Where I’m At: March, 2011 – Chiang Mai

Where I’m At; a monthly update of what I’ve been up to, site news, and where I’m going next.

An India visa run, in Thailand

I went to Penang with the intention of getting a visa for India while I was there. When I applied to the visa centre, the first item on the visa application was pointed out to me:

Visa application of NON-MALAYSIAN foreigner who is not resident of Malaysia is liable to be rejected

I found out foreigners can longer apply for a visa in Malaysia (or Singapore), but you still can (for now) in Thailand.

I left Chiang Mai at the start of February and had mentally signed off from Thailand. I was thinking that it might be some time before I return to this land. Adding in the back tracking factor, I was wondering if I should just ditch the India trip all together?

The desire to visit India again and the fact that there is a consulate in Chiang Mai made my decision a bit easier. having a bonus few more weeks with friends in Chiang Mai sealed the deal.

Kuala Lumpur

To get to Chiang Mai meant going south to to KL to get a flight back north. Thanks to good old AirAsia, I’m becoming very familiar with Kuala Lumpur, and it grows on me just a little bit more each time.

When in KL I like to go to the Brickfields area, where you can find a good banana leaf set meal. This area is known as Little India and it has now been renovated with colourful archways, just in case you didn’t know you were in Little India with the blaring Bollywood songs everywhere.

Little India, Brickfields - Kuala Lumpur
[Little India, Brickfields – Kuala Lumpur]

KL Low Cost Carrier Terminal

As my flight was at 6.55am I opted to spend the night at the airport. I’m not good at getting up at 3.30am to get a flight, and the KL budget terminal is a great place to get some work done. There is a 24 hour food hall and Starbucks, and the Starbucks has free wifi (like most Starbucks in Malaysia). In fact the whole terminal has free wifi, so I spent the night as a work day. I wasn’t the only one with this idea. This is the food court at 2.15am.

Food court at KL LCCT
[Food court at night]

India Consulate in Chiang Mai

I went straight to the consulate as soon as I arrived in Chiang Mai. If there is going to be another visa debacle I wanted to give myself as many spare days as possible to sort it out. The office is located on Tung Hotel Rd, which is near the train station. The consulate is in an old house and when I went there was no one in the queue. I filled out the application in what looked like the old lounge room, and that was it. Very laid back, just like Chiang Mai.

Having secured a visa for India I have been happy to stay put in Chiang Mai, get some hours in for work and hang out with the large remote workers community that call Chiang Mai home.

Cafe Wonderland

If there is one thing I love about Chiang Mai, it is the cafes. There are cafes everywhere, which as a caffeine fiend from Melbourne, it is probably why I am feeling at home here (that, and the $1 sticky rice and mango carts). From the side of the road street vendors to big chains, and everything in between. Most cafes have free wi-fi as standard. It’s a remote workers paradise.

On Fridays my fellow travel bloggers meet up for lunch at Free Bird Cafe, which is a non-profit organisation helping Burmese refugees.

When I first saw the building I knew I was going to love this place. Look at this building, it’s so warm and inviting.

Freebird Cafe
[Freebird Cafe]

Chiang Mai ticks all the boxes for liveability, which has made it a popular place for digital nomads. Life in the old city doesn’t require a car, cafes are plenty, and there is so much quality street food here that you could get by without ever having to step foot into a restaurant. The old city is also great place to stay in Chiang Mai for short-term visitors.

Mango and Sticky Rice
[30 baht ($1) Mango and sticky rice.]

I have been hanging out with a group traveller geeks who happened to converge on Chiang Mai at the same time.

To give you an idea of the geekiness of this group, here are some of us celebrating Pi Day.

Pi Day
[Crazed for Pi – Eating pies on Pi Day.]

Most of us here have some sort of online presence, even if it’s just a twitter account.

For me, Chiang Mai is a great place to work. I think I have the best job in the world, but no job is perfect. While I enjoy being my own boss, and working my own hours (usually more hours per week than working for someone else, btw), I don’t have the proverbial office cooler to stand around and shoot the breeze. I have had this in Chiang Mai.

While you can do this online easily enough, there is nothing like a face to face meeting to ask questions. I find people tend to give up more information in a face to face situation compared to online. It does for me anyway. I’ve gladly given out few trade secrets over a coffee that I wouldn’t normally give out otherwise online.

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  1. Thanks James for taking the time to highlight our fav. cafe here in CM.

  2. I knew I recognized it! I remembered it from a post a while ago on GotPassport. Really glad you put this up – i didn’t know there was such a big cafe vibe here and I can’t wait to go now.

  3. Wow, we need more places like this in the U.S.

  4. I’ve been, it’s nice, quaint and quiet!

  5. Looks like a great place! I’m heading to Chiang Mai tonight and will check this place out!

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