When we arrived we wanted to get to work on the business and meet people in Chiang Mai but our top priority was finding a place to live for the month.
Our second priority was finishing our FY18 taxes (hard work) and starting to focus on maximizing profit and new product development for the business (the hardest work there is).
But that stuff is kind of boring so the focus of this post is exploring and enjoying Chiang Mai and starting to network and socialize with other digital nomads IRL (as opposed to online and in Facebook groups).
Touring Chiang Mai’s Old City
Being seasoned travelers, we decided to make short work of the few â€˜tourist’ spots in the Old City. Specifically, the Buddhist Temples (Wats) that dot the area: Wat Chiang Man, Wat Chedi Luang, Wat Prasat and the grand finale, Wat Phra Singh.
We’ve visited approximately one billion Wats across southeast Asia…a number trumped only by the number of churches we have visited across Europe. But while it’s easy to get blasÃ© and say, â€˜seen one Wat, seen them all,’ I am always at least a little fascinated by the unique history and character of each. Lisa usually indulges me for about 5-10 minutes per Wat (and/or church), which I find generous.
We also passed the Three Kings Monument which, again, I find interesting because of the historical story behind it.
In all, we probably spent about 4 hours touring the Old City that day. It was plenty, especially knowing we’d be sticking around for a while.
Sunday Night Market
The Chiang Mai Sunday Night Market is like no other we’ve ever seen. And we’ve seen plenty in Bangkok, Koh Samui, Vientiane, Luong Prabang, etc. etc.
What makes this one so unique is the combination of its sheer size along with the variety of food and stuff for sale.
In most night markets you see a few truly-handcrafted items, but mostly you see the same factory-made items over and overâ€¦either produced locally or, all to often, imported from China.
By contrast, the Chiang Mai Sunday Night Market spanned a significant width of the Old City and under its bright lights were an infinite variety of food and products for sale. We saw very few repeated goods, almost no knock-offs and most of the things we saw looked unique.
We ate a variety of street food from vendors and spent over an hour looking at the amazing variety of products.
Dipping Our Toes into the DN Social Scene
Upon arrival, we jumped right into the bustling Chiang Mai digital nomad scene. On the afternoon of our second day we swung by a talk hosted by a Chiang Mai digital nomad Facebook group called Digital Nomad Coffee Club – Chiang Mai. We were pretty shocked by the massive turnout for a talk about online marketing. What struck me most was the age diversity of the crowd. From young 20s to total gray-hairs and every age in between.
Doing this digital nomad thing one conern was that we’d be getting to know only gap year kids and backpackers. This event dispelled that notion immediately. But the talk was a bit remedial for where we are in our business, so we drifted away pretty quickly.
A few days later we met up with a different group of digital nomads and expats from a different Facebook digital nomad group over a couple rounds of bowling. Yep, bowling: 10 pins, one heavy ball and lots of sore muscles.
A Kiwi called Richard had re-instituted what apparently had been a long-running Chiang Mai DN tradition: Monday Night Bowling. Lisa actually grew up in a bowling family. Her mom, dad and brother bowl in leagues to this day. So I figured if there was any meet-up that I could easily talk her into, it was this one. Turns out it was a blast.
We met and got to know some very cool and interesting people, swapped stories and bowledâ€¦some of us better than others. What we quickly realized is that every person who has adopted a nomadic or expat lifestyle has a very unique story. And we never tire of hearing themâ€¦each one fills us both with excitement and awe. We have to pinch ourselves that we too are living a similar but unique story!
Meeting Fellow Travelers
Early in this blog I described how Lisa and I always end up meeting and chatting with fellow travelers. Chiang Mai has taken that experience to an all new level. Just about every night here we end up chatting with folks over drinks or at dinner or sometimes just standing around.
At the YaYee rooftop bar we met Ally, a photographer from Denver who was making a slow journey home after a month in Australia. We had a great chat about slow travel and the Gold Coast. She’s a photographer both locally in Denver and worldwide so if you ever have a need, here’s Ally’s website.
At the tapas spot jagagee we met Summer from Oregon who was just finishing her first month in Chiang Mai. We talked about moving from the corporate paradigm to the digital nomad paradigm. over several glasses of house wine. – Shameless plug alert – and nothing goes better with good house wine than our Bring Me Wine Socks!!!
We’ve already found our favorite restaurant: an Italian joint called Why Not?. It has a variety of both Italian and local dishes as well as Italian dishes with a local flair. One night while waiting for a table we Alex who teaches English online and has been a DN since 2017. We talked Amazon FBA and life on the road.
The only thing better than travel itself are the people you meet along the way!
The Boring Stuff
Well, I’m pleased to report that after a couple days of heads-down work our taxes are basically done!
On the other hand, we haven’t been giving the business enough focus. After a big staff meeting by the pool we are rectifying that. We now have our best people running margins, prices, volume and inventory.
So that’s our first week in Chiang Mai. We freaking LOVE it.