If you haven’t been following along lately, I recently filmed an episode for House Hunters International — Chiang Mai Fair Lady — which airs tonight. If you’re new to d travels ’round, welcome! I hope you find this as the place to motivate you to get up, follow your dreams and see the world (or at least live vicariously), and to take a stand and help Asian elephants.
My goal with this site is to share my experiences traveling the world solo, shed light on life as an expat in various places I rest my head, highlight cool and off-the-beaten-path spots that are worth checking out, and promote responsible tourism.
Keep reading to learn more about what it was like to film House Hunters International, as well as for a look at life as an expat in Thailand, my push to make people more responsible tourists, and what’s next for me.
What’s it like to be on a reality show?
I’m not going to lie; being on a reality show is hard work. Seriously. It was a lot filming, a lot of re-takes, really long days and a whole lot of fun. I was blessed to have a sweet crew who flew to Thailand for the filming. Coupled with my friend, Mary, who joined me on my house hunt, it was an absolute blast!
The homes we visited were all really cool and different — a far cry from what I was used to in America. I liked them all, but in the end, I had to make a choice. Do you think I made the right one?
What is life like as an expat in Chiang Mai?
Life in Chiang Mai is easy. There is a saying in Thai, mai pen rai, which translates to “no worries” in english. People in this part of their world live life with this idea and it is a beautiful, and freeing thing to do.
The cost of living in Chiang Mai is inexpensive compared to other parts of the world. Typically, street food costs about $1 USD per item, sometimes a bit more depending on what you want. Fruit shakes (and trust me, when in Chiang Mai, they become a refreshing staple to combat the sweltering heat) cost under $1 USD. Booze ranges from $2 USD to $4 USD depending on your poison. Housing can cost anywhere from around $75 USD a month for a basic Thai-style room (read: no air con, no TV, likely no wifi) to upwards of $1,000 USD if you want to live it up.
There is a huge expat community in Chiang Mai, largely centered around digital nomads, teachers and families. Because the life is easy and the cost of living is low, it makes an attractive place to call home. There is also a huge health community here, ranging from fitness groups to yoga studios to healthy eating/vegetarian lifestyles. The communities typically operate on Facebook and a quick search can give you a chance to investigate further.
It isn’t always easy to get a visa to live in Thailand. Most often, people who can get visas the easiest are teachers and retirees, but that shouldn’t stop you from seeing what possibilities exist. For me, I had a Type O, Non Immigrant Volunteer Visa. It was good for one year at a time and the process to get approved can take anywhere from a month to longer, depending on individual circumstances.
How has life changed since I filmed?
Nothing in life is permanent, and my time in Chiang Mai has sadly come to an end. Currently, I am in Madrid, working on my freelance writing career and continuing to advocate for responsible elephant tourism. I can do a lot more as mouth-piece for the elephants outside of Thailand than I can do inside. Myself, along with a few other responsible tourism experts recently launched the Responsible Travel & Tourism Collective, a group of dedicated responsible tourism folk who want to make travelers, brands and destinations more responsible — from the way we travel to the things we do on our travels.
I have also enrolled in a TEFL course which will enable me to get my student visa and stay in the country. If you want to know more about the program I am in, please contact me directly and I can point you in the right direction.
Lucky and Penelope, the street cats I adopted in Chiang Mai, will be flying over from Chiang Mai to Madrid this June to join me!
Did you like what you saw on the episode?
Jewelry I wore included original, handmade metal art from MEdelman Art.
Aside from the house hunt, scenes were filmed at the following locations in and around Chiang Mai:
And, most important, Elephant Nature Park, my slice of heaven in northern Thailand. This place — if you have not been — is one of the most spectacular, awe-inspiring, magnificent places in the universe. If you are planning a trip to Thailand, be sure to include a visit here as one of your stops. To see these rescued elephants living happily, and the founder, Lek, engage with them, brings tears to my eyes on a regular basis. It truly is a life-changing experience for people who come to the park. I know it certainly has changed my lives, and lives of countless others whose paths I crossed during my time there.
Learn more about my journey
For more on my life as an expat in Chiang Mai, click here.
For more on responsible tourism, click here.
For more on my life working with elephants, including rescues and realities, click here.
And, if you have any questions, feel free to use the contact form and send me a message.
If you want to follow along on social media, you can check out my Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest pages (phew).
Thanks so much for your support!
22 thoughts on “The House Hunters International experience”
Looks like a lot of fun! Do you know if it’ll be available online to watch? (I’m going on the assumption we don’t get that show in Australia, but perhaps we do and I just need to look more carefully.)
I am trying to watch it here in Spain, too. Looks like it won’t happen. 😦
I watched on TV last night and thought you came across wonderfully! I was sure you’d pick the apartment with all the glass but you surprised me.
Haha!! I like to surprise people!! 🙂 Thank you for watching it and supporting the show/me! ❤
Congrats! Did you visit the Elephant Poo Paper Park? It opened back in 2013 near the Tiger Temple.
Thank you! Nope, I didn’t visit the park.
Firstly, congrats on being on TV on your way to fame. Sounds like a relaxed chilled life there in Thailand. Is it that cheap in most parts or just rural areas?
Thank you!! It is definitely a chilled and relaxed life. As for the cost? CM is by no means rural, however it is not as cosmopolitan as Bangkok. CM will be less expensive then there, for sure! But, the further out of town you go, yes, the less expensive it gets!
International House Hunters is one of my favorite shows! I had no idea you were taping an episode…I missed it tonight but hopefully I catch it another night!
Haha, yup! It filmed a few months ago 🙂 I haven’t been able to watch it yet. So bummed!
I think it’s so cool you did this! If you’re going to be on reality TV, this is probably the best option!! Well done, you!
Thank you!! I loved every minute of it!
It was a great show….very educational and inspiring!!! Loved meeting the kitties too!
Thank you! The kitties are the best! 🙂
Wow…So brave going on a reality TV show! Not sure I’d have the nerve! And re-takes? Shows how naive I am – I assumed the reality bit meant you carried right on even if things went…awry. Good for you for giving it a go – would love to catch some of it x
It was heaps of fun!! I would do it again in a heartbeat, just maybe not in the sweltering heat!
I cracked up trying to picture how this filming would go down on Koh Tao if they ever did a Southern Thailand edition 🙂 Wish I was in the US right now so I could see your cute face onscreen!
Haha! It was such fun! You would be great!
Very nice review of Chiang Mai. I was researching for places in Thailand and Chiang Mai is always one of the top destinations if not the most. Good kuck on your show and yes, let’s save the elephants!
Chiang Mai is a wonderful, fantastic place to visit (and call home)! Safe travels!
I’d love to see it ! Do you have a link to the show or the season / episode info so I can look it up ? ~Amanda
Hi Amanda, Unfortunately, you can’t view it online!! I don’t know why 😦