I awoke to the sound of buzzing insects rather than the hum of Chiang Mai traffic. As Andrew slid back the balcony door crisp alpine air hit me and through the grey dawn light, I could spot a stripe of neon orange on the horizon. The sun was rising over our Mae Salong mountain haven, illuminating dozens of peaks cloaked in mist and a vast cloud sea that filled the valley bowls. It was a sight that made me thankful to be living here in Thailand.
Street vendors are part of the everyday fabric of life in Hanoi. When I lived in the city I’d pass dozens of these women every day. They’d be dressed in conical hats to ward off the sun while they tirelessly pushed heavy bicycles laden with colourful fruit and flowers through the city, from dawn till dusk. I didn’t stop to think about just how beautiful these vendors were until our friend Loes launched her Hanoi street Vendors from Above photo project.
It’s been two months since we arrived in Thailand with a dwindling bank balance and a dream of working remotely. The path so far has been full of tangles but we haven’t let ourselves get too tied up in angst over the challenges we’ve faced. Instead, we’ve ploughed on and made humble progress towards our goal of achieving a sustainable online income. This is our first digital nomad report and we hope other aspiring remote workers find it helpful.
One of the things I love about Chiang Mai is that it’s a city peppered with gold-tipped, glimmering Buddhist temples. In fact, there are over 300 temples in Chiang Mai to explore, each with its own unique history, story and architectural quirks. We’ve seen but a fraction of the temples in this city we now call home, but we’ve already acquired a list of our favourite five.
“I’m a Dropshipper,” the guy from Finland told us as we relaxed in the pool. “Ah, we work online too,” Andrew replied, and we began to exchange stories about living as digital nomads in Chiang Mai. Now, when we tell people in the UK that we’re making a living online while we travel, we generally get a lot of perplexed responses along the lines of: Well, you’re pretty weird. Here in Chiang Mai though, which has one of the highest concentrations of digital nomads on the planet, we just fit right in.
It feels like we’ve been living in Chiang Mai forever. We’re already beginning to take for granted the fact that we wake up in the same bed every morning, can nip downstairs for a swim whenever we like and go out and eat dinner for less than £5. In another sense, time has quickly dissolved and the weeks have slipped effortlessly by as we’ve settled into our comfy cocoon. So what have we achieved and learnt during our first month of life in Chiang Mai?
If you want to stay in Thailand for longer than a couple of months you’re going to have to navigate the ever-changing world of Thai visa regulations. This week we took our first trip to the new visa office in Chiang Mai to extend our 60-day tourist visas. In this post we’ll explain exactly how to get a Thailand visa extension in Chiang Mai, including information about what documents you need and how much the extension costs.
The wind battered my face as the city streets disappeared and we zoomed towards the mountains. Slowly, familiar motorbike-riding aches started to set into my body and I tried not to think about the purple scar on my knee and the crash in Vietnam that had caused it. After over a year, we were back on a motorbike embracing the freedom of being able to take a random Wednesday off work to explore. Destination: The Sticky Waterfall.
The year I spent teaching in Vietnam was one of the most intense adventures of my life. I still vividly recall the early-morning Hanoi drizzle, the smell of Pho cooking on street corners and the shoals of beeping motorbikes coursing through the streets. I remember the shouts of “Hello Teacha !” the feel of chalk on my fingertips and the deafening rumble of 50 kids all crammed into one sweltering classroom. Do you want to teach in Asia? Maybe this article will inspire you to make your teaching dreams a reality.
Life in Chiang Mai this week has been full of work and not much else. As our daily routine solidifies, the hours just melt away as we toil silently in front of our laptops while the city swirls on below us. So in this week’s life update I’m going to share some of the challenges we’ve been facing as we navigate our way towards becoming digital nomads. Do you work remotely? Are you a freelancer? Perhaps you can identify with some of these challenges.