Isa Abroad: Week 2 – Chiang Mai, Thailand

travel journal chiang mai thailand

Fufu’s Dinner, Coffee, & South Park – October 12 (Wednesday)

south african dish
speciality coffee shops chiang mai thailand

If you enjoy coffee, Chiang Mai will be your personal paradise. The amount of specialty coffee shops here are mind blowing and you’re only paying about $2 for lattes. I don’t think I’ll be able to buy coffee when I eventually visit the States again, I can’t believe I was paying $7 for a coffee back in California. 

Today I tried a new cafe with Lolly and was given the most beautiful latte art I have ever seen, it was some sort of pegasus or horse. Whatever it was, it was cool.

After the cafe, my coliving prepared a family dinner, Fufu created a special South African dish—I forget the name now—that involved steaming vegetables for hours and then stuffing it into half a loaf of bread. 

The evening was nice, although the dinner topic was about the States, specifically guns and obesity. In my years of traveling, I have learned to just accept that people really love shit-talking the States. I usually agree with the points being made but I find it so odd that people feel the need to immediately point out all the things they hate about the States. If someone said they were from Britain, it would be a bit rude if I said that Britain should really have more dentists and they need to lay off the tea and the weather is really quite awful.

That night I had a “funny cigarette,” as Nacho would say, at my Irish friend’s place. They were watching South Park, which I’ve actually never seen before. I can’t say it’s my favorite show but I had a nice time. It was nice to be at a friend’s house instead of hanging out at the coliving, it felt like “normal life.”

I also used the term “Type A personality” and discovered that this is an American saying that is actually quite difficult to explain. I’ve always said it but realized it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. As the Irish pointed out, why don’t we just say someone has a stick up their ass instead of this Type A, Type B wordplay?

King’s Cup – October 13 (Thursday)

zoe's clubbing chiang mai parties
coolmuang coffee shop chiang mai thailand

I was in a bad mood most of the day. And mostly for silly reasons. But the day slowly got better, Fufu gave me some fatherly advice and Jojo (the Chinese doctor) gave me a back massage. He gave me the massage at a cafe, so there were definitely some weird looks, especially when we did an “energetic stretch” at the end, which looked like some sort of intense dance ritual.

Then Lolly and I went out with two Canadians. We played King’s Cup (how long after college is this game acceptable to play?) and then our favorite club, Zoe’s. One of my favorite parts about Zoe’s is that I know all of the songs and can sing them all loudly (and horribly) at the top of my lungs. Baby by JB, Low by FloRida, I Gotta Feeling by Black Eyed Peas—all the classics. 

They also have beer pong tables (but the cups are filled with water) and glow in the dark paint, so I could show off my incredible artistic skills by painting on sweaty people’s faces. They also sell—for lack of a better word—inappropriate bracelets that I always thought, Who would buy those? We did. We each picked one for the other person. Now I have a very explicit bracelet that I definitely will not find another occasion to wear. 

It was a great night. 

Hangover – October 14 (Friday)

speciality coffee shops for digital nomads chiang mai
sad, hungover girl

And then I felt worse in the morning. Yes, I see where I went wrong. You shouldn’t try to solve your problems by going out. But it was pretty fun while it lasted, so I don’t really regret it.

Lolly and I met at a cafe to work, both exhausted and barely functioning. I managed to finish one hour before I gave up and went home.

One of my favorite ways to release stress/anger/frustration is listening to very loud music and alternating between walking and sprinting on a 15% incline. And it has to be at night, to set the dark mood I guess. So I did that. I played Miss You by southstar on repeat (which is the opposite of what the title implies). Afterwards, I felt much better. Probably a better coping mechanism than clubbing.

That night we didn’t want to go out, so I dressed up in my coziest pj’s, grabbed my stuffed animal, and headed over to Lolly’s apartment. The Grab (Asian Uber) dropped me off a few minutes from her place, which was slightly embarrassing because it was right in front of bars filled with people. I shuffled past everyone (on a Friday night, mind you) in my oversized T-shirt, house slippers, and clutching nothing but my pink stuffed animal pig. 

Jazz and Clubbing – October 15 (Saturday)

but first coffee coffee shop
jazz co-op chiang mai, thailand

Gym and working at a cafe today. I had an amazing cold brew that was infused with peach (but not sweet). 

That night almost everyone from the coliving went to the Jazz Co-op, a unique venue with live music. I stayed for about an hour but was not having the absolute time of my life because I’m not the biggest fan of jazz and it was so hot that I could feel sweat dripping down my back. So another non-jazz fan left with me and we went to play beer pong. Classy, I know. We went to Zoe’s again—that place really ropes you in, everyone somehow ends up there every weekend—and then I went home fairly early.

I was disappointed to hear that as soon as we left the Jazz Co-op an alternative band took the stage and was supposedly very impressive, so I’ll have to go back and give it another shot.

Oh, and before I left Zoe’s I ran into this guy who was at my coworking in Bali. He told me he thought I was stuck-up when he saw me there. And I’ve actually heard this a lot, people will tell me that they thought I was intimidating or mean before they had even talked to me. So that’s fun. 

Maybe I’ll invest in a sign that says, I’m nice I swear. 

Thai Massages – October 16 (Sunday)

chiang mai sunday night market
khao soi thai soup night market

I’ve been on a no sugar kick, so I’ve been searching for “desserts” for when I have a sweet tooth. That morning I woke up craving a smoothie, so Fufu and I went on the hunt. We ended up with an amazing strawberry, banana, and peanut butter smoothie that was incredibly creamy and super sweet. 

Then I had more work, I went to another cafe (I love my coworking space, but I also love checking out new cafes). And I spent about an hour deciding whether to go to South Korea and Japan or stay near Thailand. It was a really hard decision, I want to see South Korea and Japan very badly, something inexplicable is drawing me there. But it wasn’t aligning; not only is it significantly more expensive, but it is very cold this time of year so I would have to invest in a whole new wardrobe. And I also couldn’t find any nice colivings in those areas. 

Luckily, I found an amazing coliving in Phuket and decided that would be the best decision. And it honestly looks incredible. They have an infinity pool, fitness center, yoga, daily events, beautiful coworking space, and my room is huge with a bathroom and kitchen, all included for $560 a month. I love Thailand. 

My second night market tonight! I tried Khao Soi for the first time and fell in love. It is a dish specific to northern Thailand; it’s a creamy curry soup with flat egg noodles and some meat or vegetables (I chose pork dumplings). The seating at the market is pretty hilarious, especially since I am taller than the average Thai person, the chairs are about one inch from the ground and the table is two inches high, so you hunch over your food and eat like a goblin. With this seating and the fact that the soup is a messy experience—I was face-smacked by noodles every time I took a sip—this would not be an ideal first date location.

After dinner, I got my first Thai massage. There are hundreds of massage stations around the market and it was so fascinating to me that you could just go up to someone and get a massage immediately, without booking an appointment. We just asked for the shoulder massage but they really went all in and massaged our backs, head, face, and arms; 30 minutes was $2. I think I should start getting massages every day. 

And someone had mentioned that there are many spas with only women ex-convicts, because it is the only job they can get. I want to support that because most of the women were imprisoned for petty crimes like stealing food for their hungry family and can never work a “real” job again.

Buddhist Tantra – October 17 (Monday)

speciality coffee chiang mai
alt coliving coworking chiang mai

After my massage and a long, restful night of sleep, I felt great about the start of the week. I went to the gym, enjoyed a healthy breakfast, and was very productive at work. I absolutely love the work that I do for Skeptic’s Path podcast, especially when I’m editing new episodes. Today was an episode about Buddhist tantra and I learned so much. 

As I walked home that night, I reflected on the topics that Rob Preece (the interviewee) touched on. He emphasized the importance of being open, aware, and using creativity as a form of spiritual development. I will definitely be writing a piece on that later on because it was something that really resonated with me. As I learn about Buddhism, I have been more interested in Mahayana Buddhism, but after this podcast I feel more drawn to Vajrayana Buddhism (which is a form of tantric Buddhism). I’m excited to explore even deeper, I have a feeling Buddhism will be a big part of my life as I continue to evolve. 

It’s funny to add this discussion of Buddhism after my weekend of clubs and partying, part of me wants to just delete my weekend, it feels so juvenile. But I want to be authentic and the truth is that I’m still young and exploring the world and it’s okay if my idea of fun still includes some drinking and partying. It’s all part of the journey, and while I’m sure I will have different views on partying in a few years, I’m going to continue to enjoy this life, for now. 


That’s it, until next week!


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2 responses to “Isa Abroad: Week 2 – Chiang Mai, Thailand”

  1. Yes, we always get the same thing, “Everybody hates Americans, but not Marilynn and I.” I think that a lot of people can’t comprehend how many more people we have, 333 million, as opposed to 33 million, for instance in Canada and Australia, and the many different people and cultures within the country. Hard to swallow the hate sometimes.

    Liked by 1 person

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