December 4, Tuesday @ 11:15am
Famjam was short and sweet, just how I like it. Then, off I went to true freedom…Chiang Mai, Thailand (CNX) – it’s one hour BEHIND HK/Macau.
About the airport in Macau (MFM):
Now that I know there aren’t many food options after you go through security – it’s just a tiny food court – next time I’ll definitely be getting a snack at the 7-11 or McDonald’s before security.
I flew with budget airline (AirAsia) from MFM to CNX. It’s a 2.5H international flight with no meals or snacks, no entertainment and you’re surrounded by mainlanders, but it’s cheap ($40 USD one-way) so I won’t complain that much.
I did find the airline inefficient. Back home, we check-in online and can proceed to security with our boarding pass on our phones. With AirAsia, I checked-in online but still have to get a paper-based boarding pass. That just doesn’t make sense to me…Good thing there were 2 kiosks around that can print passes.
I went through immigration with no problem or questions with my 60-day visa.
They didn’t even ask to see a plane ticket leaving the country, so I wasted $10 on a reserved ticket from bestonwardtickets.com. Good service though – prompt and straightforward! I’d use them again in the future.
***I read online that the immigration officers can stamp the wrong date, so double check yourself before you leave the airport! In my case, it was correct. Entered on Dec 4 + 60 days = Feb 1!
After getting through immigration, I bought a Tourist SIM for 7 days with voice and unlimited data for $299 (=$12). The rep switched out my SIM and set everything up for me on the spot.
When I did my research, there are 3 main cell phone providers: TrueMove, AIS & DTAC. I read online that DTAC isn’t the best so people usually go with True or AIS – I went with AIS.
Once my SIM expires 7 days later, I’ll have to get a cheap, data-only plan. In Thailand, they have 3 different plans: just voice, just data, and voice + data. Chiang Mai Buddy explains it in detail better than me. I’ll be opting for the data only.
First Day Shenanigans
If I was SMART, I would have gone to the immigration office right beside the airport and get my visa extended for another 30 days right then and there…but I wasn’t, so I’ll go do that later. It costs 1900 Baht (=$76 – wow, that’s more than another 60-day visa ($50)…hm…), more on this later!
From the airport, I took a taxi from the airport to my pre-booked accommodations, Daizy House, in the trendy Nimman area – I paid a straight rate of 150 baht (=$6 CAD) for the ride, which I thought was pretty cheap.
Until I found out that using Grab (their version of Uber) would have been half of that. =.=” For the hostel (4 ladies to a room), I paid 270 baht (= $10). In hindsight, here’s a list of FREE apps that I should have downloaded and set up before my trip.
I met one of my roommates right away, another single female traveller from Korea, and we grabbed a late lunch together at Crazy Noodle House. A bowl of noodle was 50 baht (= $2), but the portions here at a bit smaller, which is fine with me because I think North American portions way too big. Then I went to explore my new area.
You may think I’m weird for booking a hostel just for one night, then a hotel…that’s because the airline cancelled my original flight (Dec 5) so I rebooked my flight one day earlier, and couldn’t change my hotel booking.
For dinner, I met up with a friend inside Maya Mall – the fancy mall in Nimman – and had ‘fancy’ Japanese food at Yayoi Japanese Restaurant. I think most people here equate Maya Mall as the epicentre of the trendy Nimman area, so I will use these locations interchangeably.
We were supposed to get a massage but ended up staying for a LIP SYNC BATTLE at his coworking space where I met his friends.
I find that most foreigners here are so open to talking to other travellers.
Maybe because we all feel so lost and out of our element. haha! I helped a Liverpool, UK bloke find his way back to his apartment when he got lost. I met another Canadian (from Toronto) just crossing the street together. I had no idea where to eat and asked two random Aussies where they’d recommend – it turned out great!
The world really is a melting pot – who cares which country or what accent you have. When you’re away from home, it’s less ‘us vs them’ and more ‘me + you’!