It is my last day in Chiang Mai (at least for now) and I am naturally spending it in a co-working coffee shop. This is my first time at Ombra café, a little hidden gem of delicious coffee and creative space packed with location-independent foreigners hustling away at their dreams. This place buzzes with energy, and it is not just the coffee. The experience was recommended to me by a few of the people who belong to the digital nomad scene in Chiang Mai, so I couldn’t pass on the opportunity to sit down, soak in the energy, and gather my last thoughts. As I sit here and reflect on my last 5+ months abroad, I am truly amazed at how different I am. Chiang Mai chose me, it was one of these things that seemed destined to happen, and if you ask the digital nomads and location-independent entrepreneurs, they all feel the same way. Chiang Mai has a way of calling out to people who think differently about the world and their experiences. This little plot of earth nestled at the foot of tropical mountains in the north of Thailand becomes the sense of belonging that restless travelers crave. Many people who have trouble blending into “normal” life back at home find fuel for their ambitions in the community here that is rarely felt anywhere else in the world. To me, it feels like an intoxicating mix of passion, drive, creativity and freedom. What a perfect place to figure yourself out and launch your dreams.
I came to Thailand to study human behaviors that contribute to diseases and to make a case for prevention strategies for hospital systems here, but in return I learned a lot of profound truths about myself. What I learned is that I can live without the majority of the stuff I own in my house (the house included), and that nothing fixes my foul mood quicker than a good DJ set or a great connection in the form of an honest, heartfelt, conversation with someone who believes in you. I learned that I NEED a hot shower more than I need sleep, that I create a lot of my own barriers and that I can knock them down as easy as I create them with the right mindset. I reaffirmed the fact that nothing is more powerful than action, even in the absence of intelligence and motivation, and most importantly I learned that life possibilities are actually endless and there are amazing people all over the world waiting to connect with you and inspire you to challenge yourself. We are all just the current version of ourselves, but there is evolution bubbling up everywhere, and we need only to take part in to reach that next level.
My Thai Buddhist translator once told me, with no emotion in her face, “If you have some big problem…. Just solve it.” I laughed because it was so complex, but then realized that she may be right in the simplicity of it. Chiang Mia may be the only place in the world that, if you have some big problem, you can just solve it. I hope that each of you reading this gets the chance to sit at the table with recklessly inspirational people and challenge yourself until you become the version you were meant to be. Weather that means creating a habit of exercise, creating a healthier version of yourself, or being brave enough to follow your passion, life should be F**K yeah or not at all.
Things that I will miss about Chinag Mai:
1. Heading up my own research project with my local team
2. Awkward covers of American songs on the radio everywhere
3. Getting PadThai or milk roast pork sticks from a street vendor any time of the day and night
4. Eating thai sandwiches from 7-11 after the last bar closes for the night with local friends
5. Cheap Uber fair
6. The abundance of inspiring people doing life their own way – owning their own time