I’m an early retired budget traveler, not a digital nomad, and so I’d never been to co-working spaces until we hit Chiang Mai, Thailand. One of them became my favorite as I went to ‘work’ on a new project – some creative writing.
I need a few things to accomplish this new hobby, job, labor of love of mine:
- air conditioning (in Southeast Asia, at least)
- peace and quiet
- a comfortable work space
- WiFi to email my stories to a select few willing volunteers
These things — and more — I found at Planter’s Space.
It was right around the block from our rental apartment. But even if it had been a 30-minute bus ride away, I still would have gone there. I did go to other co-working spots around town, but none could compare in my view. They were too loud, mainly. Chiang Mai is a mecca for digital nomads – many half my age.
Cafes are OK for writing, but you can’t stay for eight hours on one coffee. They also tend to be noisy, and in Chiang Mai, many are open-air without AC.
So, done experimenting with options, I eventually settled into a routine at Planter’s Space and went to ‘work’. It felt so good. Aside from a great space, I think it helped me to leave ‘home’ to ‘go to work’ – I felt more productive.
The air conditioning is ice cold, and there are fans. These are huge draws for me. As a woman who suffers through hot flashes, nothing sucks more than overheating at the keyboard, trying to be creative when I’m pouring with sweat from, well, simply writing.
Planter’s Space is peaceful and quiet. There are several comfortable desks, padded office chairs, even a couch and beanie bag chairs, where a few digital nomads sometimes get comfortable on the floor and take power naps. (I always powered through.) The view outside to the small fountain-and-plant pool is pleasant. The inner decor is tasteful.
The WiFi is superfast. I never checked the download/upload speeds, but sending files took half a second.
There is free instant coffee, and if you want the real deal, Planter’s Space has an adjacent cafe with the best mint mocha latte in Thailand. They also sell croissants and desserts. And, it’s air conditioned.
On top of all that — the owner is awesome.
There were several mornings Oy offered make me real coffee instead of instant after he’d bought a new type of bean. One cup was so good, I didn’t want milk or sugar. Also, a few afternoons, Oy passed around plates of watermelon or dragon fruit to people working, to keep our creative juices going. In addition to his kindness, he’s an interesting man to chat with.
There is a video conference room for an additional fee, but Oy showed me the back porch on the second floor and offered for me to use that for free so I could call my friends Sheila and Chuck.
Planter’s Space also is a co-living place – a hostel with dorm beds (I never saw those rooms). Some digital nomads using the co-working building also are living upstairs. The shared kitchen is around back outside (where you can make yourself that free instant coffee) and you can use the fridge if you want to bring lunch or dinner, snacks or drinks.
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I met some serious digital nomads there. One guy I met was older – he’d been doing remote work for nearly 15 years and liked to call himself a pioneer. Of course, there were plenty of 20-somethings as well, but they were actually working – not goofing around making noise.
The owner’s workers are awesome. Noom usually runs the cafe. He speaks English, is so polite, and he’s the one who makes the best mint mocha latte in the country.
What’s it all cost? For a day, it’s 120 baht, about $3.89. You can use the space for 12 hours — it’s open from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. every day. There were a few times I found myself there after dark, still writing. Or, you can buy a month-long package for 1,800 baht – or $58.25 (and then the video conference room is free). I didn’t go every day – but I went a lot – especially the second 20 days of our 40-day stay in Chiang Mai.
Cafe prices are extremely reasonable, too. My mint mocha latte was 45 baht, or about $1.45.
Since I quit my career to go on a worldwide travel adventure with Tedly, most of the writing I’ve done is this blog. There are more than 320 entries since August 2015. Straight nonfiction is so much easier for me than creative writing, having worked in the news business for years. And opinion writing has gotten easier for me, over time, since I left the news business. The only thing I’ve really needed for these blog entries is WiFi for uploading pictures and posting the entries. It’s not rocket science to regurgitate a travel experience and add some impressions.
Let’s face it: the life of a retired budget traveler is pretty damn great.
But it’s a different game – and a challenge for me – to make shit up as I go along. Planter’s Space helped me with that challenge. Their motto: “We plant ideas here.” Yes, yes they do. I must say, I had quite a few good ideas while ‘working’ there. I’m ready to leave Chiang Mai, but I’m a little sad to leave this co-working place.