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About a month ago, while I was in Koh Lanta, Thailand and hanging out with some new friends Ian and Veronica from Freedom Podcasting, they told my girlfriend Samantha and I that we should come back up to Chiang Mai for this “water festival”.
I didn’t know anything about it, so when I got home I looked it up to see what it was all about.
Here’s what I came across… what is Songkran?
“Behind the façade of a nationwide water battle comes however a more deeper meaning: Thais traditionally sprinkle the water on one another to give positive blessings and wishes. Furthermore, they get rid of all possessions which brought bad luck the past year and to create New Year resolutions. The word Songkran comes from Sanskrit and means ‘to move forward’.
The Songkran festival is the traditional Thai New Year’s Day and is celebrated from 13 April to 15 April.
….and then I came across some pictures of it..
Sam and I didn’t really have anything to discuss after seeing some of these pictures, it looked like one of those “once in a lifetime events” and I am so so glad that we decided to head back up to Chiang Mai for the Songkran Festival this year.
So it’s been about 2 weeks now since the Festival ended and I still grin to myself thinking about the event.
It was 3 days of feeling like you were living in a real life video game.
90% of the people you would come across on the street had super soakers.
Every turn you took, you had the chance of getting water dumped on you or being ambushed by a car driving by that was loaded with people who had buckets of water and were ready to soak you.
haha this dog and his owner were just chillin in the back of a truck with BUCKETS of water…
Getting around was really fun though, here’s a picture from one of the rides into the “fight zone” area around the moat in the center of Chiang Mai. As you can see, no one was safe. We were shooting people walking down the street, and they would shoot us whenever we stopped in traffic.
A lot of the times people would dump a bucket through the window of the Songthaews (red trucks for transportation) and EVERYONE inside would get soaked.
Other times, we would be walking down the street just chatting and you’d see some older people just casually chatting and hanging around…. one second they look like they didn’t see you and then the next second…. BAM you’re covered in a bucket of water.
…oh man it was an unreal experience.
There were many times throughout the 3 day festival where I would stop and have a water battle with a 5 or 6 year old kid.
One second we would be shooting each other and then the next we would high five each other and then I would let them shoot the water guns we had. (Ours were spray painted GOLD so everyone would comment on them)
Yes…. GOLD guns.
I think it honestly was one of the best ways to get immersed in the culture out of anything I’ve done.
If you think about it, shooting someone with some water is such a weird way to start a conversation, but it was amazing how many people we got to meet because someone would spray someone with water and then it was on.
Even with the language barriers between the locals and us, being English speakers, we still were able to communicate and share some laughs (along with some broken Thai and English)
I could honestly write 3 separate blog posts about everything that we did each of the days, but you would be so confused about everything and probably would be overwhelmed…there was honestly just so much.
Things like meeting up with the Digital Nomad group of Entrepreneurs/Freelancers and seeing how they celebrate, to heading to the square in town and being surrounded by 90% locals, to the last day heading to a Foam Party and dancing like fools to dance music.
The Songkran Festival is something that I will never forget.
If you’re a traveler and/or an Entrepreneur/ Digital Nomad then you should make it a point to visit Thailand during the Songkran Festival.
You’ll meet new people, have water fights that will take you back to your childhood and you’ll be laughing for 3 days straight about how much fun you’re having.
You’ll be in an amazing state of pure bliss and happiness.
I’m still working on putting together a short little YouTube video to include with the post, but because there is around 10 hours of footage, i’ve been struggling with it. I’ll come back here and upload the video when it is ready.
If you want to see more pictures, visit my Chiang Mai Facebook photo album on Facebook.
For more detailed info visit, http://songkranday.com/songkran-chiang-mai-2016-water-festival-in-chiang-mai-2016/
Here’s the video my friend Ian from Freedom Podcasting put together!
March 16, 2016
Location: listening to the crickets from the mountain in Koh Lanta, Thailand
Just got back from having a BLT wrap and a Guinness from the Irish Embassy pub here on the island of Koh Lanta for dinner.
Today Sam and I watched sunset from our condo as we’re up on the mountain in town and have a pretty great view from our place.
It’s honestly a daily decision where we’re going to go to watch sunset, as living in a beach town it’s essential to watch sunset every night. It’s just a great way to relax and wind down after a day of work and exploring. Although, we’ve gotten into a good work schedule so it’s been more work than exploring lately.
In Koh Lanta, they have a co-working space where a bunch of digital nomads have gathered and work from everyday.
That’s actually one of the biggest reasons that we decided on coming to Koh Lanta. Living in Chiang Mai showed us that there was a crazy big digital nomad community in Thailand and it’s a very cool thing to witness. There’s thousands of young professionals living their life according to their terms and not following the traditional route…so I was all about that, as I’ve been living this way for a few years.
One problem that I had when I first started traveling and being an Entrepreneur who took my business with me was fast internet, I remember being in the Philippines and having a really hard time finding good internet so I could work.
That hasn’t been the case now, which is amazing. Luckily, when I went on the mastermind in Spain I picked up a mobile wifi device that allows me to just get a local SIM card with internet package and have around 10-50mbps download speeds for working anywhere.
This thing is a life saver for an Online Entrepreneur / Digital Nomad lifestyle.
Alright, so what is my day to day life like in Koh Lanta as a Digital Nomad?
Well, I usually wake up between 7-8am everyday and then read for 30 mins to an hour before heading to KoHub (the co-working space).
Sam and I will then work on our business and accomplishing what is on our to-do list for the day.
We usually head to the beach around 2 or 3pm for an hour or two of reading on the beach for Sam, and about an hour of me swimming around in the ocean and floating around soaking in the salt water and sun.
I have a need for salt water and sun and when I can’t surf (no waves here) I at least need to spend some time in the water to get my fix.
This is how I grab racks…and my friends think I’m crazy, but I do it everywhere I go.
I consciously take the time to realize there is ALWAYS money floating through the air through bank wires,transfers,etc and at any time billions of dollars are being exchanged through the air. My thoughts are the consciously grab them while they’re floating by me.
The businesses I create are the service I provide to the world in exchange for the money I grab… you can see it in action here!
Here’s a shot from a lunch we had two days ago. The food wasn’t the best, but the view made up for it.
After lunch/swimming we usually come home and get showered up before heading out for dinner. The condo we rented isn’t really conducive for cooking so we’ve been eating out a bunch, good thing Thai meals are relatively cheap!
After getting cleaned up from the beach, we rotate where we watch sunset almost every night so that we can find the best sunset spots.
Koh Lanta is more expensive than places like Chiang Mai for meals, but we’re still only spending around 500 baht for both of us to eat and have a smoothie (that’s around $14 USD total)
I know a lot of digital nomads preach the ability to spend 30-40 baht a meal (around $1 USD) and are super pumped up about the fact that they can do that. For those of you who are saving money, eat at the local Thai places and you can usually find meals for around those prices.
If you enjoy good food and variety, like I do, it’s still super cheap compared to a lot of other places in the world. Meals in Singapore were around $20 per person for any type of meal.
The night time is pretty calm for us here. We’re definitely beach people as we can just relax after dinner and do a little more work if we need to, or in my case want to as I love what I do.
If you’ve read other posts of mine, you know how much I love fresh coconuts. Here’s me getting a bunch of coconuts in Mexico.
Since we’re up on the mountain, there’s access to coconuts in the wild…and I love them.
After a while, we usually just relax and watch some netflix. There are opportunities for night time activities, but it’s easier to just wake up earlier than to stay up late and try to do all of the activities that are offered everywhere.
Where do I even start with this?
Seriously, this place is unbelievable.
My girlfriend and I were going to be in Singapore during our Anniversary while we were in between Visa renewals from Thailand and I had always seen the Marina Bay Sands pool and knew I had to see it in person.
This past month I had the opportunity to do it and wow am I sure glad that I booked the stay!
Here’s a shot of me working from our room there (in board shorts and tank top of course)
****side note: I really need to make sure I remember to get pictures of my “offices” around the world. I’m so grateful to be able to build businesses that allow me to do this *****
Okay, so here’s a few shots of our suite in the Marina Bay Sands…
and one of the most caring things I feel that they did for us for our Anniversary, was they surprised us with a bottle of wine and a chocolate mousse cake. (They called to find out when we would be in our room because they wanted to give us a “gift” as a thank you for staying with them)
Wow, wow, wow. I love it when companies actually give a shit about their customers.
It seems like many companies ignore the fact that their customers are people and like to be appreciated, the Marina Bay Sands understands that and does a great job with it.
They even included a little note and a personal concierge for anything we needed throughout our stay.
This truly was a great example of how to build an extremely loyal customer for life, as I’ll be staying there again in the future when I’m in Singapore for sure.
Okay, so let me tell you about what my favorite part of the whole experience was…and that was the pool.
Yes, of course I’m wearing my favorite tank top…that says “Quit Your Job, Buy A Ticket, Get A Tan, Fall In Love, Never Return”….because that’s exactly what I did a few years back when I moved to Panama to pursue my online business full-time.
This is one of the top pools in the world, and for great reason.
Playing around in the pool and looking over the edge is just amazing. While it does have its safety precautions in place, you still feel like the edge just drops off.
One of the major reasons I wanted to visit Singapore was so that I could simply see the view from the top of the pool to see the city.
I’ve read a lot of people’s reviews and had heard stories of people “sneaking in” to the pool. In my opinion, if something is good enough for people to write tutorials about sneaking into something, it’s going to be worth it to just go ahead and book the place.
….and damn was I right.
Sam and I at “the edge” of the infinity pool.
As you might expect, being 57 floors up on a roof can be quite windy. The wind was pretty strong, but it felt good with being in the direct sunlight. The pool was a little cooler than I am used to (a lot of Costa Rica pools), but it felt good after getting warm in the sun.
Sam does a lot of journaling for her experience and shared her experience with me and one of the best quotes from her stuff is…
“This is the greatest hotel of all time.”
The rooftop at night
Okay, so this was another amazing experience that I highly recommend when you stay here..
head up to the roof and simply just enjoy the view. It truly is breath-taking seeing Singapore at night, all the lights and the light show. It’s a little weird being in the actual building that the light show is based around, as you don’t have the view that most people would be visiting.
I’m extremely grateful for the opportunity to have stayed at the Marina Bay Sands and am extremely impressed with their ability to please their customers.
It truly is a great example for me, as I run a few different businesses and am always looking for ways to improve my customer’s experience.
I’d just like to thank the staff at the Marina Bay Sands once again, for an unforgettable experience.
February 24, 2016
Location: sitting on the balcony in Chiang Mai, Thailand
Yesterday Sam and I went to the Thai Farm Cooking School to learn how to cook some Thai food. Here’s a picture of our teacher, Yummy. Yes his name is yummy and the food he helped us create was pretty damn good.
Yummy teaching us about eggplant, although the baby eggplant that we put in soup is an absolutely terrible taste in my opinion.
We started off in the morning getting picked up from our condo and then being driven to a little market to learn about where to buy some of the ingredients that we would be using during our cooking lesson.
Some of the things you can buy at a Thai market place.
When we first got to the farm, we sat down and had some fresh lemon herb tea and some water in preparation for our lesson. We started off by walking around a little bit and seeing how some of the ingredients were grown and what the plants look like before we turn them into food.
It was pretty cool to see some of the plants and to be able to smell and eat some of the freshest ingredients possible. You pull the plant out of the ground and can taste it and smell it, no pesticides needed!
Alright let’s get to the good part….eating!
Sam and I decided to split up who cooked what so that we would both learn something and we could share what we made to see what we liked best.
Here’s what my work station looked like:
Pretty simple, right? There was a little stove to the right where we cooked everything..
Some of the things I cooked were:
Tom yam kung, tom yam with shrimp
poh piah tod: springrolls
In action shot
Red Curry, sweet and sour chicken and jasmine rice with a Chang beer
and for dessert….
Kluay Bod Chii: aka Bananas in Coconut Milk
Alright, I admit I was too busy eating and making my own stuff to get all of the pictures of what Sam made and she doesn’t share as much as I do with stuff I’m doing, so here’s a few action shots I did get.
All in all, I had a great time and Sam did as well. We met some cool people as our group had a mother and daughter from Northern China, a couple from Germany, a solo girl from Germany, a girl from Bulgaria and her boyfriend and boyfriends mother and Sam and I.
It was fun to chat and share an experience with people from all over the world and see where everyone else was traveling to and where they had been. That’s always the best way to find out where I want to visit next…if enough people I meet tell me about a place that is a “must visit”, I tack it onto my to visit list!
Sure, we aren’t the best chefs in the world, but we now have a few other recipes that we can make when we have the ingredients. The only downside is that you need a lot of ingredients for the majority of these dishes that we don’t always have at the places we rent.
When we settle down and have a set house we live in, I’m sure the kitchen will be stocked with all of the spices and foods we’ll need and we’ll be able to re-create these recipes!
UPDATE: Sam’s pictures!
The other day my friend Kyle, who I grew up with in the valley, came to visit me in Chiang Mai where I am currently living. Kyle’s currently living in Vietnam and teaching over there and had a break so decided to visit.
We spent a few days exploring Chiang Mai, eating street food, wandering around looking for cool photo spots and even hit up the Night Bazaar.
One thing that we were told is a must do is to head up to the Northern town of Pai….so we rented scooters and took the trip.
The night before while eating at a food truck and chatting with some people who were there, the people we met were surprised that we were planning on taking motorbikes up to Pai instead of driving. (These were locals to Chiang Mai)
We had been told by a few other people to just drive slow and keep an eye out for the potholes that used to take over the entire road there.
That didn’t impact our decision at all and the next day we were off to Pai. From my condo it appeared that we only needed to make 3 or 4 turns and follow the signs to get out of Chiang Mai and onto the road to Pai….sometimes I’m not the best with directions, so Kyle and I ended up driving around Chiang Mai for about 30 minutes before we realized that we missed a turn.
That led to some laughs and us having to back-track a bit, but after a little more driving we found the turn that we were supposed to take and ended up on the road to Pai.
From everything that I read about the trip and the road we were expecting that it would take a few hours to get there because of having to drive so slowly to avoid potholes.
We didn’t expect that the road would be in absolutely perfect condition. For the majority of the ride, the roads were in perfect condition. I’m talking about them having just paved one side of the road and were paving the other side for portions of the road, while other long parts of the road were in better condition than roads I’ve driven on in the USA.
There were a few times where one side of the road was closed and we were supposed to wait along with all the other cars so 1 side of the road could go at a time…however the beauty of motorbikes is that you can just go along the side of the cars and avoid a lot of the waits.
After about 3.5 hours of driving through absolutely beautiful hills we arrived in Pai.
I personally thought the best part of going to Pai was driving through the fresh mountain air and just stopping and overlooking the views. There were a few different times where Kyle and I stopped and we just laughed because it really reminded us of the views you would see driving to our friend Colin’s dad’s house in upstate NY when we were in high school.
It felt like being back at home with my bro, but instead of being in cars or walking the street we were on motorbikes.
After getting to Pai we drove around a while to find the hotel we were staying in. That was quick and easy since the town is so small.
Our first order of business upon arrival was to find a good place to get a massage. Sitting in one position for a few hours is pretty rough on the body and certain parts towards the end of the road weren’t fully paved and we were bouncing around a bit on the motorbikes.
We walked around town for about 10 minutes (it’s a tiny town) and were looking for a massage place that had a bunch of flip flops/shoes outside so that we could see it was a good place. In Thailand it is customary to take off your shoes before entering a building.
We found one place and ended up getting an amazing 1 hour Thai massage where they stretch you like crazy. I’m talking about finding that point of stretching and pain and just playing around the with line to get the best stretch possible.
There were a few times where I thought I was going to cry a bit in pain, but then she released the stretch. After this I felt like a million bucks, actually I felt a little high. If you’ve ever gotten a great massage where you feel super super relaxed, you’ll know the feeling.
We then wandered around town for the night and did some bar hopping and street vendor hopping seeing who had the best foods.
Here’s a few of the places we stopped.
– Grandma’s Pancakes: we found this place at the end of the night and it was this old woman serving pancakes cooked right in front of you. We chose to get 4 of the pancake sausage combos and honestly I wish we would have gotten about 40 of these. They were so good.
– Ting Tong’s the Living Room: place with the cool lounge chairs
– Sabai Bar: we ended up hanging here to listen to some live music and play some chess. Very laid back feel to it.
– Fine Rice: this is where we had our main dinner. It was referred to Kyle as a great place and the food was pretty good, nothing too spectacular especially compared with most of the street food there.
On the ride back, we decided to stop and see one of the landmarks called “The Landsplit” and it was just that. In 2008 the land split.
Kyle and I weren’t really sure what had gone on but it seemed like it was run by a bunch of ex-pat 20-30 somethings with 2-3 local Thai people hanging out as well.
It wasn’t too much to look at, but the best part was that they brought out food and a rosella tea that was delicious. You basically just pay what you want and that’s how they run the attraction.
You also can write in one of their visitor books and we both chose to do that. I put a funny little message in the book with my thoughts so if you can find it you’ll get a kick…
here’s a hint: “been here 3 days, still haven’t found it…”
We were also planning on stopping to visit the #1 tripadvisor spot the Pai Canyon, although we ended up driving past it on our bikes and didn’t realize until about 20 minutes later and thought it wouldn’t be worth back-tracking.
Kyle and I have both seen a bunch of canyon’s so it wasn’t like we were missing much from what it seemed like from reading.
All in all, the trip was fun and it was great to breath some clean mountain air after being in Chiang Mai for the last month or so.
I’d say the best parts of the trip to Pai were simply stopping and just breathing and looking out over the hills and appreciating nature for what it is.
If you are thinking about visiting there, I’d do it. There are a lot of other nature based things to do up there when you arrive but Kyle and I were on a schedule since he needed to head back to Vietnam soon.
Have you been to Pai?