One of the best things about traveling is meeting interesting people in interesting places. Because Thailand is such a popular vacation destination, we’ve met a lot of interesting travelers in our time here. From eternal drifters to grumpy people to awesome families, we feel like we’ve seen it all. Here are a few of our favorites.
The Eternal Japanese Drifter Guy Who Will Never Settle Down
I can’t remember this guy’s name, so I have dubbed him “Drifter”. For about a half hour, this 30-something-year-old guy from Japan sat and chain smoked at a cafe in Pai while he entertained us with stories from his nearly-a-decade-long backpacking trip around Southeast Asia. He was the classic beach-bum-backpacker type and the ultimate drifter, saying things like, “Yeah, man, you gotta follow your dreams, man…”. He was sporting the classic backpacker uniform of harem pants and a geometric print muscle tank top.
“Drifter” recommended we visit the Ijen Volcano on Java when we visit Indonesia, telling us it was the most beautiful volcano he has ever seen:
When Kevin asked him the very best place he has ever visited, he picked Kashmir, India because of its stunningly beautiful surroundings:
“Drifter” told us that the bus ride to Kashmir is dangerous and terrifying. The mountain road is so narrow, that often times one of the bus’s four rear tires was actually hanging off the side of the road:
We said our goodbyes as “Drifter” headed out on the long, windy road from Pai to Mae Hong Son on his rented motorbike. Keep traveling, Drifter!
The Negative Nancy Law Student Volunteers
We eat lunch six days a week at Pun Pun, which means we regularly run into the same people. You probably also know by now that Kevin and I spend about 23.5 hours per day together, which means that we sometimes eavesdrop on people at lunch to entertain ourselves when we just can’t talk about software projects anymore.
We often run into a group of girls who are law students from the USA, but are currently volunteering here in Chiang Mai. They never seem to stop complaining about how hard life is. I suppose living in the “Land of Smiles”, as Thailand is often called, can be pretty rough. I know it makes me pretty grumpy to be surrounded with such wonderful weather, the amazing culture, the incredibly affordable prices, and the warm and friendly Thai people. Life is so hard.
The Awesome German Family We Accidentally Stalked in Koh Chang
Most of my stalking nowadays is on the interwebs. That’s right, friends and family, I’m watching you, following your every electronic move, because I have time for that now. (Wow, that reads just as creepy as I thought it would.) Kevin and I accidentally did some real-life stalking on our recent trip to the Thai island of Koh Chang, and luckily it ended up with a warm invitation to visit some new friends at their home in Germany instead of ending in a restraining order and deportation from this country we’ve come to love.
Our new friends and their 1-year-old son were visiting Koh Chang for a week and happened to be staying at the same resort as us. We saw them our first day at the resort a handful of times, and accidentally set up camp at the pool next to them on our second day. I’m not sure you all know, but Kevin and I have a weird love of German people. We’ve just met a lot of really awesome German people on our travels, and in general they’ve been just incredibly friendly and warm. I’m also a quarter German, so I might be biased. And their beer is often served by the liter, the LITER, which scores major points with us. Anyway, Kevin saw that this guy had a book titled “Der Something” with him at the pool. We sprechen Deutsch just a little bit, enough to know that “Der” in German means “The”. I know, advanced stuff right there.
Kevin struck up a conversation, and he and Alexander were soon having an animated chat about the varieties, prices, and qualities of beers across Germany. We bonded over booze, and over the course of the next 18 hours we ran into this family no less than eleven times. This is no small feat at a huge resort with four pools, FOUR. It started to get ridiculous, but apparently we didn’t scare them off. We ended up exchanging contact information and plan to visit them if we’re in their neck of the woods during our travels in the next year or two. Yay for travel friends!
The Bootstrappin’ Bros Obsessed with Pointy Triangles
We used to run into these guys at least three times a week at our favorite little coffee shop. They were here in Chiang Mai bootstrapping a new online business drop-shipping high-end travel gear, but have since moved on to Bali. If you combined the personalities of Steve Jobs and a SoCal Beach Bum, it would produce something similar to these two guys.
The Bros had three habits that made me die a little bit inside every time we ran into them:
- They regularly played music from their laptops without using headhpones. If you want to get a taste of Melanie’s knuckle sandwich, follow their lead.
- For a couple of bros starting a business together, they sure seemed to hate each other. The tension in the air was palpable, you could taste it, and it entertained me to no end.
- For some reason, one of the bros was absolutely obsessed with the shape of the triangle graphics on their website. I’ll never forget the day where he spent hours staring at his Macbook Pro screen, hours! Finally, after a blissful morning of silence because of his complete focus, he turned to his buddy and said, “Hey bro, you know what’s making me crazy? The triangles on our site, they’re just so… pointy…”
Chiang Mai is quite the scene for expats looking for an inexpensive place to live while working on a startup, inspired largely by the popular Tropical MBA podcast that promotes location independent lifestyles. We’re a small part of that Digital Nomad scene, and have enjoyed meeting the wide variety of people that are part of that community – it’s funny how we’ve started to see the same people over and over again in Chiang Mai. We all seem to gravitate towards the coffees shops with really great air conditioning and the street vendors who speak enough English to help us pick out our dinners without accidentally eating pig entrails.
Starting today, I’m cutting back to one blog post per week. I’m planning to start spending more time on personal development and software projects, and a little less time on blog posts. I’ll keep posting every Friday at 8pm Thailand time, which is 8am Central time and 6am Seattle time. If anyone objects, I will be happy to resume twice-a-week blogposts if you direct $200 per week into my Paypal Account. Har har har. Thank you for reading!
We Want to Hear From You!
Who are the most interesting people you’ve met while traveling? The on-the-run drug dealer? The eighty year old backpacker? A guy who travels with three cats? Leave us a comment and tell us your story!