Wow we’re already one month into 2016!
Less than four years away from 2020, which is a date that felt so far in the future when I was a kid that I thought I might never see it. Oops I may be showing my age a bit.
Anyway, one of my goals for 2016 is to begin writing a recap at the end of every month…so welcome to the first installment!
My reason for this is twofold. Firstly it’s a way to share with you all we’ve been up to in a little more real time. Because we are always traveling and also have other writing and business commitments it is sometimes a few weeks later that a story goes live. In other words you may be reading about our adventure with elephants in Thailand at a time when we are actually climbing to view rice terraces in the Philippines.
Of course this time lag is pretty normal in the travel blogging world and we do post frequent live updates to our social media. But we know that many of our readers would like a more timely look at what we’ve been up to while waiting for the full story to come out.
So without further ado here’s a recap of our January as well as a look ahead at our plans for February.
2016 arrived with a mixed bag of emotions for us. We had an awesome array of adventures and experiences in 2015 so in some ways we were sad to see it end. At the same time we were excited to start a new year since we have some pretty big plans and dreams both personally and business wise.
We greeted the new year in Koh Samui, Thailand where we were house and pet sitting for a lovely British couple who had gone home to the UK for Christmas.
Read about our own “Twelve Days of Christmas in London” last year
We were excited as it approached as we had friends coming to celebrate with us. Unfortunately two days before their arrival one of our dogs fell ill.
Little Soi was diagnosed with tick fever which had attacked his kidneys and we were told he was very close to kidney failure. Suddenly our plans for a week off from work with friends was changed by having to care for a very sick dog. It was really a stressful time watching him suffer and trying to administer the concoction of meds in the hopes that he would survive.
It was also rewarding though as we knew we were helping him plus giving his owners a little peace of mind as they were feeling so helpless being so far away. Thankfully Soi did survive and the last we heard is expected to make a full recovery in time.
See what we did in Koh Samui in our article “Best Koh Samui Beach and Other Top Tips”
You might think that this would scare us away from housesitting, but in fact it did the opposite. It felt so good to know that we were there for him and that he was at least comfortable in his own home as opposed to a kennel. Just one of the reasons we love doing it and why we will likely never stop.
Want to read about our “Housesitting in Southern France” last year?
As Soi stabilized we did manage to get out for a couple of hours on NYE to celebrate with the lovely Paula and Daria. The four of us rang in the new year together (an American, a Brit/Canadian, an Italian and a Brazilian) along with thousands of others at Ark Bar on Lamai Beach. With feet in the water and eyes to the sky we ooohd and aaahd as fireworks exploded around the bay, lanterns floated into the dark night above and we danced our way into 2016.
From our house sit we made our way back to Chiang Mai. We moved back into our old apartment at Baan Thai and we have so many friends in that great city that it almost felt like going home. We used our ‘homecoming’ and Nathan’s birthday as an excuse to get a group of these friends together for an evening of wine, beer and chicken wings. This may not seem a fitting feast for a birthday but trust me when I say that as much as we love Thai food we really need to splurge now and then on some good (or bad) familiar food. Besides we knew we would be cleansing it all from our bodies in the following days.
We had been invited to experience the Chivasuka Retreat, a beautiful and intimate accommodation about an hour out of Chiang Mai nestled in the mountains and surrounded by Thai jungle. Our hosts, Karin and Yan are Dutch, coming from Holland and Curacao, but have lived in Asia for many years. After retiring their former business in Hong Kong they moved to Thailand and fell into the creation of a holistic retreat. Note: There will be an interview with this fabulous couple coming soon.
For seven days we ate nothing but vegan, raw food and for a few of those days had only freshly made vegetable and fruit juice. We spent our time hiking, doing yoga, meditating, exploring the beautiful mountains and villages and dreaming of food. It was really a life changing experience which I will write more about in the coming weeks so stay tuned.
Back in Chiang Mai we knuckled down to work again knowing that in three weeks we would be leaving and would not be able to be as productive as we were in this city of digital nomads. For the most part our days were spent at various co work spaces and our evenings spent either with friends or catching up on our favorite TV shows.
We did however manage to squeeze in a couple of other work/fun days. We were invited to spend three nights at a brand new luxury hotel residence called The Chiang Mai Riverside where we were treated like royalty and slept like babies. Our one bedroom suite was gorgeous and really felt like home…aside from the fact that we had butler service and breakfast delivered to our room each morning.
But our most amazing experience of the month was getting up close and personal with elephants!!! One of the first thoughts we had when we decided to come to Thailand was “We get to see elephants!” However we were not interested in the parks and businesses that make these intelligent creatures perform circus acts or have hundreds of people ride around on their backs for hours a day.
We were only interested in seeing them in an environment where they are treated with the care and respect they deserve. Luckily there are more and more places like that in Thailand and the Tong Bai Elephant Foundation is one of them. We were assigned our own elephant for the day and we were able to feed him and walk him down to the river for a bath. Of course you can expect the full story and many more photos of this incredible day soon but for now I will just say that it is definitely on the list of top life experiences for us both.
So now here we sit in one of our favorite co work space cafes wrapping up our time in Chiang Mai and feeling mixed emotions once again. Chiang Mai has been a home to us since November and we have learned so much and made lifelong friends that it will be hard to leave. On the other hand we are moving on to the Philippines and Cambodia for the month of February and are sure to have more incredible experiences to share with you next month.
We decided on our next destination with our collaborative post “Where to go in Southeast Asia”
We’d love to know what you think about our new monthly recap series. Do you enjoy getting a real time update and a tease of what’s to come? We really hope so.