YES, you read the title correctly. I’m back in Chiang Mai.
This may come as a surprise for many as I mentioned in my previous monthly report that I would be moving to Hoi An. However, the nomadic life is pretty much unpredictable and so I found myself booking a ticket back to the city where I feel most comfortable.
April has been such a fast month for me since I stayed busy moving around, meeting good old friends and making new ones.
In the previous month, I haven’t been feeling very comfortable in Hanoi. It seemed like the city and I weren’t connecting as I hoped. My feelings haven’t dramatically changed ever since, but I can say that April has been a much better month.
The month started off with visits from two of my friends from Germany. I can’t tell you how happy I was to see familiar faces after such a long time on the road. I feel very grateful to have such friends who travel around the world to visit my country and catch up for a coffee. During that time I moved into a fantastic hostel in the city center of Hanoi and spent 5 days exploring the city with them. For me, this was complete new experience since I’ve never stayed at a Hostel in my own city before.
I have to admit that I was surprisingly impressed by the hospitality and professionalism of the hostel. For a long time I haven’t had this excitement of being a tourist.
Wait, what? Aren’t you a full time tourist?
Well, here is the thing: What many people don’t understand is that the nomadic lifestyle is not the same as the travelers lifestyle. If you go on a fancy vacation for 2 weeks, your mind goes full tourist mode. If you are just in money spending mode your brain is much more relaxed and focuses on soaking up the experiences.
In contrast, the nomadic lifestyle often requires a lot more planning. You have to think about where you can stay long term and how to stay productive while you travel. Here is the closest experience I can think of: Business Trips. If you have ever been on a business trip before, you know how exhausting it can be. You spend the majority of the time in the office and the only time when you can explore the city is either for dinner or on the weekends. But by that time, your brain is so exhausted that it’s not fully capable of processing all the new input. Of course the experience is not completely the same but what I’m saying is, that there are much more things you need to take care of as to whether you’re having whine from Italy or france for your lobster.
This is the reason why I enjoyed staying in a hostel with my friends so much. It was such a good feeling to leave the laptop at home and forcing myself to not worry about work. We walked around and explored the city, did all the touristy stuff and spent a lot of time hanging around in coffee places.
It’s also great to have friends visiting because they plan their trips and look up all the touristy stuff that you usually wouldn’t do in your own city.
Here are some impressions:
I love yaki niku!
After my friends left, I moved back to my family. Staying with family can be soooo comfortable. There is food at home all the time and you barely need to leave the house. To prevent myself from getting too lazy and just scratching my butt once a day, I decided to checkout some meetups. Funnily, the meetup scene in Hanoi is not very strong and so it happens that only one lady dominated the scene with her meetups about success and entrepreneurship. Absolutely perfect for me!
I got to know some interesting people and to be honest, it changed my mind about Hanoi. Many of them were in the early stage of starting something and so relatively unexperienced. I didn’t get much out of the meetup in terms of knowledge, but I really enjoyed connecting with the people and hearing their stories. While I felt lonely at the beginning and just wanted to leave, I felt much more grounded towards the end of my stay. I’m sure next time I go back, I will have a much better experience than this time.
In the end, it’s not the place that decides over our experience, but the people who make up the place.
So what happened to Hoi An?
To be honest, after spending almost 2 months in Hanoi, I felt very unhealthy. As much as I love the Vietnamese food, I have to admit it’s not the healthiest. Meals are dominated by carbs, meat and sugar.
Sure, other SEA countries are probably not better, but I found Chiang Mai had a much better balance and offers more choices, especially because it’s so westernized now and follows trends of yogi and vegan communities. After those weeks, I found myself gaining weight, especially because I also didn’t really work out much.
The lack of a gym access and taking taxis all the time (because the city is just not walkable) wasn’t really beneficial for my overall health.
In addition to the food and the physical health, I also found the air quality terrible in the big cities. There is just too much traffic and construction going on (also a reason why it’s not good to walk around all day in Hanoi without a mask).
Hoi An may be close to the beach and has much better air, but I had little energy left to adjust myself to a new place just yet. So I decided to go back to Thailand and get back into my old routine.
Hoi An is still on my list though, but next time I go straight and skip Hanoi.
Moving back to Chiang Mai.
I can’t express my excitement after walking out from the Airport. Everything felt so familiar and the weather was fantastic. My stay in Vietnam has been dominated by cloudy and grey weather and so I was happy to have some Vitamin D again.
I moved into a new Apartment (The Sky) this time, which is much more central in Santitham than my previous one (W-Living). For the next two months, I will be staying in Chiang Mai. Burning season is still on, but I hope the air gets better as soon as raining season kicks in. I’ve never been to asia during rainy season so it’s gonna be an interesting experience.
My first night in Chiang Mai went unexpected. My aircon was broken and a power outage of 3h tested my patience 😀
My focus for the next two months is my freelance work, to earn some cash and prepare for the travels after. I decided to take two months off from July and entirely focus on traveling.
Gosh, I missed this pool! Weather in Chiang Mai is excellent if the smog is gone.
Although Vietnam has fruits as well, the extreme and uncontrolled use of pesticides put me off from eating lots of fruits. Also general fruits like apples cost a fortune. One time I paid almost 10€ for 3 apples which is insane. So I was happy to be back in Thailand.
Expenses – Total Spent 1.516,18€
April hasn’t been a very cheap month for several reasons. Although I saved some money by staying with my family and eating at home, I just went a little crazy in other areas.
1) GRABbing – 115.84€ Hanoi is such a big city. Since I didn’t have a motorbike to get around myself and the public transport is kinda meh, I found myself using GRAB a LOT just because of convenience. Here is the catch, although the single rides are fairly cheap, after a month I was quite surprised to see how much the costs added up.
2) Gadgets – 268.38€ My biggest expense this month was really the Oura Ring. I have been dealing with bad sleep for years now which impacted many areas of my life. Buying a gadget is not gonna fix the problem, but since the Oura Ring is the most advanced sleep tracker, I hope to get more insights about my sleeping patterns.
In addition, I just spent lots of small amounts for touristy stuff when my friends were visiting and also travel related stuff such as visa because I moved back to Chiang Mai.
Online Business – Focus on market research and updating thumbnails
Ok, let’s get the exciting part. During the last couple of months I tweaked my keywords for SEO purposes and witnessed continuous decline in traffic. This is because of the calibration process that takes place in the background of the search engine. All my products need to be re-evaluated for the ranking positions. According to some e-commerce facebook groups, it’s also a slow time of the year which is why I’m not really worried.
However, April has been even a worse month in terms of traffic, but strangely, the best month in terms of sales.
My biggest experiment in April was doing market research using Pickfu for my thumbnails. I tested three different thumbnails and collected feedback from different customer groups to see which one converts best. Here is the result:
Although I was hesitating at first to spend money on market research, I was quite happy about the results and feedback that I got. Here are some opinions what people said:
Doing market research is for sure not cheap, however, the insights you get will make up for everything in the long run if it can generate more sales. In total, I spent around 72$ which is totally fine.
After the research, I spent a lot of time changing my thumbnails and indeed, saw an increase in engagement.
I also spent a lot of time researching and creating more products this month. With my current amount of products (~60) and the number of views I generate currently, I calculated that I would get a sale every 20 days. It has been pretty much accurate so far but it’s nothing considering that the month has 30 days on average. So in order to increase sales, I need to increase my views by increasing the number of products.
2 Months View – March & April
Traffic started to decline since february but stabilized in april.
On average, I get a sale around 20 days, but april has been an interesting month with more sales than expected.
Etsy is playing around with its algorithm all the time which also explains the decrease in traffic. Many people were complaining. The sharp dips indicate there was an anomaly. It’s annoying but part of building your home on someone elses property.
Although my traffic dropped, I got more sales than previous months.
Learnings and Things I’ve been experimenting with:
Very high on my priority list for this month was fitness. Since Hanoi, I realized how much I miss working out and having healthy food. Vietnam made me realize that I cannot always have access to a gym and therefore need other options to stay fit. Although, I am back in Chiang Mai now, I’ve been exercising at home a lot more and trying to build a habit of doing bodyweightworkouts in my room. Calisthenics is probably how most people would call it. Before, I had the mindset that you need all kind of equipment in order make progress, but that’s not true. There are so many bodyweight exercise for different levels that will challenge the crap out of you. By creating this habit, I hope to stay fit no matter where I go because there is no excuse not to do handstands or pushups.
Organic Healthcare Products
This is a topic that I feel slightly embarrassed about. For the last two years, I’ve been noticing an increase in hair fall. I’ve been researching the topic a lot and try out different things. For most men, hair fall is totally natural because male pattern baldness is linked to your genes. So there is not much you can do, once it started.
However, I’ve also noticed my unhappiness and increase in stress level over the last couple of years due to work and family problems. I started to grind my teeth during sleep which is a sign of stress. For that reason, I believe that male pattern baldness is not the main reason why I’m losing my hair. Fighting hair loss is a holistic approach. I’ve been eating fairly healthy and working out regularly. However, what I’ve been neglecting for a long time is this: I’ve been using a lot of chemicals on my body. Especially on my scalp. I found out that most shampoo that we use, contain a shit ton of chemicals that do not contribute at all to the skin and hair health. In fact, many shampoo contain chemicals that dries out hair and skin, which leads to breakage and hair fall. Because the chemicals remove all the natural protection of the scalp and hair, it goes into a protection mode which increases oil production for moisterization purposes. The scalp becomes more oily and shiny. Hair follicles become blocked and irritated due to overproduction of sebum. The hair growth cycle is affected and hair growth is hindered.
So what did I change?
I’m now only using organic shampoos that don’t contiain toxic ingredients such as:
Fragrance (Synthetic perfumes) Fragrance of any kind isn’t good. …
I found out that coconut oil and aloevera are great ingredients.
Furthermore, I will not wash my hair every day anymore to avoid breakage and dry skin.
Let’s see how it will change after a couple of months.
But again, Hair loss needs to be tackled holistically. If you also suffer from hair loss, you need to focus on healing your body from within:
reduce coffee consumption because it leads to higher cortisol level which can lead to more stress and anxiety
work out regularly
avoid using chemicals on your body in general
improve your sleep quality to help the body repair itself
have healthy relationships
do something you enjoy every day
Where to next?
For the next two months, I don’t plan any big trips and will most likely stay in Chiang Mai to save up money. I will, however, try to explore more of the surrounding and do trips on the weekends though to get to know other areas of Thailand. I’m kinda looking forward to that.
I hope you liked this months update and would love to hear from you. Let me know if this kind of report is helpful or interesting for you. If you have any suggestions how I could improve it, then I would also love to hear that ?