Last night marked the two week anniversary of my moving here. It feels at the same time both long and short. It’s had its ups and downs so far, and pretty extreme versions of both, but all in all its been good. While there are aspects I really miss about home (like knowing how to get places, and being able to order what I intended the first time around), there’s so much I love about Chiang Mai.
In the short time I’ve been here, I have met so many truly amazing people. Their stories are endlessly inspiring to me. Some are here on vacation, some are traveling indefinitely, some have moved to different parts of Asia and are just visiting Chiang Mai. The one thing they largely seem to have in common: they’re great people.
A few days after I arrived I met a group of girls from the US and one from England, and they adopted me into their little herd. Within a couple of days we were basically inseparable. They have made the transition to life here a lot more fun and a lot less scary.
The first couple of weeks have been filled with a mix of touristy activities and just lounging around.The past few days were unbearably cold (for Thailand anyway…) so we did a lot of indoor activities like reading and napping.
Last week we rented mopeds and drove up to Doi Suthep, a little mountain to the north of the city which houses an impressive temple. From there we had a great view of the entire city
Renting a moped here costs around $5-$6 a day, and with two people per bike we were able to get out of the city and see some beautiful sights for next to nothing. As long as you’re a remotely competent driver and not afraid of some insane traffic, I’d highly recommend it!
I’ve rented my own scooter for the next month, and bought my very own only slightly nerdy helmet to go with it. If you come visit I’ll escort you around the city on it!
After the initial period of exploration and visiting every wat and smoothie shop within walking distance, my days have become a little more routine. While I wake early, I usually have a pretty lazy start to my days, reading or writing until late morning and then going out for coffee or breakfast. It’s avocado season here, so the girls and I have been eating avocado toast for breakfast like nobody’s business.
Our favorite place to go for dinner lately has been the international food market at the night bazaar, just east of the old city. It’s a little plaza with food stalls lining the edges, rustic tables and chairs filling the inside of the square, and live music at the front. We like it because we can all get whatever we want to eat without having to go to 15 different places.
For our American tummies hankering for the taste of home, the Burger Box has delicious fries and burgers for 100 baht, or less than $3. So delicious.
Sometimes we eat proper Thai food, too. (Most of the time). Although beware, because one time I ordered a kabob and received a skewer of undercooked chicken, much to my dismay. Thankfully I noticed before eating it all and did not end up puking my guts out.
I moved into my “apartment” a couple of days ago, although “hotel room” is really a lot more accurate. It’s small, but it’s near the training center and it has everything I need, so I’m pretty happy.
The CELTA course begins on Monday, so I’m spending my last few days of freedom relaxing, reading, and hanging out with friends before they depart. I’m fighting a cold (which I blame on the bout of nasty weather that came in this week) but am hoping to have it conquered before my class starts. I imagine i will be pretty busy over the next month, but I’ll try to post some updates anyway.
Overall my opinion on life in Thailand is thus:
It’s hard. Moving across the globe all alone with no idea what you’re getting into, and no knowledge of the language is stressful. I have cried countless times since I’ve been here. I’ve gotten lost, confused, had taxis leave me in the wrong places, I’ve been too hot, too cold, tired, sad, sick. But that’s inevitable. That stuff honestly happens everywhere, and it doesn’t make me like it here any less. What I’ve come to realize is this:
“Home” is wherever you want it to be. Wherever you find joy walking in the sunshine or sitting out a rainstorm. Wherever there are people to love you, talk to you, challenge you, make you laugh, and sit with you while you cry. It’s having a favorite coffee shop and breakfast place, knowing where to get the best crepes and the cheapest smoothies, and feeling the peaceful exhilaration of zooming down the road at night on your new scooter.
So yeah, Thailand’s beginning to feel like home. And I think I kind of love it.