Wow!! can’t believe we have already been in Chiang Mai for a week. In one way it feels like we’ve been here for ages and in another like we just got here. The place is so familiar as we’ve been here a few times before.

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Friday Red Eye Flight from Darwin (2:55am)

We had a 5 hour flight from Darwin to Singapore..one of those red eye flights, then after a 2 hour stop over a 3 hour flight to Chiang Mai. Silk Air is so much nicer than Jet Star..lovely pillows, blankets, a meal and they let me take my largish drawing board and easel as cabin luggage! Can’t do much about the 2:55am departure though!

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So the time for our digital-work remote-arty nomad adventure is finally here.  I thought for this first Chiang Mai blog I would just write up parts of my journal for the week.

Arrived in Chiang Mai at 11 am on Friday after a long night but good flights. The immigration lines were long but every one was processed quickly. I have to say I was a bit nervous about our 6 month multiple entry tourist visa… don’t know why but happy when I could hear the stamp going. Got pulled aside when my bag went through the xray. My tubes of watercolour were showing up as some unusual metal..security checked through it and I explained that they were watercolours. It was Bruce’s back pack with all his technology; cords and adapters that had been pulled up a couple of times. Security were also interested to check the cylinder canister shape which was his speaker!

Anyway feeling a bit bleary eyed so we were pleased we arranged for hotel guy to pick us up from the airport. It would have cost the same in a songtaew. (red truck/taxi). Checked into our beautiful King Suite at the Sanae hotel in Soi 2 off Nimmanhaemin road for 3 days. Hopefully that is enough time for us to find an apartment to rent for a month. Room not ready yet so dropped our luggage off and went wandering for lunch. Feel very at home…it was only 12 months ago that we were here.

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Spent the afternoon walking around the Sois (Lanes) off one side of Nimmanhaemin Rd and looked at a couple of apartments (call them ‘condos’ here). Just to start our research….. and get a feel for what’s available; cost for the month, price of water, electricity, WIFI etc. Feeling a bit jet lagged so spent time cooling off at a cafe/bar we call the Triumph due to its sign inside, can’t remember what its called…little Jazz bar. Felt better after some food and a cool drink!

Saturday-Yay a full day to research apartments!

The morning started with a huge downpour so all the drains couldn’t cope and flooded the main streets..but dissipated quickly. So we started our walk wading through storm water. I fell over and skun my knee..too busy looking around instead of where I was going. Lucky it stopped raining quickly and stayed lovely for the rest of the day.

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Had a massive day walked 15 km around the Nimman area looking at condos …probably looked at about 20..got confused after a while even though I was taking notes and later started taking photos. Anyway we got a good idea of what was available for monthly rental. Quite a lot to choose from and many new buildings. For those of you who are interested in doing the same-the price didn’t always reflect the size or quality of the apartment. We were looking up to 25000THB per month which is towards the top end for apartments here..but I think it is shoulder season not peak…. We saw a few lovely brand new little (31sqm) apartments for 15000-18000THB but they were a bit small for working from ‘home’. If anyone is interested I’ve kept a list of places we ‘shortlisted’! We looked at places around the Nimman area and across Huey Kaew Rd.

We were looking for some place that was relatively modern, location, size, price, internet speed (Very important but found out you can pay for more speed), gym/pool and washing machine.

Oh…and available as a 1 month rental as many places want 3 months or more.

Met a few interesting people in our search and tried to ask questions if we saw any one we thought lived in the complex – especially relating to internet and whether the place was quiet.

Ended the day exhausted but felt like we’d done a good job….so we went back to hotel by about 5 and tried to internalise all that we had seen. We chose about 4 apartments we would go and have another look at tomorrow. Slept like babies!

Sunday-Bite the Bullet and make a choice!

Today we need to make up our mind about where we want to rent for the month…could extend at Sanae hotel but need to just bite the bullet and get a place.

Another 15 km clocked up on our Vivo Fits! Revisited about 4 places..looked at few others and finally decided to go for the Moda which is right behind the Maya shopping centre at the top end of Nimmanhaemin road. Yay we can stop researching and start to get settled and really enjoy ourselves!

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Why did we choose the Moda?

Bigger space, great location, almost brand new, fully equipped including washing machine (very important), beautiful mountain view of Doi Suthep mountain and temple, gym and swimming pool (Gym hopeless but there’s one at the Maya shopping centre next door)….oh and forgot it has a bathtub…bliss!

So excited …lady just handed over the keys without us signing anything and said it was ok to drop off our gear today even though we don’t officially move in until next day. Nice to feel nearly sorted…went for lovely coffees and to rest our weary legs.

Monday-Move In (Public Holiday in Darwin)

Very exciting to pack up our things and catch a songtaew a few kilometers to our new home. Although we were told we could move in at 9 am there was no-one here so luckily we had keys and just let ourselves in!

Unpacked, eventually signed contracts/inventory and went next door to buy a few basic things like toilet paper and milk. We did a load of washing and tried to get money out from ATM for rent and deposit but there is a limit so went to another atm and as you could have guessed the bank froze our accounts!

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Bruce spent the next few hours ringing the bank, put on hold…ran out of credit..etc etc finally sorted and planning to just use our travel cards from now on. Also arranged for faster internet with Si net. Bruce is now the proud user of fast internet: For all you technos out there up to 75 mb /sec download! Did few laps of the Maya shopping center next door and handy Rimping grocery store. Cheap food at Maya basement and paradise if you like Thai food..great had lunch there then cooked at home for dinner just to bond with the kitchen. Facetimed the kids and grandkids which made me feel a bit teary but all good and enjoyed a hot soak. Life’s good!

Tuesday-Bruce’s First Day of Working Remotely

Well the time has come for Bruce to work and for us to get used to the time difference. Bruce starts work at 6:30 am which is daylight here (9:00 Darwin time), but then can knock off at about 3pm and we still have plenty of time to go exploring. The morning starts with a little plunger coffee and checking the internet speed which is all good. Have also had to learn about VPNs. Bruce spent most of the first day talking to people in online meetings and I spent it playing with my art gear and did a couple of little sketches. I had to be careful not to walk behind Bruce during his meetings in case he had his video on. Bruce breaks for lunch at 11 our time as that is when things start to open which is 1:30 Darwin time. Will take a bit to get used to the time difference.

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Bruce had a good first day and then we spent the afternoon walking down Huay Kaew Rd to Central dept store and another supermarket called Tops which is close to the western corner of the old city. The shops here are frequented more by locals doing their shopping than Rimping at the Maya Centre, Nimman which seems to cater more to expats. More walking which is good as we are always eating!

Wednesday-Bruce Working/Pascale Painting

Bruce spent morning working and I sketching and sorting out emails and researching things to do and tours etc

Walked to Chiang Mai university grounds in search of a fitness park running track. Lovely area but got pulled up by security who said we needed to purchase a pass and do tour of the area! Anyway after explaining what we were after the ‘guard’ was very helpful and told us just to jog through next time and not to look like tourists..we were carrying our cameras and taking lovely photos as you do! Guy showed us different green areas on our map we could go and check out. Walked back home along very busy Huay Kaew road at peak time – very busy and fumy exhaust smells.

Food and clothes/craft markets setting up on the area outside Maya so we bought a couple of things for dinner and sat down and watched the world go by.

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Thursday-Bruce’s Long Weekend 

Bruce now doesn’t work until Monday…said he was just getting into it. Extra short week as Monday was a public holiday! Had a nice lazy start to the day but ended up walking 12km again. Went to another fitness park at the end of Nimmanhaemin rd which was quiet and very peaceful then cut through a garden which was growing medicinal plants and walked along Suthep rd to West gate (Suan Dok Gate). Spent some time at Wat Suan Dok a large temple which is used also as a school it has 2000 novices and about 200 monks.

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When we were there there was a school group and later found out that the children do a unit on Buddhism and values as part of their regular curriculum. Bruce got chatting to a young monk who was taking photos. The temple is lovely and houses a heap of white washed mausoleums which contain the cremation ashes of members of the royal family of Chiang Mai. What is lovely is that the temple is actually part of everyday life/schooling.

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After taking heaps of photos we continued our way to a place I’d seen that makes handmade paper. Finally found it down a little alley. Its called HQ paper and apparently exports to Australia and we found out that they do paper making classes which we are quite interested in doing later. We both got a bit excited with the beautiful papers and bought a few large sheets to play around with.

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Was very hot by then and spent an hour chilling at the FAI Bakery in the old city over lunch and juices!

Revived and visited another Wat – Phra Singh – one of the most revered in Chiang Mai – lots of gold..beautiful but I preferred Wat Suan Dok as I liked how the local went about their daily business.

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Walked down Ratchadamnoen Rd to Tha Phae gate then up north up Moon Muang..tired out and caught a red songtaew home. Checked out gym in the Maya complex..very fancy equipment ..bit expensive Bruce might use it but not me….I confess, I went to the art shop and bought a large Chinese brush and some Chinese ink to use on my larger sheets of mulberry handmade paper!

On reflection I am so pleased we are staying in Nimman area. There are lots of uni students so its a bit trendy, bit upmarket,  quieter in a way than the old town area we were in today which is full of tourists/backpackers. Locals probably all moved out! Cooked at home and downloaded photos.

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Friday-Thai Massage

Spent morning sorting photos writing blog and enjoyed a 1 hour Thai massage. Very firm-on the verge of painful but feels great…will try and have them regularly.

So that’s were my blog finishes…sorry it was so long but I wanted to record the first week. I’m planning to write a short blog each week to share photos of what we have done and explored.

Happy travels!

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