7 weeks ago, I moved for planned 3-to-4 months to Chiang Mai, Thailand. While the first week and a half of getting set up, finding the apartment, getting used to the heat and generally adjusting to a completely new environment were tough, after that, I've been really enjoying my time here. Today I wanted to take some time to finally sit down and write about what's my life like here in Chiang Mai.
Moving to a new place by yourself for 3+ months where you don't know anybody may seem daunting, and obviously, even for me, it was. But I'm really lucky and grateful that I met many interesting and easy going people here and became friends with some of them. It also turned out very beneficial from the professional perspective - I received valuable advice about marketing, copywriting and generally new ideas on how I could take my product, Timelines, to the next level.
My work on Timelines
One of my main goals for living here was to give Timelines the proper time, care and focus that it deserves (and needs) to move forward at a reasonable pace. I have big plans for it, and I am determined to do everything I can to make them happen. I'm really delighted to say that ever since I arrived here and got into the routine, my productivity went way up. I work at the terrific coworking place in the center of the city, the Punspace Tha Pae Gate.
Everybody there is so focused that often times there are several hours when nobody says a word. On most days, I'm able to put in around 6 hours of focused programming, or marketing work. Though I'm late on the release schedule that I set for myself (like always), I'm getting a ton of work done and it feels amazing.
The weather, city, and getting around
I'd say that the weather here is great. The vast majority of days it's sunny, and as the winter was coming, temperatures in the morning and in the evening/night became really comfortable. The peak temperature during the day still gets pretty hot, but hey! Beggars can't be choosy, and I am definitely not complaining. The weather in the Czech Republic this time of year sucks.
Since this is my first time in Asia, I've been generally struck by the traffic, and more specifically, by the uncanny and unfiltered smell that goes from all those tuk-tuks, scooters and old vehicles. Also, since pedestrian crossings are a big rarity here, crossing the road oftentimes is quite hazardous experience.
As for commuting - the path from my apartment to the coworking (which is in the very center of the city) is 3,5 kilometers. I usually cycle there or take a cheap (20 Baht) shared taxi. Cycling in the traffic isn't fun, but it's quick (just 10 minutes). I also mostly got used to it by now and it's not that bad.
When I needed to buy a mattress topper for my stiff mattress, I actually rented a scooter. It was a lot of fun! (Well, except for breathing that polluted air, obviously). Here is a short clip that I recorded at an intersection. At the end, the green light came on so I had to abruptly stop it:
Food and dining
The Thai food here is delicious and really cheap. You can get a really good meal for between 1 and 3 dollars. When it comes to shopping for food, the situation is less desirable. Most of the European-like products are really expensive because they are imported. So what I do is that I only cook pasta with cheese at my apartment about two or three times a week, and otherwise I eat out. It's cheap, fast, and efficient - I love it! Here are a few pictures of the meals I usually have here (fried rice with chicken is the best.):
Actually, I was feeling adventurous with the cooking one day, so I decided to cook eggs. But, since the magnetic induction stove is a different kind of beast, it didn't really turn out that well. I think the following video doesn't really need any comment about it:
Cycling and exercise
Before I came here, I had this idea that I will start cycling a lot here. It didn't happen quite that way, but I still do exercise more than before. I go on a cycling trip every Sunday + I recently started going regularly to a gym. My aching arm (most likely from bad posture and weak back muscles) was what finally kicked me in the butt to start with it, and I'm glad I did.
I wouldn't recommend Chiang Mai for a cycling vacation because the options where you can go are very limited. There are highways to several directions, and usually, there is no way how to cross them. I thought going up the Doi Suthep mountain will be the best choice, but it turned out that it has heavy traffic as well, since it's a popular tourist destination. I found that it's best for me to go south - that way, I avoid crossing any major roads. Here is the path that I usually go:
And here are some pictures from my cycling trips:
Wel.. about that.. I haven't really seen much, except for views from Doi Suthep and some temples along the way on my cycling trips, plus a quick visit in the evening to one of the temples. I have a list of things that I want to see/do while I'm here, but it just hasn't been my top priority yet.
This has been so far a very interesting experience for me. Yes, leaving everything and everyone behind for such prolonged period is challenging, but I'm glad that I didn't chicken out, and that I took the leap. It proved to me once again that not giving in to the fear of the unknown is usually the good decisions. In hindsight, some of the scariest decisions in my life turned out to be the most beneficial ones.
I learned several things about myself, and I am confident now that this will be a transitionary period in my life. Through distancing myself both physically and mentally from the things back in the Czech Republic, I'm able to see everything more clearly, and I'm able to better think about what my options are going forward, and I'm simply getting a new perspective. Getting back to the first point: meeting interesting people here is helping me shape up my opinions, expand my horizons. I believe that the more people you meet and get to know (even if you are an introvert like me), the more you can enrich your views and understanding of the world, and how everybody really is different, even though from distance it might not look like it.
Regarding more "down-to-Earth" stuff: I'm psyched that I haven't been sick not once since I arrived, because that has been a thorn in my side for years, especially during winters. It seems that the great weather, much less of stress, and no commuting in public transport with coughing people can make wonders.
I'm also very excited about Timelines, and how it will go coming forward. There is a ton of work in front of me, but things have been going really well, users are loving it and there are amazing new features coming down the line. The work gets challenging at times, but I keep chipping away at it and seeing all the progress that I do every week is very exciting.
To sum it up: I'm really satisfied here, and without exaggerating, this has been one of the best times in my life. Living on my own terms, working hard on something that fulfills me and having a solid routine is amazing. Though, not to come off as an as**ole: yes, I do miss my friends/family, obviously. I just find it best not to think about it too much, because otherwise, it would just get harder.
I know my blogging efforts are way too inconsistent, so I don't even dare to promise anything at this point. Though, I definitely plan to write a new post for the "Looking back at 2016", so look out for that. Until next time, cheers!