chiang mai

I will go back to Chiang Mai. I must go back to Chiang Mai. I'm already checking airfare prices daily. I want to spend a month there. I want to learn more about Buddhism, meditation, and mindfulness. I want to travel to Laos and Cambodia. If I weren't so grateful for the opportunity to travel to Thailand at all, I'd consider it a tragedy that I wasted 11 days in Bangkok and Patong, and had only a precious 3 in Chiang Mai, but I will not dwell and I will not be greedy. I will save my øre, I will hoard my vacation time, and I will visit again.

Chiang Mai was everything I expected in Thailand. It was the first time in the trip that I felt like I was someplace very far away from anywhere I'd ever been. And I wanted to drink in every last drop.

I took a one day Thai vegetarian cooking class. I went on a river cruise. I went to a night market, where I got the most incredible deals on Thai Silk (less than $1/meter) and a Buddha statue (about $3). I visited temples, talked with a monk about Buddhism, and stayed in the the most amazing boutique hotel!

There are some more commercial areas of Chiang Mai, but a significant portion of the city is made up of little roads (Soi) like these. They are dotted with guesthouses, restaurants, bars, etc. It's possible to rent a room in a guesthouse here for less than 5000 baht/month (less than $200). It's a very popular area with backpackers and other alternative types of travelers, which suits me perfectly.

Vegetarian food was plentiful here. Happy Cow lists 49 veg-friendly choices in Chiang Mai, but there were so many more, and they're silly cheap! Aloo gobi with rice at the night market was less than $2. And it was good!

The most expensive thing on this menu is slightly over $2.50, and these prices are on the expensive side. If you've got the time, it's totally possible to take a long break here and live well without going broke :)

No matter where I go, I'm always on the lookout for Vespas. Somehow though, they're never as romantic outside of Italy.

Chiang Mai has around 300 Buddhist temples. I didn't see nearly as many as I would've liked, but I did visit a handful of temples, and I will post separately about them.

Elephants are very prominent in Thai culture, and especially Thai Buddhism. There is a lot of elephant imagery in art, sculpture, and decor.

Unfortunately, there's also a fair amount of elephant tourism in the form of elephant parks, elephant treks, elephant shows, etc. Animal welfare standards in Thailand are very low and I really wish people would stop supporting this ugly side of the tourist trade, or at least educate themselves enough to know the truth about the poaching and abuse that they are so blindly supporting in their quest for an "exotic" vacation experience. Isn't visiting Thailand exotic enough? *stepping off my soapbox now*

Now that I've given a rundown on each of the three areas I've visited, I'll post my favorite photos and more in-depth about individual experiences. I'll also post the details of my cooking class and share the recipes with you.

If you get sick of hearing about Thailand, let me know via the comments section and we'll return to Scandinavia or Italy for a bit ;)

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