If I try to seize this self of which I feel sure, if I try to define and to summarize it, it is nothing but water slipping through my fingers.Albert Camus, An Absurd Reasoning
Despite the many pleasures of these magical islands, it’s a rare joy to find a truly great cup of coffee. I’ve spent so much time in the world’s great coffee cities that I’m spoiled for world-class brew. And here… well, sometimes even Nescafé is better than the local beans.
On Koh Samui, a small café and bar called The Road Less Travelled finally filled my cup. They roast their own beans, have home-made dark chocolate treats, and know how to pull an espresso with the best. It’s a coffee-lover’s heaven. It’s worth a trip off the beaten path if your travels ever find you in the Gulf of Thailand.
Some places sing with their vibrancy. On Koh Pha-Ngan, it’s the sky. Reflected in the shores and water, the beehives and trees, the sky fills the place with fluorescence. It’s as if the island glows from within.
I love to just bask in the colours and let them refill me.
The forecasted tropical storm didn’t materialize.
Still, the water kicked and rolled, welcome cool air blasted my face and colours and clouds roiled in the wake of the wind.
Off a side alley near Suthep, artists in Chiang Mai slowly carve a monument of traditional Thai art.
Home to the world’s largest wooden Ganesh statue, weighing five tons and carved from a single tree, this artist’s colony is funded by a wealthy patron who sees it as his legacy. The main building is built with thick wooden planks covered top-to-bottom with detailed painted carvings. It’s a beautiful, peaceful, inspiring place.
From the nearby mountain of Suthep to the one-mile-square Old City walls, Chiang Mai is filled with temples.
From the scooter-bustle of Bali, daytime Chiang Mai contrasts as a place of delivery trucks, local shops, temples, and nomads with heads down in their work. And then in the evening, when the cool air settles down from Suthep and the smoke from nearby rice-patty fires fades, the patio lights come on and the parties begin.
Like Canggu, Chiang Mai opened to me with a string of hangouts and events to meet fellow nomads. I’m staying at In The City, a cozy and helpful co-working space and hostel. It’s a great jumping-off point for getting to know the city.
Chiang Mai has been at the top of my must-visit nomad cities for a long time—not because I’ve had a personal hankering for its temple-lined old city, but because everyone I’ve come across who’s visited the place is effusive about it. Consistently at the top of NomadList’s rankings, I can see why. It’s friendly, fun, easy to get around and meet people, walkable and very affordable. There’s a much higher percentage of long-termers here in Thailand, people who have settled and made Chiang Mai home. It’s incredibly cheap to live here (apartment & coworking space for $150/month? Check!) with many events, hikes, and places to visit.
I’ve only been here a week but I’m loving it so far. A great vibe, great people and a productive space for me.