- Chianging Mainds -

9th June '18

One of the great things about fasting for 16 hours per day, is saving a tonne of time by not having breakfast in the morning.

For years it's been customary for me to wake up and then make a fruit smoothie, and I'd have to plan it into my day accordingly.

I also had a fear of hunger. I'd never really allow myself to get hungry, and that too meant, particularly with my diet, that finding the time and opportunity to eat could really dictate my day to me.

Suddenly though, I no longer had to eat breakfast, and hunger just became normal to me.

I found that I can function just as well when hungry as I can when I'm fed, so an unseen advantage of eating this way, was that the logistics of my day just became so much easier.

I don't need to wake-up for breakfast, and I'll just eat when the opportunity arises. And if that's not until the evening, then that's ok.

It meant that I really didn't have to wake up very early in order to get a taxi to the airport.

Just throw some spare underwear and t-shirts in a bag and... oh, I guess I'm ready to go.

I got a taxi outside my apartment, with a driver who made me feel like I was in an episode of South Park.

'England people are very big, Thailand people are very small,' he said while demonstrating a penis with his finger.

And then just in case I didn't understand, he said 'if England man is with a woman, she feel. But if Thailand man is with a woman, she don't feel.'

Great, well this isn't at all uncomfortable.

I've never really understood the purpose of checking-in at the airport.

I used to think that check-in was to make sure that people were actually at the airport, but nowadays you can check-in online days or weeks before your flight so... what's the point?

I don't know, but it's all automated nowadays, so I just had to go to a machine, type in my booking number, and it checked me in for both my outbound and return flights.

So I've checked-into my flight from Chiang Mai to Bangkok, before I've even left Bangkok?

I don't understand what the purpose of this is anymore.

Whatever, it was all a frustratingly quick and efficient process, so I was sat at my departure gate with more than two hours until my flight.

I miss the days when you had to stand around in queues for hours. Then at least you felt like you were doing something.

And this may sound weird, but I found it strangely meditative, to sit there content with an empty stomach, when surrounded by the smells and the sights of food, and when everyone else was eating.

The discipline of these daily fasts was strangely rewarding.

Travelling as light as I do, my intention was to go into town after landing, spend what remained of the day exploring Chiang Mai and eating, and then to head-up to my airbnb after nightfall.

My bag was so light that I had no urgency to get there any sooner.

And despite not being in Chiang Mai for almost two and a half years, I was really craving a veggie burger from this little vegan cafe in town. So I walked into town from the airport and went straight to this cafe and...

Closed. Fuck's sake.

Never mind, this is Chiang Mai. There was another vegetarian restaurant right across the street. And yet to consume anything but water all day, and having walked quite a long way from the airport and built-up quite a sweat in the afternoon sun, the waitresses were laughing at me for walking in here carrying a 75cl bottle of water, then ordering two meals (a fake BLT sandwich and a green curry with rice), and a pot of green tea, and a 1.5 litre bottle of water.

Hey, leave me alone, I haven't eaten anything today.

Such was my appetite that it didn't even really fill me up, and after wandering around for a while longer and getting another cup of green tea so that I had somewhere air-conditioned to sit and cool-off, I was soon back in another restaurant for yet another meal.

This time a mushroom burger with chips, and a chocolate-banana milkshake made with almond milk.

God I love Chiang Mai.

This would be all I'd eat this day. Three meals. All in the space of around three hours.

I might have been taking this fasting thing a bit seriously, but man I was feeling good.

Perhaps not all because of this. I'd finally finished the shittest term I'd had since starting at this school. I was finally taking my first vacation since August. I was also really thinking about my future, and about how my mind has changed compared to the past, not necessarily in a positive way.

And then I'd made this drastic change to my eating habits. So with all of this going on, who knows why I was feeling so much better? It could have been any or all of those things.

What I could say with relative certainty though, was that all those years I believed that eating small, regular meals led to faster metabolism, were completely ill-informed.

Now I was eating food, and it would literally just hit my stomach and it was gone. It was like a magic trick, where I could just make food disappear.

I'd eaten three meals in three hours, and I could quite happily have eaten more.

However, with this third meal inhaled, I decided to make the walk up to my airbnb, which was about three miles north of the city walls.

With the sun already down, common sense would have said to take a tuk-tuk.

Luckily I don't really suffer from common sense, so I decided to walk it.

And the first mile was nice. I'd never really been up to this part of town, and it was fairly lively, and there were plenty of people and restaurants about.

That slowly died-off though. And then the sidewalk disappeared. And then the street lights became more sparse. And for the last two miles, I found myself walking down the side of this three-lane highway in the dark.

I didn't see a single other pedestrian for the rest of the way, and for the last mile, after walking past a sign telling me that I'd reached the city limits, there was just a pitch-black golf course to my left.

Well that was a fun walk.

I'd received instructions from my airbnb host about how to retrieve my key from a lock-box.

I managed that part, but the door to my room, once I'd located it in this fairytale-like land of mostly completed fantasy structures, was somewhat finicky, so I had to message my host to come and let me in anyway.

It was good to at least see them both, and after asking how I got here, the girl responded in shock that "You can't walk here! Where did you come from?"

"Well my flight landed at two..." I started, before being interrupted.

"Don't tell me you walked here from the airport."

I guess that you're not supposed to walk here.

I don't know, I just like to walk sometimes. And it wasn't that far. My phone had only clocked me at walking 17.7km today.

As for my room... damn, this is nice.

Big double bed, high ceilings, and clearly someone else used to stay here, because no one had taken-down some old signs that they wrote to themselves.

An Eleanor Roosevelt quote that seemed quite poignant to my own struggles, and also a list of courses that I need to finish.

Best of all about this room though, had to be the shower. I thought that I knew how a shower should be.

Turns-out that I didn't know shit.

The shower-head had LEDs that came on as soon as you turned the shower on. And they'd be blue if the water was cold, but would turn red once it heated up.

Why the fuck does every shower in the world not have these?

My justification for getting out of bed in the morning has always been... I'm hungry. Time to make breakfast.

On days that I didn't have work or other commitments, that would be what would get me out of bed in the morning. And when I'd take a vacation, it would really be the reason that I'd leave whatever hotel or hostel I was staying in.

Fuck, now I don't have a reason to go outside. So I didn't.

At least not off the grounds of the place where I was staying anyway. And now able to see it with the clarity of daylight, fuck this place is nice.

I can see why they named it Leafy Greens.

With nowhere to go, and a new found acceptance of being hungry, I just sat around the grounds in an almost meditative state, just watching the butterflies, and the little kittens that live here, and enjoying being surrounded by nature for once.

Well I've certainly no regrets about trying airbnb. And that's what I need in my life. New things. Just try different things, so that your life isn't the same, day after day.

Another of those was that when I did finally decide to venture-out for the day, I downloaded then booked a taxi with GrabTaxi.

Why the Hell haven't I used this before either?

I added my Thai debit card to my Grab account, so I just booked a car, and about four minutes later some random guy pulled-up outside to pick me up.

I recognised him from the picture on his Grab profile, so without sharing a word, I got into the back of his car.

The Grab app that he had on his mounted phone, then gave him visual and oral directions of how to get exactly where I wanted to go, which was Maya shopping mall.

About ten minutes later we arrived. And with little more than a nod in acknowledgement, I got out of the car and got on with my life.

I didn't have to give him any money, we didn't have to communicate at all.

Fuck this was better than having to deal with the drivers in Bangkok, who'll try to rip you off, or drive you a longer route, or will start inappropriate conversations.

And it was cheap. Only 81 baht (£1.88).

I didn't really have any reason to come to Maya Shopping Mall, other than I'd never been here before, and the restaurant that I'd earmarked to have lunch was only a short walk away. I just needed to put some location into my Grab app, and this was it.

I did not fancy the hour-long walk into town. Not in the midday sun.

And sure enough, there wasn't much in this shopping mall to interest me, other than some nice views over the surrounding rooftops. So I soon made my way to a little restaurant called 'Pure Vegan Heaven' to break what had been an almost seventeen and a half hour fast.

Eating earlier today than yesterday, I wasn't in quite such a rush to wolf-down all my food for the day at once. I was still giving myself an eight-hour eating window each day, so this time I only got one meal.

After which I didn't have much to do, so wandered around for a bit, twice ducking-into air-conditioned shopping malls that I stumbled upon, because by now it was 34°C in the shade, of which there was little.

So although cooler than what I've become used to in Bangkok, it was still causing me to break quite a sweat. So it wasn't long until I was all... fuck this, and I went and got another meal, at yet another vegan restaurant.

Fuck I love Chiang Mai. Why the Hell don't I live here?

After lunch 2, it was much of the same as I just wandered around aimlessly until the heat became unbearable, at which point I ducked-into an air-conditioned coffee shop for a cup of green tea to let the sweat clear.

According to my phone, I'd walked 11.7km so far today, at almost 5pm.

That's probably not advisable in this weather but... ah, I was perfectly happy.

My mind was thinking about food a lot. It was thinking about the heat a lot.

Do you know what it wasn't thinking about?

My job.

Like I wanted it to be, this vacation was a needed distraction from reality. So this would be the one time that my boss decided to send-out an email updating us on how things were looking for next term.

Well at least he's communicating with us now.

It turns-out that five teachers, not four, left at the end of last term. One guy just kept it really, really quiet until the final day.

Five teachers leaving in a single term? I've never heard anything like it.

I don't even recall two leaving in a single term before, although perhaps that's my memory failing me. But five?

The lack of self-awareness from my boss was frustrating.

Those five teachers left because of you. We're now lined-up to have a shitty term, because of you. And you're still not even asking us if it's ok that we work more than usual, as was the case under both previous managers. You're just telling us that this is how it is.

I was in a better place mentally now, so was able to look on the bright-side.

At least he's communicating with us now. Maybe he has learned something from five teachers bailing in a single term.

Having also cleared with my conscience that I can leave this job at a moment's notice, I anticipated the upcoming term's schedule with less fear than normal.

Whatever happens, happens. But I'm past the point of being willing to do things for my job that aren't in my interest.

But enough about work. I was enjoying this vacation so much because of its ability to distract me from the reality of my job. So let's keep that up, at least until I'm back in Bangkok.

My routine by this point was pretty well established. So once I'd sat for long enough for my sweat to dry, back outside I went for some more aimless wandering, until I stopped for meal three.

I did pretty well today, spreading my meals out over about seven hours. But it was odd that this now felt weird to me, and that I should be eating quicker but... well I guess that my body adapted to this new way of eating rather well.

I was kind of done for the day by now, except for walking about a mile further after dinner, in order to get to the north side of the town so that my GrabTaxi back to my room would be a cheap and easy straight line.

It meant that my total distance walked on this day was 17.5km.

Adding that to what I'd done yesterday, and I'd now walked more than 35km, and I'd only been off the plane for about thirty hours.

And although I'd enjoyed myself, I was kind of walked-out.

What the Hell am I going to do tomorrow?

Back at my room, I took a moment to reply to my boss by telling how he could soften the blow of a heavy workload for me.

I didn't really expect him to care, and if anything, history proves that when you ask him for something, he tends to do the opposite.

What the Hell just happened?

Either that was sarcasm and I don't get it, or my boss just acted reasonably.

It was the first thing that he's ever done where I was like... that seems like an appropriate response.

The fuck is going on in the world?

Of course the real test would be when the actual schedule came out but... I was a little bit in shock.

No longer obligated by hunger to get up quickly each day, my bed kept me prisoner until quite late the next morning, until I eventually figured... fuck it, I suppose I've got to get up some time.

I'd been messaging with a girl on Tinder and we'd tentatively agreed to meet at some time today, although I had my doubts about that, so decided to get on with my day.

I got a GrabTaxi to the northern end of the old town, because this was just a short walk from the next restaurant that I wanted to go to.

I immediately regretted that when as I approached, now on foot, there were hippies standing outside.

Fuck it, just hold your breath.

I don't want to say anything too bad, because this was a not-for-profit cafe whose proceeds go towards helping people in need. But it was the first food I'd had since getting to Chiang Mai where I was like... this is kind of disappointing.

And there were hippies.

I at this point had 250 baht (£5.81) in my pocket, 24 baht in my bank account, and 90 minutes until I got paid.

What I've just said is completely illusionary, because I had lots more money in my other Thai bank account.

However, every time I get paid, what I do is move the majority of my pay-cheque to this other account, leaving just as much in my first account, as I think I need to survive.

I then live completely within the means of what is in this account, until I next get paid.

It's my way of making sure that I don't overspend, and that I'm always saving a bit of money. And then when I do need it for major purchases (rent, my MacBook, flights home, and anything online because I can't use my first account online), this other account is always well stocked-up.

It would be a completely fruitless system if I wasn't disciplined in living within the means of what I think I can live off, so unless I'm completely desperate, I never use this other account for day-to-day spending.

Meaning that until I got paid about 90 minutes from now, the 250 baht in my pocket was all I had to survive on.

I was kind of done with walking around aimlessly. I'd walked far enough, and sweated a lot in the process.

So what can one do when they don't have much money to spend, and they just want to relax somewhere cool and air-conditioned.

That's right, I went to Starbucks.

In fact, not only did I go to Starbucks, but if you remember (you won't) the last time I was in Chiang Mai in early 2016, while waiting for my train, I sat on the 3rd floor of a Starbucks for hours, playing Hitman Sniper on my phone.

Well I went back, not only to the same Starbucks, but even back to the exact same seat (which was now looking a little worse for wear), and sat there waiting to get paid.

And if you want to know whether a cup of Starbucks green tea can stay hot for 90 minutes while you wait to get your pay-cheque deposited into your account... it can't

Good to know.

Finally though, four minutes ahead of schedule, my wrist vibrated, letting me know that I'd been paid, and the stress of pretending that I was almost out of money was over. I can finally drink my cup of cold green tea and get out of here.

So I went and got my second lunch of the day. The problem I was finding with Chiang Mai though, was it was hot. Very hot. Again 34°C today. And apart from shopping malls and coffee shops, there wasn't much to do that was out of the heat.

So after getting lunch and having no better ideas, I gave up and found another air-conditioned coffee shop to get a pot of green tea.

Vegetarian restaurants and coffee shops. That's what this vacation had become. I could've given you a tour of Chiang Mai by now, if that was all you wanted. But this was the obvious downside of staying so far outside the city centre.

I loved where I was staying. It was a beautiful little resort where I could fall asleep to the sounds of nature outside my window. But it wasn't so convenient when I regularly needed refuge to escape from the heat.

Ah well, if I sit here with my green tea a little longer, it'll be time for lunch 3.

En route, I decided to get a Thai massage, which I've been meaning to do for about... two years. That's how long it's almost been since I last got one.

That made me relaxed as fuck.

Then dinner, and it was almost 10pm by the time I got out of this restaurant.

Where the fuck did this day go?

Contrary to my lift into town in the morning, my Grab driver taking me back this evening spoke really good English, and was telling me about what I should be doing in Chiang Mai.

The girl I'd been messaging with on Tinder, who'd unsurprisingly cancelled today due to work, had pretty much told me the same. And that was to go to the nearby mountains which, as they led me to believe, were easy enough to get to.

Just go to Chiang Mai zoo, and from there songthaews (covered pick-up trucks with benches in the back for passengers) will take you as far as you want to go.

Sounds awfully complicated, but they both insisted it was easy.

Fine, I guess I won't have a day wandering around aimlessly, drinking green tea tomorrow then.

Thinking that this could take an entire day, I arose by alarm at 7:15am to get showered and to get a Grab to Chiang Mai zoo.

There was a short wait for the songthaew to fill-up with passengers, but then a 30-minute winding-drive later, we were at Doi Suthep temple.

Wow, that was easy.

The problem with temples, is that once you've seen one of them, you've seen all of them. And I've seen hundreds of them.

The only real attraction of this one, was it was at the top of a mountain, so had some nice views of Chiang Mai below.

Cool. I'll take some photos and look for a bit. Now what?

My intention for the day was to continue onto the higher peak of Doi Pui, but I was now apprehensive for a couple of reasons.

The first was that the songthaew was a pricey 200 baht each way; presumably due to a lack of demand compared to the tourist-heavy Doi Suthep.

And the second was that I could see the peak from here.

Or rather, I couldn't see the peak from here, because it was surrounded by cloud.

Well that won't have much of a view then, will it?

Considering how popular Doi Suthep was with tourists, I'd found information about it surprisingly hard to come by online.

The best resource I'd found was an article on Travelfish, which said that if you walked just a little further from where I was now, then there was another viewpoint, and a hike down to a waterfall.

Fuck it, I'll do that then.

Doi Suthep temple had been rammed full of tourists to the point of discomfort.

So it was amazing that just a couple of hundred metres away, with a near-identical view to the town down below, I was literally the only person at this viewpoint.

There was an old woman sitting in a little office, who got startled when I knocked on the window to ask for directions to the trailhead, having been unable to find it myself.

I don't think that she was expecting to see anyone.

And when I did find the trail, I was greeted by a sign saying in English not to proceed any further without notifying park personnel.

Well I told that old woman that was sitting in an office, if that counts.

A hundred or so metres further, I then encountered a sign in Thai.

The top line translated to 'DO NOT ENTER', but my Thai was insufficient to know what it said afterwards.

Ah, I'm sure that it's just a suggestion, so I kept on going.

It'd been lightly drizzling on and off for a while.

It was quite pleasant actually. This was the first time that I'd been outdoors since getting to Chiang Mai that I wasn't too hot, but the rain wasn't so heavy as to make the ground wet. Until it was.

I'd proceeded maybe a kilometre along this somewhat hazardous trail, which included climbing over fallen tree trunks, and negotiating some rather slippery declines, when it started raining.

Properly.

Ah, this is bad.

I kept going for a bit longer before I was like... no, this is a bad idea.

I was wearing two-year-old worn-out trainers. No one knew I was here, and it didn't look like anyone else would walk along this path today. And the final straw was I tried to access the Travelfish article that had the vague instructions that I was following, only to find that I now had no Internet.

I should've seen that one coming.

Alright, live to fight another day. I turned around, deciding that it wouldn't be wise to continue. In fact, even getting back up the path I'd already come down was ten times more hazardous now than it was before the rain.

I carefully but quickly made it back, and then rode-out the storm under the first bit of shelter that I came to; the viewpoint looking down at Chiang Mai.

Alright, so I can't do that walk, and I don't want to go onto Doi Pui. Is there anything else for me on this mountain?

So I took a songthaew back down again, getting it to drop me at Chiang Mai University.

I'd heard about how nice the campus was, particularly a walk around the lake, so I was curious to see it for myself and... fuck, this campus is beautiful.

I can't believe that I spent three years of my life in Hull.

It did really get me thinking. What a beautiful place to live this would be and... well someone must teach English at this university.

That someone could almost certainly never be me, based off my current qualifications. But still, this felt a world away from Bangkok, and better in almost every way.

Why the fuck do I live in Bangkok?

To say I'd be returning to Bangkok tomorrow of a different mindset would be an understatement.

I was a different person now to the one that got on the plane last Monday.

I was feeling more positive about... everything. I was able to look on the bright-side of... everything. And I'd untangled a lot of what was going on in my mind.

I was able to see the best in people again.

Lost and stressed-out in my own world in Bangkok, I'd lost any idea of compassion.

I can't really put into words how much better I felt now. I was feeling a lot clearer about what I have to do going forward. It was... I can't stress enough how much good this change of scenery had done me.

Put very simply, I was smiling again. But it had also given me a lot to think about.

Why the Hell do I live in Bangkok?

I've never actually stopped and asked myself that, I just kind of... live here.

How did I even get here? Why am I here?

I don't know, I'm just kind of here. Turns-out though, there are much nicer places to be. Places that have nature, places where people don't live on top of each other, places where the air is clean.

Why don't I live in those places?

After my jaunt around the university, I started my feeding window for the day by getting some pineapple from a street vendor.

From there I went to an actual restaurant for lunch 1.

At 33°C, it was a little cooler today, but even before getting lunch 1 in this unair-conditioned vegan restaurant, I'd decided that straight after I'd be going to a nearby coffee shop for an air-conditioned green tea.

From there I went for lunch 2 at Goodsouls, which of all the different vegan restaurants I'd been to in Chiang Mai, was my favourite.

By now it was around 5pm, and I was actually looking forward to getting back to my room.

For as nice as the little resort I was staying in was, I'd spent very little time there, apart from to sleep. So I kind of wanted to have the evening to just hangout.

That would mean that lunch 2 would be my last food of the day. And planning to go straight to the airport the next morning, and not wanting to eat airport/plane food, I already knew that with my flight, then my taxi home in Bangkok, then having to go out to the supermarket before next eating anything, it could be up to 24 hours before my next meal.

Do you know how anxious it would have made me, even a week ago, if you'd told me that I'd have to go 24 hours with no food?

Now though... it's normal. Hunger is normal.

I did a lot of thinking that night. About me, about my future.

I had far more questions than I came up with answers. Then, the next morning I was awake unexpectedly early, so before getting a Grab to the airport, I spent a while enjoying the green, natural grounds of my airbnb, a little sad to know that by the end of the day, I'd again be stuck in the polluted, unnatural Bangkok.

And with the lease on my condo expiring in three months, I've got some serious thinking to do about whether that's something I want to continue.

I'm not as bad as I used to be, but I was still at the airport way sooner than I needed to be. Particularly seeing as I'd checked-in four days earlier for some reason.

And as I was sitting at the gate, listening to some relaxing music on Spotify, my phone bing-bonged with my schedule.

Oh wow. Oh man this is good.

After reading the accompanying email, I was braced for the worst. But in actuality... Jesus, I almost feel bad about how good I have it.

This was only the weekday schedule; I'm still expecting to get a retaliatory juniors class on the weekends. But... damn.

I was back working evenings, and I was happy about that.

I can finally start doing yoga in the mornings again. And I can do my programming course before going to work, instead of trying to force myself to do it when I'm tired, after work.

And also exercising in the mornings again, I'll have less energy at work, so less energy to be angry with.

It takes a lot of energy to be pissed-off, so when I do things this way around, I don't know if I can really be bothered to get frustrated, once I get to work.

Plus, my boss had actually been true to his word and only given me levels I've already taught before and know very well. The only downside to it was that one of my three classes was a five o'clock class, taught on three days per week instead of two, but for just ninety-minutes each time.

It can be a bit of a pain to try and plan these classes, because eighteen 90-minute classes just doesn't fit the material that we teach, that's designed to be split over twelve classes.

But if this is the biggest problem that I have in the busiest term of the year, then fuck, I've got nothing to complain about.

Especially when I looked over the rest of this schedule, and four people were teaching their first class at 10am everyday, with their last class finishing at 9:15pm everyday.

They're going to spend almost twelve hours at the school, on every working weekday.

Sucks to be them.

From a personal perspective though, this was the first time I've been able to think about my boss and be like fuck... maybe he's not such a bad guy after all. He actually listened when I spoke to him, he clearly made an effort to accommodate me.

Compared to other people, I almost feel bad about how good I have it.

I'll get over it. And for the first time since February really, I can get back to living my life the way that I want to live it. Not spending my entire life either planning or working. Having time for my interests, and getting back to my course.

'Things turn out the best for the people that make the best of the way that things turn-out.'

I've been saying that for years, mostly as motivation to try and find the bright-side of situations.

But there's always a feeling of how the happier and more positive you are, the more that good things will happen to you.

Have you ever noticed that?

Here I was, feeling happy and positive about life for the first time in months and... oh look, a schedule almost as good as if I'd written it myself.

And then my plane crashed and I died.

Not really, but that'd be bloody typical.

We'll see how things turn-out in practice. But as I envision this term now, it kind of feels like I've got my life back again.

Do you remember how back in February I said that everything was perfect, and I didn't want to change anything, and then everything changed?

I got moved to mornings, I started having to spend my life planning, I got an unnecessary split shift, I sprained my ankle so I couldn't exercise properly etc. You know the story.

Well this schedule is more how it would have looked if things had stayed the same. How it would have looked in a world that still had preference forms.

And with this term going forward, I'm already looking forward to going to a yoga class on Monday morning, even if the instructor has now changed.

I went running this morning (Saturday) on an empty stomach, just to kind of see if I could.

I can't remember the last time I exercised on an empty stomach, and I wanted to see how well my ankle would hold-up.

My recollection of sprains from my youth, is that they're crippling for a day or two, and painful for a week or two, and then you're back to normal.

Well more than seven weeks since I sprained my ankle, it's still not fully-healed. It still hurts in certain positions. I wanted to see if it had healed enough that I could go running on it though and... it had. I think.

My run got cut-short by some heavy rain where I had to take shelter in Lumphini Park. But even this was quite nice.

It's not exactly the same as Chiang Mai. But as the rain fell in this park, I felt somewhat like I was surrounded by nature still.

But no longer feeling obligated to eat before exercise, and kind of wanting to start running again, I think I might start going running as I wake-up on weekdays. My new schedule and new eating habits afford me that opportunity.

And for my entire vacation, I was able to keep to an eight-hour or less eating window each day.

It's still too early to really say what impact that's going to have on my health or my weight. Especially because the entirety of this week has been in a different place to normal, eating different foods to normal, walking more than normal, exercising less than normal, sleeping at different times to normal.

There could be a million reasons why I feel better today than I did a week ago, so I'm not quite ready to say it's because of how I've changed my eating habits just yet. Although I do feel great, so I'm pretty sure that it's not hurting me.

So I want to keep-up with this a while longer, eating over a window of no longer than eight hours per day, and therefore fasting for sixteen or more hours between the last food of one day, and the first food of the next.

And working in the evenings, that means either eating nothing until right before work, and then eating again right after work. Or just eating all of my food for the day before I leave for work (at around 3:30pm on my busier days).

I'm tempted to go for the latter of those, meaning I would no longer be obligated to cook and eat dinner after work everyday; as I've done since... forever.

I could get home at 10pm, relax for an hour, and be in bed by 11pm.

I'll reiterate that, forget health, for the simple logistics of no longer feeling obligated to eat at certain times and no longer fearing hunger, my new eating habits are so beneficial.

And if it makes me a healthier person as well, as the possibly pseudo-science that I'm believing says, then wow. Why haven't I been eating like this all along?

So I kind of see a typical day next term as being wake-up, go running or do yoga or both, or maybe some other kind of exercise. Then start eating for the day, and basically try to eat all my calories for the day, before starting work.

I can then do any planning that I have to do, but that should be very little. And hopefully in amongst this I can find an hour or two everyday to get back to my course.

Then go to work, and maybe relax with my PS4 for an hour or so afterwards, before going to bed.

There are some unknowns still, like my weekend schedule. But if my term pans-out anything like that, then for the first time in a while in this job, I'm going to be a happy man.

Like I said in another blog, if on top of my job, I have the time to exercise, to eat well, to do my course, and to relax a bit, then that's all I really want. And in my head, with this schedule, I should just about be able to do all of those on most days. So I'm far more positive heading into this term than I thought that I would be.

It doesn't really change my longer-term plans, as I've still got to seriously think about whether I want to remain in Bangkok beyond September.

You don't really appreciate how stress-inducing a city like this is, until you leave for a bit and then come back and are like... oh yeah.

I got back from Chiang Mai and was like... oh yeah.

There are just too many people in too small of a space.

In Chiang Mai I had the space to move around. But then I found myself walking down the street back in Bangkok, having to avoid traffic, bumping into people.

This isn't a good way to live.

If someone offered me a decent job in Chiang Mai today, I wouldn't hesitate in taking it. So we'll see where that motivation leads.

How often do I say that you should never have a vacation so good that you resent being home again?

Well that's kind of where I am now.

It might not have been the most sociable trip of my life but... it didn't need to be. I couldn't have eaten like that if I was there with someone else. I couldn't have walked those distances in that heat if I was there with someone else. I wouldn't change a thing about it. It was exactly what I needed, and... now I'm back in Bangkok again.

Fuck.

The other problem with having a trip that was so far removed from the life that I live here, is it's hard to figure-out exactly why I was so happy.

Was it because of being surrounded by nature? Was it because of my change in eating habits? Was it simply because of a change in scenery, and finally taking a vacation? Was it because of all the good restaurants? Was it because I didn't really think or care very much about how much money I was spending? Was it because I finally said goodbye to last term? Was it because so many meals I ate included cacao, which apparently reduces cortisol?

I have no idea, so it's hard to try and replicate why I enjoyed myself so much.

But I am, for the first time in a long time, actually feeling good. Happy. And considering that this is the busiest term of the year, I have as good of a schedule as I could have hoped for, and then once I make it through this term, I have eight weeks-off (if I decide to stay in Bangkok at all).

For the first time in a long time, I can actually find reason to be positive, so hopefully it carries on. Hopefully it doesn't get fucked-up by too shitty of a weekend schedule, or by being given an intensive class mid-term.

And then it's all up to me.

Can I organise my days well enough, can I get back on track with my course, can I stay positive about it all?

I guess that time will tell, but this is the best mindset I've had going into a term for what feels like a very, very long time. In the words of David Brent, who I quoted a couple of blogs ago, you never know that you're in a trough until you're climbing out again. And hopefully last term was my trough. Hopefully it's all uphill from here.

Wait...