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Seven months ago I was sitting in the Chiang Mai airport waiting for the last flight of the night trying, unsuccessfully, not to cry.
I was leaving Thailand, a place that had been my home base for the past three years, and I didn’t know if or when I’d be going back. When I got to the Seoul airport for a 10-hour layover I crashed, exhausted from the past few days of packing up, saying my good byes and finally flying out, then went to find some food. I sat down to eat at an empty gate and looked up at the departure sign – the next flight was going to Chiang Mai.
After being picked up at the airport in Seattle, I went to straight to the Mac Store to figure out some computer problems. There, the very first place I went to after being in the U.S. for the first time in 10 months, I saw two orange-robed, Thai monks checking out iPhones. The next few weeks I continued to come across unexpected reminders of what I had just left behind.
It felt like I was breaking up, but instead of with a person it was with a whole country.
Throughout the past seven months I’ve caught up with the people I’ve missed and spent time in comfortably familiar places while also traveling in Europe and experiencing places I had never been before. Yet, in the back of mind, I was always thinking about if, and how, I’d get back to Thailand. I loved my time in Seattle, London and Athens…but none of those places left me with the continued intrigue, quiet satisfaction and contentment that living in Chiang Mai always did.
So I came back.
Back to the country that has been a constant source of fascination and frustration for now nearly the past four years, back to the city that, despite it turning into such a tourist hub, still offers so much more to discover, back to the heat and humidity, back to the constant battle against mosquitoes and back to putting chilies on my food instead of salt and pepper. Back with a renewed sense of focus, purpose for being here and appreciation that I could choose to be here then make it happen.
And back with fresh eyes to experience Thailand in new ways and share my insider tips for exploring this beautiful country with you.
P.S. There will be a ton of new stories, recommendations and resources being added here on Paper Planes in the coming months. I also have new mailing list options so you can sign up to receive all new content direct to your inbox and special tips, stories, offers and more. Click here to sign up or update your current subscriptions settings. (Please note that if you were receiving posts by RSS you will need to update your subscriptions settings this one time.)