Week 41: Chiang Mai, Sabai Sabai

Sabai sabai is a common saying heard on the expat-laden streets of Chiang Mai. It means something along the lines of, “Easy come, easy go.” I came to Chiang Mai 5 years ago with Angela, on the trip that inspired our travel-ship, and was so excited to come back. I remembered Chiang Mai being more of a cultural experience, having delicious food, and enjoying more of a small-city, relaxed vibe. Sabai sabai.

Our Setup in Chiang Mai

Chiang Mai is well-known as a digital nomad haven. It’s cheap, the weather (at least in dry season) is great, and it boasts healthy options and tons of activities. Plus, there’s Uber.

We got put up in Nimmanhaemin, a trendy neighborhood brimming with expats. There are lots of restaurants (read: hipster restaurants) serving healthy food, Old Town is only a 30-minute walk or 10-minute ride away, and the neighborhood is super walkable. For places you can’t walk, there are red trucks called songthaews everywhere that act as the local taxis, car service, airport shuttles, etc. A ride costs less than a dollar if you’ve got your bargaining hat on.

I loved my apartment this month. It was full of natural light, had a nice living room, and after some initial Wifi problems, some of the best Wifi I’ve had on Remote Year. Our workspace was in a café called Pan Yan Yai with really lovely people but really tiny (read: uncomfortable) tables. I ended up working from my apartment and various cafés quite a bit this month and enjoying a slower pace of life. Ristr8to was my favorite for coffee, mostly because their latte art is second to none.

Muay Thai

Our welcome event was a Muay Thai match – the national martial art of Thailand. I slept through most of dinner by accident and wasn’t sure I’d even make it to the match since I don’t typically enjoy violent sports. But, after a month away from Remote Year, I was eager to get back together with the group… So to Muay Thai I went.

The match itself was pretty spectacular to watch. The sheer athleticism and drive of the athletes, combined with a clear respect for the tradition of Muay Thai and for their opponents infused the fight with a grace and beauty that I wasn’t expecting.

So, when we had the opportunity to go to Muay Thai class at R Boxing, I signed up! (Click the link, I didn’t even realize it, but I’m in the photo!) It was so fun and such a good workout. The instructors/coaches were hilarious and made it a great experience for us. I’m even thinking of taking classes back in NY.

The Best Cooking School

A bunch of us signed up for Thai cooking class at The Best Cooking School. Despite the ridiculous name, it actually was pretty great. We toured the market, learning about different types of ginger and chili peppers, went to an open air kitchen in the middle of a farm, and cooked some amazing dishes with our funny instructor. It was remarkably easy to make Tom Yum (a seafood soup), Penang Curry and pad thai, and I can’t wait to try it when I get home – assuming I can find all the right ingredients.

During the week, I also checked out the famous Sunday Walking Street – a packed night market with anything you want available for sale, ate a bunch of noodles, and enjoyed a fun night out with Arestia, getting fancy cocktails at The Service and checking out Zoe in Yellow, a crazy beer garden-esque group of bars that gets super crowded at night.

Even after only one week, I could see how people could come to Chiang Mai and decide to stay forever. The energy in this city is so conducive to the good life.

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