From Digital Nomad to Expat – Putting Down Roots in Chiang Mai, Thailand

Eleven and a half years ago I set out to see the world. I was 54 years old at the time and had spent the last 36 years working at various jobs that had included, among other things, selling newspaper ads, managing a women’s department store, owning a public relations firm, and managing real estate franchises. At one point I even co-owned and operated a Sno-Cone kiosk in the largest water park in Puerto Rico! None of my jobs, or the comfortable lifestyle they …

PHOTO: Boiling Eggs at San Kamphaeng Hot Springs, Thailand

San Kamphaeng Hot Springs in the hills outside of Chiang Mai, Thailand, is a great day trip for visitors. Twin geysers erupt perpetually, throwing the stinky sulfur water into the air. The scalding water is piped into a concrete pool where visitors can boil fresh eggs that are available for purchase in the park. Wicker baskets with long handles allow the eggs to be immersed into the 105 degree …

Ko Lipe: The Greatest Month in All my Travels

In November 2006, I was 5 months into my (supposed) year long trip around the world. While emailing my parents to let them know I was still OK, I saw a message in my inbox: “Matt, I’m stuck in this placed called Ko Lipe. I’m not going to meet you as planned, but you should come down here. It’s paradise! I’ve been here a week already. Find…

Thirty-Free

It was a decade ago, maybe more, and I was huddled around a certain Austin, Texas picnic table with two women I’d one day count among my closest friends. But at this point I’d known each of them a year, maybe less, so I often felt unsure what to make of our interactions. “You mean 33?” I clarified, when the older of the two told me which birthday she’d be celebrating the following week. The creatures who made their homes in the cedar and Chinaberry trees that lined the lakefront were conducting their end-of…

Wat Mahathat, Sukhothai at night, Thailand – photograph

Wat Mahathat at night, Thailand Sukhothai’s most impressive temple at night I previously wrote about Sukhothai’s temples at night. They are impressive. Of all of them this one of Wat Mahathat is perhaps the best. While Thailand’s beaches often get the most attention there’s so much to the Kingdom of a thousand smiles than just sand and sea. Sukhothai to the north of Bangkok offers a massive cultural weekend away. It’s here that during the 13th and 14th century the Kingdom of Siam’s had it’s first capital within a protective wall…

Unadulterated Southern Thailand

Both of the trips I’ve taken within Thailand since relocating here have been to rather mainstream destinations, so I’ve began eager to get off the beaten path, especially since I can now speak a bit of Thai. My original plan had been to split this past weekend between Narathiwat and Pattani, two Muslim-majority provinces along the Kingdom’s border with Malaysia—and it aroused reactions of terror and worry in my local friends. I assumed …

Here’s Where I’m Headed the Rest of Year—Will Our Paths Cross?

Can you believe 2017 is nearly half-over? It’s passed quickly for me, with trips to Russia, Malaysia, China and the U.A.E., as well as two separate visits to Japan: One to the island of Shikoku and another to Kyushu. I’ve also officially relocated to Thailand and have made several domestic weekend excursions, most notably to the coastal paradise of…

Chiang Mai Gate Market – Shapeshifter Par Excellence

The ancient walls that surround Chiang Mai were constructed in the late 13th century to protect the city from attacks by Burmese invaders. Their defensive function has long since disappeared, however the walls and their five stately gates are still the cultural heart and soul of the city. And none are more integral to daily life than Chiang Mai Gate, the original southern entrance into the walled city. Each morning, as first light blooms in the eastern sky, trucks and motorbike carts loaded with fresh…

Is Thailand Cheap?

Colloquially, Thailand is one of the most affordable places on the planet to travel. From the cost of a plate of pad Thai to the price of a five-star hotel room (Bangkok’s are reputed to be the cheapest of any major city in the world), Thailand is a bargain any way you slice it. Or at least, it’s supposed to be. The reality of travel on the ground in Thailand, you see, is sometimes a bit different …

Three Blissful Days in Bangkok

I’ll never forget my first trip to Bangkok. It was February 18, 2010, the day before my 25th birthday, and I’d made an unplanned stop there when my camera went kaput in the islands. Having been advised to skip Bangkok by most people I knew, I didn’t expect much from the Thai capital. The bus ride up—I was sitting next to a ladyboy with the same haircut as Kate Gosselin, who was still culturally relevant at that time—seemed prophetic, however. To be sure, I …

9 Thai Customs to Know Before Traveling to Thailand

When traveling to a foreign country, it is always a good idea to read up on the country’s customs, culture, and traditions ahead of time in order to avoid doing anything that would be viewed as disrespectful. When we were doing our research before traveling to Thailand, we found there were a number of Thai customs we needed to remember. Since nine is a lucky number in Thailand, hopefully knowledge of these nine customs you should know before traveling to Thailand will keep you out of any uncomfortable situations. Avoid Public Displays…

Where I’m At: Bangkok – December, 2016

Where I’m At; a monthly update of what I’ve been up to, site news, and where I’m going next. Where I’ve Been Ho Chi Minh City Photo via Instagram. Continuing with my train theme from my last update, this past month I’ve been working on promoting the future Southeast Asia rail map. I’ve been contacting sites that have an interest in maps and railways, but some news features have come organically. I wrote a post for The Diplomat, and that article was picked up by The New York…

The Legal Nomads Chiang Mai Travel Guide

During the last many years of travel, I have returned to Chiang Mai almost half a dozen times. When I first started visiting in 2008, there were a handful of travel bloggers there. We would meet daily for food and smoothies. We would explore on motorbikes. We would share what we learned about the culture in Northern Thailand. We visited all of the temples and ate all of the things. Nowadays there are many more temporary expats in town; jokes abound about the sheer volume of digital nomads and travel bloggers who spend their winters in the …

Living in Thailand

IN THE BEGINNINGI first visited Thailand in 1992 where my two Thai soul mates, Pete and Lek took my hand and showed me Thailand. I felt it was a carefree and fun time! I was blessed that Thailand and Thai culture was introduced to me not from the tourist traps, not from the notorious night life which has a niche of its own, but from living how a Thai would. I remember vividly arriving past midnight and Ms. Lek collected me from the airport. Riding in …