As Trevor says, “We’re in one of the Chiangs”. Well, now were done with the Chiangs, and also with our five weeks in Thailand, but Chiang Mai deserves a post none the less. My original impression of Chiang Mai as we fought through throves of traffic and pedestrians from the airport to the road to Pai was not great. Truthfully, I wasn’t looking forward to returning to the chaos and dirt of the city after spending such a wonderful few weeks in the countryside. I had a lot to learn…Chiang Mai turned out to be a charming, interesting city once we settled into our less hectic neighborhood and discovered the nooks and crannys of the Old City.
Our three story town house was situated away from the touristy Old City, giving us a taste of “real life” in Chiang Mai. We enjoyed having all that space to spread out, and for the first time in a very long time, the kids each had their own bed. The olny down side to our apartment was the palethera of aromas that constantly wafted in from the restaurant next door. In Thailand they eat things like pork and rice soup or fried chicken for breakfast. I’m used to smells of coffee and toast in the morning, not raw meat! We did however make great friends with the owner of a local restaurant/pool bar as well as the smoothie vender on the corner.
As we set off to explore the city, the kids were less than excited when I told them I’d found a great art museum for us to spend the day at. Boy were they surprised at just how much fun this museum was. The exhibits were made to be photographed as though they were 3D. We had a blast taking wacky photos all afternoon and the kids even begged to go back again.
The night markets in Chiang Mai were a refreshing change as well. The community has many artists and craftsman who sell their wares at the markets which was such a nice change from the markets in other cities that sell the same old stuff at every stall. We were lucky to be in the city over the weekend when they have their Sunday night market. Almost a mile of street is dedicated just to vendor stalls and street performers. The temples along the road are full of food stalls selling every kind of food you can imagine. They even have a whole side street dedicated solely to massage chairs. The crowded streets were a bit overwhelming at times but it was worth it to see this spectacle that only happens once a week.
By the time we finished out our week, we felt ready to say good bye to Thailand. We enjoyed the differences between the southern beaches an the northern mountains, the bustling cities and the quiet countryside. We saw why Thailand is known as the land of smiles. We met so many friendly and interesting people and saw things most people will never have a chance to see. We left feeling blessed by our time there and ready for the adventures that still await us.