Why Chiang Mai is My ‘Home Away From Home’

Chiang Mai is one of the last places we’re visiting before we return to the UK. It’s been just over a month since we landed and settled in an AirBnB apartment, and I can honestly say that I feel just as comfortable here as I did back at home, if not better.

Back in the UK we’re accustomed to paying a lot more when it comes to renting an apartment, using public transport and doing social activities. For a fraction of the price we spend a month living in the UK we can rent a much nicer apartment (which includes pool and gym facilities), catch a red songthaew to get around the city, and spend a hella’ lot less on social activities.

Our cosy apartment in Chiang Mai

For example it costs 100 baht per person (£1.80ish) to watch a film every Wednesday at Maya Mall – on the same day in the UK an average ticket would cost around £8 per person. A glass of wine costs as little as 35 baht (65p) at the night markets – you’ll never find a glass of wine this cheap back in the UK! In Manchester an average round fare bus ticket would cost around £4 per person; in Chiang Mai a return trip from Nimman to Tae Phae Gate in a red songthaew would cost at most 60 baht per person (30 one way/vice versa). That just a little over £1.

Enjoying a glass (or 2) at the Sunday night bazaar

The standard of living in Chiang Mai is both comfortable and friendly on the purse strings. I actually view Chiang Mai as my second home because it feels so natural being here; I know where to go for a coffee or a bite to eat. I know which markets to go to buy our favourite snacks and shopping stores to get our food supplies. I enjoy being a regular face and getting to know the locals behind my favourite establishments. I love that we’re in a city but surrounded by beautiful mountains, just waiting to be explored.

These thoughts have recently asked an internal question – ‘Is the UK still your home?’

Right now, I don’t know the answer to that. Sure, I have family and a few friends that live in the UK which I miss dearly, but what about the quality of life? Paying over the odds for accommodation, transportation and generally living – is this something I’ll have to accept and get accustomed to? What about the British ethos to ‘complain’ about everything? I’m so used to interacting with people over just a smile and wave, in the UK will I have to start any conversation with ‘What a (insert rain/windy/sunny) day we have!’

Travelling has unearthed an internal dilemma, one of which I never questioned.

Where is home?

I may just be getting nervous as we slowly count down the days till our return, and as usual it’s easy to cast doubt and worries. However I know deep down that these feelings will linger around for a while.

For now though, instead of worrying and feeling uncertain about the upcoming future I’m going to enjoy the rest of my time in Chiang Mai. As I learnt from my meditation retreat, thinking about the past/or future will cause the mind to suffer – we should learn to live in the present and enjoy what is happening now.

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  1. amyblyth
    24th August 2015

    I totally get you, Chiang Mai was a home for us too when we were travelling in Asia. It’s such an easy city to be in, you can get anything you want to eat there, it’s cheap and you can live so well there. Why did we leave again?! When you compare it to the cost of living in the UK it’s a bit hard to stomach coming back here!

  2. 24th August 2015

    Hi Amy,

    It’s so good to know that someone understands how I’m feeling! We’ve now left Chiang Mai and I feel pretty empty at the moment. I’m looking forward to the UK but more so as a visitor than a resident!

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