Chiang Mai

It looks like we’re moving to Chiang Mai first. It’s a farang (foreigner) friendly city in one of the northern provinces of Thailand. Chiang Mai province borders on Burma. It’s in the jungle, which means there are a ton of cool elephant tours and such we could go on. It’s also cheaper to live in than Bangkok, though we do plan on sending some time in the capital city at some point, probably during the cooler dry season since it gets a lot hotter the farther south you go (plus Bangkok is on a river which makes it even more hot and humid). There’s a train that runs between Bangkok and Chiang Mai that takes about 12 hours and costs under $20 USD. All the nice beach resorts are down past Bangkok… Pattaya in the Chonburi province looks really nice, we’re going to try to check that out too.

There’s a really beautiful festival they celebrate, called the Festival of Lights. Check it:

Change of Plans

Shaun and I were originally thinking about moving to Japan over the summer, but after a lot of talk we’ve decided to hit up Thailand first. The money that we can save up between now and moving time would go a lot farther in Thailand than it would Japan ($1USD = about 35 baht). For the sake of my own paranoia I did a little research on how safe Thailand is for expats, specifically Americans, and as it turns out Thailand isn’t any less safe than living in a big U.S. city. There isn’t much in the way of violent crimes, but you do need to keep a particular eye out for pick pocketing and credit card fraud. With the money we’ll save up between now and then, plus the money I’ll be making through web work for US Businesses (I plan on still maintaining, Shaun may not even have to find steady work and we can accompany each other everywhere which aside from being enjoyable it’s a pretty good safety measure. We’re going to be staying away from the southern provinces, since there tends to be civil unrest in those areas and we don’t want to get caught up in some violent protests.
We’re planning on moving at the end of August, since that’s when my lease is up. Shaun’s moving in with me in May, so we can split rent and save up even more cash.

Some useful links:
OSAC 2009 Crime & Safety Report for Thailand
US Department of State Country Specific Information: Thailand
Thailand Cost of Living
Thailand Visa Information