It was suffocating! I was literally being squeezed by huge rolls of material in a jam-packed fabric shop right in the middle of Chiang Mai’s bustling Warorot Market.
But I loved it.
You see, one of my passions is designing clothes for myself and getting the tailors here to bring my creations to life. I can buy fabric here for as little as $2 per metre and a top can be made for as little as $8. This wasn’t a hobby I could pursue affordably in Australia. But here in Chiang Mai, life is different.
My life has changed a lot in the past few years. Indeed, so have I.
A few years back, at the age of 65, I was something of a shrinking violet. Not bold or adventurous and certainly not an intrepid traveller. But that was okay, I was happy at home in Australia.
But then my safe, snug world broke into a million pieces. I lost my husband. The world I knew disappeared.
Life became dreary and humdrum. I was busy, but I felt a bit like a robot. I was going through the motions. I wasn’t living.
Then one evening a story on living overseas came on the T.V. and I was hooked.
I decided I was going to be brave and intrepid and unafraid. I decided to take risks and feel confident about my decisions. I was going to travel to Asia to pick up the pieces of my life and become a real person again.
This was going to be the new me.
When I called my daughter to tell her my plans she was concerned, but I was determined this was the right move for me.
I travelled to Chiang Mai in Northern Thailand and got myself a job teaching English in a school. It was a wonderful experience.
The more time I spent in Chiang Mai, the more I fell for its many charms and so I decided to buy an apartment here. For just $30,000 I was the owner of a property in a foreign land. My time as a shrinking violet was behind me.
The years here have passed quickly. I’m 77 now and settled here. There’s a strong expat community and I’m kept busy. I play golf, I draw, I sing in a choir—I even had a go at acting and was in a play with the local theatre company.
Every activity you can think of is on offer here and your newfound friends will happily help you find it. I learn the language to keep my mind in tip-top shape and it still gives me a thrill using what I have learned—with confidence—when I’m shopping at the local markets.
I bought two more properties in Chiang Mai which I lease out to earn some income. This helps me live a most wonderful lifestyle. I travel all over the world and have explored Laos, Cambodia, China, India and Vietnam. Russia, the Middle East and Sri Lanka are on my radar too, but I think Greece will be my next port of call.
No matter where I travel to, Chiang Mai is home now. I have a retirement visa—which I renew annually—and I plan to stay here forever. I’ve found my paradise, my tribe and myself.