A few people have asked me for a bit of an update as to where I am and what I’m doing at the moment. Here it is!
I’m currently (Feb) in Chiang Mai, living in the apartment block where I started back in December, which I love. I’ve been back here for most of Feb, since returning from my whirlwind tour of Cambodia. I have a gorgeous, light and airy corner room on the third floor, with lots of windows (with wire mesh screens over them to keep the mozzies out), which doesn’t get too hot, though it is the ‘cool’ season – only about 32/3 in the daytime. Ahem. It does dip down to the late teens in the night, which is quite nice. The apartment has AC, but I’m not using it at the moment.
I have a fridge, microwave, and a sink on the balcony. I have a huge bed, with a firm mattress and white sheets. I have a TV which has a couple of English speaking channels, which I don’t watch much, apart from a fondness for Criminal Minds (FBI! Crime! Behavourial Psychologists!). I have a sofa which is plastic, so mainly used as intermediate storage given the heat. I have a little desk, and a thinking table which is scattered with beautiful things where I do some writing and journaling. And more pragmatically, eat my breakfast.
In terms of transport, I now have my own push bike, The Crocodile. When I went to the bike shop I was very clear with the man I was a newbie (it’s been a loooong time) and he gave me what he considered a starter bike. When after a week I went back to rent it for longer, he offered me a more ‘grown up’ bike, but I’m very happy with this one. And a sturdy helmet.
The traffic here continues to scare me, and so I often dismount and walk the bike across roads – particuarly the three lane (each way) system around the moat. So far, so good, though my bum was very sore the first week! I haven’t progressed to getting a scooter yet, although I do ride on others’ more frequently. Sometimes even with my eyes open.
This seems to be one of the biggest questions people have for me… Well, it certainly feels like I’m busy…
Since I’ve been back, I’ve been: working through some online courses; writing blog posts; hanging out with my friend Caz, who’s now back from the UK (see her amazing blog here); meeting new people; going to yoga class; walking; visiting things (there’ll be a post about the fantastic Elephant Sanctuary, and probably one about ‘Monk Chat’, coming up soon, just to keep you reading :-)); hanging out in coffee shops; eating; exploring and trying new things (art class is the latest…definitely a post there…).
A typical day might include waking up, doing my ‘morning pages’, having breakfast, and heading out (by bike or foot) to a coffee shop to email, write, do course work, or read. I’ll probably stay there to eat lunch, and then will either head back home or off to visit something in the afternoon. At home, I have (self-generated) tasks like laundry, tidying, sweeping, washing up, and I can also use the computer as I have a reasonable internet connection. Early evening I might go to a yoga class or to the stadium to walk whilst I listen to an audiobook. Then I might join friends for chat and dinner at a restaurant. Then usually home, possibly with a little cheeky Criminal Minds or reading before sleep.
People seem inordinately interested in what I eat here. Usually, I eat breakfast at home, mostly granola with a banana and milk, and a cup of tea (without milk).
I eat lunch and dinner out most days, though occasionally I eat a cheese or egg sandwich at home (my facilities in the flat are limited). Eating out, my diet includes Thai food, like pad thai noodles, or green curry (not too spicy though I am educating myself), fried rice with vegetables and tofu; and more of a mix, so: French toast; omelettes and fried potatoes; fruit salad; smoothies; iced coffees; and salads to name a few. I’ve eaten Italian food (was delicious) and Indian food (not so good) as examples of other cuisines that are available. I’m still a vegetarian (!) and am not having a problem with that here as long as I go to the right places – there are loads of veggie places here, or places that cater for us.
Deciding – short term
This has been a big part of the last couple of weeks, deciding what next. In the short term I am going down to Koh Phangan, one of the thai islands to the south, to do a month’s yoga retreat. It’s a bit scary as I won’t know anyone, and am wondering whether yoga every day is practical given the shape I’m in, but I’m hopeful it will strengthen and support me. Plus, I have a bungalow near the beach, with a HAMMOCK which I am very excited about, so can always just go read my book there instead. I suspect the yoga centre will provide me with lots of material for posts though, one way or the other…
Deciding – medium term
The next step then is, what am going to do after March? In April, I have to review where I am financially (being very risk-averse). I’m also considering what I want to do next, and how I feel about the experience of the past couple of months.
I’m currently playing with the idea of returning home to the UK in April/May, perhaps renting out my flat, and then coming back to Thailand for another 6-9 months. I’m talking to friends, contacts, and my network about the possibility of doing freelance work in Asia, both as an Organisational Psychologist, and perhaps as a Qualitative Market Researcher (another string to my bow ;-)) depending on what work is out there (if you have any such work or contacts, do let me know!). I would also like to do some volunteer work if I stay, so I’m looking into some options there. Then I would also have time to continue travelling, exploring the region, trying new things, and, of course, writing my blog!
Go on, you’d miss it if I stopped…
Deciding – long term
And in terms of what then – who knows. I’m feeling much more comfortable about leaving this open, depending on what happens in the short and medium term. It’s been extremely educational meeting ‘digitial nomads’, like my friend Caz and Niall Doherty (the saint who brought me groceries when I was ill in the first couple of weeks, when he didn’t know me from Adam!). I’m not saying this is the life for me – I love the UK, the National Trust, my friends and family there (this is not in order btw…), my flat, London’s cultural scene, my Krav Maga class, and much of my life there, but it’s always educational to have your eyes opened to different ways of living. And as an Organisational Psychologist, the more I learn about different ways of working, the better!
I hope this blog continues opening your eyes to other worlds, even if vicariously, or perhaps inspires you to do something or go somewhere you might not have before. Feel free to share the blog with with others, and share in the comments anything you are ‘deciding’ at the moment.