Ivana and Gianni of Nomad is Beautiful are a digital nomad couple who broke their old habits to live a new, healthy lifestyle on the road. On their journey, through our stories and photographs, they show you places where you can replenish your spirit, take good care of your body, eat and drink healthy local food and beverages, and live mindfully while being on the road. Please enjoy this week-in-the-life of Ivana and Gianni, in Chiang Mai, Thailand.
This week-in-the-life was originally published in 2014, and has since been updated for accuracy of links and formatting.
Day 1 – Monday
7:00 AM – Gianni wakes up and practices his regular meditation in a patio of our guesthouse. (See also: How to Find an Apartment in Chiang Mai)
8:25 AM – We arrive at the Puttisopon School in Chiang Mai. Here we start our long-term project, in which we meet with children in each country we visit and take pictures of them while they are having their regular classes at school.
8:30 AM – On the main backyard we meet with Aom, the English teacher and her 42 kids, all nine or ten years old. For the first 15 minutes we stay with them and the other 800 pupils, listening to a daily speech of their head teacher. Kids are sitting on the ground, seeming a bit bored and tired since they have to sit under the hot Thai sun. For us it’s an exciting event. We wait until the national anthem, and we all stand up and sing it.
9:30 AM – We have almost finished the photo shoot in Aom’s classroom. The classroom is a bit small for all the children; they sit in small groups of six or eight at the table. Aom sometimes speaks with a microphone, as it is pretty loud and it’s impossible to shout instructions for the exercise to the whole group.
4:00 PM – Gianni is preparing some materials for a photo walk that he is going to lead in a few days. Ivana is checking some places to visit for a weekend trip.
Day 2 – Tuesday
5:30 AM – Early morning call to go Chiang Mai Gate market to shoot during the blue hour and to buy the best veggies and fruits in our area. We meet some locals that now recognize us and smile every time we approach them. It has been nearly three months that we’ve been shopping there regularly.
12:30 PM – We meet Dustin Main from A Skinny Escape for lunch. Chiang Mai is a perfect hub of digital nomads and we are happy to meet with them in person. Our favourite ‘Brown Rice’ restaurant is not that full and we enjoy our vegetarian curries while having an awesome chat with our friend.
7:00 PM – Heading to eat some street food. We sit at a tiny, metal table on tiny, plastic chairs, with a nice papaya salad, some morning glory, rice, and an omelette. We cannot go back home without a smoothie, so we ask to prepare one sweet and one sour from the relatively famous Mrs. Pa whose stall is located opposite the Chiang Mai Gate market.
Day 3 – Wednesday
8:20 AM – We arrive at Sati (a yoga studio and a teahouse) for a morning class of yoga. We enjoy one of the best classes of yoga ever, while practicing simple asanas with different approaches.
11:00 AM – Still at Sati, tasting fabulous pu-erh tea prepared by Echo, our yoga teacher, a dear friend and an inspiring tea artist.
1:00 PM – Preparing our lunch: fresh veggie salad with avocado, peanuts and olive oil. We do not have a kitchen in our guesthouse, but we’ve missed having simple, fresh salads so much that we have borrowed some plates from our landlady to have a homemade, healthy feast.
6:00 PM – Ivana visits a dentist and cannot wait to be back home at the guesthouse.
Day 4 – Thursday
9:00 AM – We have our favourite breakfast of fresh passion fruit, avocado, dragon fruit and peanuts.
9:30 AM – Before we leave Chiang Mai, we decide to do some video footage of the markets and temples we love. First stop: Warorot Market. We laugh when Ivana repeats the same introduction for the 16th time. This video is going to be more comical than travel-related.
10:40 AM – We are already starving, since we have worked hard on the shooting video, so we buy some yummy, veggie samosas from the nearest stall. While eating, a Romanian woman starts to chat with us. It turns out she is in the town to start her career as a healer. We exchange contacts and continue to make more videos at the market.
11:30 AM – Ordering a beloved khao-soi at the local stall inside the Warorot market hall. 0.50 USD is all it costs for one of the best traditional, northern Thai soup with fried, crispy noodles in town.
4:00 PM – Gianni is working on his photo archive and his new travel photography website that he will launch soon. Ivana is tired after a busy morning, so is reading a book on Kindle and resting.
7:00 PM – It has become a nice habit to go for the Green Papaya meditation every Thursday at Yoga Tree. We have a dilemma whether to go for a movie and a talk about human traffic at Documentary Art Asia, but we opt for meditation, because this time there should be a special Dharma Talk of Pandit Bhikkhu, a Buddhist monk originally from England.
Day 5 – Friday
7:30 AM – We are getting ready for the morning photo walk led by Gianni.
9:10 AM – Gianni starts his practical part of the workshop in a cozy cafe on the southeast side of Chiang Mai’s old city. He explains the rules and tricks of composition, light, and demonstrates it with inspirational images. The small group of three participants is very enthusiastic, curious, and engaged in the discussion. We are pleased they find the workshop helpful.
11:30 AM – It is getting very hot, and we are in the middle of the workshop. We have moved from the cafe to explore the ‘hidden’ Terracotta Garden, behind the Chiang Mai gate market. We are walking very slowly, everybody stops independently when s/he sees something interesting. All are hunting for a great shot to capture. While walking, they ask Gianni for technical or other photography-related advice.
1:00 PM – We are eating at a vegetarian buffet with all of the participants who have quickly become friends, discussing inspiring topics.
5:00 PM – Gianni is choosing a photo to be featured in a guest post. It’s a slide show of photographs from Morocco. Ivana is organizing a trip to the so-called ‘lost ancient city’ near Chiang Mai, Wiang Kum Kam, with travel fellows who are currently in the city with us.
Day 6 – Saturday
9:00 AM – We meet with our friends near Thapae Gate to take a song thaew (a hired truck) to the ruin complex. The driver cannot understand from the map that we show him on our phone so he calls a friend to get better instructions for the right direction.
10:05 AM – After the driver gets lost a few times, we can see on our Google map that we are pretty close to our destination, so we ask him to stop so we can walk to the place.
10:10 AM – We have no clue where we are. We wander around, meet smiling and genuine locals who we take pictures of, and explore the area.
10:20 AM – We realize we are on the opposite side of Wiang Kum Kam, but this does not bother us. We walk through ancient ruins of temples, some of which are undergoing reconstruction. The place is almost deserted. Now and then we see a minibus full of Chinese tourists who hop from one ruined temple to another, without even getting off.
11:40 AM – The sun is very strong and it is almost unbearable to walk, but we stay in shade whenever we find one. We are with our three dear friends, also travel bloggers, and it’s easier to cope with the heat together!
1:00 PM – It’s lunchtime and we have empty stomachs, empty water bottles and t-shirts soaked in sweat. We look for ANY place to eat.
1:20 PM – We arrive to the end (or in fact, the main entrance of Wiang Kum Kam). There is no food stall and no restaurant. We buy some snacks and water and start to look for transport to get back to Chiang Mai. A guy waiting for his customers, who are wandering around the ruins, is willing to give us a lift. The price is much cheaper compared to morning song thaew. Yeah, we helped someone to have a better wage today.
2:00 PM – Tired but happy from what we have seen, we just fall onto the chairs at the Brown Rice restaurant, where we have a small feast of dishes we haven’t tried before. We meet a nice Indian family currently living in Hong Kong who has come to Chiang Mai to relax. They describe Hong Kong as a perfect place for living. Well, we might consider it a future destination.
3:15 PM – We all have finished our meals, except for our friend Johanna from Travel Eater, who is still waiting for her spring rolls. After reminding the staff about our order, there’s a small mix-up: they finally serve her, but with a different dish.
5:50 PM – We’re on our way to eat something at the Saturday Night market before the movie at the Documentary Arts Asia, a unique place for film and photography lovers.
7:00 PM – Today they screen ‘Cutie and the Boxer’. We grab some popcorn and sit in our favourite spot in comfortable chairs (dangerous for bad movies, you really fall asleep fast when sit on them)!
9:00 PM – We are in a pleasant state of shock, impressed, and touched by an amazing movie and grateful to our friend Dustin for organizing such a great event every Saturday.
9:05 PM – We say goodbye to our friends and walk back to the market to splurge on the ‘ninja ice cream’, a special way to prepare your cup of iced rolls of cream, chocolate and other goodies!
11:00 PM – Gianni is working on his photos from the morning trip. Ivana still has her mind on the evening movie and does some social media promotion work for the blog entries.
Day 7 – Sunday
9:00 AM – We wake up a bit later than usual, due to the busy day before.
9:20 AM – Having had a breakfast of fruit, we leave for three days of spa treatments that are part of our ‘massage project’ in Chiang Mai.
11:30 AM – We arrive to Ban Sabai Village, check in, and have a walk through their beautiful garden.
1:00 PM – We rent bikes from the resort and ride to the village to have a veggie soup in the local restaurant near the main road.
2:00 PM – Ivana is taking an afternoon Vinyasa Flow yoga class. Having lunch beforehand was not the best idea. The asanas seem to be more difficult with a full stomach but a pond, a fountain, and the chirping birds on tropical trees and flowers make the practice easier.
2:30 PM – Gianni replies to emails and posts a daily photo to the social media networks.
4:30 PM – We go for a swim that we have been so looking forward to!
7:00 PM – Mrs. Chitra, the owner of the resort, invites us for a traditional Thai dinner where we are astonished by the flavors, tastes and the way all the meals have been prepared. She tells us her story about how she made her business dream come true, and about her family background and massage culture.
9:30 PM – Gianni is tweaking our website, Ivana is writing an article for the next blog entry. We stay in a pavilion with a perfect, high-speed connection, surrounded by night birds, geckos and now and then some mosquitos.
00:00 Time for bed. Tomorrow is another day. Another day of work, yoga classes and massages. It’s another day of our adventure!
Ivana and Gianni are now exploring the province of Antique in the Philippines. Later they’ll travel to Borneo, Bail, and back to Europe to visit their families and friends in London, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, and Italy. In October 2014 they’ll attend the TBEX conference in Athens. You can follow their adventures at Nomad is Beautiful.