Chiang Mai: A Beauty.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Needing to get the heck out of Bangkok, I went to Chiang Mai for a week:

Almost everyone when I said that I was going to Thailand, either asked if I was going or told me to go to Chiang Mai. In my head I was like, yah okay. But, after only being there for a week and looking at these pictures again, I'd say yes, you should go to Chiang Mai when in Thailand. 

Temples are everywhere and they're beauties. 

When researching what to do in Chiang Mai, I read about this temple that seemed like it was a nice thing to do, you just go to the end of a road and do a leisurely hike up through a picturesque forest (and you know you're in the correct forest if you see bits of monks robes tied to trees) and boom you're at a temple that no one goes to and it's really peaceful and pretty. 

In order to get to the forest, I was like, oh I can walk there (Chiang Mai is a pretty walkable place if you feel like it). But after looking at Google Maps and seeing that it was half an hour (and then you have to hike 45 minutes in the forest to get to temple) then I was like okay, maybe I should bike there. And so I rented a bike and it was nice because before I had seen people biking around and wished I could do the same but just never did because...I dunno, ha. 

The bike ride started off nicely and it was nice to zip through the city. Then it started getting a bit hilly and it was a slog to get up the hill (the bike was a coasting bike) and I hadn't eaten and felt like I was going to pass out and was thanking myself that I at least rented a bike and man, when is this hill ever going to end. 

But once you're at the top, this is what you see:

You overlook the city and it was a nice spot to just sit and not really do much of anything except hang out with this dog (and others) and watch the few people that come and go.

The center of Chiang Mai is pretty walkable, making it nice to explore and you chance upon pretty things like this. 

Chiang Mai is known for its food and there's all these food carts everywhere and I was constantly like, "WHAT'S THIS I WANT THIS." The response most of the time was: coconut. 

This is a dish that is specific to Chiang Mai, Khao Soi. When I read about it, I was like, man not for me. I don't really like savory coconut based dishes (too heavy after awhile). But I felt pressured by the travel world to try it and it was as everyone promised...the bomb. The coconut soup base wasn't heavy at all and was so good with the deep fried egg noodles on top. What I learned from this dish: I don't know my taste at all haha. 

A lot of the food I ate in Chiang Mai made me cry from its spiciness. This is one of them. I always thought I could handle spice. But after being in Thailand, no, no I can't. At least not Thailand levels.

I dunno why but I was fascinated by the eggs in Chiang Mai. They were all so pretty looking.

When I photographed this, the lady selling these peanuts was so bored and then saw me do it and came to life and nudged her daughter and pointed at me excitedly for taking the picture (I think).

This was at a very small section of a large walking market that happens every Sunday in Chiang Mai. They shut down one of the main streets and then it's lined with vendors selling goods and food. What's really interesting is that around 6pm or so, they start playing the King's anthem, and everyone (the street is packed with people) stops and observes the song. It was like someone paused a movie. Everything was just suddenly so eerily still. And then after the song is done, the street becomes bustling and moving again. It's incredible. I forgot to mention in my Bangkok post that when you see a movie in Thailand, they play the King's anthem before the movie and it is accompanied by a slideshow of the King in all his glory. I found it odd, almost unnerving, but I guess it was more interesting to me to see the relationship between the people of Thailand and the King and how intertwined and devoted it is.

I dunno why but I for some reason took so many pictures of all the dogs I saw in Chiang Mai. 

The instant I took this picture this dog freaked out. I guess I would too if I was as silly looking. 

One of the big things to do in Chiang Mai is to go see elephants. 

I went to this elephant park that rescues elephants and also rescues dogs and water buffalo. A park of misfits. On the way to the park, they played a video that explained the park and some of the elephants' stories, and man were they ever sad. Things like the elephants being blinded by their owners when they refused to move, just really terrible stuff that had everyone in the van sad and horrified. 

It was surreal being around the elephants. They're just there. Walking around. Like it's no big deal. You could touch most of them too. And feed them and bathe them. It was so amazing and moving that you almost forgot how amazing it was and it just became your new reality, that oh, I'm hanging out with elephants, cool. 

Our guide was this hilarious tiny Thai woman who had the most perfect jokes (that have obviously been fine tuned through being repeated so many times) - things like when the elephant peed, that that was Chang Beer (Chang Beer is one of the big beer brands in Thailand and Chang means elephant in Thai) or there was this male elephant that didn't have any tusks and whenever he played with this other male elephant, he always lost and so was nicknamed "Ladyboy". What made the jokes even funnier was that she laughed at them every time. 

Not pictured: the hilarious amount of massages that I did in Chiang Mai. I literally went almost every night to this one place. For 10 dollars for an hour, how could you not? I didn't do this on purpose, but I got the same lady every time and she laughed at the number of times I came. She was also the tiniest, skinniest woman ever, but was surprisingly strong. 

I am glad I went to Chiang Mai because it showed me another side of Thailand that made me appreciate it so much more and showed me the depth of the country. I wish I could have been there longer to just explore more of the food and the city. There's so much there and it's so easy to accidentally chance upon a serene and calm spot and then end up in a place brimming with life and action. 

Till next time Chiang Mai, I hope you keep well. 

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