Chiang Mai Heaven
Having finally made the permanent move to Chiang Mai 4 months ago, I wanted to drop you a line to let you know how we're doing.
Simply, I love every day.
My wife and I rented a beautiful condo just off Nimmanhaemin Road, which is the 'Gangnum Style' area of Chiang Mai. Gangnum being the Beverly Hills section of Seoul. Nimmanhaemin Road is quite posh. Our two-bedroom condo comes with a gorgeous swimming pool and sauna. I use both every day. I've lost about 15 lbs. so far, and I'm looking to take off even more in the coming months. Just down the soi, there are restaurants galore—choices of Japanese, Korean, Italian, and of course Thai. And a multitude of street vendors that my wife swears are top notch, and frequents regularly. Also, there are nightclubs like "The Monkey Club", "Warm Up", and "Infinity" which are a block away. I kid you not, the eye candy in this neighborhood would wake the dead. In fact, I'd gladly sell my soul to the Devil to be 30 years younger. If you ever run into him at Nana Plaza or Soi Cowboy, give him my cell phone number and my internet address. I'm serious.
Also, there are hoards of Chinese tourists here. So, I'm enjoying the Chinese eye candy too.
On every block there are massage houses, but none offer extras, as they all seem legit. If you want the extras there are other areas in Chiang Mai that cater more to horny tourists. As one of them for about 15 years, I think I've passed a few as I walked by the "handsome man" taunts of the bar girls on my way to the temple to make spirit. Now when I walk by the sirens, no more "handsome man", just "Hey Papa". In this neighborhood, I go to a massage house regularly about 3 sois away, where two beautiful girls aged 20 and 22, give me an angelic massage, along with warm smiles. How many 59 year-old men in Farangland have it this good? On our soi, there is an outdoor restaurant where every night a Thai guitarist performs and sings. Clearly audible when I take an evening swim. Sublime. And next door to that is a small coffee shop that offers the most delicious pastries imaginable. I go every morning on the weekends. Sip my fresh orange juice, my blueberry filled tart and my cream filled croissant, while I read the Bangkok Post.
When we arrived I bought a nice new Mazda, and a ten-year membership to the best golf course in Northern Thailand. I play 3 or 4 times a week, and love every day. My caddie, who I've had for 5 years, is a living doll, and makes me so happy, my bad shots evaporate quickly. And trust me, there are many. The staff at the golf course, from the pro shop to the restaurant, are just so sweet, I have to pinch myself to make sure I haven't died and gone to heaven.
This may seem silly to some, but I can't tell you how wonderful it is not to be bombarded by bills and advertisements in my mailbox every day. In 4 months I haven't had one advertisement. Not one piece of junk mail. In the U.S. I received Visa and Mastercard offers, Bank low interest rate offers, and Geico, Pemco and Progressive Insurance ads daily. Plus all the supermarket flyers. I couldn't stand it. Hoards of them. You are literally bombarded by ads every minute of the day in the Sates. Don't even get me started on the TV commercials. I even looked up one day to see an small airplane flying overhead with a banner that read "Geico Insurance" on it. It's getting totally insane. I am so much happier here.
And my bills are miniscule compared to living in the States. The very best TV cable Platinum package for my 3 TV's cost me about $75 per month. Internet about $30, electricity with plenty of air con is about $50 (paid at the local 7-11). And my phone bill, which I pay by walking down to the Lotus Express, is just as easy as could be. At home, I had to sign over my first born to the phone company, and sign a 2-year lease, with severe penalties if I had to cancel early. And before I left, I had to cancel early, so there was so much melodrama and hoopla between what I owed them and their refunds to me, that it could fill a mini-series. It's been over 4 months and they are still trying to make me jump through hoops just to get a $17 refund. Here in Chiang Mai, you just pay monthly for what you use. A couple baht per minute to telephone my mother. I would say that my bills here, are without exaggeration, at least 50% less than at home.
The only thing that I have had trouble with are the drivers. Between the crazy motorbike drivers, the red cabs, the tuk tuks, the bicycles, the macho Helix truck drivers with too much testosterone, and even the brain-dead pedestrians I see walking across the street without looking, it's just a normal day in wacko land. I can't say that the people are stupid, like they were in the city in the States where I came from. The brain-dead driving capital of the world. In Chaing Mai they manage to maneuver their way through this maze of insanity like there is a Thai electrical circuit embedded into each of their brains, with the same computer chip. But crazy doesn't really describe it. Serially pathological is closer. I have come to the simple conclusion that there are simply no rules here. No lines in the road (that anyone pays any attention to), no lights with any meaning (go on red, stop on green), no turn signals with any meaning (left for right, right for left, and no signal for loop di loops), and no speed limits. There are no speed limits here, or at least none that I have seen. But the number one headache, for me anyway, is when I am driving down the highway, and a truck driver is coming into the highway from a smaller road which intersects the highway. He sees my car driving at the highway speed, and without ANY hesitation, after he sees me, just decides to enter the highway at 2 mph, with no care to the possibility that his slow vehicle and my fast vehicle can not occupy the same molecular space. If an oncoming car is heading my way, my options become insanely limited. This scenario seems to happen more often than I'd like. Perhaps I'll need a simple Thai brain transplant just to cope, without the full frontal lobotomy that I was prepared to get. Actually, to be quite honest, even though this "all for yourself" concept of driving is foreign to me, I'm getting use to it. I just escalate all of my senses to the max when I get behind the wheel. Even my sense of smell, which who knows, even that may come in handy some day. Stick, I fully understand why you gave up your car in Bangkok.
Here's a Thai only moment. I recently drove up north to Chiang Rai to play some golf at the famous Santiburi golf course. I've always wanted to drive up there, about a 2 1/2 hour jaunt through the mountainous jungle. I imagined an unpleasant drive on difficult roads. Nothing could be further from the truth. In fact the road was phenomenally smooth and beautifully paved. Better than most of the roads I travel on in the States. I kid you not. My wife told me it's very dangerous, in that there are many winding roads through the mountains in that part of the Northern Chiang Mai province. And she warned me, I can't tell you how many countless times, to be careful. Here's the kicker. She said that she was only concerned with the winding roads that went "UPHILL". (She was serious.) I guess the downhill turns were perfectly safe in her mind. Go figure. The trip turned out to be a joy. The roads did not bother me at all. Maybe being passed by several maniacal Helix trucks going 120 Kph around a blind curve both uphill and downhill scared me a little. The good news being that I'm still alive to be telling the story.
So Stick, let me take the time to thank you so much. I do believe that reading your website every day for all these years (I do believe I've been a loyal fan since the inception of Stickmanbangkok.com) has helped me finally make the move. And it's a move that I have no regrets. None. I absolutely love it here. Never been happier.
Keep up the good work. You are changing people's lives all over the world. Not everyone can claim that attribute. Thanks again for everything.
It's great to hear things are going so well for you and long may they continue!