Jan 24, 2019
Resuming Life in Chiang Mai
Coming From: Hanoi, Vietnam
Airline: Thai Air Asia
Airport Departure: Hanoi International Airport
Airport Arrival: Chiang Mai International Airport (CNX)
Flight: FD871 depart HAN 4:10pm (late), arrive CNX 5:45pm, $70 including 20kgs
Visa Stay: Jan 24 - Mar 24, 2019 with proper Thai tourist visa
Hotel: Nawa Saraan Hotel
Location: 37/1 Sinharat Rd Lane 2, Si Phum, Amphoe Mueang Chiang Mai 50200
Money on Arrival: enough
It was a painless departure from Hanoi and a painless arrival in Chiang Mai - no questions asked, no detention, whoa! I spent most my time at Burger King (nursing my 35k VND fries to have a decent seat/table to do my online stuff for the so many hours I had to wait for my boarding). For meals, I snacked on my packed soya nuts. I even made a new friend at the airport - Maggie, an American yogi (who would eventually be my movie guest for Aquaman).
Ease in Chiang Mai
With a proper tourist visa to stay in Thailand, I am back in Chiang Mai (from Hanoi) to start a 60-day mini-life. It will be a different life from most of what I experienced in 2018. This time, I have sufficient cash for a few months (instead of landing on a country with only $50) and a rood over my head. These are 2 of my most pressing concerns - but now, I can put those worries away and be more open to other things that land on my plate.
Nawa Saraan Hotel
Mike ushered me to my new room at the Nawa Saraan Hotel compound. It's a right-fit room w/ ensuite for a lone traveler. This would be my home. He took care of furbishing the room since the last time I saw it - new screen window, all cleaned-up, new sheets, new faucet, etc. I'm glad he had an unused room I could stay-in during this visit. At least I won't have the awkward feeling he's driving away cash-paying hotel guests because I was occupying one his luxurious hotel guest rooms. Thanks again, Mike.
I guess I'll have him as "Super Mike" in my mind because he's always there to save the day for me - which he has done so on so many occasions. This time, despite his busy schedule trouble shooting construction for his latest hotel opening, he even picked me up at the airport and took me to dinner with lots of beer. It's only with him I get to drink that much - I'm a one-beer guy. We caught up on things. Glad to get his vibe again. Chiang Mai would never be the same without this guy.
Wenyuan is disarming with her beauty, charm and grounding. She joined me on my first yoga class for this visit. Mostly, it would be Mike, her and me hanging out either for breakfast, beer or coffee. If not for the language barrier, I'm sure we can talk more about many varied topics. Hmmm...I should learn Mandarin.
I met Maggie at the airport in Hanoi and we got into a small talk until we reached Chiang Mai. We found common ground in yoga and spirituality. We reconnected again when she joined me for my first movie viewing at SFX Cinema at Maya Mall of Aquaman. We continue to keep in touch and hopefully we find ourselves on the mat sharing yogic insights/practice.
It was a casual Hi/Hello with Farhana as we were both guests at Nawa Saraan Hotel, but we kinda found each other into a few long leisurely talks spanning life, travel and career. And like most encounters while traveling, when you find comfort level with a person, she has to leave (or I have to leave). In my paradigm of a universal connection, the meeting had to happen because the conversation had to take place.
I met Luna in Penang in June 2016 and we've kept in touch sporadically. But now in Chiang Mai, our paths cross again. We met up at a cafe and walked a good mile, just catching-up on things, but I was saddened to learn about the motorcycle mishaps that left her pretty banged-up. We're both staying here a while and I'm sure we'll be hanging out more.
To Do List
Having settled comfortably in my new abode, my thinking was different. Without feeling rushed (I had 60 days), without feeling the urgent need to keep afloat (I had enough money), I could venture on a few indulgences.
- learn Thai language - already, I have bookmarked sites to learn Thai
- learn Thai massage in a proper school (if they accept my barter proposal)
- replace backpack and shoes - they had been repaired, stitched, glued so many times they can't hold up any longer
- bicycle - DONE
- conduct English conversations in an "English Corner" in a cafe
- barter deal for movies - DONE
- barter deal for cafe and restaurant
- Google Map - develop a Chiang Mai walking tour route with popular food stops
Nice to Have/Do
With luck, I was able to close a barter-deal with SFX Cinema at Maya Mall. I (with one guest) get to see and review any movie of my choosing in exchange for an objective movie review. I'm a movie buff and usually have a strong opinion on movies I watch. I can also articulate on my thoughts. It's a good fit. Everybody happy, including a friend I invite to join me.
Bicycle Deal with Tawan Bike
With a bike deal with Tawan Bike where I get to use a rental bike for the length of my stay, I exponentially widen my coverage. For the first few days, I was doing everything on foot (as I find the songthaew expensive at B30/ride) - including a 5km 2-way walk to watch a movie. With a bike, I can venture out of Old City and explore other neighborhoods.
With time available for other things (instead using up nearly all my time to keep afloat), I now have the luxury of spending time on Youtube watching anything I find fascinating - Baba Ramdev and his yoga videos designed to cure specific ailments. I have long wanted to have a yoga teacher who can teach me how to use yoga for specific diseases but haven't found one. Neither have I found a book for that. Fortunately, I stumbled upon Ramdev's channel - but it's all in Hindi language. My challenge now is to find an English version or subtitles.
2019 seems to usher-in abundance in a way different from 2018. Enough money, roof over my head, bike use for my entire stay, free movies for 2, extended stay in Thailand and getting to hang-out again with Mike? Whoa! Everything else that happens beyond this is gravy. I am really excited at what else unfolds for me in Chiang Mai and for the rest of this year.
A little unsure how I pay back the planet (and Mike) for all this abundance as I am overwhelmed and humbled with gratitude. For everything now and everything else that follows, I am profoundly thankful.
YOGA by Gigit | Learn English | Travel like a Nomad | Donation Bank
Next stop: Reiki Share at the Mastermind Brain Spa
Chiang Mai, Thailand
Chiang Mai International Airport
Nong Buak Hard Park - free yoga classes daily
Arun Dara Villa - 7 exclusive rooms, 1 swimming pool for every room, grand opening
Nawa Sheeva Hotel - big room, high ceiling, salt-water pool
Nawa Saraan Hotel - upscale container-themed, garden setting, most expensive coffee maker in Chiang Mai
La Pizza Chiang Mai - Italian pizza, pasta, wine, dessert, coffee
Natural Bird Nest by Burapa - authentic bird's nest soup
ITM - International Training Massage School - Chiang Mai's most prestigious massage school
Float Chiang Mai - sensory deprivation float pod
Zira Spa - upscale authentic Thai massage and spa treatment
Tawan Bike - motorcycle rental | +66 91 635 2863 | Si Phum, Mueang Chiang Mai District, Chiang Mai 50200
Top Thailand Adventure Tour - bicycle rental
Chiang Mai FYI / Tips
- crop-burning season in Chiang Mai is between late Feb to early April. But laws change everytime. This year, 2019, there is a 61-day ban on burning so the farmers started burning early. When my plane was approaching Chiang Mai on Jan 24, 2019, there was already a thick blanket of smog covering the entire city (and beyond). But within the city itself, you won't feel it (but that doesn't mean the air is healthy). To monitor air conditions in real time, refer to site: Chiang Mai Air Pollution: Real-time Air Quality Index (AQI)
- you have to try Khao Soi, this is north Thailand's culinary staple
- visit Chiang Mai between October and April - best time, without the monsoon rains
- you have to try Khao Soi, this is north Thailand's culinary staple
- the tourist area where most of the hotels, restaurants, ticket offices, tour operators are, is located in the Old City
- to exchange your dollars to Thai Baht, the Super Rich Money Exchange give the best rates. There are many branches scattered around Chiang Mai
- get a red cab (songthao) outside the train station for Baht 50 (instead of paying B100 if inside the train station) to Old City - if you haggle nicely enough...I did!
- for only B50/day, best to rent a bike to go around the Old City - it's a 2.5km2 with lots to discover
- FREE daily yoga classes from 9:00am to 10:15am at Nong Buak Hard Park (southwest corner of Old City). Resident and passing-through teachers take turns conducting yoga classes.
How to Get around Chiang Mai
- red taxi (shared) - B50 standard fare
- bicycle - B50 daily rental
Blues/Jazz Bars in Chiang Mai
- North Gate Pub - at Chang Phueg Gate, great Tuesday jam session
- Road House - in front of Porn Ping Hotel
- Boy Blues Bar - at the Night Bazaar
Chiang Mai Cost Index
- B60 Chiang beer
- B250 1 hour drop-in yoga session
- B200 one hour Thai body massage at WAYA Massage (highly recommended)
- B50 noodle soup with meat
- B50 coffee
- B40 pad thai
- B30/kilo wash-only laundry
- B50/kilo wash+iron laundry
- B100-150 dorm bed/night
- B250 fan room/night
- B30 internet cafe/hour
- B170-190 Movies Sat-Sun and public holidays
- B130-150 Movies weekdays
- B100 Movies Wednesdays (movie discount day)
- B750 1/2 day Thai cooking lessons
- B900-1000 1 full day Thai cooking lessons
- B400 Muay Thai boxing ticket
- B2500 starting room rate at the luxury hotel, Nawa Sheeva (highly recommended)
- B450 bus, Chiang Mai to Bangkok
- B160-180 bus, Chiang Mai to Pai
- B1250 bus, Chiang Mai to Luang Prabang
- B1650 slow boat, Chiang Mai to Luang Prabang
- B210 bus, Chiang Mai to Chiang Rai, 3-4 hours
- B360 Green VIP bus, Chiang Mai to Mae Sai (Thai border town for visa run to Tachileik, Myanmar)
- B50 bicycle rental, 24 hours
- B200 motorbike rental, 24 hours
- B273 #51 sleeping train from Bangkok to Chiang Mai
- B638 #7 a/c train from Bangkok to Chiang Mai
- B50 red taxi fare from point to point
- B100 red taxi fare from train terminal to city
- B2000 full day elephant sanctuary
- B750 Chiang Rai one-day tour
- B1500 mountain biking scenic ride
How to Get to Chiang Mai from Bangkok by Train from Bang Sue Train Station
For more train info: Bangkok to Chiang Mai trains - departing from Hua Lamphong - MRT (Bangkok)
(I'm using Bang Sue as a starting point because I was closer to it, but you may be closer to the Hua Lamphong station)
- take the MRT train to Bang Sue Station. Take the #1 Exit to the north provincial trains
- Proceed to Counter 2. You will see an information booth, a train schedule chart and the ticket counter. Choose the train and pay at the ticket counter.
- daily train schedule:
- 8:48am - #7 Train, arrive Chiang Mai 7:30pm, not sleeper, B638
- 2:06pm - #109 Train, arrive Chiang Mai 4:05am, sleeper
- 6:31pm - #9 Premium Train, arrive Chiang Mai 7:15am, sleeper, B938 upper deck, B1038 lower deck
- 7:56pm - #13 Train, arrive Chiang Mai 8:40am, sleeper, B768 upper deck, B838 lower deck
- 10:22pm - #51 Train, arrive Chiang Mai 12:10pm, sleeper, 3rd class B270 (non sleeper), 2nd class B438, B728 upper deck, B798 lower deck
Chiangmai Blogs by TheLoneRider
- Movie Review: Alita Battle Angel Feb 19, 2019
- International Training Massage School (ITM): Level 1 Feb 11-15, 2019
- Movie Review: Spider-Man - Into the Spider-Verse (2018) Feb 3, 2018
- Movie Review: Green Book Jan 30, 2019
- Meditation in a Sensory Deprivation Tank at Float Chiang Mai Jan 29, 2019
- Bohemian Rhapsody (2018) Jan 27, 2019
- Movie Review: Aquaman Jan 26, 2019
- Reiki Share at the Mastermind Brain Spa Jan 26, 2019
- Resuming Life in Chiang Mai Jan 24, 2019
- 4 Days in Chiang Mai at Nawa Saraan Hotel Jan 2-6, 2019
- Mike Chong Aug 8, 2018
- An Intimate Conversation with my Universe in Chiang Mai Aug 8, 2018
- Kneaded and Pampered at Zira Spa Aug 4, 2018
- Savoring a Baht 3,500 Birds Nest Soup at Natural Bird Nest by Burapa Aug 3, 2018
- Yoga Exploration at The Yoga Tree with Gernot Aug 1, 2018
- Yoga In The Park - Chiang Mai July 31, 2018
- Yoga with Adam at Hidden House Yoga, Chiang Mai July 29, 2018
- 2 Weeks in Chiang Mai July 25 - Aug 7, 2018
- A First Timer in Chiang Mai Apr 9-23, 2016
- Dance Mandala in Chiang Mai at The Yoga Tree Apr 19, 2016
- Songkran Waterfight Festival in Chiang Mai Apr 13-15, 2016
- Border Crossing from Siem Reap (Cambodia) to Bangkok (Thailand) to Chiang Mai April 9-10, 2016
General Travel Tips
- avoiding scams - as a general rule, I ignore the touts or anyone I don't know who call out to me. The calling comes in many forms - "Hi! Where are you from?", "Excuse me! Excuse me!", "Where are you going?". I don't look them in the eye and I remain non-verbal with them. If you reply to them, you just gave them an 'in' to hound you. In order not to look rude, I smile and wave the 'not interested' hand to them, without looking at them.
- power bank - hand-carry your power bank. Do not check it in. You can be called in when you are already inside the plane to go all the way to the loading dock so you can personally remove the power bank...and chances are, you'll have to surrender it to them. And you might delay the plane departure!
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