From the balcony of my 14th-floor home I can gaze upon a fertile landscape. The northern Thai city of Chiang Mai sits surrounded by views of lush, forested hills. The icing on the cake is the golden Buddhist temple on Doi Suthep mountain. During the day, it sparkles in the sunshine and at night local monks illuminate it, making it shine gold in a pitch black sky. The effect is stunning—the temple looks as if it’s floating in the darkness by magic.
“When I moved to Chiang Mai, I unearthed the rich and colourful life I thought was lost,” says Pam Manning of her new life in Thailand. Chiang Mai is famous for being a town of artisans and Lanna (Northern Thai) culture. It’s a place of flowers, temples, fruit, joyful festivals and colour is everywhere...velvety maroons, popping pinks…
Famous for dense mangrove forests, sheer limestone cliffs and hundreds of amazing islands that appear as if dropped into the ocean from somewhere else, Krabi, on the southern part of Thailand’s west coast across from the island of Phuket, is where many movies were filmed—think James Bond’s, Man with the Golden Gun and Leonardo DiCaprio’s, The Beach. In 2013 Kim Shield’s brother invited her and her husband, Michael, to Krabi to look at the house he was building there. And it was while exploring the area with their family, they noticed how much the area had to offer.
All we had to last us the next 30-plus years was our meagre life savings, accumulated superannuation and the proceeds of the sale of our assets in Australia. As we did not plan to be in Australia when we came of age to access our Australian Government Pension, it could not be part of our financial calculations. (We are not at retirement age as yet—Vivien’s 53 and I’m 58.)
Many people think of Chiang Rai in northern Thailand as Chiang Mai’s little brother but most of those who live there take that as a compliment. True, there isn’t the nightlife that you find in its big brother a three-hour drive south but that’s more than made up for by the easy pace of life, deliciously spicy Lana food and some weirdly wonderful local attractions.