A year ago I quit my job. How am I doing now in Chiang Mai?

My last day in a corporate job was on 14.12.2015 – exactly a year ago. I learned a lot of things that I can use in my own business now. I NEVER regret having worked in a corporate company for 2 years and 6 months. It made my perspective wider! These are pictures of us in a working dress and me driving a Mercedes (a rental car though).

Thinking about that, at that time I traveled much more than now. Basically, I was away from home every week, stayed in a hotel for 3 nights, hanged out with colleagues all three nights for dinner and drinks. Although working 60+ hours a week on average, I was happy and I found good friends as well 🙂

NOW

We moved to Chiang Mai in January this year. We work basically 6 and a half days a week (8 hours a day and my husband 9 hours :D). I work with my husband, hang out with him, and see him almost 24 hours a day. Because of the workload we do not hang out a lot. It is embarrassing that we were only in a club or house party 5 times so far (2 times as a friend visited us)!

Are we happier?

We are REALLY happy. We work hard for our future and we love our job. We love our products. It is amazing when people tell us that they love our apps and find our apps helpful. I almost break into tears sometimes. Also, as Chiang Mai is a paradise, you do not feel really like working here. It feels like you are in vacation all the time.

The sunshine, the landscape, the people, the food. I LOVE CHIANG MAI!

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Are we healthier?

Yes. First of all we do almost everyday sport. My husband swims at the 700 years stadium, I do Yoga. Also, we are less stressed. It is not like everything is easy because we are dealing with different problems every day.

But somehow at the end of the day, we smile before we go to sleep.

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Are we richer?

NO. We do not make a lot of money. We earn not a fourth of my salary in Germany. But we can live with our profit full time in Chiang Mai. If you know us, we are stingy 😛 Both of us together spend 30.000 baht every month for anything from rent, insurance, utilities, food etc.

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On Songtaew towards the border of Tachilek.

Do we miss our jobs?

No. I cannot imagine to go back to the corporate world anymore.

I found out one thing. I am not a digital nomad but we are apps entrepreneurs. I kind of like the word “Appreneur“.  I love my life right now 🙂

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Project Management for digital nomads or apppreneur (Trello.com)

In the end of August I wrote this post  about how do I accelerate our business. I summarized three points:

  1.  Process oriented
  2. Automation
  3. Outsourcing

In the beginning we outsourced Task-based work like audio editing, marketing, etc. but now we do Role-based outsourcing. That means our helper has role and can control what task will be done first or later. These are the roles we have now:

  • Product Management – get all resources that are needed to launch the aps
  • App Release for iOS, Android – launching Apps and releasing apps, manage store listing, ASO
  • Account Management – manage all accounts that are used within the app
  • Marketing
  • Development

Since our team is expanding we could not work with Excel sheet/Google Spreadsheet anymore. We also discussed about stuffs using Facebook messenger. Sometimes it was confusing, about what tasks was the message for. It was confusing!!

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We heard about Trello.com and we tried it. I must say , Trello is super easy to use and help us manage the project/resource very effectively!

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User Story Board

Since we were IT consultants before and we worked with different IT-project, we use SCRUM as our project methodology. We use

  • User Story (feature, task, work in small chunk)
  • Sprint Development Cycle (we decided to have 6 weeks sprint)
  • Sprint Review
  • Sprint Retrospective

In this post I will talk about how User Story help us collaborating and communicating 🙂

We have five user story statuses and use the statuses as a list: new, in progress, waiting for review, in review, completed. Please see the flow in the picture below.

  1. All new user stories will be put into the first list – new.
  2. Any team member who works on any user story will move the user story card into the next list – in progress. Also, the member will assign the card to their name and be the owner of the card. Most of the time I assign them but in the future, I hope, it will change!
  3. When the team member finished his task, he will move the card to the next list – waiting for review.
  4. I will work from this list on. I review the work and make sure everything is correct. During the review process I move the card to the next list – in review.
  5. a) If something isn’t correct I will move the card back to the list – in progress. Also here, I will mention the card owner what things need to be changed. This is perfect as we just can read the card name, description, comments history, we know exactly what is it about!
  6. b) If everything is alright, I will move the card to the next list – completed

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This works smoothly for us. We never had to go back to Facebook messenger to scroll back on all conversation. Everything is mentioned in Trello.com. As well as we get email notification on all mentions, comments, on the cards I own. 🙂 Also the best thing is the tool is FREE. I have to thank the owner of Trello and every one who is making this tool. I just love it!

Project Management for Digital Nomad/ Appreneur II

In the last post I talked about that we use Scrum to manage our project. And we use Trello.com to collaborate and communicate in our small team. Everyone knows what he/she has to work on and can see all the comments history of that task.

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Our Scrum

In this post I want to talk about other things of Scrum : Sprint Review and Sprint Retrospective. Most of the team members work remotely but since we live in Chiang Mai we can meet. We met for the meetings and we tried to go for dinner together afterwards. I want the meeting to be held informal, with friendly atmosphere.

Last meeting we went to Penguin Ghetto coffee shop. Up stair you have a small meeting room and a white board. We prepare the followings:

  1. what we have achieved so far and how the team members helped us achieved
  2. Post-its for retrospective meeting
  3. Papers and pens.

The meeting agenda was

  1. Introduction
  2. Sprint n Review
  3. Sprint n Retrospective
  4. Sprint n+1 Goal settings

For agenda no. 3 everyone got a post-it and a pen. Team members write down what they think it was good in the last Sprint and what can we improve for the next Sprint. The moderator can write down what is the action point towards what can be improved. And this is how it looks like:

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Sprint Retrospective

We knew more about our team members and we will improve ourselves! Then, we have a last agenda about the Goal Settings of the next Sprint. We planned together will the team members and I really like it. 🙂

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Us and the Goal Settings for the next Sprint

 

 

Follow footsteps of my BELOVED KING – King Bhumibol the Great (เดินตามรอยเท้าพ่อ)

October 13, 2016 we lost the greatest king of our country. I cry, moan, feel sad, feel lost. But we need to go on, continue living and make contribution and yet follow my king’s footprint (เดินตามรอยเท้าพ่อ). The video below shows how to say condolence in Thai.

You may know he initiated/worked on many social projects for Thailand. I cannot explain all of his great projects here as I do not know them all. But I can explain the one project that I have grown up with (Sufficiency economy – เศรษฐกิจพอเพียง and new agriculture theory – เกษตรทฤษฎีใหม่).

I come from a poor but self sustainable family. This was because of my father. Since I was born my father was the head of the village (ผู้ใหญ่บ้าน) of some 400 villagers. I did not understand that much of what my father did but I saw a lot of books where our king was on the cover. The book covers stated “Sufficiency economy – เศรษฐกิจพอเพียง” or new agriculture theory – เกษตรทฤษฎีใหม่.

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Example of the new Agriculture Theory

Image from https://toonbkb.files.wordpress.com/2013/02/newtheory32.jpg

The “Sufficiency economy” for my father is or what he told me is: to be independent (try to do things on your own first before asking for help), be satisfied of what I have. And so I am now. As kids I wore only second hand school uniform.

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I was maybe 7. Look at the skirt. It was extended so that it looks longer 😀

I got second hand school books. But I was never ashamed of it. It was not the thing that I worried. I think maybe because of my warm-heart family, good friends. And it was what matters for me. I smiled and laughed a lot and it continues until now!

We had three different lands for different purposes.

  1. Our house – 800 sqm with herbs garden, fish pond, duck coop, chicken coop, short time living trees – see images below 🙂
  2. Fruit garden – 1600 sqm with trees like banana, pineapple,coconuts
  3. Rice fields – 10000 sqm

We can live on our own. I will show you an example. Our regular dishes are steamed fish with steamed vegetables. Sometimes we have eggs soup as well.

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steamed fish – ปลานึ่ง

Image from http://www.siamfishing.com/content/view.php?nid=137412&cat=recipe

  • Vegetables are grown in the house area. We grow papaya, chili, lemon, pumpkin, other herbs for cooking. We can make papaya salad with all ingredients from our garden!. And all of them are free of insecticide! They are all organic. When we have too much left after our own consumption we sell. My father normally sells banana, coconut, papaya 🙂
  • Fish are in our fish pond. It is organic as well. The fishes eat plants in the pond.
  • Next to the fish pond, there were the duck coop and chicken coop. My responsibility was to feed them every evening after school. The ducks and chicken ate vegetables like water spinach, rice brand. (we don’t have them anymore as my father is old and cannot take care them)
  • Eggs were from the chickens and ducks. We got an egg almost everyday. The chickens were raised on the ground. They found their own food. But every day when we had some cook rice left over we gave the rice to the chicken.
  • Rice. We have rice field that we rented to other people for the rice. So we do not get the money for the rent but rice!. Every year we get rice that we can live for a year. The rice is called “ข้าวหอมมะลิ” or jasmine rice.
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My dad was selling fresh coconuts from our garden. Year 2006

I feel satisfied. I feel that there is nothing I miss. My parents, a dog, (chicken, ducks), fishes, Our family is never shorten of food. All about how this works is written in all the books I saw when I was kids. It is incredible that only a small land you can live on your own. For me now it may take sometimes to have money to buy land, build house but when the time comes, I will blog about it.

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Our family loves our the greatest king of Thailand

My biggest dream is to do the same as my father, to be an independent, to live in a self-sustainable economy … to follow my beloved king’s theory, king Bhumibol the Great.

 

3. Visa Run – Chiang Mai – Mae Sai with motorcycle

Another three months passed and the process of doing Visa Run came. Normally we took the bus of the Green bus company from Chiang Mai to Mae Sai. Then, the Songtaew from Mae Sai Bus Station to the Border – then vice versa. This time it was a bit different. We drove to Mae Sai by ourselves.

We did a big cycle as we had German friends visiting us and we went first to Doi Angkhang, then to Mae Sai, then back to Chiang Mai with our 125 cc motorcycle. I definitely recommend to do so as well. The view and landscape is amazing!

This is my blog about Doi Ang Khang. After having spent time about two nights there we got going. The road has a lot of curves and it is downhill (see the picture and video below).

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We passed many villages, filled our fuel contained in an alcohol bottle. 🙂

We did two stops. First we stopped at a temple called: วัดท่าตอน พระอารามหลวง (Wat Thaton Phra Aram Luang). The temple is several hundreds years old. It has several buildings that are divided into nine steps. At step 8 you can take pictures and have a high view to the river and to the villages.

Then we stopped at an orange plantation. Of cause we drank fresh pressed orange juice!

It took us about four hours to arrive at Mae Sai. To enter Myanmar for a Thai person, I needed to pickup a border crossing card from ที่ว่าการอำเภอ, pay 30 bahts. As easy it was, I left Thailand, entered Myanmar, stayed there for 2 hours.

We had a Burmese lunch. It was not my favorite but it tasted quite good!

About at 4 pm we left Mae Sai. 250 kilometers was waiting for us. We did one stop as my butt hurt like hell. About 100 kilometers we were again going out of fuel. It was about 7 pm, it was raining, the road was slippery, I was scared so much that we could not make it. The landscape around were only trees and mountains. There was no one at the check points so that we could ask for help. There was only us and cars passing by.

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Then, it came a village located near Chiang Mai about 70 km. There was an old fuel station. We filled up our fuel for 50 baht so that we could arrive in Chiang Mai.

At last we made it. Then 5 minutes after we arrived it started storming… I was glad we arrived home safely. I would recommend if you want to do the same, please leave Mae Sai earlier. You can then enjoy the view and the road.

 

Doi Ang Khang – A motorcycle trip from Chiang Mai. แว้นไปดอยอ่างขาง

Other digital nomads work and travel to different places in the same time. For us, we work and sometimes travel. We can travel when we get visitors 😀 This time we took three days off and traveled to Doi Ang Khang – north of Thailand and it is at the border to Myanmar.

We decided to go there with our 125 cc motorcycle. This was the route we took:

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Chiang Mai – Doi Ang Khang

About half way we drove on the high way. The street is quite large and good.

We drove about 60 – 80 km/h. We took several stops for lunch and sight seeing. It took about 4 hours to arrive.

We went there last week – end of September which was during off season. We could book a hotel room at the Royal Project Foundation – Sathani Luang Doi Ang Khang (สถานีเกษตรหลวงอ่างขาง). We got a cheapest double room for 650 baht per night – without breakfast. However, we could enter the Royal Project site for free. The food in the restaurant is not that expensive as well. You can pay about 50-60 baht for fried chicken with basil 🙂

We visited a strawberry plantation, tea plantation and the garden within the project site. We saw how people manually plant and I was really impressed. 🙂

In the city of Ang Khang there are not many places to visit. We just went to the school and two villages. They have Chinese ancestors and the food is a bit different than you can have in Chiang Mai. In this village on the way to Thai – Myanmar border we got a noodle soup 🙂

We really enjoyed the trip and the time for not working ^_^!

Digital Nomad as a couple – does it work? Part 1.

Recently, I joined a Facebook group – Digital Nomad – Couples around the world. There are many couples working and travelling around the world. Some couples are like us: the boyfriend/husband is developer and girlfriend/wife is doing other things.

I posted this to the group to introduce ourselves:

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I feel really good that other couples choose similar way of living. So far I would say I love what we are now 🙂 I would like to summarize why I think, it works for us.

Attitude of living and working

I think this is the most important part. If I would imagine thinking differently from my husband about the way of living, I would feel uncomfortable and could not give 100% for anything. I would just do things or live the way he wants.

Luckily, our ultimate goal of living is the same which is FREEDOM.

Freedom in terms of

  • financial – we want to have enough passive income to have financial freedom. Assuming if I still work for cooperate: I would need to save 1 million and get 5% interest. Then I will able to live without working anymore. If I could save 30k Euro a year and 5% more every year, it would take me about 20 years. The bonus of promotion is substituted with the inflation.  It is sad if I think I have to work until I am 50 years old.
  • workplace – we decide where we can live. As we love travelling, learning new languages, new cultures, we would like to live in different places in the world.

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  • job – we decide what business we have. We know that we do not have the so called “employee mindset”. After working for more than 3 years in two companies, I know that I would love to do my own business.

To see how my ideas are realized is my happiness.

 

Quit job

For 2 a half years I worked as IT-consultant in Germany. I loved it very much although there were long hours of work ~60 hours per week.  I loved what I did and I never regret that I went to work for corporate. Why?

Because I learned a lot. All what I have done during work, I can use for my own business.I would not be able to define and optimize our business processes at all!

Having the mindset

However, it was not hard for me to make the decision to leave the job. It is pretty easy actually. You have your ultimate goal and you just compare what you are doing now. You will see if what you are doing will lead to that goal. See?

Corporate job will never bring me to my goal of life. The only way to reach it is quit what I am doing and have my own business.

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What if it fails?

It will fail I am sure. But I will not give up. Simon reads so many biographies of successful people. They have failed before. Why am I afraid of failing. I am more afraid of not having freedom.

Be prepared

We did not just quit the jobs, come to Chiang Mai, find business that suits us. We had a business before we quit and we thought the business was going to have a bright future.

During the time we work we had a side project. It once was our hobby. It generated little income so that we thought we could SCALE it.

We worked hard for the business we have now. We were there when we got bad reviews and someone told us that our products are not useful. BUT there are other people around the world who love our products. This makes us moving forward…

Take the first step

I wrote about how we prepared to come to Chiang Mai in my very first blog post. Preparation for Digital Nomad in Chiang Mai

I hope, you enjoy reading this. Let’s talk about part 2 next week!