Trouble in Paradise: Chiang Mai Feels

It’s been over a week since returning to Thailand from Bulgaria, and that’s quite a mind-fuck. It feels like such a long time and no time at all… Ah, travel is weird.

It feels like Bulgaria was a strange dream that never happened. I wasn’t in Sofia for 3 months- nope, I never left Thailand!

I breeze through the BTS stops unconsciously in Bangkok as by now I’ve been in Thailand so many times and for so long I can find my way around no problem.

In Chiang Mai, my old mental map is still clear as day. I drive by an old park I used to run at, and I feel no rush to run there- I run there 2-3 times a week, right?

It hasn’t been months since I’ve ran there… So it feels. I’m in no rush because I was always here.

This feeling was the same in Bulgaria- as if I had never lived in Thailand. It’s like I live 2 double lives, a different person in each.

My English even shifted a bit when I arrived in Thailand. I spoke more of a Thai-English than Europe-English, for example I would say “I go to [restaurant] yesterday” instead of “I went to the restaurant yesterday” because in Thai they don’t have past tense in their language (so you just say everything in present tense and add “yesterday, tomorrow, etc.”).

I was here last year at about the same time- just in time for the “Loy Krathong” festival. It felt normal- I live here, right?

I made my Krathong, sent it on the river and made my wish… To find my home, or make my peace in this life as a traveler.

Now wiser, I realize that maybe the life I have carved for myself is with its pain points, but maybe I choose it. Maybe it would be more painful to settle, and so I must find peace in this life.

In Thai tradition, you send the Krathong down the river. You light the candle for Buddha, and as your Krathong floats away, so does your pain, your sadness, so that all that remains is peace.

I celebrated with a beautiful Thai girl who has quickly captured my attention- whereas before I may wish to be a player, now I am feeling more ready to be vulnerable. Perhaps I will go deeper, opening my heart to love (and potential heartbreak).

It’s great- Chiang Mai is wonderful. But there is a little trouble in paradise, as always.

Here I just wanted to share some thoughts of what I’m experiencing in this first week back.

Adjustment, Jet Lag, etc.

I sometimes get too hard on myself when I arrive at a new place. This time I’m learning to relax, accept the pain, and go with it.

It’s not that often I arrive in a new place and feel wonderful- unless it’s an explicit vacation. When you have to manage work at the same time, it’s quite difficult arriving to that new place, even if you don’t have that big of a workload.

Within just a couple days of arriving in Thailand I was handling sales calls, producing videos, and publishing content.

It’s difficult coming back though. My mind is still in Bulgaria!

When I wake up my mind says “where is the Rainbow Factory restaurant? I want my morning salad!”

I don’t feel so “culture shock,” as I’ve lived here before- it feels weird writing that. Like I said earlier I find my way around easily.

I know at BTS ASOK how to get to Khao San Road, or BTS Phra Kanong should I need. I know where my favorite restaurants are, and what I’ve gotta do.

I have some old friends (though not NEAR as many as Bulgaria, and certainly not as deep) and girls I’ve dated. It’s nice to come back to that, but my heart misses Bulgaria and my friends there.

Loneliness

To be honest, as great as everything is, I feel lonely. I miss family, I miss friends.

My passion & excitement may be in Thailand, I always wanted to live here. But the way my life turned out is that my deepest friends were in Bulgaria, and my family in America.

I didn’t realize how lonely I was until I did a meditation a friend recommended to me. I was starting to get all kinds of muscle tension and pain, a sign that there are deep, unconscious emotions that needed to be expressed.

As I meditated I realized I was in so much more pain than I could’ve imagined. It was like heart-break, except with all my friends and a place!

I wasn’t ready to leave Bulgaria- and because I wasn’t ready, I didn’t prepare properly. I acted up until the very end as if I wasn’t leaving, delaying packing as long as I possibly could, buying an AirBNB for Bangkok at the last moment, etc.

There are days where I wake up and I just want to swing by “Apartmenta,” one of my favorite places to hangout at in Sofia. I expect to see my friends there, but “Apartmenta” is too far even with a motorbike.

However, I should add that I haven’t made a big push to make more friends here yet. In fact, I’ve made none.

Tonight I’m finally going to one of my favorite weekly events where I know I have many friends- and in adding this event to my calendar last night, I realized that I had forgotten to text some of my friends I was back- OOPS!

I texted one “Hey I’m back in Chiang Mai” and he’s like “WHAT?!?” Other friends will be back in a couple weeks, as they’re currently on travels elsewhere.

One mistake (if you may call it such) I made when I returned to Chiang Mai after my stay in Bangkok (which was amazing) was that I went out with a girl I used to go out with, BUT she was only in Chiang Mai for 3 days.

Now, this isn’t a mistake in the sense that you might expect it to be. She’s awesome, I enjoyed hanging with her.

The mistake was that it was transient. She was here only for 3 days, during which time I could’ve gone to an event (or taken her to an event) to make some longer-term friends for while I’m here… You know, friends that actually live here.

I want to add that I’m not actually calling it THAT serious of a mistake, if at all, I’m just saying I should’ve prioritized going to an event instead of hanging out with just her- because as fun as it was she left back to another city, leaving me here.

One thing I’ll add is that I know I’ll be okay- so don’t worry about me. It’s just a bit lonely, missing Bulgaria, missing my deep friends there!

However, I’ll be going to that event tonight, and I’ll feel much better then.

Also I went out with a girl and we connected very quickly. She was exactly what I was hoping to find when I come back to Thailand, and WOW do I enjoy my time with her.

I definitely prefer the dating culture in Thailand over Bulgaria, where I feel that things are a bit too traditional. For example, one girl I went out with in Bulgaria basically expected me to pay for everything- she didn’t even offer, and I later got the impression she was taking advantage of my money and I chose not to meet her again.

However, I also didn’t get enough dating experience in Bulgaria to compare it to Thailand, as I was in work-a-holic mode for the first half of my stay.

The more I travel the less capable I feel of making comparisons between places as I can see just how contextual and “lucky” everything is.

It just so happens that in Bulgaria I focus more on social life and in Thailand more in dating, so it should be no surprise that I prefer each for their respective reasons and am unable to make a proper comparison.

Anyways, back on topic:

I feel a bit lonely, but I know it’ll go away soon. Also the “loneliness” feelings I realized is me not connecting with my own emotions. I was at first too much in the “happy me happy me” mode, and denying my sadness within.

The loneliness is also caused by the adjustment, which is energy-taxing. It’s hard to go out and be social when you’ve gotta run errands, handle work, feel tired from jet lag, etc.

Motorbike Troubles!

Not sure if this is a real problem or not… The first time I rented a motorbike longer-term in Bali, my hands/arms had no problems. Same for my first long-term rental in Thailand.

But then my second long-term rental in Thailand had a problem. The handlebars vibrated WAY too much. I asked to return the motorbike, and I got a new one which was better.

Now I again have the same problem: I feel that the handlebars vibrate too much, causing hand & forearm pain.

I took the bike for a test run before buying it, and I kind of feel that vibration. I felt I shouldn’t buy it, but bought it anyways.

The reason for this was with the upcoming Loy Krathong festival there were literally NO other motorbikes I wanted to rent (the rest being too heavy, too expensive, etc.).

In seeing that so many people were at the motorbike shop wanting a motorbike, I took the motorbike quickly from a place of scarcity.

It’s funny- I’m a marketer and could even observe myself buying the motorbike only because the shop was full and I was test-driving the last affordable + lightweight motorbike (scarcity!!).

Well I don’t know if it’s the motorbike, adjusting back to regular riding, or even my emotions (unconscious emotions tighten your muscles causing pain), but my hands fucking hurt!

I’ve known that I should just take it back and ask for a new one (when another lightweight bike gets returned) but I’ve been too nervous too. It’s weird, why am I so nervous? The worst they can say is no, and it’s obvious that I’m not trying to pull a fast one.

Furthermore they said yes to fixing this problem before!! Same motorbike shop earlier this year I had this problem with, and they fixed things for me before. Why am I so nervous now?

When I move to a new place, I tend to have lower self-esteem than normal for the first 1-2 weeks. I think this is due to sensory overload from the new area, jet lag, and other things taking my energy.

It’s so silly- if this were to happen in the end of Bulgaria I would’ve not fallen into scarcity and bought the motorbike and instead of found another shop. Had I bought it and wanted to return it, I’d do it instantly, not think about it for days.

However I should add that I am doubtful of just how much of my hand pain is caused by the motorbike. The last thing I want to do is return the motorbike just to get another that is worse OR the same.

Like I said deep emotional pain tends to cause muscle tension for me leading to physical pain just like what I’m experiencing. While a part of it is probably physical, another part could be emotional. It could also be I need 1-2 weeks to strengthen my hands to intensive Asian riding.

To add to my over-thinking, I fucked up dismantling the bike once (as it’s a bit larger than what I typically prefer) and I accidentally kicked the right side foot pedal with my left shin, causing a big bruise and a lot of skin to shred off.

The motorbike did not fall or anything- it was just me accidentally kicking some metal with my leg.

NOW it looks like I’ve gotten into a motorbike accident, at least for the past few days. I already have some scars on my knees from last year, and the fresh blood, scabs, and bruising on my left shin make the previous scars look fresh.

I’ve decided to wait to attempt to replace the motorbike until my wounds heal up. Now taking a look at it, I can see that in 2-3 days it’ll almost completely disappear.

It’s probably just me over-thinking it (no, it definitely is), but I don’t want them to think I got into an accident and want to replace the motorbike to pull a fast one.

Again, probably me over-thinking. Such is the joy of adjusting to a new place…

Bangkok & The Islands

I was really excited + happy to be in Bangkok. I met with a really awesome girl there whom I had seen there a few times before. I also met with a really good friend who is also a traveler, we’ve met in multiple cities around the world!

I almost feel a little stagnant in Chiang Mai- again don’t know if that’s the “adjustment” and my mind is looking for a quick-fix, or if it’s a genuine feeling.

A part of me really wants to try living in Bangkok or the islands down South! I’m gonna give it a little more time before deciding anything.

did meet a really cool girl here in Chiang Mai also, and there’s a lot more to explore up North.

Routine & Stagnation

Since returning to Chiang Mai I’ve just done the “same same.” I ate at the same restaurants, drank at the same cafes, etc.

I did this exact same thing when returning to Bulgaria! And to be happy in Bulgaria again, I had to chase the unknown, to do something exciting, to meet new people, go new places, etc. within the city.

It’s apparent to me now that this is what I must do to bring happiness again to me.

Last night I went for a walk down some roads I don’t think I’ve gone down before, discovered some cool places, and this morning I drank coffee at a new cafe I never went to.

I couldn’t stay long at the cafe- literally just 10 minutes, as I had a sales call. But those 10 minutes were SUPER refreshing!

It seems a bit ironic to say a world traveler can fall into stagnate, boring routine, but guys, it’s possible. I’ve done it!

The brain gets tired and it decides to go to the same places, do the same things, etc. just work and do nothing else. It’s hard taking care of yourself- going to a new place, etc. especially because there’s a desire for certainty.

I don’t want to go to a new cafe because the taste of the coffee might be bad. I want the same same good stuff… But I dared myself to do something new.

Tomorrow I’m gonna go to a new cafe also before work.

I’ve discovered that just relaxing alone, connecting with my emotions, and then daring to do something new fills my spirit up SO much! This day has already been SO much happier just because of that tiny decision to go to a new cafe for 10 minutes.

Social Media Addiction

I’ve known that I’ve had this for a while, but I have a social media addiction. It keeps me up at night, and wastes my time like nothing else.

I haven’t had time to do important things like buying new running shoes, buy motorbike gloves, etc. because I’m self-medicating with social media.

When I’m bored or eating alone, I turn on YouTube. I watch it after work alone. Sometimes it’s amazing- I discover an epic video, but the next 5 videos often suck and I skip around, desperate for a little more dopamine to ease the loneliness I described above.

No more!

I tend to do this a lot when arriving in a new place to cope with the stresses of adjustment.

No- I don’t want to cope. I want to thrive. So yesterday I practiced a meditation a friend taught me in which you speak your emotions aloud in detail (ie. I’m feeling a red pyramid-looking thorn in my bottom right stomach, it is shifting…).


It exploded a storm of sadness so strong that all I wanted to do was lay down and cry. That’s how I realized I was pushing things too hard, not taking time to connect with myself.

That’s what loneliness is, right? It’s not necessarily that you lack connection with others, but also with yourself.

In my desperation to be happy, I cut myself off from my own feelings of sadness. Instead of medicating with media, I decided to go deep in it. It is painful. It still is. But I feel a bit better.

Yesterday evening instead of staying up late I turned off my phone and went for a walk without my phone. Me, just with myself- I felt great.

Though soon my muscle tension came back, and I felt myself tense up as my energy was not flowing. I felt a compulsion to watch a video so strong, but I remained aware. I stayed with it.

For the first time since coming back, I woke up with relative ease. I did not snooze. I woke up with a bit of peace, and felt capable of handling the day. I feel… better.

This morning I then turned off almost all notifications, leaving just my Thai messaging app, direct phone line, and Whatsapp with notifications on.

My Instagram, sometimes Tinder, and Facebook Messenger always seem to be blowing up.

I can’t handle it anymore! Today I left home and did not post a picture of my morning breakfast on IG story.

Instead I sat with clarity while eating, watching the birds dance. It was really peaceful. I felt a craving to indulge in YouTube, but I resisted.

I wish I could delete that fucking YouTube app… Okay, I took a break from writing to move YouTube to the very far right on my phone, so that I’ll have to swipe left many times to reach the app.

Social media + the phone is a form of short-term “dirty” entertainment. It is not fulfilling.

Meditation is more fulfilling. The problem with meditation is that the initial 10 minutes can SUCK as you go deeper, as you feel all the pain you carry. But after, you observe in peace what is within, and sometimes feel just bliss.

I am committing to keeping a clear mind, to avoiding social media, and using it intentionally!

Of course I won’t delete it- I am posting on Facebook for business reasons, and IG is great for making friends. Same for Messenger.

But now I’d like to use it intentionally, instead of getting drawn into all of the notifications and rabbit holes.

Affirmations

Later today I may rewrite some affirmations to say in the morning too. This morning I said some, and I felt a ton better.

It filled me with a lot of motivation to get up and feel better. It makes you feel more capable of succeeding, of doing what you need to do.

Gratitude + Focusing on Improvements

I’m also reciting some things I’m grateful for instead of just being sad about what I miss in Bulgaria! I am grateful for beautiful Thai girls, the amazing coffee, my amazing client, etc.

Sales-wise I’ve been struggling in my business a bit, focusing only on the fact that I’m not growing substantially, but then I realized something:

I AM IMPROVING! At first I couldn’t get sales calls, now I have sales calls. Now I just need more sales calls, then improve my sales ability and then everything will work out!

I’ve changed the background images on my laptop to be seeds + nature-related things to remind me that I am planting seeds.


When I finally start getting new clients, it’ll be because of the work I did months prior, not on that day. I am setting the foundation for my business to grow. It’s a fuck ton of work sometimes and exhausting but necessary.

Meditation is helping a ton too. It’s like it resets your brain, puts you in the “now,” and thus makes you capable of figuring out what you’ve gotta do for your happiness (for me no more social media, workout more, make some new friends, break the routine).

Also, I just realized I only worked out twice since returning to Thailand. I missed 2 workouts.

That is also why I was probably feeling lonely/bad. After each workout I did, I felt significantly better. I will work out in a few hours.

Everything is Alright

As they say in Bulgarian: “Всичко е точно.” Everything is exactly, or everything is perfect.

Now I am wiser, and throughout all of the pains of re-adjusting, loneliness, business struggles, whatever, I am alright.

I can see from a place of wisdom & awareness that this is normal and okay. Adjustments are painful and sometimes difficult! I shouldn’t be hard on myself, and instead take more time to meditate, relax, and focus on the important things and don’t self-medicate with social media.

Now I am aware that such difficulties are normal when traveling, and that I experience such feelings when I go to a new place, even if that place once felt like home.

This is just my feelings now- they will pass, and soon I’ll be great again. It all comes down to the conscious choice to be great.

That’s all for now!

Thanks,

-Michael (: