Shortly after my seven-month anniversary as an expat in Chiang Mai, I hit a wall. Actually, I don’t really hit a wall, the walls start to close in around me.

Dramatic as I am, I even wrote that in a Facebook message to my friend one night.

“I need to get out of here,” I cry virtually via instant message. “I just need a break.”

Chiang Mai, Thailand

Don’t get me wrong. I love Chiang Mai. I love my life here.

But, living here isn’t always easy.

There are plenty of struggles being an expat. And then, there is my work. My work for Save Elephant Foundation is my life, but it also exposes to me to harsh realities, namely the disgusting abuse of animals that takes place here and around the world, and the often times very hard-headed people who refuse to change their views. The constant battle can be exhausting and emotionally draining.

Chiang Mai, Thailand

After a particularly discouraging night, I throw my hands in the air. Well, virtually anyway. In said Facebook chat.

I toy with the idea of heading to Bangkok for some R & R.

Yes, Bangkok. 

I don’t like Bangkok. I think it is hot. Humid. Far too crowded for me. I prefer the chilled out Chiang Mai to the hustle and bustle of the big city. But, I don’t want to leave work for too long, and quite a few of the most important people in my life are actually in BKK at the moment. So, I book a cheap Air Asia flight and head down south.

Before I leave for my flight, I sit with Paula down at our local hang out, lamenting how I need a change. (I know, I have no idea how my friends even want to be around my whiny ass at this point).

“Maybe I should book a hair appointment,” I say. After all, whenever I used to feel bad or in need of control, I’d just head to Tonic Salon in Vegas and have them work their Super Model Magic on my tresses.

“You should,” she says over a cup of coffee. “Go and get some highlights and feel better!”

So, I book an appointment.

Then, I’m off to the airport.

As the plane taxis down the runway and takes off into the thick smoke, thanks to burning season, for the first time in a long time I feel relief.

Relief to be getting out of Chiang Mai. Relief to be able to take a couple of days for myself. Relief that I will gain some much-needed perspective on issues which are beyond my control, and yet slowly chip away at me.

From our crusing altitude, a huge smile sweeps across my face and I lean back in the tiny leather seat and feel good.

Even if Bangkok isn’t my thing.

18 comments

  1. Wow! We could be twins cause every time I am depressed I go get my hair done!

    But jokes apart, I can understand what you must be going through after having worked with an dog rescue foundation a few years back!

    Go get a well-deserved break! =)

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  2. I totally know how you feel! I live in Singapore which is obviously a big city compared to Chiang Mai, but in so many ways it is claustrophobic and isolating and after a few weeks here I’m often like, “get me outta here!” Which luckily is very easily done as we’re so close to so many wonderful places. Thanks for the article and good decision to get out and break the rhythm.

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  3. I agree. I leave Chiang Mai at least once a month, even if it’s just for a day or two to relax. I always come back enjoying it more. Enjoy Bangkok!

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  4. Great article! I am thinking of living in Chang Mai for a while myself soon, when I feel like I want a break at least I know that others feel the same!

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  5. We lived in Chiang Mai half a decade ago. It was cheap and pretty OK city except we couldn’t really make friends with locals and visa-runs were annoying. Other foreigners were mainly sexpats and we didn’t fit into that category in the eyes of the locals making us more difficult to approach.

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    1. I understand that. It can be hard, but there is an expat community here and the friends I have here all stick together. I daresay that the relationships I have with people here are stronger than the ones I have had in other countries because they are fast and we are all in the same boat.

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  6. I agree. We like to have weekends away pretty often. We decided to live abroad to have an adventure – not to be stuck in the same place all the time, even if that place is wonderful Chiang Mai!

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      1. We really liked Ob Khan National Park – only 45 mins from Chiang Mai and you can swim in the river, win 🙂 goo.gl/j3lbyo

        Also, many people recommended Chiang Dao to us for weekends away. We went, and it was beautiful. So here I am, passing on the recommendation!

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