I never thought I’d end up in Chiang Mai. I figured I would hang out in Bangkok for a while, then spend the rest of my month in Thailand down south in the beaches. Chiang Mai (a major Thai city in the north) was just a little too far out of the way.
Well, you know what they say about making plans. I got out of Bangkok after four days, desperate to be done with the massive crowds and heat. I did spend a lovely two weeks on the beach in Koh Lanta, but I think that was just enough time. Bumming on a beach is not so much a solo activity – it’s much better done with someone who can watch your stuff when you scamper into the surf. Plus, the one water activity I had planned – a snorkeling tour – had to be canceled when I tore up my leg and couldn’t go in to the water right after.
|The current status of the leg. Thank you for asking.|
The decision to go to Chiang Mai was made when I decided to swing into China (I’m so CRAZY like that), which of course means I needed a visa. I read some horror stories about people trying to get Chinese visas at the embassy in Bangkok, but that it was usually much more relaxed up north at the Chinese consulate. Done and done! I booked my ticket and was ready to roll.
So what have I found?
You guys, I really do like cities. I constantly go back and forth between whether I want to live in an idyllic Stars Hollow-esque small town or a medium-to-large-sized city. After spending two weeks on a random island in Thailand, I can confidently say that the small town is nice, but only for a bit. I got to Chiang Mai and one of the first times I was truly ecstatic in the last few days was when I walked into a grocery store. A GROCERY STORE! A store that sells groceries that isn’t a 7-11! You have no idea how wonderful it was just to wander around a little bit, soaking in the A/C and the order of the food. Sure, it’s a Western-slanted store so everything is way too expensive, but I can still window shop.
|Wait a tic. If I can’t squeeze the cheese then WHY AM I EVEN HERE|
Chiang Mai, as a rapidly growing city in a developing country, is full of contrasts. You have a beautiful high-rise hotel right next to a slow-moving river… and dilapidated buildings. There is a huge expat community here, a lot of medical tourism, and the businesses to support that… but also men languishing by the moat.
It’s also full of surprises. You might see a sketchy-looking alley, but at the end of that alley is a beautiful oasis of a yoga studio.
I’ll be in Chiang Mai for the next week, with some fun stuff lined up – a trip to the Elephant Nature Park, a bike tour around the city, a cooking class, and a decadent spa package. Then I’ll be off to Laos for the weekend before heading up for some family pampering in Beijing (RIGHT?! Otherwise I’m not coming). Good times ahead, y’all.