Building New Habits and Returning to Old Ones

As we begin 2023, I’m aware that in the past year I have built some constructive new habits, especially around diet and exercise. I would also like to return to old habits such as writing regularly on this blog and making the time to cook and socialize more with friends.

This weekend, a day after returning from my first business trip of the year (to Taipei), I headed north to Chiang Mai. The nighttime weather here is refreshingly cool and while tourists have started to return, the city remains quieter than it was before COVID. It is a nice getaway, though, even if the temple across the street from my hotel room balcony wakens the monks at 4:45 every morning with a series of increasingly loud clangs of the bell.

The main event of this trip was a Saturday evening concert on a hilltop farm to the west of Chiang Mai, part of an arts series a friend has nurtured over the past three years. It was an intimate event, for about 50 people, and we were literally trucked in, sitting in the back of pickups as we bumped along a steep, narrow, and winding dirt path.

The destination was worth the journey, though. A sweeping view of the surrounding mountains and valleys, stretching dozens of miles west and across the border with Myanmar. The sun set and the successive ridges of the mountains turned to gradients of green, then blue, then purple. The musicians and vocalists performed a diverse selection of music from classical to popular music to showtunes. And we feasted on local foods, produced by farmers whom the friend has supported as they move to organic, sustainable practices. From tender asparagus spears to French-quality cheeses to robust beef stew, it was perfect as the temperatures quickly dropped.

What made the experience special, though, was not the setting, the arts, or the food. It was sharing it with friends who moved from Bangkok to Chiang Mai last year. Having the chance to spend time with them in a beautiful setting, was a meaningful way to start the year and reminds me that making the time for friends – carving it out from my busy work schedule – is a habit I need to prioritize in the second half of my life.

5 thoughts on “Building New Habits and Returning to Old Ones

  1. So good to see you posting again!! This sounds like the perfect event – food, music, friends… I do hope you find time to post since it is always good to see Xangans on WP!

  2. Really lovely post and what a great way to spend some time with your friends. Those rolling hills look really beautiful. I also agree that making time for friends is a worthwhile endeavour 🙂

  3. I am so delighted that you have started blogging again, Chris! I truly missed your excellent posts.
    What a pleasant evening to enjoy with your friends and listen to music in the open air. Beautiful pictures.

  4. You’re back! I saw a music event similar to this on tv (not in Chiang Mai), I can’t remember where though. People could come and go and even sit by the musicians. Those that were further away had headsets I think…

    But it’s nice to see you blogging again.

    It’s been ages since I’ve been to Chiang Mai, I enjoyed that city a lot.

  5. Good to see you writing again Chris. It was such an honor spending this time with you. We were all a tad depressed after you left. The boys are going to be after all of us for the next trip. But man oh man, what a great experience it was.

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