My favorite city in Thailand (so far)

Chiang Mai Travel Blog

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monks at Wat Doi Suthep

Oh My. Chiang Mai. Chiang Mai. Chiang Mai.... I had a magical and fantastic experience in this bustling city in north Thailand.  I had originally planned on staying here for just three days, but ended up staying for ten!  It is the perfect mixture of a small city surrounded by nature and northern Thai hill-tribes. 

I schmoozed my way into staying at, "Julie's Guest House" - which is clearly "the" place to stay in Chiang Mai.  (Those who have been here can attest to this since we all keep bumping into one another throughout all of SE Asia).   It is certainly a great place to meet fellow travelers.

a monk moment
  In fact, you'd have to make a strong effort to NOT meet anyone here.  You'd be classified as an official "recluse loner" if you don't meet anyone while staying here.  There are multiple lounge areas to lay in a hammock, read on an outdoor pillow-bed, or eat at a coummunity table.  Oh, and the rooms only cost $3/night.  The place works on the honor system too.  There is an open bar that you just take what you want and write down what you owe! 

Julie's has a long list of things to do while in Chiang Mai, so I tried a few......

I took a cooking class!  15 of us started at the morning market where our master chef named, "Yaow" taught us about local produce and spices.  Then, we went to the cooking school and learned how to make (and eat) six different plates.

Golden shadows
  I made everything I've been eating for the past few weeks: Pad Thai, Papaya Salad, Spring Rolls, Panang Curry (Coconut), Sweet 'n Sour Vegetables and.... Fried Bananas!  Yum. It was such a great experience.  And, our teacher was hilarious.  She was really funny, entertaining and friendly.  After "class," she took me around town showing me all the great restaurants, bars and local markets.  One minute I'm making spring rolls in a class, and the next I was flying on the back-seat of Yaow's moped!   I had a Thai friend showing me around Chiang Mai. 

Nature was calling me so I left the town for a few days.  I went on a 3-day/2-night mini-trek into the hills outside of Chiang Mai (you can read about that in my next blog entry!)!   In brief, twelve of us rode elephants up a mountainside until it was too steep for them to continue.

Yaow - our teacher/chef
  Then, we walked for 5 hours (almost straight up - like stairs).  It was beautiful and peaceful.  We stayed in a local hill-tribe village where three local hilltribe villagers cooked us all dinner and had 12 mosquito-net-covered beds in a mountain-side bamboo hut.  We sat on the deck looking at the sky from dusk until the deep darkness of the night surrounded us.  The locals smoked opium while the tourists shared iPods.  Stories were told. Games were played.  I made friends from all over the world.

The next two Trek days were filled with lazy meandering along the river, swimming in waterfalls, taking photos, river rafting and even bamboo rafting.  Bamboo must be one of nature's most useful gifts to South East Asians.

Thai Boxing match.
  It seems as though everything is built from bamboo: boats, baskets, buildings, and even bridges!!  It felt good to be in nature again.  The last time I felt this way was when I slept under the stars in the sand dunes of north India on my camel safari.  I like this feeling!

Back in Chiang Mai, Thai Boxing is a huge sport.  So, I went to a fight night.  Thai Boxing is a mixture of boxing, wrestling and karate - where you can punch, kick and tackle your opponent.  It is one-part ceremonial and one-part entertainment.  No wonder America's UFC (Ultimate Fighting) is so popular in Thailand.  The Thai boxing event started with 9-year old boys that weigh 42lbs.  It is crazy to watch these little boys go at it.

Why not?
  The older fighters kicked some serious ass.

Chiang Mai had the BEST markets and shopping of any city on my trip so far.  And, the prices were so reasonable that I often didn't even need to bargain.  How can you bargain with a local hill-tribe woman about paying less than $4 for a beautiful hand-carved wooden vase?  I've learned every negotiating trick in the book so ask me and I'll tell you how.  The package I sent home must have weighed 7 kg.  Oops.  You can't negotiate with the Postal Service. 

martinikitty13 says:
great blog. the cooking class sounds great! :)
Posted on: Feb 01, 2008
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monks at Wat Doi Suthep
monks at Wat Doi Suthep
a monk moment
a monk moment
Golden shadows
Golden shadows
Yaow - our teacher/chef
Yaow - our teacher/chef
Thai Boxing match.
Thai Boxing match.
Why not?
Why not?
Wat Doi Suthep above Chiang Mai
Wat Doi Suthep above Chiang Mai
A golden shadow
A golden shadow
Street-side massages in Thailand.
Street-side massages in Thailand.
The rules of our Guest House....
The rules of our Guest House....
Local village children
Local village children
monking around
monking around
Yaow explaining vegetables to our …
Yaow explaining vegetables to our…
Cooking Pad Thai!
Cooking Pad Thai!
Master Chef Danman
Master Chef Danman
The cooking school
The cooking school
I made that!!  Spring Rolls and Pa…
I made that!! Spring Rolls and P…
Oops.  Shit.
Oops. Shit.
Yaow (our cooking teacher) and moi
Yaow (our cooking teacher) and moi
I made that!  Coconut curry and Sw…
I made that! Coconut curry and S…
Yaow and me
Yaow and me
on my bike...
on my bike...
with my helmet...
with my helmet...
Germany, UK, Australia and USA!
Germany, UK, Australia and USA!
A Thai DJ!
A Thai DJ!
Yaow and me
Yaow and me
Kate and me
Kate and me
Kate, me and Grete
Kate, me and Grete
Friends from: Holland, Australia, …
Friends from: Holland, Australia,…
Chillin at Julies in Chiang Mai.
Chillin' at Julie's in Chiang Mai.
Ken getting his Bamboo Tatoo
Ken getting his Bamboo Tatoo
My friends tatoo.
My friend's tatoo.
Yaow picking me up to let the frog…
Yaow picking me up to let the fro…
Freeing the frogs!
Freeing the frogs!
A Thai boxer
A Thai boxer
Thai boxing
Thai boxing
Thai boxing
Thai boxing
Thai boxing
Thai boxing
Chiang Mai Hostels review
The Perfect Guesthouse
Julie's Guesthouse is a very comfortable young traveler-community guesthouse with a common lounge areae - perfect for young travelers. They offer a w… read entire review
Chiang Mai
photo by: Stevie_Wes