FYI: THIS POST WAS UPDATED DAY BY DAY SO EVERYONE COULD KEEP UP LIVE WITH MY CHALLENGE
When I arrived in Chiang Mai earlier in March I had decided that I would spend a month or so there, focus on my projects, hang out with my local friends and fly back home at the beginning of April through London where I could stay for a couple of days with my buddy Haris who is living there.
But nothing went as i planned!
The COVID-19 pandemic altered all of my schedules when I found out that my flight was cancelled and I had to find a way urgently go home before things get worse.
Unfortunately, I had not many options. My airline couldn’t provide me with a solution for the cancelled flight, the refund from the ticket would take weeks or months to appear on my bank account and I was on a tight budget at the moment. So paying for a super expensive airfare wasn’t an option at all, and when I say super expensive I mean a ticket that usually costs 300€ was on sale from 1.000 – 2.500€.
Instead, I booked an inexpensive flight or better said, reasonably priced ticket, for the last week of April with Etihad and decided to stay in Thailand till then. Someone would probably think ‘hey man you are in Thailand, living your dream and we are locked in our homes, stop being dramatic’. Well, i am not complaining, i know that things are harder in the rest part of the world and to be honest, part of me is happy to be stuck in Thailand, as i consider it my second home and i feel really comfortable here. But sometimes things don’t look the way they are.
This sudden change cost me money and few other issues to face such as the anxiety of dealing with the visa expiration, the fear of overstaying in Thailand illegally that could even get me into bigger troubles if i was caught. The most important reason though, no matter how adventurous or cool it seems, i honestly believe that in hard moments like these we should be near the people we love the most whether it’s our family, friends, girlfriend, boyfriend, wife or husband.
Learn to adapt to changes
Hopefully and literally the last moment, after a week of searching for a solution, calling to the embassy, consulates, communicating vie e-mails and much more, everything went well and I got my special extension that was granted due to the embassy letter sent to the local immigration office.
Holding relieved the renewed visa in my hands I realised that I had one more thing to deal with. As things started to get tougher and the virus started to spread rapidly in Thailand as well, I was in a desperate need to figure out my self-quarantine plan. I didn’t want to stay locked in the room for the rest of the days in Chiang Mai, where the atmosphere was terrible due to the burning season and the curfew was about to catch us up here too, in a matter of hours.
After having a good thought i decided to leave my safe place, and head somewhere where there were zero cases of COVID infection or as fewer as possible. For this reason, i chose the island of Koh Chang. It was one of the few places on the map that seemed safe and ‘easily’ accessible by road from Bangkok, from where i would, with some luck, catch my flight back home.
Arriving to Koh Chang
Koh Chang, also called the elephant island, is located in the southeast part of Thailand very close to the borders of Cambodia. Despite being one of the biggest islands it is less touristy than Phuket or Koh Samui and with more chilled vibes. It has no airport but it’s ‘easily’ connected with daily routes to Bangkok but also to the capital of Cambodia, Phnom Penh.
It took me a 1-hour flight, a 5-hour minivan ride, a 30 min ferry boat, 45 min drive with the scooter and 4 Covid-19 checkpoints to arrive on the island but finally, I was there. Despite the tiring trip, i was lucky to reach this place, as the island shut down the next day for foreigners and no one could get on it for safety precautions.
I rent a motorbike, squeezed my backpacks between my legs and started driving to find my new shelter for the days to come. I still remember that feeling of, a new adventure had just begun. For us, every new destination is a new adventure!
The Double Challenge
The main reasons coming in Koh Chang was to isolate me, stay safe during the outbreak and spend this time to improve or do something meaningful for me. So i decided to start a self-challenge. For 2 weeks I will live a healthy and simple life by nature, i will wake up at 7 am, exercise, eat nutritious meals, attain at least one new skill, finish my book, meditate, not drink alcohol at all, and generally try to stay safe and sane.
But this challenge will be a double one!
As i mentioned before i was on a really tight budget, i had spent or invested all of my money (if you are interested to know where i invested them hit me a message) the past 3 months. I was planning to fly home earlier but the flight cancelled, and so i arrived on the island with only 10.000 baht (around 280 euro) in my wallet. I have exactly 14 days left before getting my new flight back home and i know i can barely make it.
So, below i will analyse my daily routine and expences every time before i fall to bed not only to update this post LIVE but also to keep track of my budget and my goals. The mission is to see if i or anyone else can spend decently 2 weeks or longer in Thailand on cheap and most important to see if i can discipline and adapt myself to a new lifestyle of simplicity and minimalism.
Let’s see what’s gonna happen …
I arrived at the Koh Chang pier and rented a motorbike, which is essential on this big island, for the discounted rate of 200baht / day. The transfer to the Lonely Beach where i was thinking to stay, would cost me 100b (around 3€) so i think renting the moto was a good idea. I stopped to eat my lunch and paid 60b. Found a nice guesthouse with a private room and bathroom for 3.500b for 14 days at the Bailan area which is about 15 min away from the popular Lonely beach. I would stay in a hostel that i found for 2.400b but preferred my own privacy as my hut is located in lush vegetation and it’s only 5 min to walk to a beautiful hidden beach.
?You can spot my whereabouts by finding the backpack on the map above.
As soon as i unpacked my stuff i headed directly to check the beach, had a nap there (ohhh i missed sleeping on the sand) and in the late afternoon i went with my scooter to a nearby 7-11 market, about 5 km away, and bought some essentials like water, instant noodles, toast-bread and a canned tuna that would be my tonight’s dinner.
Same day expenses: 5.915 baht
- Scooter for 10 days: 200 x 10 =2.000 (original plan was for 2 weeks)
- Room for 14 days (no breakfast included): 3.500
- Gasoline: 80
- Lunch: 60
- 7-11 Market: 275
[To calculate faster the amounts in € or $, you can divide by 34]
It seems that i am with something more than 4.000b to spend the rest of the days. Fortunately, i had paid in advance my return to the airport that will be open for a month.
The alarm started ringing since 7 am, but i couldn’t take my ass off the bed, maybe i slept only for 6 hours and was tired. I had a cup of coffee in my little jungle garden and headed to the beach. After 5 min walking i was already in the water which felt amazing. It’s so nice to live by the beach and i was so jealous of the locals that literally had their old wooden houses less than 20 metres from the sea.
I didn’t think it at all and jumped in the water. After 3 months without proper exercising, i was finally able to start my workout routine. Some jogging on the beach and a few intensive exercises were what i exactly needed. The rest time i spent watching some youtube videos and taking photos of the beach. I returned back to the room had some breakfast, read some news and around 2 pm went to have my lunch.
Today my lunch would be free as i found out that the restaurant i ate the previous day was giving away food for 1 week to everyone. I came over and had my tupperware bowl, that i bought the previous day, filled up with some chicken curry and rice.
Afterwards, I faced some mechanic problems with my scooter and had to go back to the pier to the north part of the island and request it to be exchanged. This cost me some extra baht for the gasoline but at least i could have a newer model and could ride safe now. The old scooter had damaged gasoline meter, the flash button was broken and it was consuming to much fuel. I spent 80b extra on this ride.
Before returning back to the room i stopped at the Big C supermarket where i bought some food for the next days. Boiled rice, roasted chicken, bread, vegetables, milk and some more stuff to get my little fridge full.
The afternoon was silent, and i could only hear some birds. At 8pm the electricity was cut off for the rest of the day and without wi-fi, i spent the time reading my book under the candlelight that i borrowed from the owner.
Same day expenses: 595 baht
- Gasoline: 80 for the ride to exchange my bike + 80 to fill up the new scooter
- Lunch free
- Market: 435
3.490 baht left in the wallet ?
I woke up at 8 am despite setting my alarm at 7, and reached the beach at 8:45 after having my morning coffee. It seems that i struggle to wake up earlier and so I decided from today to sleep at 10 pm and wake up at 6 am. Why? Well, first of all, i need to keep myself productive and the right time for this is not late at night but early in the morning and during the daylight, afterwards, the body subconsciously enters the relaxation state. Secondly, the weather gets hotter and the water warmer and shallower (due to the tidal currents) after 9 am here.
I did my 1-hour training and finished my morning routine with a cold shower and a healthy breakfast. I spent my afternoon on my laptop and had my lunch. Chicken, rice and egg.
Later in the afternoon i went to check the south part of the island and found the Rasta View reggae bar with an amazing view to Bang Bao pier. It’s nice that some bars are still open but it’s a shame that there are no music or people. I also explored the idyllic beach of Bang Bao and i will definitely visit it again soon.
Today i reopened my online Neurogym – Winning the Game of Money program and listened to some innercising audios which i left almost a year ago. Now that i have time, tt’s a chance to rewind the masterclass that changed my way of thinking. If you are interested to learn how to become successful, overcome your fears or loose weight, John Assaraf’s audios can help you accomplish that.
Same day expenses: 0 ?
Woke up a bit earlier than the previous days but still have to improve my morning habits.
I spent my half-day mostly swimming and reading my meditation handbook and i exercised only for 30 min. The reason is, if i overdo it and train too hard daily then i will get burned out quickly, and maybe give up my morning routine. So, intence exercising for 30 min daily is enough.
On my way to the room, i had a sweet mango that i found down. That was a delicious surprise.
The lunch was free again as i went to the ‘Dream Isaan’ restaurant as the day before.
The rest day was spent outside my hut, reading about the stock market, playing with my new friend, an old pomeranian dog and speaking with friends and my girlfriend in Greece.
Back in Greece curfew was imposed more than 3 weeks now and it’s most strict than here. In Thailand, we are still free to walk around till 10 pm but we must wear face masks and there are health checkpoints that stop you every time to check your temperature and ask you every single time where do you go.
The only expenses of the day were due to my visit to a local fruit shop and the 7-11, to buy the below.
- Bananas and mangos: 85b
- Water, mosquito repellent, milk: 95b
Same day expenses: 180b (3.310b in my wallet and 10 days left…)
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It’s been raining all day…
Since i woke up it’s been raining heavily. Fortunately, i could stay in the garden next to my hut and enjoy nature along with my hot cup of coffee.
My plans to drive to big-C to buy food and exercise on the beach were cancelled so i stayed mostly on my laptop listening to podcasts, eating snacks ?, watching youtube videos and building my friend’s e-shop. His company sells facial and body care products for women (good luck with that old dude!).
In the afternoon, when the rain eased off, i walked outside to search what i can buy at the local minimarkets but found nothing i really needed, as mostly those shops were selling beverages, ice-cream and common snacks. Found a couple of restaurants though that were open. There were completely empty but they can prove useful if i am out of food one day. The streets are so quiet here… it’s like a ghost island. Wonder if it’s everywhere like this in the world now…
Tomorrow if the weather is better i want to explore the Bang Bao beach and the nearby area. But now it’s time to read some more pages of my book and sleep.
Same day expenses: 0
(all meals were from what i had bought the previous days)
Happy to wake up with the sound of birds…
Today overslept because yesterday i stayed till late checking on the stock market (bad habit!). Nevertheless, my morning ritual continued.
I rode with the scooter to another beach today. The Bang Bao, which i visited 1 day before, is a beautiful beach, with many restaurants and bars but because of the early hour and the situation at the moment, it was totally empty. The natural shadow at some spots was perfect for exercising and chilling. A few meters away from the beach i discovered some awesome bars, restaurants and bungalows. This must be a lively place usually…
There was no further road to continue at the east side of the island so i returned back to my hut.
I had a quick shower, a bowl of muesli cereals and got back on my scooter to go to the Big C. While driving through the beautiful green scenery i bumped into some wild monkeys. It’s common to see them while driving but lately, they can be witnessed more often, now that there are not many people moving around.
I ended up buying some more food for the next days and after getting one more take away lunch for free i returned back.
A question to myself – Was i productive and createful today?
I continued my exercise program. Spent time by nature. I read a few more pages of my meditation guide. Listened to SadGuru on my smartphone (SadGuru is an amazing spiritual guide that can be found on youtube, you should definitely listen to his teachings). I continued working on my online projects. I keep eating as healthy as possible despite not being able to cook myself, plus i almost finished a new post for the blog.
I think i was!
but there are so much more to do and i need more time!
My thought is to try, progressively, reduce the 7 hours of sleep i have now to 6. This can only be achieved if:
- A. i eat only nutritious food that will offer me energy and if
- B. i sleep the correct hours that would be 11:00 – 5:00
I will try it from Monday! Now, back to the expenses…
Today i bought: coffee, beans, biscuits, steam rice, sausages, milk, Nutella
Don’t be surprised by the number of products i bought for 210 baht, they are small packages and cost cheaper.
Same day expences: 210b ≈ 6€ (3.100b in my wallet)
Happy Easter for all those who are celebrating it today!
It is days like this when i wish i was back home with my loved ones enjoying the festive BBQ lamb and the red homemade wine.
Nevertheless, i am grateful to be safe and sane next to nature and enjoying every moment of my isolation.
Today i woke up had a coffee, checked my e-mails and headed directly to the beach. After exercising and reading i enjoyed my Easter lunch which i brought with me in the backpack. The ‘festive’ meal included a roasted pork sandwich, a boiled egg that i painted myself a few days ago in the coffee (didn’t know that it was possible) and some fresh fruits.
The only thing missing was some company, but that’s how isolation is…
On my way back i bought some vegetables and water from a nearby village and made a short stop at a temple. Sometimes we all seek blessing, aren’t we?
It’s not easy to find a temple here comparing to north Thailand were literally on every corner you can spot a beautiful temple to sit and meditate.
The rest of the day i stayed inside, working on laptop and speaking with my family and friends to see how they adapted to the Easter lockdown.
Same day expenses: 150b (2.950b in my wallet and 7 days left)
One more day in paradise…
Didn’t sleep well tonight, so woke up around 10 am. Went to the beach for an hour but couldn’t enjoy the sea. The tidal currents were stronger today and there was just mud at the place i use to swim. I did 3 rounds of intense workout, read my book and returned back.
After my breakfast, i headed to the local immigration to learn where i should extend my visa if i won’t be able to fly again. Unfortunately, i was informed that the extension should be done at the Trat immigration on the mainland. That needs some time to get there by scooter, ferry and taxi which is not convenient at all! And despite that i paid my 30-day extension and was granted only with 17 days, i probably have to do everything from scratch and resubmit my application.
In the afternoon i went to take some photos of Kai Bae beach, visited 7-11 store and returned to the room again. Spent the rest of the evening studying my online courses. One that is really helpful and offers lots of value is created is called Income Boss and is perfect for those who want to start a brand and monetize it. If you are interested let me know and i will try to provide you with a discount coupon.
Enough for today, goodnight!
Same day expenses: 90b (mangos and 1 cola zero that i crave so much lately)
The scenic routes of the island – Having a scooter here is essential
Woke up early today…
Had my coffee and enjoyed 2 hours of swimming and reading on the beach. The water was perfect today.
Afterwards, i ate a good breakfast and went to the immigration office. Had some great news, the Thai government released relief measures for foreigners who have been strained in Thailand and maybe will extend all visas automatically till mid of May. They will keep us updated.
On my way back i wanted to visit a waterfall but after 10 min driving a tropical rain caught me up. I was totally wet, without a raincoat, stopping every 5 min to protect myself from the strong rain. At some points on the road, the motorbike wheel was half inside the water, tooooo much water! As soon as it seemed to stop it was beginning again and every time more intense.
Finally, after an hour later, i managed to reach the entrance point to the waterfall which was unfortunately not allowed to pass. Maybe it was due to the lack of water as they told me, cause it is dry season, or maybe it was due to the Covid situation. Generally, there are many waterfalls, trekking trails and amazing little islands for day trips, but none of them are accessible due to this pandemic…
At least it was not a total waste of time driving till here as i also needed some supplies from the Big-C market.
My shopping list included: ham, cheese, butter, milk, peanut butter, bread, steamed rice, a small bbq fish and whole roasted chicken from a street market. I also top up my Thai sim card with 200b, which is essential in case of emergency).
Same day expenses: 630b (2.230b in my wallet)
Wow, it’s already day 10… Time flies fast
Today my workout was mostly swimming, sit-ups and a few push-ups, as i am getting tired of this routine… ? Sometimes i feel like i want to just sleep on the beach and do nothing.
I had my typical breakfast. It usually includes boiled egg, a toast with ham and cheese, chocolate milk or my second cup of coffee and after an hour i either have cereals or some fresh fruits.
During the day i stayed working online and had some noodles with chicken for lunch. In the evening i got and ice-cream and went to see the sunset which is stunning from the west side of the island, i am staying on. The red sun literally dives inside the sea.
Now i just finished listening to my Neurogym innersice audios and getting to bed.
So, that’s all for today, tomorrow i have to wake up early.
Buenas Noches Amigos!
Same day expenses: 20b (=60 cents) for my ice-cream ?
I had a really good sleep, i actually slept with the sound of rain…
Yes, it was raining all night and along with the smell of rain, i enjoyed the cool breeze coming through my window. I felt so blessed to be surrounded by wild nature.
I checked my e-mails this morning as usual. Unfortunately, they did cancel my second flight via Abu Dhabi to Athens. To be honest, i was expecting that but had some last hopes that i will return home soon.
So, the most important was after the morning exercise and breakfast to leave my scooter right where i rent it, and not to extend further to cut down the extra expenses as after this turnover i really don’t know how long i have to stay here before flying home. It may take a few days more or a few weeks, so i have to avoid spending unnecessary money and unfortunately, this means to use only my feet to move around the island.
After taking some photos of White Sand beach, I reached the rental shop which is located opposite the pier (about 30 min driving from my place) and tried to negotiate to keep the scooter for at least 10 – 14 days more, for a better price, but this woman was in denial. Despite she had no business and the shop was full of bikes with none on the island to rent them to, she preferred just to sit there and play on her smartphone choosing to lose any potential income even if it is 100 – 150b per day. Whatever!
My return to my hut was far from easy…
As there were no people to share the taxi (here it’s called songthaew – a shared truck) from the pier (foreigners are not allowed to enter the island and the locals usually have their own transportation) the price for the ride was 3 times more expensive and couldn’t accept that. So, what did i do?
I hitchhiked for the 30% of my route, then i got on a songthaew and negotiated the proper fare. I jumped off at Lonely beach area having completed the 90% of the route and walked the rest 10% up the hill and down to get to my place at Bailan area. All of the above took me exactly an hour but i was glad that i could adapt to the situation and manage to get back spending just 100b.
The rest day i spent either in the room resting or outside in the garden on my laptop. Lunch and dinner in the room.
Same day expenses: 100b (2.110b in my wallet)
I had an amazing sleep once more…
When it rains during the night it is so refreshing and i can enjoy the cool breeze, the smell and the sound of the rain. It’s incredible to live in the nature like this.
I had my breakfast and headed to the beach. While i was swimming i met a guy named Dee. An American dude with tattoos all over his pumped body. He seemed more like a US-Thai pirate to me ? . Anyways, he was heading with his small beautiful long-tail boat to feed fish on one of the uninhabited small islands near Koh Chang and he invited me to join him. As i am many days alone and didn’t have something more interesting to do i followed him with pleasure.
We ended up meeting better and spending all day on this small island chilling, listening to music, feeding the fishes and even cleaning it up from the plastic crap we found on the beach. On our way back we were awarded with one of the most amazing sunsets we have ever seen.
Same day expenses: 0
It’s Sunday, change of plans, i will sleep a bit more…
Woke up, had some milk, egg and cheese with bread. Right after i wanted to have a cup of hot coffee before going to the beach but….. the damn water boiler i borrowed from the owner wouldn’t work. It’s shame if i can’t use it anymore to have hot water for coffee or for the instant noodles or to boil eggs.
Today i spent my time on the beach reading my book and doing some basic yoga under a tree. Went to buy some street food nearby and in the afternoon i stayed at the garden as it was raining heavily. The day was super relaxed if you excel that the power went out and i started to freak out at some point, cause it’s bad when you don’t have something to do and you are in the dark. Hopefully, it didn’t last more than a couple of hours.
For dinner, i bought some bbq chicken wings, steamed rice and enjoyed them with extra spicy red chilly sauce ???
Same day expenses: 110b (2.000b in the wallet)
Day 14, officially the last day of my challenge.
11:00 am Thailand time.
It’s raining again but i don’t mind. I love this sense of freshness that this tropical rain offers. It’s just that i am constantly in my room and getting tired of staying inside and not even able to exercise.
But today i have some tasks to carry through: find a new kettle, wash my clothes, shop some groceries, have my hair cut and exercise! Let’s see what will i be able to accomplish at the end of the day.
08:30 pm Thailand time.
When staying inside we have to get creative, so i just realised that i had a natural pull bar in my hut and couldn’t observe it before. Now i can do pull-ups daily!
I almost accomplished all of my tasks.
- Washed my t-shirts ✔️
- Had my hair cut a bit ✔️
- Exercised inside due to the rain ✔️
- Shop groceries ❌ Found nothing i needed around here
- New kettle – The owner fixed the old one ✔️
And ready to watch some youtube docs and sleep…
Same day expenses: 0
The end of the self-quarantine challenge
I have been already 14 days on the island and i don’t know how much more i will stay as my return home is unknown. When i first came here I thought it’s gonna be only 2 weeks and that’s how the idea of the two-week challenge came up.
I will continue this self-quarantine double challenge, want it or not, for as long as i stay here but i won’t be recording any longer my progress or updating this post anymore. The first reason is that the goals are accomplished and i can draw my conclusions. The second reason is that you will get bored of reading about my routine if something interesting is not happening. And the last reason is that it’s been tiring to keep up with the expenses and the continuous updates and posts on social media.
So, what are the results of this 2-week challenge?
Well if you remember from the beginning of this post my main goal was,
First, to isolate me, stay safe during the Covid outbreak and spend this time to improve and do something meaningful for me. Simple things like living a healthy and minimalist lifestyle, exercise daily, follow a nutritious diet, learn new skills, meditate etc.
About the above, i can say that during those 2 weeks i managed to stay away from the infections and pollution successfully because the environment supported that, as generally, there are few people on the island and it’s much much safer here and perfect for isolation.
I did great by exercising on the beach every single day, and when it was raining i was exercising inside my hut with whatever means i had available like the 6-pack of bottled water or the pullover bar that was normally a grip for the staircase. I also followed audio guided meditation every second day.
I ate many small meals during the day that included cereals, fruits, vegetables, low-fat products and lots of chicken and rice. I learnt how to drink coffee without sugar, this is because i never bought sugar, and the only part that i failed was that i was drinking the same amount of coffee as before and couldn’t reduce it, i think this is because that i am on my laptop constantly and need always something to drink and stay alert.
I stayed productive by working on several projects online creating new websites and more. I am proud that i finished my friend’s Johhny online course How to start your own brand and become your own Boss and started Anton’s Dropshipping Course. I am proud that i improved my skills on how to trade on the stock market. I restarted listening to my Neurogym – Rewire Your Brain audios. And generally, i had the time to think of new ideas and projects for the future.
My only real struggles during this period were and are: sleeping early to wake up early and not being able to finish my meditation book. But i will try to manage those little issues.
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The second reason for launching this challenge was to, either i want it or not, live the 14 days on a budget of 10.000 baht (280€ or $300) which i had in my wallet, prove to myself that i can do it and show to everyone that sometimes to travel you don’t need a fortune.
This amount should include all of my expenses on the island such as food, accommodation and transportation.
So what is the result?
YES! It is possible to spend 2 weeks on cheap in Thailand and even more!
Here is my total expenses analysis as proof.
I started with 10.000 baht and spent:
3.500 for accommodation (simple double bed hut for 14 days)
2.000 for 10 days motorbike (that's 200 per day)
At the moment i am writing i have 2.000 more left, as i tracked it from my daily updates.
So, i spent for food and transporation on the island 2.500 baht.
If you also include the amount of 800 baht, that i paid in advance to travel here on a minivan,
it makes us 1.200 baht (aprox. 33€ or $ still to spend).
To conclude, i can assure you that it’s possible to stay on 250€ for 2 weeks or on 500€ for a month, per person, in Thailand. Of course, if you are not alone that amount increases but not dramatically as the only extra expenses would be the cost of food for the second person.
Thank you all for reading this post!
The challenge and adventures continues … Stay in touch on Instagram!
Monday 27 April 2020
with love from the rainy Koh Chang