a nomad in search of Easter Eggs
Chiang Mai, Thailand

Being the Soul of Nawa Saraan Hotel Feb 18, 2019

Being the Soul of Nawa Saraan Hotel

Location: Nawa Saraan Hotel, Chiang Mai, Thailand

A Home in Chiang Mai
In Chiang Mai, I've always stayed in Nawa Saraan Hotel at the invite of owner-friend, Mike. Now, it feels home to be here. It's a charming boutique hotel with 4 spacious luxury rooms. The front is container-themed with a Zen garden and Koi pond. Three years back, it was thriving and energy was alive. Now, it felt a little sad. Mike said Nawa Saraan needed a soul as his newer hotels kept him occupied. It left me thinking, "I could be that soul".

Being the Soul of Nawa Saraan Hotel
Nawa Saraan Hotel | low-density 4 rooms | Zen garden | Koi pond

A Soul
The more I thought about the possibility, the more it made sense. Why?

A New Mandate
After a few deliberations, I committed myself to the task and assured Mike about my resolve to be the soul of Nawa Saraan. After my weeklong Thai massage course, I began my new mandate - Feb 18 to be exact. Mike ensured that I get full support from the staff from the other hotels. He gave me free rein about my vision for the hotel. In his own word, "Nawa Saraan is yours!". At the barest minimum, I should be around to check-in the arriving guests and to check-out the departing ones. With only 4 rooms, it wasn't a Herculean task. But of course, my vision for the hotel goes well beyond the check-ins.

Right off the bat, I saw what needed immediate enhancements:

Social Media Reviews
As the lone staff, I make it a point to put hotel guests at ease largely by interacting with them. I tell them I'm their point-man for all their lodging needs. I help carry their luggage, give them directions, suggest itineraries, etc. This is perhaps the paramount responsibility I have - fostering guest relations. I am good at that. I simply treat them as fellow travelers I meet on the open road. I can relate to them at that level. Already, I get validation from all these efforts through the rave reviews on (and to a minor extent, Tripadvisor).

A Gathering Space for Friends
Nawa Saraan is in a charming Zen-garden setting with a Koi pond. With outdoor tables and chairs, it serves as my gathering place to host coffee talks with friends. I can whip-up artisan coffee and eats without the expense of meeting at trendy restos or hipster cafes. It has hosted many gatherings with fond memories.

Breathing Life into Dead Spaces
There were a few spaces with inert energy. I wanted to breathe life into them.

Developing Niche Markets
Since I just came from a week-long Thai massage course, I saw how I could tailor-fit Nawa Saraan to be massage-school friendly. I have already opened-up a massage practice space, arranged a special hotel rate from Mike for week-long guests participating in massage courses. In the works would be bicycles available by the hotel front to help students in their commute. I have yet to sit down with massage school owners to convey my intentions and develop some kind of partnership. If this goes well, the 4 rooms should be fully booked at all times.

The Downside
This is a dream job but there is this one potential deal-breaker I didn't see coming - long wait with uncertainty. There could be a check-in with no arrival time. It might sound benign, but that means I have to be on my toes until this guest arrives. I could already be up at 7am in case it's an early arrival, and the guest might not come until 10pm! That's 15 hours of being 'on hold'. It has happened a few times. I can't go out for lunch or dinner and I can't even shit in leisure because the guest just might arrive anytime. Of course I could do other things while waiting, but still, the mind remains on the pending arrival. It's beyond not liking it, it's actually taxing my sanity. I'm simply not wired this way. I just hope I can come up with a system that removes that uncertainty altogether.

Ending Thoughts
I've just finished a full month being the 'soul of Nawa Saraan'. I have yet to finish a few of the things I started and think about other creative approaches to enliven this hotel. Obviously, I'm doing something meaningful and having fun at the same time.

Thanks Mike for the trust.

--- Gigit (TheLoneRider)
YOGA by Gigit Yoga by Gigit | Learn English Learn English | Travel like a Nomad Nomad Travel Buddy | Donation Bank Donation Bank for TheLoneRider

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Chiang Mai, Thailand

important places in Chiang Mai IMPORTANT PLACES
Chiang Mai Bus Station Bus Station
Chiang Mai Train Station Train Station
Chiang Mai airport Chiang Mai International Airport
Nong Buak Hard Park Nong Buak Hard Park - free yoga classes daily

hotels in Chiang Mai HOTEL
Chiang Mai Arun Dara Villa Arun Dara Villa - 7 exclusive rooms, 1 swimming pool for every room, grand opening
Chiang Mai Nawa Sheeva Hotel Nawa Sheeva Hotel - big rooms, high ceiling, salt-water pool, restaurant, cafe
Chiang Mai Nawa Saraan Hotel Nawa Saraan Hotel - low density (4 spacious rooms), stone garden setting, Koi fish pond, Old City location
Arun Suite, Chiang Mai Arun Suite - 3 bedrooms in a 3-storie guesthouse within Old City, ideal for families

birds nest restaurants in Chiang Mai RESTAURANT
La Pizza Chiang Mai La Pizza Chiang Mai - Italian pizza, pasta, wine, dessert, coffee
Chiang Mai birds nest restaurant Natural Bird Nest by Burapa - authentic bird's nest soup

Thai massage in Chiang Mai WELLNESS
ITM  International Training Massage School ITM - International Training Massage School - Chiang Mai's most prestigious massage school
Float Chiang Mai Float Chiang Mai - sensory deprivation float pod
Chiang Mai, Royal Thai Lanna Massage Zira Spa - upscale authentic Thai massage and spa treatment

motorcycle rental in Chiang Mai MOTORBIKE RENTAL
Chiang Mai birds nest motorcycle Tawan Bike - motorcycle rental | +66 91 635 2863 | Si Phum, Mueang Chiang Mai District, Chiang Mai 50200


Chiang Mai FYI / Tips
  • crop-burning season in Chiang Mai is between late Feb to early April. But laws change everytime. This year, 2019, there is a 61-day ban on burning so the farmers started burning early. When my plane was approaching Chiang Mai on Jan 24, 2019, there was already a thick blanket of smog covering the entire city (and beyond). But within the city itself, you won't feel it (but that doesn't mean the air is healthy). To monitor air conditions in real time, refer to site: Chiang Mai Air Pollution: Real-time Air Quality Index (AQI)
  • hot season begins March and lasts until June
  • wet season begins July and lasts until September
  • best time to visit Chiang Mai is mid-September to mid-February - after the monsoon and before the burning
  • you have to try Khao Soi, this is north Thailand's culinary staple
  • the tourist area where most of the hotels, restaurants, ticket offices, tour operators are, is located in the Old City
  • to exchange your dollars to Thai Baht, the Super Rich Money Exchange give the best rates. There are many branches scattered around Chiang Mai
  • get a red cab (songthao) outside the train station for Baht 50 (instead of paying B100 if inside the train station) to Old City - if you haggle nicely enough...I did!
  • shared red taxi (songthao) - B30 standard fare plying all over Old City
  • for only B50/day, best to rent a bike to go around the Old City - it's a 2.5km2 with lots to discover
  • FREE daily yoga classes from 9:00am to 10:15am at Nong Buak Hard Park (southwest corner of Old City). Resident and passing-through teachers take turns conducting yoga classes.
Blues/Jazz Bars in Chiang Mai
  1. North Gate Pub - at Chang Phueg Gate, great Tuesday jam session, Blues on Sundays by the 11pm band
  2. Taphae East - 88 Thapae Rd. (just north of Night Bazaar). Fridays at 9:30pm by Chiang Mai Blues Band
  3. Boy Blues Bar - at the Night Bazaar. Mondays at 9:30pm is open mic
Chiang Mai Cost Index
  • B60 Chiang beer
  • B250 1 hour drop-in yoga session
  • B200 one hour Thai body massage at WAYA Massage (highly recommended)
  • B50 noodle soup with meat
  • B50 coffee
  • B40 pad thai
  • B30/kilo wash-only laundry
  • B50/kilo wash+iron laundry
  • B100-150 dorm bed/night
  • B250 fan room/night
  • B30 internet cafe/hour
  • B170-190 Movies Sat-Sun and public holidays
  • B130-150 Movies weekdays
  • B100 Movies Wednesdays (movie discount day)
  • B750 1/2 day Thai cooking lessons
  • B900-1000 1 full day Thai cooking lessons
  • B400 Muay Thai boxing ticket
  • B2500 starting room rate at the luxury hotel, Nawa Sheeva (highly recommended)

  • Transportation
  • B450 bus, Chiang Mai to Bangkok
  • B160-180 bus, Chiang Mai to Pai
  • B1250 bus, Chiang Mai to Luang Prabang
  • B1650 slow boat, Chiang Mai to Luang Prabang
  • B210 bus, Chiang Mai to Chiang Rai, 3-4 hours
  • B360 Green VIP bus, Chiang Mai to Mae Sai (Thai border town for visa run to Tachileik, Myanmar)
  • B50 bicycle rental, 24 hours
  • B200 motorbike rental, 24 hours
  • B273 #51 sleeping train from Bangkok to Chiang Mai
  • B638 #7 a/c train from Bangkok to Chiang Mai
  • B50 red taxi fare from point to point
  • B100 red taxi fare from train terminal to city

  • Tours
  • B2000 full day elephant sanctuary
  • B750 Chiang Rai one-day tour
  • B1500 mountain biking scenic ride
How to Get to Chiang Mai from Bangkok by Train from Bang Sue Train Station

For more train info: Bangkok to Chiang Mai trains - departing from Hua Lamphong - MRT (Bangkok)

(I'm using Bang Sue as a starting point because I was closer to it, but you may be closer to the Hua Lamphong station)

  1. take the MRT train to Bang Sue Station. Take the #1 Exit to the north provincial trains
  2. Proceed to Counter 2. You will see an information booth, a train schedule chart and the ticket counter. Choose the train and pay at the ticket counter.
  3. daily train schedule:
    • 8:48am - #7 Train, arrive Chiang Mai 7:30pm, not sleeper, B638
    • 2:06pm - #109 Train, arrive Chiang Mai 4:05am, sleeper
    • 6:31pm - #9 Premium Train, arrive Chiang Mai 7:15am, sleeper, B938 upper deck, B1038 lower deck
    • 7:56pm - #13 Train, arrive Chiang Mai 8:40am, sleeper, B768 upper deck, B838 lower deck
    • 10:22pm - #51 Train, arrive Chiang Mai 12:10pm, sleeper, 3rd class B270 (non sleeper), 2nd class B438, B728 upper deck, B798 lower deck
Bus from Loei to Chiang Mai
  1. From Loei town center, take a tuk-tuk ride to the bus station, B30. There is only one bus station.
  2. As of June 28, 2020 (still on Covid schedule), there are only 3 night trips: 8:30pm, 9:30pm and 12 midnight. 9 hours, B470.
  3. The bus makes the following stops at the following times from a 9pm Loei departure: Phu Ruea (9:50pm), Phitsanulok (12:40am), Uttradit (2:20am), Lampang (4:35am)
  4. Final bus stop is at the Red Bus Arcade, Chiang Mai, 9 hour-trip, arriving 6am (from 9pm Loei departure).
  5. Take a red songthaew to Old City, B50. They'll try to charge you B100, but they'll take B50 (just assure the driver you won't tell the other passengers).
Chiangmai Blogs by TheLoneRider
  1. Shifting Peoplescape of Chiang Mai July 2020
  2. Movie Review: Jojo Rabbit (2019) July 11, 2020
  3. Movie Review: The Kingmaker (2019) July 8, 2020
  4. Anahata (Heart Chakra) July 5, 2020
  5. Coming Back to Chiang Mai Jun 29, 2020
  6. Goodbye Chiang Mai Jan 23, 2020
  7. Movie Review: Underwater (2020) Jan 19, 2020
  8. Prasnopanishad: Understanding Prana Jan 17, 2020
  9. Hiking the Monk's Trail Jan 15, 2020
  10. Chaturanga Jan 10, 2020
  11. Movie Review: Star Wars: Episode IX - The Rise of Skywalker (2019) Jan 7, 2020
  12. You Spooned Me Jan 3, 2020
  13. 2019: A Year in Review Dec 31, 2019
  14. Friends, Coffeemates and Breadmates (Dec 2019) Dec 31, 2019
  15. Visiting Mae Sot Dec 27-30, 2019
  16. Let's Make it About You - an Epiphany Dec 17, 2019
  17. Movie Review: Knives Out (2019) Dec 12, 2019
  18. Shut-Up! Dec 7, 2019
  19. Movie Review: Ford vs Ferrari Dec 5, 2019
  20. Roasted Red Bell Pepper Puree Dec 3, 2019
  21. Coffeemates and Breadmates (Nov 2019) Nov 30, 2019
  22. Bhujangini Mudra Nov 25, 2019
  23. Mathangini Mudra Nov 24, 2019
  24. Kaka Mudra Nov 23, 2019
  25. Movie Review: The Cave (2019) Nov 23, 2019
  26. Movie Review: Panic: The Untold Story of the 2008 Financial Crisis (2018) Nov 22, 2019
  27. Pasini Mudra Nov 20, 2019
  28. Aswini Mudra Nov 18, 2019
  29. Sambhavi Mudra Nov 16, 2019
  30. Manduka Mudra Nov 15, 2019
  31. Movie Review: Midway (2019) Nov 15, 2019
  32. Tataka Mudra Nov 14, 2019
  33. Movie Review: Zombieland: Double Tap (2019) Nov 11, 2019
  34. Sakti Calana Mudra Nov 10, 2019
  35. Vajroli Mudra Nov 9, 2019
  36. Coffeemates and Breadmates (Oct 2019) Oct to Nov 5, 2019
  37. Yoni Mudra Nov 1, 2019
  38. Movie Review: Judy (2019) Oct 31, 2019
  39. Viparita Karani Mudra Oct 31, 2019
  40. Khecari Mudra Oct 30, 2019
  41. Mahadeva Mudra Oct 28, 2019
  42. Movie Review: Roger Waters - Us + Them (2019) Oct 27, 2019
  43. Sacred Cacao - Chakra Dance Journey Oct 26, 2019
  44. Movie Review: Terminator: Dark Fate (2019) Oct 24, 2019
  45. Partner Healing with Natascha Oct 24, 2019
  46. Maha Bandha Mudra Oct 24, 2019
  47. Movie Review: Liam: As It Was (2019) Oct 23, 2019
  48. Point-Of-Failure Birthday Workout Oct 22, 2019
  49. Mula Bandha Mudra Oct 21, 2019
  50. Hugfest at Thapae Gate, Chiang Mai Oct 19, 2019
  51. Anushasan Mudra Oct 18, 2019
  52. Ling Mudra Oct 17, 2019
  53. Movie Review: Official Secrets (2019) Oct 15, 2019
  54. Jalandhara Bandha Mudra Oct 15, 2019
  55. Learning Thai with Cee Oct 13, 2019
  56. Uddiyana Bandha Mudra Oct 10, 2019
  57. Nabho Mudra Oct 9, 2019
  58. Movie Review: Joker (2019) Oct 8, 2019
  59. Maha Mudra Oct 7, 2019
  60. 20 Essential Mudras by T. Krishnamacharya Oct. 6, 2019
  61. Mindfulness Gong Bath by Vee (Veerayuth Pongsiri) Oct 3, 2019
  62. Cuddle Party by Abundant Love CM Oct 1, 2019
  63. Vayu Mudra Oct 1, 2019
  64. Movie Review: Hail Satan? (2019) Sep 29, 2019
  65. Visa-Run to Tachileik, Myanmar Sep 28, 2019
  66. Sankalpa Mudra Sep 27, 2019
  67. Surya Pradarshini Mudra Sep 26, 2019
  68. Movie Review: Ad Astra (2019) Sep 25, 2019
  69. Movie Review: Rambo 5 Sep 22, 2019
  70. Eye-Gazing at Heart Space Sep 20, 2019
  71. Prana Vayu (Pranic Wind) Sep 20, 2019
  72. 2-Week Yoga Challenge by Agnese Erba Sep 17, 2019
  73. Movie Review: Farewell Song (2019) Sep 16, 2019
  74. The Mudra Project Sep 13, 2019
  75. Movie Review: Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (2019) Sep 12, 2019
  76. Sunday Vinyasa Flow with Marina Forster Sep 8, 2019
  77. Shamanic Breathwork by Rachel Constantino Sep 4, 2019
  78. Movie Review: Yesterday (2019) Sep 3, 2019
  79. The Conscious Peoplescape of Chiang Mai Aug 31, 2019
  80. Movie Review: Midsommar (2019) Aug 28, 2019
  81. Of Winos and Yogis Aug 26, 2019
  82. Movie Review: Ready or Not (2019) Aug 22, 2019
  83. The 9 Jhanas of Buddha Aug 22, 2019
  84. Full Moon Ceremony at Heart Space Aug 15, 2019
  85. Yin Yoga - Water Element by Martina Barabas Aug 15, 2019
  86. Movie Review: The Art of Racing in the Rain (2019) Aug 14, 2019
  87. Hatha Mix Yoga with Christin Aug 13, 2019
  88. Boy Blues Bar Rocks Chiang Mai Aug 5, 2019
  89. Back to my Beloved Chiang Mai Aug 1, 2019
  90. Kaleidoscope of Chiang Mai's Peoplescape July 27, 2019
  91. Secret Sunrise: Nelson Mandela International Day July 17, 2019
  92. Movie Review: Anna (2019) July 15, 2019
  93. Farewell Picnic with Alan and Nicola July 15, 2019
  94. Movie Review: Spider-Man: Far from Home (2019) July 4, 2019
  95. Secret Sunrise: Water July 3, 2019
  96. Hotel Review: Arun Suite June 27, 2019
  97. Movie Review: Rocketman (2019) June 25, 2019
  98. Bruce Lipton: Epigentics to Transcend Genes June 24, 2019
  99. Optimizing Life thru Heart Math May 8, 15 and 22, 2019
  100. Movie Review: Aladdin (2019) June 13, 2019
  101. Connective Cacao and Sound Journey June 12, 2019
  102. Movie Review: X-Men: Dark Phoenix (2019) June 6, 2019
  103. Chiangmai BLUES June 6, 2019
  104. Movie Review: John Wick 3 - Parabellum (2019) June 4, 2019
  105. Hatha Slow Flow with Neil Jefferson June 3, 2019
  106. Meditating with One Million Meditators Movement June 1, 2019
  107. Vinyasa Happy Flow Series by Vaida May 31, 2019
  108. Muay Thai at the Chiang Mai Boxing Stadium May 30, 2019
  109. Yoga Flow Through the 7 Chakras by Sabrina Pilz May 30, 2019
  110. The Outsiders (people you need to push out of your sacred circle) May 31, 2019
  111. Fascinating Peoplescape of Chiang Mai May 22, 2019
  112. World Meditation Day at Heart Space May 21, 2019
  113. Movie Review: Avengers: Endgame (2019) May 14, 2019
  114. Movie Review: Arctic (2018) May 13, 2019
  115. Abs Yoga by Gigit May 12, 2019
  116. Kundalini and Vinyasa Yoga with Nicola Symons May 10, 2019
  117. Secret Sunrise Interactive Dance May 9, 2019
  118. Tok Sen Massage from Ying May 8, 2019
  119. Bruschetta: Nawa Saraan Style Apr 22, 2019
  120. Thai Cooking at Pra Nang Thai Cookery School Apr 20, 2019
  121. Movie Review: Hellboy (2019) Apr 15, 2019
  122. Bonding with the Elephants in Chiang Mai Apr 11, 2019
  123. Ziplining in Chiang Mai with Eagle Track Zipline Apr 10, 2019
  124. Movie Review: Shazam! (2019) Apr 4, 2019
  125. Movie Review: Captive State (2019) Mar 27, 2019
  126. Getting Thai Massage from Chiang Mai's Best (Lar Thanakrit Khamtanong) Mar 21, 2019
  127. Movie Review: Captain Marvel (2019) Mar 19, 2019
  128. Being the Soul of Nawa Saraan Hotel Mar 18, 2019
  129. Peoplescape of Chiang Mai Jan 24 - Mar 13, 2019
  130. Movie Review: Vox Lux (2018) Mar 2, 2019
  131. Movie Review: The Favourite (2018) Feb 25, 2019
  132. Curing Cancer with Yoga? Feb 21, 2019
  133. Movie Review: Alita Battle Angel Feb 19, 2019
  134. International Training Massage School (ITM): Level 1 Feb 11-15, 2019
  135. Sandesch Album Launch by Christoph Joerg Feb 13, 2019
  136. Movie Review: Spider-Man - Into the Spider-Verse (2018) Feb 3, 2018
  137. Movie Review: Green Book Jan 30, 2019
  138. Meditation in a Sensory Deprivation Tank at Float Chiang Mai Jan 29, 2019
  139. Bohemian Rhapsody (2018) Jan 27, 2019
  140. Movie Review: Aquaman Jan 26, 2019
  141. Reiki Share at the Mastermind Brain Spa Jan 26, 2019
  142. Resuming Life in Chiang Mai Jan 24, 2019
  143. 4 Days in Chiang Mai at Nawa Saraan Hotel Jan 2-6, 2019
  144. Mike Chong Aug 8, 2018
  145. An Intimate Conversation with my Universe in Chiang Mai Aug 8, 2018
  146. Kneaded and Pampered at Zira Spa Aug 4, 2018
  147. Savoring a Baht 3,500 Birds Nest Soup at Natural Bird Nest by Burapa Aug 3, 2018
  148. Yoga Exploration at The Yoga Tree with Gernot Aug 1, 2018
  149. Laughter Yoga with Saffiya Arnous July 31, 2018
  150. Yoga with Adam at Hidden House Yoga, Chiang Mai July 29, 2018
  151. 2 Weeks in Chiang Mai July 25 - Aug 7, 2018
  152. A First Timer in Chiang Mai Apr 9-23, 2016
  153. Chiang Mai's Amazing Peoplescape Apr 9-23, 2016
  154. Dance Mandala in Chiang Mai at The Yoga Tree Apr 19, 2016
  155. Songkran Waterfight Festival in Chiang Mai Apr 13-15, 2016
  156. Border Crossing from Siem Reap (Cambodia) to Bangkok (Thailand) to Chiang Mai April 9-10, 2016
General Travel Tips
  1. arrive early - in case there is a snag (visa snag, documentation snag, transport ticket snag, etc.), you will have ample time to troubleshoot the problem if you arrive early (to the airport, to the bus terminal, etc.)
  2. put detailed itinerary on the Calendar apps of your smart-phone according to timelines - this is where you do all your thinking and planning. Once written down, you don't have to think anymore while you are on the just follow the steps. This frees your mind for something else that might happen while you are already en route
  3. avoiding scams - as a general rule, I ignore the touts or anyone I don't know who call out to me. The calling comes in many forms - "Hi! Where are you from?", "Excuse me! Excuse me!", "Where are you going?". I don't look them in the eye and I remain non-verbal with them. If you reply to them, you just gave them an 'in' to hound you. In order not to look rude, I smile and wave the 'not interested' hand to them, without looking at them.
  4. power bank - hand-carry your power bank. Do not check it in. You can be called in when you are already inside the plane to go all the way to the loading dock so you can personally remove the power bank...and chances are, you'll have to surrender it to them. And you might delay the plane departure!

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