As someone that loves the water, I wish for a body that knows how to float. Sadly, no. Even in the salty Thai seas, in a competition between the head of an axe and my big legs it’s a beautiful dance of synchronized sinking.
Thai new year is joyous, playful, fun and uninhibited. On Koh Pha-Ngan Songkran is celebrated with copious amounts of water thrown at any and every passerby—whether on foot, by car or (most often) on scooter. Some trucks even travel around loaded with watergun-laden revelers hunting for their next target. Eventually I couldn’t help but get in on the action.
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.
Once in awhile, you need to wander to get lost
In Georgetown, former colonial capital of Malaysia for a visa run. Conveniently, the Thai consulate decided to close for a few days which gave me some extra time to wander and explore.
I wish 15-year-old me could see me now. All of the struggle to earn confidence and courage without losing sensitivity and soul… it has all been worth it. I don’t cling to stasis or predictability. I flow, move, change and adapt to new knowledge and understanding. I am capable. I feel capable.
I think the teenage me would be both a little impressed and a little shocked with who I’ve become. I suppose my most-often reminisced regret is not learning so many of these lessons sooner. Ha… I guess hindsight like this is the gift of old age.
For most of my life, saying goodbye has been emotional. It’s filled with wants and needs wrapped in a dramatic parting, or so my heart tells me. And this trip has been full of goodbyes: to friends, to family, to home, new friends and places I’m just beginning to understand. This is one.
At the same time, I’ve never been able to stop moving. More than two months in one place and my feet start to itch.
Island life is calling, and the smoke is hard to take. So, it’s two trains, a bus and a ferry to a new place with fresh air and long sandy beaches.
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.