On a mini holiday in Thailand to read, write and get stuff done. A few other things that I’ve been up to in Chiangmai…

Medical tourism 

I decided to visit Bangkok Hospital in Chiangmai to get various biomarkers tested in order to establish a baseline for my health (lipid panel, hemoglobin, inflammatory markers etc). Before you can “biohack” you need to know what it is exactly that you’re hacking. I made an appointment online, confirmed within 48 hours, and upon my arrival I wasn’t sure if I was in the right place as it all felt like I was in a 5-star hotel. I was greeted by friendly (not to mention attractive), English-speaking staff and given a high level of service and free sandwiches. Many of these doctors have studied in Europe and the US.

The tests cost about $800 total and were not covered under my insurance program, and the same tests would be two to three times the price in the US. While I got a “good deal” it pales in the comparison to other treatments like cardio-angioplasty that are 10x the price in the US compared to Thailand. The hospital I went to was rated number 8 amongst all hospitals in Thailand, which isn’t bad. If I was getting an appendectomy or heart surgery, though, perhaps I’d still choose a US hospital; it all depends on what I’m looking for.

The opposite situation happened, too. I was on holiday in the same country, Thailand, with my family at a relatively high priced resort. The food was bad, the activities overpriced and we ended up getting sick for a couple of days (bad papaya, maybe). I had been traveling for 2 months prior to around Asia staying in questionable hotels for a fraction of the price without one bout of sickness. The “nicer” more expensive place ended up being the worst. What I learned…1) You don’t always get what you pay for…and 2) Think globally. Geoarbitrage provides countless opportunities online and offline. The world is your playground, so have fun.

There are constant images from the media that highlight the negatives or horror stories of getting a bad service or product abroad; mainly, though, it’s “unpatriotic.” This isn’t the 90’s anymore, though, and you have plenty of resources at your disposal. You can do your own research, talk to people who have done it before, and take initiative. We’re no longer living in isolation and have an incredible opportunity to craft our own lives.

Notes on Visas and Apartment Rentals (doing a bit of research for fun)

I walked into a few banks to see if I could get a bank account just on a tourist visa with no residency and only my passport. No go. But, many banks will give you a bank account as a foreigner if you meet two pretty easy conditions. All you need to get a bank is 1) minimum 1 month housing contract and 2) passport. Also, in order to get the bank account under these conditions you need to enroll in insurance which costs like $100 a year, and covers up to $100,000 in medical costs. Sounds like a pretty good deal to me.

You can get a decent 1 month rental here for like $300, 100 square meters! That’s like 3x as big as my apartment in Tokyo and 5 times cheaper. It’s crazy how we get comfortable living in one place and don’t realize there’s bigger and better places just a 7 hour $150 plane ride away.

I talked to a guy who works at a foreigner relocation and support service called ChiangmaiBuddy. He gave me the low down on a few things:

To qualify for a Business Visa you need: 
-4 Thai staff
-2 million baht in your bank account
Self defense visa: (badass!)
-1 year visa
-2 hours per week training martial arts

-Apparently you can negotiate w/ the martial arts teacher and go in less frequently or group your lessons together. Not a bad way to spend a year!

Process: Apartment —> Residence (visa) —> Bank account

Thai embassy: You can get a 2 month tourist visa if you get your visa from your home country rather than the 1 month tourist visa in Thailan
Example Property: Bliss Hotel
-9,900 baht per month
-discount for 2 years
-pay up front
-no tax for rental

90 Day Reporting Rule
-Since you’re living in Thailand you have to physically go to the embassy every 3 months to report that you’re living here

Airbnb

I had a chance to stay at two different airbnb properties in Chiangmai owned by Merry and Phim, who are two Thai sisters. They’ve got like 10 properties in Thailand and all of their locations are selected for style + convenience +comfort. They love design and are super welcoming, and hands down the best hospitality I’ve ever received using an Airbnb. The rooms had great wifi, water and cookies waiting my arrival, and both places I stayed at had saunas and pools. Awesome. You can find their page here: https://www.airbnb.com/users/show/28941183

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