The ninety day Thailand adventure is almost over. This is it, the last post before we pack our bags for Malaysia’s sunny coast. In a recent phone call, my grandmother asked what impression Thailand will leave on me. That was a difficult question to answer, but on day eighty-six, it deserves more thought.
Chiang Mai is as enigmatic as it was when I stepped off the plane. Oh sure, it’s become less foreign — the hectic traffic feels normal, dangling electrical wires are typical, and street food is a necessity. But the balance between old and new is an ever greater mystery. I remember a monk playing Candy Crush on an iPhone — a perfect representation of the rapid changes in an ever-digital Thailand. Though some growing pains are evident, nobody seems stressed. Contemporary neighbourhoods built on tiny old roads where traffic enforcement is impossible. A culture with one foot in the future, one foot in the past, pleasantly drifting wherever the current leads.
If you’ve been to Chiang Mai outside the last few years, perhaps you’d thumb your nose at the recent constructions all over town. Questions of culture and global monotony swirled through my head in my early time here — is this worldwide gentrification? But while some tourists frequent the newly built coffee-shops, most cafés are filled with locals also enjoying their iced lattes, many ordering a drink then working on their laptops for hours, finding odd-jobs in the internet economy. I’ll always remember the cafés fondly: styling and grooving through the first concepts of my game, and finally pushing into full production. A combination hangout and workplace. A western concept morphed into the Thai ideal. A digital factory for a relaxed culture.
Though the north can reach fifteen celsius on winter nights, the people remain a source of warmth. The most amiable people I’ve ever met. Carefree is their culture, easygoing attitude whatever the circumstances. Smiling, nodding, helping — random acts of kindness, like a free bottle of water for a parched traveler, or the glowing acceptance of new friends. Their reaction to disappointment and celebration is often the same: laughter. The best people at just living in the moment. An important lesson, and the most memorable impression from Thailand.
What’s next for the game? Writing. A whole bunch of it. I have a rough art style and a good technical framework, but now it’s time for actual production — that begins with the first story. I’ve guesstimated a timeline: the writing will take the majority of Malaysia (and maybe a bit longer). My game updates probably won’t be as detailed, and the flow of new images will dry, but the next few months will be the most crucial for the gameplay, so I’ll try to be as detailed as possible without spoiling too much plot.
But, we’re leaving Thailand, so I’ll be taking a couple of weeks off to get settled in Penang (our next home) and to quickly visit Kuala Lumpur (the Malaysian capital) before getting back to work. Excited for the next adventure!
Photo by Amanda Gansfield