So, it happened. This week we said a very sad goodbye to our life in Chiang Mai. Two days and three delayed flights later we arrived in Nepal’s dusty, chaotic capital city, Kathmandu. Even though our lives are more transient than the average person’s, I still find change hard, especially when I’m moving on from a place that I love. So, on the first night in this strange new city, I’m not ashamed to admit that I shed a few homesick tears for Chiang Mai.
Kathmandu and preparing for Everest Base Camp
Kathmandu has been a severe jolt back into travel mode. As I write this we’re sat in our sketchy hotel room surrounded by mountains of trekking gear; piles of socks and cereal bars, baby wipes and waterproof trousers, thick rented sleeping bags and down jackets. How we’re going to carry all this up to Everest Base Camp, I have no idea. As always, I over prepared in Chiang Mai by stocking up on painkillers and plasters, chocolate and toilet rolls, but I still feel ill-equipped for the trek, which begins tomorrow with a flight to Lukla, one of the most dangerous airstrips in the world.
Yesterday, covering our faces with buffs to ward off the dust, we ventured through the higgledy piggledy streets of Kathmandu trying not to get run over by bikes and rickshaws, to visit our friends the Normans Running Wild, who have just returned from Everest Base Camp. Despite being chased by yaks and suffering from aches, pains, and the ‘Khumbu Cough’, they managed an incredible 30 days of trekking and had plenty of invaluable advice, second-hand gear and inspirational tales to share with us.
As lightning pierced the sky and fat, cold rain drops soaked us, we headed together to a tiny Indian restaurant in Thamel, the backpacker area of the city. Over masala dosas, thali and hot lemon tea we talked about future travel plans and reminisced about our old lives in Chiang Mai, a city we all love. I’m still finding it hard to believe that our time in Thailand is actually over, our beautiful apartment is no longer ours and we won’t be returning anytime soon.
Chiang Mai to Nepal, what we achieved
It’s tempting to dwell on the things we never got around to doing in Chiang Mai, but Instead, I’m trying to remember all the things we achieved there. We got married, built a home and established a life full of little routines and daily pleasures. We woke up to mountain views, worked at our desks, went swimming and to yoga class, ate at our favourite restaurants and spent many evenings on the sofa watching TV. We made new friends, visited temples, fell in love with our local area Nimman and celebrated the Yi Peng lantern festival and Songkran.
Chiang Mai was also the perfect base to plug away at our digital nomad goals. We started from scratch and worked incredibly long, hard hours but I’m proud to say that we made a decent living through freelance work and online teaching, enough to put money back into our savings account and prove to ourselves that we can continue working remotely while exploring the world. We also worked on our blog, made lots of videos and finally published our teaching in Vietnam e-book.
Living in Chiang Mai allowed us easy access to explore the lush northern Thai landscape and we rented a car to visit tea plantations in Mae Salong and drive the Mae Hong Son Loop after Christmas. We also travelled further afield and had some beach time down south on Koh Lanta, where we enjoyed sunsets, dog walks and snorkelling trips. Visa runs also took us back to our old home in Hanoi and to Penang in Malaysia, a city filled with history, unique street art and tasty food.
Onwards to Everest
We could hardly have chosen a more startling contrast to our comfy life in Chiang Mai than a trek through the Himalayas. Instead of working on our laptops, the days ahead will be filled with nothing but walking. We’ll be carrying all of our gear, staying in $1 tea houses, facing altitudes of over 5,000 metres and shivering in sub-zero temperatures. I’m sure it’s going to be a journey full of extremes, blisters and tears but I know it’ll also be an incredible adventure filled with mountain peaks and new experiences.
I won’t be posting again until we get back to Kathmandu but I’m looking forward to sharing our adventure with you when we return. Wish us luck and as always, thanks for following our journey.