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After getting back to Thailand from Singapore we headed straight up to Chiang Mai with the intention of settling for a bit in an apartment to get stuff sorted, have a break from the intensive travel and get organised.
It was nice to go back to somewhere we knew well – knowing where best to go to eat and shop. But we knew we didn’t want to live around the old city area as we’d been before. The prices are often a little higher and just wanted to go somewhere where people live, not just tourists. So after a few days in our old favourite, the Na Inn, we moved to a room hostel in the Nimmanhaemin Road area to help us better with our search. This is an area we really wanted to move to. A modern area, created only in the last 20 years, it’s near the university so has lots of young people and quirky cafes and restaurants and has a network of wide, quiet, leafy sois (lanes). There are also a lot of Japanese and Korean expats so lots of my fave food!
Finding an apartment however was not an easy task. Biggest problem is wanting something on a per month basis – that really ruled out the majority of properties. Then there was our must have list – walking distance to Nimmanhaemin Road, a kitchen, a separate bedroom, a swimming pool, a balcony and somewhere for us both to sit to work. You’d be amazed that so many places are just lacking any kind of furniture. Or you get somewhere that has a kitchen but no crockery etc – bit odd for a serviced apartment to be rented monthly!
After days of pounding the streets and going to all corners we ended up, as you do on most property searches, compromising big style and paying way more than we wanted!
Our new temporary ‘home’ was not a 1 bed apartment but a studio. There was a kitchen but no cooker (this was true of everywhere we looked though), no hob but there was a kitchen sink (you’d not believe how rare!), a microwave, hot water machine and plenty of crockery. The nice thing about the place was that it felt homely. The place rents rooms like a hotel but they are privately owned so each one is different. Some we had seen were sparse on the furniture side and especially for the kitchen. This place had plenty of space to work and even a little sofa area to sit which was a real bonus. Table and chairs on the balcony – I can’t tell you how rare this is. In all but 1 places we have stayed in South East Asia that has had a balcony, only 1 had somewhere to sit. This balcony was also massive, was covered by the balcony above so sheltered from rain and really private – making it like another room almost. Oh and it does have a rather amazing mountain view too!
This place is opposite our building…
…. nope, we’ve got no idea either – unusual combo and one I’m not sure I will likely be investigating further.
Much as I was annoyed by Mark’s insistence at a pool, which was definitely quite limiting, it is a really nice pool. Nice size, enough loungers (usually you get about 2 in a place where 100 people are staying – go figure!). But it’s generally quiet down there in the day and it’s def worth having for a cool down seeing as our room’s aircon is practically useless.
When we moved in we went to Tesco Lotus to stock up on some bits – including a plug in saucepan type thing to do some cooking. Took some thinking about but eventually go used to what works cooking with it – had to get a bit experimental. I personalised the place an incy bit with things I had bought & stored in Chiang Mai while away. There was also some blue tack so I decorated the huge dressing table mirror with things cut out of magazines (I’ve only bought about 5 mags in 9 months so I have sadly carried these things about for a long time) plus a postcard of Brighton my lovely Rachel sent me & a painting Aurnia (aged 3) did so that helped my modern art withdrawal! I even put up a world map inside an empty frame (not in a cool / designer way) on the wall behind the bed. This very much clashes with the chintzy decor of the room but I kinda like that. There’s some pleasingly kitsch clocks in here too.
The building itself is just plain weird. It was obviously built some time ago as a flash, top end complex, but they haven’t quite been as busy as they could be to maintain the luxury. There’s a long foyer area down to the reception which is really dark no matter the time of day. There are shop units, many of which are empty while some have huge antiques and chandeliers in but are never open. It’s kind of like a Vegas hotel that has seen better days, with the not so great taste of the Trump tower (also a strangely dark place inside I find). We are not unconvinced that it is kept dark to save on electricity. The corridors on the floors themselves are even dark and you rarely see a soul. It can be a little creepy actually. Biggest pain is that we have 2 keys but only one slot key to get in from the elevator to the room area. So we can’t really go out separately without some co-ordination. Mark turned into an urban tourist version of Bear Grylls and tried to fashion a slot key out of a plastic store card and a knife. I thought he was being beyond ridiculous but have to say with the tools he (didn’t) have he didn’t do a bad job – it didn’t work, naturally, but bless, eh?
Our other issue is the aircon didn’t work. They sent some guys in to fix it and Mark and I went quite pale as the guy climbed over the balcony railings and balanced himself – with no ties – on the ledge the air con is on and started tampering – it is the 11th floor!!!!!!!!!!
An entertaining interlude of our day is when the black bag goes up and down the side of the building. This seems to be a sliced up black bin bag. It shuffles down the side past our balcony and then back up on a bit of thread. We think it may be on a pulley or fishing rod but we have no idea if this is someone doing it, if it’s automated and what the heck it is for!!!
So not having to eat out every night is a real joy but at the same time we have some great little eateries on our doorstep. We discovered a Vietnamese restaurant to my eternal joy which turns out to be super cheap too.
Other places we have enjoyed are the Why Not? Italian which has a nice garden to sit out in and the Smile Milk Bar – Rose Panacota – divine!
The Librarista cafe’s iced cocoa was a revelation!
On my birthday we went for a roast at the Pub which is now within walking distance of us. Then we went to iBerry which is an ice-cream cafe in a fabulous garden setting with a huge character sculpture in the gardens and lots of quirky features.
There’s loads of cute little cafes with interesting arty decor that you come across while wondering the streets – dinosaurs et al!
It’s nice being settled and to have a little domesticity. The downside of course is that Mark is a messy bugger and I am reminded that housework sucks, but it is minimal so I really mustn’t grumble.
So, we’ll be here for a while with a brief trip to Laos in the middle. We’ll be leaving most of our stuff back in Chiang Mai so we’d better hope nothing goes wrong with visas etc and we’re not allowed back into Thailand where all our stuff will be!