As we move into our final six weeks of Chiang Mai life, I’m trying to make the most of this city and the life we’ve built here. After failing to set down roots in Spain last year, being able to so easily slip into this lifestyle has been a huge relief. This city has given us exactly what we needed: the ability to live comfortably while focusing on our goal of building a sustainable freelance income. With that in mind, here are five of the things I’ll miss the most about our Chiang Mai life when we leave at the end of April.
Our Chiang Mai life perks
We have an incredible lifestyle here in Chiang Mai. We have a luxurious apartment where we enjoy the space to work, cook and spend evenings relaxing on the sofa with a cup of tea. I love the fact that there’s a pool downstairs and cheap vegetarian restaurants, yoga studios, spas, a cinema, co-working space and night markets within walking distance of our apartment. This amazing lifestyle comes at such a low cost too; we could never afford this quality of life in the UK.
Chiang Mai is one of Southeast Asia’s biggest travel magnets. At some point, it feels like every traveller ends up here and many, like us, are pulled back time after time. As such, we’ve met so many interesting people during our time in Chiang Mai, from bloggers and remote workers to family travellers, backpackers and retirees. We’ve had the pleasure of making new friends and even meeting people who got in touch with us through reading this humble little blog. We will miss the easy connectivity and community here in Chiang Mai, a city where it’s hard to ever feel lonely.
Trips to the Mountains
Mountain peaks fill our window panes and stretch tantalising off into the horizon. It’s so easy for us to rent a car and disappear among those peaks, up spiralling roads to villages and tea plantations, the trail laced by strawberry stalls and lush green forest. While driving the Mae Hong Son Loop, we met Thai tourists and policemen who wanted selfies with us and discovered bamboo bridges, canyons and the ‘Switzerland of northern Thailand’. Some of my best memories from the last seven months are of exploring tea plantations and watching the early-morning mist rise off the mountains in the tiny, Chinese-influenced village of Mae Salong.
The peaceful culture
No country is perfect but to me, Thailand feels like such a tolerant, welcoming place. I love the peaceful Buddhist influence in Chiang Mai, the monks and ornate temples, the smell of incense and the notes of the King’s Song floating through our windows every morning and afternoon. Although Chiang Mai is filled with tourists and people from all over the world who’ve chosen to make this city their home, I never feel any animosity towards us being here. Overwhelmingly, Thai people treat us politely and with respect. When I think of the negative attitude some people in the UK have towards migrants, I feel even luckier that Thai people accept our presence here so readily.
After the Thai king sadly died in October, it was touch-and-go as to whether we’d get to celebrate Loy Krathong and Yi Peng, two of the city’s most famous festivals. I’m so glad we did. Despite a bit of lantern-related terror, we felt privileged to witness temples decorated with thousands of paper lanterns and filled with chanting, orange-robed monks. We released a Krathong down the river and watched as thousands of white lanterns ascended into the night sky. Next month, we will also get to celebrate our second Songkran, the Thai New Year festival, where the streets will transform into a chaos of water fights, religious parades and parties.
As time continues to slip through our fingers, we’re battling finish work projects, refill our savings and plan our upcoming adventures in Nepal and Sri Lanka. However, we’re also trying to appreciate our Chiang Mai life as much as possible because I have no doubt that we’ll miss it sorely when we move on to the next chapter of our adventure.
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