BEA Wander

Living in Chiang Mai: Personal Trainer, Dentist & Burning Season

13 min read

I know, it’s been a while.

Where do I start?

Besides sampling different facial and massage places in town, I’ve also had the chance to learn and experience different things.

This is how I spent my remaining time in Chiang Mai!

My Personal Fitness Journey

I knew I wanted to take advantage of this while in Chiang Mai.

I had a PT back home, but she wasn’t hardcore enough for me. As in, she didn’t push me or teach me enough for me to do it myself.

The first thing I did after I arrived, besides searching for an apartment, was research who were the top trainers in town.

There’s no shortage of PTs here, but these are the ones that I contacted:

  • Karim or Coach K – oh, the credentials behind this one! 
  • Ning Fit – #girlcrush!
  • Meaghan Janisse –  …all I can say is that I didn’t come to Thailand to pay North America prices… 
  • Unbreakable – would have gone with him if he trained at my gym 
  • Yolo Fitinteresting, but a bit pricey

I ended up going with Coach K because he’s:

  1. credible and qualified – he’s placed nationally in bodybuilding competitions in Austria a few years in a row
  2. easy to get along with, flexible and pushes you (not a drill sergeant)
  3. within my budget
  4. trained out of my gym 

Mini Shout-Out: Go Gym is the best one in town! 

  • Biggest and cheapest grunt gym – it’s all you need. (2000 baht = $80 CAD for 3 months)
  • When the world’s bodybuilding championship was in town, this was where the contestants were training. Enough said
  • Opens at 8am until late (10pm?) every day! 
  • …Lots of cute, buff guys here, especially in the evening lol

I bought a 30-session package with him and we met 3 times a week – Monday, Wednesday, Friday at 8 am WITHOUT FAIL.

Ok, I lied. I only cancelled one time because I was sick. I’m only human.

Not that I had too much body fat to lose, but, by the end of my 3 months, I was down 5 pounds.

More importantly, I saw a noticeable difference in my body composition – less body fat and more muscle definition – and people around me noticed too! If you watch my videocasts below, you can see the difference in my face! 

There were also measurable results – like how much weight I can now deadlift (my own body weight!), squat, bench press (I’m still working on this one – weak upper body, like most women) and how fast I can do 50 burpees (under 2 min!), or run 1K (under 5 minutes!).

I don’t have before-and-after pictures, but at 5’4”, I currently weigh in at 125 pounds. I’m very happy with my results and proud of myself.

The only concern now is how to maintain these gains and keep pushing through without my trainer.

Coach K has given gave me SO much – he’s worth every penny!

He gave me knowledge about fitness (what to do in the gym), nutrition (what and when to eat), lifestyle change, shifts in perspective, but most importantly, he gave accountability. I knew he was looking, so I had to go “full gas” can’t just half-ass it.

This should be taught in school! It is such an essential life skill – why didn’t my PE class have any of this in the curriculum?! 

I’d recommend EVERYONE to get a personal trainer. Come on, invest in yourself and in your health!

Especially, if you’re a beginner and have no idea what to do in the gym. Then, you’re a blank slate, there are no bad habits to correct, and you’ll get massive beginner’s gains.  

As much as I loved my time with Coach K, I’d want to try another trainer so I can learn different things. I was considering:

  • A local trainer – since I now know the basics, I think I can train with someone who isn’t fluent in English (and they’re much more affordable!)

Dental Check Up

Known for medical tourism, I definitely had to take advantage of this while in Thailand. I was due for my 6-month regular check-up anyway!

Most of the dentists are actually trained in the States – that’s great news! It means that a) they probably speak English, and b) I can expect a North American standard of dental work done.

I did some research online to see where the recommended dental clinics are these are the ones that popped up:

I ended up going with the most recommended one.

It was quick, easy and painless. I booked an appointment through their FB Page with Dr. Ice for the week after.

When I arrived I was asked to fill out a few forms then off I went to the dentist’s chair.

You don’t get individual rooms, just a thin divider between you and other patients. I’m OK with that though.

The dentist took a look at my teeth and decided how much it would cost.

800 baht ($32 CAD – not bad!)

A normal scaling/polish cleaning start from 600 baht ($24 CAD) but since I have some slight stains on the insides of my top and bottom front teeth, I had to pay an extra 200 baht ($8 CAD).

I told her that I have no idea how I get these stains because I don’t drink coffee, red wine, tea (I do but not very often) or smoke. She said it could be the toothpaste I use or the water that I drink (Wow, really?!).

I was done in about 20 minutes.

My friend, on the other hand, was charged 2000 baht ($80 CAD – still not TOO bad) for a filling with no cleaning.

They take credit card but there’s an extra 3% charge if it’s less than 2000 baht.

I noticed a few things different from home:

  • The actual dentist (not the hygienist) cleaned my teeth!
  • No fluoride rinse – guess that’s not needed here(?)

The customer service of the doctors and helpers were great, but I can’t say the same for the front desk.

There was one lady there who wasn’t exactly rude to me (though she was to my friend), but it wasn’t super friendly either…However, for this price and this quality, you can’t really complain.

I’d happily come back here.

Sidenote on Teeth Whitening:

As I was looking at the pricing, reviews, and location for just a regular dental check-up, I also looked into teeth whitening because…why not?! I’m in Thailand!

It’s actually more expensive than what I can get back home! Starting at around 8000 baht ($320 CAD – WTF!) for in-office whitening, while a take-home kit (Zoom) will set you back 4000 baht ($160 CAD).

Both options are way too expensive for me.

So I tried a home remedy – activated black charcoal. They’re called “carbon” in Thailand, you can find these tablets for cheap (like no more than 150 baht) in just about any grocery store.

I brushed my teeth with it and let it sits for minutes before rinsing. At least 3 times within a few weeks…it did nothing for me 🙁 Na-da! Zip!


Interviewed on Podcast

Weirdly enough, I was interviewed twice!

Okay, there aren’t really podcasts. One was on a YouTube channel and the other was on Facebook Live.

I was hesitant to say yes at first because I didn’t think I had anything interesting to say. The hosts reassured me and said my story is share-worthy with their audience.

My first one happened literally a week or two after I landed with Vinh Ho of Expert Globe Trade. We just talked about what I was doing before and the start of my journey.

The next one happened 2 months later with John Ho and it’s in Cantonese.

This one’s more about explaining what a Digital Nomad is, how they usually make money online and my journey so far.

Sidenote: I don’t really identify as a digital nomad. For a few reasons: a) I’m not changing locations every month, and b) I have a base in Asia already. I’m very fortunate to be in my situation.

For my fellow CBCs and ABCs, can you tell that speaking in Chinese was a bit challenging for me?

It’s been so long since I spoke Canto that I’ve forgotten some of my vocabulary. I thought that being in Asia would improve my Chinese, but it really didn’t.

Here are a few things I’ve noticed:

  • You get special treatment when you speak English (even if you look Asian!)
  • My voice changes depending on which language I speak – I’ve only noticed this recently
  • I should be practicing my Mandarin instead of Cantonese

Burning Season

People weren’t kidding when they said Burning Season in Chiang Mai is BAD!

I was told that the season is only during the month of March, but it actually starts in mid-February and goes all the way until Songkran (Thai New Year) in mid-April. Avoid Chiang Mai during these 2 months if you can.

The farmers burn all their leftover crops because it’s a longstanding tradition and they think that it would revitalize their land. The Thai government is trying to ban it, but I don’t see them heavily enforcing it…

There was one really bad day where Chiang Mai topped the charts for the third most polluted city in the world. Even schools had to close because it was so bad!

I had a friend who wasn’t feeling well, ended up going to the hospital to get checked out, and the doctor said his lungs were so inflamed from the air quality that he has bronchitis.

Some had allergies and their nose wouldn’t stop dripping like a faucet. Other friends weren’t completely affected and didn’t mind it at all. I just woke up with a sore throat every morning. I guess it just depends on how sensitive you are.

Looking back, I should have left two weeks earlier in Mid-February instead of waiting until early March when my Visa ran out.

The air, the haze, the pollution was tolerable on a good day and unbearable on a bad day. It felt harder to breathe – like the air was thicker – especially when I was sweating it out at the gym.

Yes, there are those N95 or N99 filter masks that you can wear, but…why live like that when you don’t need to?!

AQI-Air Quality Index-156-for-chiang-mai-burning-season

Cultural Things

Doi Suthep

Finally, after 2.5 months, I went to the famous temple at the top of the mountain!

We scootered to the base and walked up all 300+ steps to get to the entrance.

Apparently, you need to pay to enter if you’re a foreigner (free to for locals). It’s only a few dollars, so think of it as a donation.

The public washroom right across from the admissions office is free!

There were actually a lot of things inside the temple to look at: meditation center, a beautiful pavilion, amazing view (when it’s not burning season), different Buddha statutes, praying areas…etc. 

I went to play with the “up, up, down, down” thing. My Asians know what I’m talking about!

It’s the wooden cup with a bunch of sticks that you shake until one stick falls out. That stick has a number (or a ‘up’ or ‘down’ in Chinese temples) and you go to box with the corresponding number to get your message.

Thank goodness my was a good one!

If it was really the up, down thing, then you’d bring it over to the temple’s reader (usually a monk) so they can decipher it for you and tell you your fortune.

One trip to Doi Suthep was enough for me.

If I were to go again, I’d probably go early in the morning (like 8 am) to beat the heat and all the Chinese tourists.

Chiang Mai Flower Festival

It’s their 43rd year! 

It’s literally what you’d imagine a flower festival to be. A huge parade (which I didn’t go to) and a park filled with statues made with flowers.

It’s all very pretty! It happened at Nong Buak Hard Park – yes, the same park where free yoga and HIIT classes is every morning!

Wrapping Up 3 Months

I learned a LOT during my 3 months in Thailand!

Not that I’m a completely changed person (no life-altering experience), but happier and lighter. I know what my goals are, kinda know what I’m doing and sorta know how to get there. 

Half the fun is figuring it out as you go. I welcome surprises to come into my life 🙂 It’ll make it so much more interesting. 

I miss all my friends that I made there, but I know I’ll see them again…somewhere in the world 🙂  

Until next time, Chiang Mai!  

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