A friend of ours asked us if we’re one of those adventurous couples when he heard we’re packing up and leaving for Asia. Well, I’m not sure about us being adventurous, but this move definitely made us have to leave our comfort zone. Ever since we got married, we always thought of maybe moving and living in Asia for a bit. But to make this move, we had to plan a lot. I guess that’s why I won’t call us adventurous because to me being adventurous is equivalent to being spontaneous and we are definitely not spontaneous. Lots of preparation and hard thinking went into our plans and when the day finally came for us to leave Toronto, we felt we were ready.
I’m not going to lie and say it was easy for me to leave my home. Arkadi does better with change and is braver than me so for him, it was not as hard. But both of us view Toronto as home because that’s where we grew up and that’s where our friends and families are. And we have the most supportive, kind, loving and caring family and friends and for that we are really grateful!
I’ve said to you many times before how Google is my friend. And that is 100% true. We googled. We google a lot. Before coming to a decision to move to Chiang Mai, we read a lot of blogs, tour/travelling websites and also government websites. What we read helped us to know what to expect, how to prepare ourselves, know what we need from home and what to pack in our luggage. Here’s a warning though: as much as google can alleviate your pre-traveling anxieties, it can also make you worry about a lot of unnecessary things. I guess what I am trying to say here is that you need to be picky with what you read and what you process in your mind. Balance is key. Some information you come across will be really helpful to you while some you have to take in with a big grain of salt. But having said all of that, the internet is super helpful when planning to move to another country. Of course, you won’t be able to plan for everything or know beforehand exactly what to expect, but having researched Chiang Mai before leaving helped our move go relatively smoothly.
We left Toronto on July 30, 2015 and thanks to a flight delay, we didn’t get to Chiang Mai until August 2. Our first month in Thailand was a bit rough. It took us awhile to get used to our surroundings which we expected. We also had to figure things out fast like where to buy safe drinking water, how to get around inside and outside the Old Town, where to eat and buy groceries, etc. We also had to do some official government paperwork (more on that later) and so that took time and energy to sort out. Before arriving in Chiang Mai, we booked a condo to rent for one month. During that time, we hired a real estate company to help us find another condo to rent for a longer period of time. Finding accommodation in Chiang Mai, for us, was not difficult. A lot of real estate agents will take you around and show you places based on your budget and preferences. And there are a lot of options to choose from! When it comes to food and drink, it’s actually quite easy to find clean, safe, tasty, budget friendly food in Chiang Mai. There are different levels of restaurants serving Thai, Western, Middle Eastern, Asian, etc. food and you have food stalls everywhere serving different specialties like pad thai, pad see ew, noodle soups, fried chicken, fruit shakes, etc. If you want to cook at home (make sure you book a place with a western style kitchen – again, more on that later), you can go to fresh markets to buy veggies, fruits, spices, meat or you can also go to grocery stores like Big C and Tesco Lotus. If you need any unique Western products, go to Rimping. Rimping has all your Western and other ethnic products. The only downside about Rimping is that it can be expensive. Some items will actually end up costing you more than what you would pay for back home, but that’s to be expected since those products are imported. Rimping has western brand name items, but you can also buy local brands for a bit less. For safe drinking water, you can buy bottles of water at you local 7Eleven (they have them at every corner here) or you can use these machines located at different parts of the city that provide reverse osmosis water for dirt cheap. When it comes to transportation, you can rent a car or a scooter or you can also buy a vehicle (again, more on that later). Or if you don’t want to drive here, you can easily get around using the local red taxis (songthaew) or tuk tuks. Walking is also a great way to get to know Chiang Mai, but walking here is not easy. It’s hot, it’s humid right now (it’s their rainy season), the sidewalks can be dangerous and crossing the street is a game of life or death! Having said that, we walked a lot and relied on public transportation for our first month here and we’re still alive!
Chiang Mai is a beautiful city. The people are polite, respectful and friendly. The food is amazing. The pace of life is a lot slower than back home. All in all, we are happy with our move here so far. We know that we will likely face some hurdles here as time goes by, but for now, we will enjoy every bit of time and experiences we have here.
Head on over our instagram page (@sprinklesandsauce) for some photos of food and places here in Chiang Mai!
view of the Doi Suthep and the Ping River…