(Danny Kreilkamp just relocated from Anchorage to Thailand. It’s fun reading the posts on his blog. CLICK HERE for more…So I asked him to share some thoughts–and some photos. Here is his first report. -Scott)
Hearing of my plan to spend an undetermined amount of time in Southeast Asia, the responses typically fell into one of two categories.
Either, “that’s incredible—what an adventure.”
Or, “that’s interesting, what are you running away from?”
And they’re pretty fair reactions, with some truth to be found in both. The last 10 days have certainly seen some adventure. There’s also been some running: one last run around University Lake before leaving Anchorage, running (maybe sprinting) through Taipei’s Touyuan International Airport to catch my connection, and, most recently, running up and down the football pitch with some locals. Nothing like a couple 100-pound humans and 99% humidity to remind you how out of shape you are.
But Chiang Mai is surreal. The city boasts a population of just over 130,000. That’s almost a third the size of Anchorage, yet somehow feels three times bigger and infinitely more alive. I imagine the experience is comparable to the first time you visit Disneyland as a child. The most innocent part of you thinks, I knew it.
How can something so inherently good be so affordable? So inviting. So delicious. It just goes against everything we’ve grown to believe. I think a perfect microcosm of this was illustrated in my search for housing. After showing me the $300/month apartment, a 10-minute walk away to everything you could ever need (which also includes a gym, pool, sweeping view of the city, and laundry service), a heartbreakingly apologetic look swept over the realtor’s face:
“But sir, I regret to inform you that we don’t have a sauna.”
I don’t think I even need to touch that one. I just laughed. And I am still laughing. I find myself waiting for that ‘Aha’ moment—waiting for the catch and that inner voice to creep in, questioning why the hell I just moved 10,000 miles away from everyone and everything I knew. But it isn’t there. And I think that’s a good place to be.
Following a 13-hour flight from Seattle, the final leg of my 30-hour journey to Chiang Mai was a quick four-hour skip from Taipei. As it happened, my much-dreaded middle seat landed me next to quite possibly the only other white person on the plane. Her name was Teranay. Think like Renee, but with ‘tare’ in front of it, and likely some weed behind the initial inspiration. Not dissimilar to my own, Teranay’s trip was also open-ended, with a few stops scheduled for Thailand, Vietnam, and the Philippines.
It’s early times, but I think one of my favorite things about this part of the world is the accessibility to a variety of different cultures and experiences— with the $5 haircuts and massages a close second. Slight tangent: I have an enormous respect for women who are brave enough to travel alone. Constantly staying alert and on your toes is exhausting for anyone, but having internal reproductive organs introduces challenges that men will probably never understand.
Again, it’s only been a matter of days, but this is somewhere I can absolutely see myself sticking around.
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