When I arrive to Chiang Mai, I am handed a bronze keyring of the Eiffel Tower. I roll it around in my hands as we head from the airport to my new home.
I have an apartment and I haven’t even had to look.
I don’t know what I am expecting. I have many friends who have lived in Chiang Mai, and their apartments were always beautiful.
When the Elephant Nature Park van pulls into a large white building, my mind goes wild with what to expect once I walk into the door of my new home.
I grab my carry-on and my computer bag and nearly float to the entrance, despite having had the horrible and sucky travel experience for more than 30 hours, and it being just past 8 a.m.
“You are on the third floor,” says Yam, a staff member from the park. For a brief moment, I am actually thrilled Air China has lost my bag. Imaging hauling the massive, 70 pound case up three flights of stairs makes me even sweatier than I already am on the hot and humid Thai morning.
Heart racing with happy, I climb the flights of stairs and head down the long hallway. Around me, tiny shoes are placed outside padlocked doors. When I go to stick my key in the door, I can feel the sweat pooling around my brow, dripping down my neck and my back.
It is ungodly hot for this American girl.
I open the door, hold my breath and close my eyes, expecting greatness when they open.
Instead, I am surprised at what is in front of me. The apartment is a small room, a far cry from the gorgeous place I had in Vegas. In it is one bed with a flowered blanket, a fan hanging from the wall, and a wooden bathroom door.
This won’t work.
Immediately, I feel guilty. How spoiled am I that an apartment without air-con, anything to sit on, or a television and wifi won’t work for me?
But, I know it doesn’t. There’s no way I can go through the month sticky with sweat, racing to coffee shops to do work, and falling asleep with only voices traveling through thin walls. So, I do the only thing I can think of: I head out to find another apartment.
Later in the afternoon, I meet up with Daniel, a talented photographer, and he tells me about Smith Residence, where he lives. He sells it to me within seconds.
Weekly maid service.
A restaurant downstairs.
Laundry service on-site.
A rooftop pool.
Done, done and done.
So, we head towards Chiang Mai Gate and across the moat to Smith.
As soon as I walk in, I know it is where I want to live. The wall-less lobby is sparkling clean and adorned with red couches. The reception is staffed by people who smile.
“Do you have any rooms I can move into in the next week?” I ask.
They nod their heads and then whisk me up the elevator to the sixth floor to check out what is available.
It is a modest room. There’s a bathroom with a tub, a queen size bed, fridge, microwave, two chairs, a TV (with cable!) and a balcony providing breathtaking views of Wat Doi Suthep.
I go back downstairs.
“I’ll take it,” I announce.
Then, they tell me how much money I owe (to the tune of roughly $300 a month), tell me I can move in whenever I’d like, and then I sign a paper saying I won’t damage the room.
That’s it. Wham. Bam. Thank you, ma’am.
The next night, I stand outside on my balcony and watch as the sun sets, casting glorious golden hues on the mountain and Wat Doi Suthep in the distance, towering over the city.
I crawl into bed at night and feel perfect. Content. So happy to be in my new home.
Planning a longer-term stay in Chiang Mai? Here are some other blog posts to help you find that perfect apartment during your visit:
Getting a Deluxe Apartment in Chiang Mai, Travel This Earth
The Search for an Apartment in Chiang Mai, Neverending Voyage