We are blessed, Rob and I. Since we have gone casual, our time traveling has definitely increased. Including work, we now spend 9 months of the year away from home. We get to work all over our amazing country, see places that we might not ever otherwise see, be in control of our schedule (hear work when we want to, holiday when we don't), and also our own professional development.
We are currently on leave and travelling through Thailand. Neither of us have been here before, although we have travelled through other parts of Asia extensively. We came under the guise of attending a conference in Phuket, which we did, although the real reason was really to make our holiday a tax deduction!
I am writing this post from Chiang Mai, the northern hub city, set in the hills. A city of 2 million people, and what an interesting community it is. Expats, artists, travel writers and musicians have all made their homes here alongside the locals. I think part of the reason is its low cost of living. You could live here quite happily on less than $A800 per month which would include all your living expenses, cable, wireless internet and perhaps a scooter hire. If I was thinking about writing a book or painting or some such other artistic endeavour and didn't have a mortgage I could easily set up camp here for a few months. It has a nice feeling this town, it's chilled out, there is amazing food, the weather is slightly cooler than Bangkok and there is enough of a vibrant night life to make things interesting.
Today it is raining, a feeling of dampness is in the air, people are getting around in emergency ponchos in bubblegum hues, tuk tuks are crushing the streets spruiking tourists for a fare. "Tuk-tuk? Where you go?" We have just woken up, the balcony door is open and at street level, I can hear the drone or motorbikes, the street vendors chatter and the lady across the way sweeping her doorstep. I love that these sounds have become synonymous with Asia, which increasingly feels like a second home.
Seven hundred years ago, the original Chiang Mai was once walled off completely and surrounded by a moat. Fragments of this wall exist today, creating a feeling of entrance as you enter. I imagine it must have been an imposing scene in its day as artisans, merchants, and monks passed through its gates to conduct business, pray and create. As I prepare myself for the day, I see a vendor walk past, her cart billowing steam from whatever delicacy she has concealed. The scents of lemongrass and chilli fill the air and I think to myself, yes this really is a blessed existence.