I first visited Thailand more than three years ago for a quick trip. Before those two weeks were even up, I already knew that I wanted to return and spend more time soaking up this country. It felt so alive – dirty and beautiful – somewhere that felt completely new to me but where I could be completely comfortable at the same time. The delicious, cheap food didn’t hurt either.
When I left home and moved to Chiang Mai I thought it would be a good place to start traveling through SE Asia. I didn’t think I’d still be living in Thailand 16 months later. But I loved it. Not everything was great, but the good, new and interesting far outweighed the frustrations, work challenges and mosquito bites.
But now things have…shifted. I still love it – I always will – but while I used to feel like I was growing, learning and seeing everything around me with fresh eyes, I’m now starting to feel a little too settled, familiar and less appreciative of everything around me. Minor things have started to bother me – like having to pay ‘foreigner fees’ for certain places, making small social or cultural errors, and trying to dodge the tourists slowly meandering down the middle of the street.
I’m getting closer to the point where I feel like Chiang Mai, and Thailand, have given me almost all they can…for now. I’ve tried most of the foods, I’ve been to the temples literally hundreds of times, I’m sick of the constant mosquito bites and people calling me a farang.
The honeymoon’s over.
But that doesn’t mean I’m desperate to leave. It’s more complicated than that. In the time that I’ve been here I’ve collected experiences, relationships and attachments (mainly a strong penchant for sticky rice, sweetened condensed milk and navigating Thai traffic…) that I don’t know if I’m ready to let go of yet. Chiang Mai has a way of kind of sucking you in…it’s very easy to be comfortable and content here. And the weather is just about perfect.
So what to do?
How do you know when it’s time to call it quits and move on when you know you’ll be leaving part of yourself behind? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.
Hey! I'm Alana and I've spent nearly the past decade living in Chiang Mai, Thailand, working as a writer and photographer. I started Paper Planes as a place to share local insight, special places, and how to travel well through a range of experiences — from hostels to high-end hotels, street meat to multi-course meals.
New places are always calling my name...
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