Our Winter Home

Trip Start Dec 25, 2012
Trip End Mar 27, 2013

Flag of Thailand  ,
Sunday, January 13, 2013

It's hard to believe we've been in Thailand almost a full month, and I'm just getting around to publishing a blog entry on the night before we're leaving.  January in Northern Thailand is perfect weather (sunny in the low 80's with no rain, no humidity!).  We couldn't ask to be staying in a better location so close to the beautiful mountains. Chiangmai is Thailand's 2nd largest city, but it still feels like a small town. We absolutely love this city, and we keep returning here year after year (this is my 4th visit and Steve's 2nd).  It's easy to fall in love with the place and even easier to fall into its way of life.  This time we "lived" here for a full month, and truly tried to live like locals.  We only ate "western" food once - opting several times to eat from street vendors and fully immerse ourselves into the culture as much as possible.  We have rented a nice studio condo on the top floor that overlooks the city and mountains.  We are within walking distance to the shopping mall, gym, and several night markets and local attractions.  We truly live like kings here.  Some examples of prices we are paying (and this is normal everyday prices):  delicious meals are 75 cents to $5.50 (which was the max we paid for a seafood dinner), 50 cents for a beer, mixed drinks at the bar - $1.50 with tip, a haircut with a straight razor shave - $3 (with tip which is not necessary, because tipping is not expected!), first run movies (they premiere here the same day as the United States and we have seen several of the new ones) - $3.50, scooter rentals are - $4 per day, a full suitcase of dirty laundry (25 lbs) individually washed and ironed - $5.....and best of all, a 1 hour massage is only $4 (happy endings sometimes included - or so I hear).  I do make it a point to try to get a "massage" everyday.  :)  We feel very much at home here - the Thai people are wonderful, and we have made several foreign friends who live here permanently.  In fact we have been keeping so busy just "living life" that it has flown by...and this is honestly the first time I've had to sit down and reflect on our experience.  I can only hope that full retirement will feel this way (where we are financially independent and still young enough to take time off to enjoy life).   We are seriously looking into buying a condo here, and hope to retire early in the next 10-15 years.  Meanwhile, Steve, has fully immersed himself in the Buddhist culture, and has been posting on Facebook almost daily, so if you're on his friend's list, you have probably seen all the wonderful pictures and heard about our remarkable experiences.  If not, send him a friend request (Steve Merkley).  We will definitely be back here next winter as it will be our home base for future journeys in the warm sunny January weather.  Maybe next year, even some of you can visit us.  What a remarkable place!   Meanwhile, were say a teary goodbye until next year.  Next stop Bali, Indonesia....(after one night in Bangkok....hmm, a tune is coming to mind), then some beach time in Phuket.   We're not sure what to expect about Bali, as it will be our first visit, but we've heard good things. I promise to post more when we get there.
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