Travel Posts

Dive Bars of Chiang Mai

Dive Bars of Chiang Mai

Through the last year, the city of Chiang Mai, Thailand has become one of the main bases of my life in Asia. It actually took awhile for the city to grow on me. If you read my retrospective article from my first visit here in 2017, I am actually kind of lukewarm on the city. There is a reason – one month is not enough time to learn what is truly great about the place. I have spent, collectively, a lot more time than that here now and I still feel like I have so much more to learn. There many different sides of the city: from backpacker ghettos to tranquil natural sites, some of the best meals you can have in the world, in some of the best company, to also some true debauchery and darkness, that is still beautiful in its own way.

In all of my traveling, dive bars have been one of the essential ways to get at the soul of a place. Here are what are in my opinion some of the very best in Chiang Mai.

Thoughts on Da Nang, Vietnam

Thoughts on Da Nang, Vietnam

I spent the month of January 2020 in Da Nang, Vietnam, a beach city situated in the central coast of the country, roughly halfway between the capital city of Hanoi to the North and Ho Chi Minh City to the south. It seems people haven’t yet written much about Da Nang from the perspective of a long-term traveler, so I wanted to share some impressions and thoughts on my time there.

Great Access

I was coming to Da Nang from Rome, Italy and expected I would have to make a stopover in Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh City but this was not the case. An increasing number of airlines have flights into Da Nang International Airport (DAD) including Qatar, which I was flying, and that has direct service from Doha. Furthermore, a very striking thing to me was how convenient DAD airport is – it is only a maybe ~10 minutes’, few dollars’ drive from the beach neighborhood in which I was staying.

Taipei: the user-friendly city

Taipei: the user-friendly city

I never expected to end up in Taipei.

For the last couple of years, I have been working remote. Initially from Berlin, then for an extended stretch from Eastern Europe. For the last 6 or so months I have been in Asia.

I had come to Saigon, Vietnam after several months in Bangkok. In Saigon I had struck up a chat at a local bar with another traveler, a student Brewmaster at Olds College, Alberta, Canada. This traveler, Mike, ended up becoming one of my better friends and more reliable companions on nights out in Saigon over the weeks that followed.

I had longstanding plans to meet up with an old friend from New York in Japan after my time in Saigon, but no idea where I was heading after. Mike strongly encouraged me to go to Taipei, and offered to intro me to a Taiwanese-American friend of his who had been living there the last 10 years and could show me around a bit.

It is this arbitrary sequence of events that found me, roughly two weeks later, landing at Taipei’s Taoyuan International Airport.

Some reflections on slow travel
Belgrade, Serbia

Some reflections on slow travel

I’ve spent the last couple of years doing what I would call slow travel, spending periods of a month or more in different cities. This began in late 2016 with a job that brought me to Berlin for months at a time over a period of a year. I quit that job last October and in the time since have been through Europe, Asia, the US, and then back around to Europe, where I am for the next several months with no fixed end in sight. I wanted to compile some observations that I’ve made in this time.

2 weeks in Saigon
The Saigon skyline at night (Photo credit: TripSavvy)

2 weeks in Saigon

I spent the final 2 weeks of the year in Ho Chi Minh City (colloquially/formerly “Saigon”), Vietnam with a group of friends from Hacker Paradise. I wanted to share some quick impressions of the city while the experience is still fresh in my head.

Piña Colada Driven Development on the island of Ko Lanta

Piña Colada Driven Development on the island of Ko Lanta

I have spent the past month on the island of Ko Lanta, on the Andaman Sea in southern Thailand. I couldn’t have imagined a place more dramatically different from the cities I’ve spent the majority of my time for the last decade. It’s been a welcome departure, and I’ve even managed to work while here, without sacrificing enjoyment of the natural beauty, swims in the ocean and sunset drinks.

A retrospective on one month in Chiang Mai
A Chiang Mai alleyway. Photo credit: richardhwc (Flickr)

A retrospective on one month in Chiang Mai

I just wrapped up my month with Hacker Paradise in Chiang Mai, Thailand and have settled into my accommodation in Ko Lanta. I had done a post a month ago when I’d just arrived detailing my first impressions of the place and figure I should do a retrospective post now that I’ve spent quite a bit more time in the city. I loved Chiang Mai, and hope to return in the future. That said, I wanted to highlight both the good and the bad, to try and give people an accurate picture of what it is really like to live there for a month.

Tips for seamless travel from one year abroad
Chiang Mai, Thailand, November 2017. Photo credit: amurbb (from my Hacker Paradise group)

Tips for seamless travel from one year abroad

This year is the first in which I’ve spent more time outside the US than in it. Through all of this, there are a few things that contributed in an outsized way to making all the travel surprisingly seamless. I wanted to highlight a few of those things here.