I managed to write 12 blog posts in 2017 and that was pushing it. There were months that I didn’t write a single post or share anything on social media.
A quick update: I’m still alive. I’m still living in Chiang Mai. I’m still writing. But just not here.
I turned 30 and things got real. It was like, “Welcome to your life – here is a bunch of shit to deal with – good luck!” Every month there has been a new disaster to deal with. Family deaths. Visa issues. Sudden expenses. Sicknesses. Taking care of others in the hospital. Doing the long distance relationship thing. Getting attacked by dogs and watching them rip into Manee. Nursing her back to health and visiting the vet every single day for weeks. More hospital and vet and immigration and lawyer visits…
I don’t like being on social media. I understand it has the potential to be used for good, how people are sucked in and why it’s an important tool for businesses. I like planning and creating content for clients and helping grow their communities. But for me personally, I find being on social media a drag. Particularly as an American, for the last year and a half scrolling through Facebook can be depressing AF. Plus, I really don’t care what people I have not been in touch with for years are up to. I have had enough to deal with in my own immediate world to have noise from social media taking up space in my head.
When it comes to traveling, I’ve never been one to naturally share what I’m doing as I’m doing it, preferring to experience things in real life without constantly updating my feeds. That feeling also started to bleed into blogging.
(Where do you stand on this? Are you still on the social media bandwagon or preferring to disconnect? What types of things do you like to see or follow?)
Spoiler alert: I don’t make money from having a blog. Some fun perks? Sometimes. A few small affiliate sales or commissions here and there? On a good day. Random new work and writing opportunities? When I’m lucky.
I don’t make much money from blogging and am not willing to put in the time, resources and effort to try and make more. I don’t feel comfortable building something that can be immediately and negatively affected by new algorithm change by Google or Facebook.
I also have a fulltime job.
The beginning of 2017 marked my official foray into the world of Thai business. And it’s been rocky. My work and clients are great – I offer copywriting, editing and content creation services for Thai and international businesses that are mainly in the travel/hospitality industry. But trying to figure out rules, regulations or expected business practices in a country and language that is not my own, and is not up to speed with people working non-traditional jobs, has been a constant source stress, frustration and doubt.
Between keeping up with client work, playing by the Thai rules and traveling every once in awhile, I haven’t had the time to write for this site. Or if I have had the time, I mentally couldn’t write. another. word. When you’re on the computer typing all day for work, the last thing you want to do in your free time is sit in front of the screen some more and try to be clever.
The shift started in 2016. Looking back I wrote several posts, like this quick mention of my five-year anniversary of being in Asia, this moan about being sick of traveling solo and this look at traveling less but trying to have richer, more crafted experiences. I am well past the backpacker/long-term travel stage. I will happily stay on friends’ couches and in hostels (though only in private rooms – even while I’m traveling I’m always working and a dorm does not cut it), but also have thoroughly appreciated spending more for more comfortable or more unique accommodation.
Part of this shift came from being tired of traveling alone and traveling without any real purpose. Part of it came from having more consistent work and more money. While you can easily do Bangkok on a backpacker budget, it’s undeniably more fun when you have some extra cash to spend…and why go to the trouble of planning an adventure if you’re not going to be able to make the most of it? (For example, this hotel added a level of fun and memorability to a stay in Bangkok, instead of staying in a basic concrete room for less.)
This change in traveling has meant I’m exploring less than I used to and have different priorities. I won’t go out of my way to go on a press trip or do a hosted hotel stay, and when I do travel it’s more personal. Altogether, it means I’m not researching or sharing as much travel info here.
After I first moved to Thailand, I distinctively remember my eyes filling with tears at just the thought of one day leaving Chiang Mai. This past year, instead of loving it and feeling at home half way around the world from Seattle, I have felt continually frustrated and disheartened in Chiang Mai after doing everything possible to build a life here. The trade-offs became too tough or irritating, whether it was dealing with legal stuff or doing daily errands. For instance, I own a motorbike, have the proper paperwork and licenses, and have never had any issues driving. But almost every day I’m flagged as a foreigner and stopped by the police. After being somewhere so long, it’s tedious having to continually prove yourself. Also, since the dog incident, I’ve been scared to take Manee out and still feel a flash of fear walking, or even driving, past dogs on the street.
My last priority was writing about what to do in Chiang Mai when I didn’t even want to be here.
Of course, there were still good things. Seeing the sun almost every day is still better than surviving the Pacific Northwest’s dark winters. Khao soi is still delicious and you can’t beat the cost of living in Chiang Mai. I also have met some of the best people in the world in Chiang Mai and have numerous friends who I can call upon at any moment for help, even if that means taking my broken dog to the vet when I’m out of town. My landlord will pick me up at the airport when I arrive back from a trip without me even asking. All of my clients are nice, interesting, flexible, and I like them and their businesses – something that I did not experience while working in Seattle. My partner handles bad news and tough times more patiently and gracefully than I do, and made things better for me even when it was all falling apart or when he was really the one who needed support. There were, and are, still many, many good things.
And I think I’ve made it out onto the other side. Hopefully.
So what will I be doing in this space?
I’m still not quite sure. I know it’s not going away and will be trying to post more consistently, but it is also not a priority. I will be sharing more insight into traveling and living in Chiang Mai starting with a couple different series focusing on the common questions I always get asked (What are the highlights for two days in town? Is it safe to travel in Thailand as a solo female?).
I also have started exploring the city more after what feels like a year of hibernation – there are so many more cafes!
If you have questions about Chiang Mai, as well as Thailand in general, please let me know in the comments below. And thanks for continuing to follow along.
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...
Enter your email for a taste of different worlds, must-read posts, and special offers.
(Don't worry, I'll never spam you — just send the good stuff.)