I’m living a ‘digital nomad’ (ish) lifestyle.
I call one country home, I live in another, and I work in many more. I travel a lot for work and some for pleasure. My life changes form fairly frequently, but here’s what life looks like in Winter/Spring 2014-15.
I moved back to Chiang Mai, Thailand in November (when I last wrote a ‘what life looks like’ post, I was still on Koh Phangan at a yoga school in the south). I began in the serviced apartment building I’ve stayed in each time in Chiang Mai. But after a few weeks, despite the fact I liked my room and the staff, the internet just wasn’t reliable enough for the way in which I work (which involves a LOT of Skype calls and use of the web), and it was time to make the leap to another place.
This felt surprisingly scary. I’ve talked about this before, but although in some ways I’m crazy-brave (ahem), in other ways I like a routine, the familiar, and definitely create little way in which to ‘nest’ wherever I go. So the need to find a new place in Chiang Mai (especially after something like ten different places in six months on Koh Phangan) initially felt exhausting.
But serendipity stepped in. A chance meeting in a coffee shop, where I actually talked to the two people at the next table instead of ignoring them, led me to a really cute little house down a back Soi (Thai for street) only a few minutes from where I’d been staying previously. Much of the housing that’s more central in the city is apartments, so it’s been great to find a house to live in, no matter how small. I feel hugely excited to have three separate rooms: a living room, a bedroom and a kitchen, plus a bathroom. The kitchen has a hob in it, which is the first time I’ve had that in Chiang Mai, and it’s already reduced the amount I eat out, and has also helped me to feel more settled.
The best thing about the new place is that I have a tiny front yard, which I am working on making a little less bare. I bought a hammock, and I’m delighted with it – I haven’t had a hammock in Chiang Mai before as I’ve always been in an apartment. And it’s a rainbow one!
This visit to Chiang Mai started with a bang. A day after I returned in November, my good friend Helen came to stay for a couple of weeks. She did a lot of her own thing while I worked, but we also tried out some new (as well as some familiar, yay Peak Spa!) tourist activities.
As well as our spa day, we went to the Thai Farm Cooking School, which we both had great fun at, including learning how to use butterflypea flowers to colour sticky rice a vibrant blue.
Helen and I also had a long weekend in Bangkok, where we stayed at the very nice Majestic Grande Hotel, and both fell in love with their Indian restaurant, which was amazing. We mooched around the malls, and just hung out. It was lovely.
When Helen and I were in Bangkok for the weekend I also managed to meet for the first time in person a friend who I’ve been talking to for well over a year. She’s a writer (and just published a great book of short stories about Bangkok, where she lives – why yes, I do know the most interesting people 🙂 ) and it was great to meet her.
I also met someone who’d read this blog whilst he was back in England, and some of what he’d read here had been part of what had inspired him to come out to Chiang Mai to live. That was quite mind-blowing – you truly never know the impact you might have.
Back in Chiang Mai, one of my old team members, the lovely Anna, and her boyfriend also met up with me for dinner while they visited Thailand.
And a new friend and I went to the ‘Chiang Mai Cabaret Theatre’ (pictures of the ‘ladies’ in the slide show below). That was…different… (maybe don’t enlarge those photos if you’re easily offended!)
Eating, Drinking, Living
My new house is directly opposite one of the best coffee shops in Chiang Mai, which is very convenient (!). Especially as it’s very well-priced, and a social enterprise that benefits hill-tribes.
I tend to get up, eat eggs for breakfast, do my morning routine (yes, I’m still doing morning pages every day, two years after I started), and then go over the road to work there for a few hours with an iced mocha until I get too hungry to stay. I’ve found a local Thai vegetarian place a few streets away where I can get rice and a dish for about 60p, and sometimes I eat there, sometimes I bring it back and eat on my deck.
Afternoons depend on what errands I have to do, but on a good day, involve a bit of time in the hammock. I’ve worked out a four cushion system where I can prop myself up and use the laptop in the hammock, which feels just decadent.
Other days I visit favourite cafes for lunch and dinner (e.g. Free Bird and Immain). I’ve been quite experimental this time though, and am collecting new places to eat and drink for another ‘review focused’ post. That’s been fun. I’ve especially liked ‘Overstand’ in the city centre – a full post as I said to follow, but that’s worth a visit if you’re in the city visiting.
Since November I’ve been to Dubai (twice), Abu Dhabi, Malaysia and Singapore (three times).
So that’s been quite tiring.
You might have read my New Year reflections on my aim to achieve balance in 2015. Having said that, January and February include proposed trips to Indonesia, Singapore, Saudi Arabia, Dubai and Abu Dhabi, so it’s a work in progress. But I find engagements quite often drop in and out of the diary, so I’m not worried yet…
The online business and website’s going well, and I’m still loving that. I’m doing a couple of online courses in my spare time to keep building my knowledge and experience in this area, including in terms of writing better blog posts, which should trickle over to here 🙂
I’ll refer you to the ‘socialising’ update above, as I’ve had a chance to hang out with friends old and new, as well as my new hammock which has provided a great place to relax and read a book. My new house also has a largish TV which will read a hard drive, so I’ve been watching the odd film or TV episode (anyone else love Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD?) on that from my sofa (what luxury!). And I have an aim to have at least one massage a week, as well as going for more walks.
Health-wise, I’ve been told I need to work on my immune system – all tips on this appreciated!
Celebrating (Christmas and New Year)
Finally, a fair few people asked me what I got up to for Christmas and New Year. Because I was recovering from bacterial tonsillitis (‘strep’) and was pretty tired after three hard weeks travelling, I took the opportunity to get to know my new house better.
I bought my ‘Christmas hammock’ (thanks mum!), skyped with family and friends, and found a church to attend on christmas morning. I’d seen plenty of Christmas trees in the many hotels I’d visited in the Christmas run up, and an attempt to get a Christmas dinner ended in disaster (every aspect of the dinner was replaced, one at a time, because they weren’t vegetarian, until I had boiled veg, sweet potato mash, salad and avocado, with cranberry sauce. Oh, and pumpkin pie. Because we’re very international in Chiang Mai). I had penang curry and a coconut smoothie for dinner.
For New Year I went down to one of the more touristy places in town, Thapae gate, where I visited the market, ate interesting food, watched some entertainment, and had a massage. The most beautiful part was a steady stream of thousands of Thai sky lanterns, released to symbolise problems or worries floating away, which were released in a procession of gold lighting up the night sky. Unfortunately, it’s a hard one for me to capture with the iPhone camera, but luckily, I’m friends with an amazing photographer who’s captured it here if you’re interested). It’s a sight like nothing else in the world.
So that’s what my life looks like at the moment. No doubt it will change soon, but a few months of the same thing is just what I need right now.
Now, your turn. What are the highlights of your daily life? Tell me in the comments below…