.
Oooh ooh, and look at my new home in Chiang Mai:
I have a double bed! After spending two months in bunks it’s pure luxury.
This is what I refer to as “my office”.
My shower has hot water! It’s the small things in life…
Look at my clothes people. They’re hanging! I have clothes hangers!
I also have a tiny (but charming) balcony.
More importantly, who likes my light? I bought it last night and it was a bitch to put together.
Life is simply easy here. I’m paying a ridiculous price for this place ($130 a month!) and food and transport is really cheap. Basically I can afford to have a decent lifestyle even though I’m not currently earning much money.
Chiang Mai has been described as the “expat darling” since there’s so many of us here. I don’t mind at all. Last week I met some lovely people in a cafe who gave me some excellent advice on some projects I’m working on, and there’s a real sense of community here.
My apartment is brand new, and while it’s in an awesome location it’s a few streets back off the main road, so I’m surrounded by little local businesses. My landlords barely speak a word of English, so I feel like I have the best of both worlds-all the comforts of home, and I’m still getting to know the locals and learning about Thai culture.
Will I be traveling anytime soon? You bet your ass.
When entering Thailand by land I’m given a 15 day visa waiver, and if I fly in it’s 30 days. That means I’ll not only need to do visa runs anyway, but I’ll be arranging them around my visa restrictions. On the list for the immediate future is Laos, Myanmar, Vietnam, and Malaysia. I also want to return to Cambodia.
But for now I’m happy. I’m freelancing for a bunch of different people and focusing on building a career that allows me to be completely location independent. I’m living in a perfect spot for exploring Southeast Asia, and at the moment I’m enjoying the hell out of Chiang Mai.