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Published: October 22nd 2007
In the hill country
Welcome to Chiang Mai.
We’ve been to several countries and traveled many miles. We decided that we needed a rest so we decided to hang out in Chiang Mai for 10 days. This turned out to be a great decision as this town is laid back. There are not a many vendors coming at you selling their wares.
We traveled on an overnight train for 14 hours north from Bangkok. It’s really not that far from Chiang Mai from Bangkok but the train moves slowly and stops along the way to pick up passengers. We experienced a sleeper berth which had it had its pluses and minuses.
Chiang Mai is in the Northern part of the country and near the mountains. Yes, that means it is much cooler here. We are now experiencing temperatures in the 80’s. Yeah!!
Chiang Mai is a lovely town. Even though the population is about 1.6 million it has a real small town feel to it. We think it feels small because of the lack of skyscrapers. We were told that it was a good town to soak up some “Thai-ness” and that seems to be true. This area is favored by
Long Neck Tribe
In the hill country
rock climbers and trekkers. This is a great place to take classes on cooking, meditation, massage and languages. You can even take an 11 day course on Old Thai Medicine.
Our hotel was located in old Chiang Mai. Just across the street is part of a moat which encompasses the older part of Chiang Mai. It was built over 700 years ago to defend against Burmese invaders. They created some fountains within the moat which gives it some ambiance.
We have made an attempt to learn some basic Thai….. we need to continue to work on it.
We toured the town via tuk-tuk and asked our driver, Mr. Gary to take us to the 5 best temples in Chiang Mai. He is in his 50’s or 60’s and told us that he had been a monk for about 5 years in his youth as had many of the people. We had a great time. We can’t remember if we told you that the word “Wat” means Temple. We saw the Wat Chedi Luang, the oldest temple in Northern Thailand, Wat Prasingh, Wat Chiang Man, the oldest temple in Northern Thailand, Wat Suaandok, where the ashes of the
Royal family have been kept and the Wet Chet Yod. We found that the temples of northern Thailand are very nice. They seem older and have a lot of character. They do not seem nearly as commercial as the ones in Bangkok, and maybe that is due to the size of the city. We saw one Buddha that was 1800 years old and another one that was 2500 years old. They have some wonderful treasures here.
Most days we would explore our little neighborhood in the mornings and lay by the pool in the afternoons. We’ve done some reading and relaxing. Our hotel is located in a great location and we have many restaurants and pubs located within walking distance.
One day we decided to go out exploring and secured the services of a tuk-tuk driver to take us to several of the area attractions. We went to an elephant camp, a snake farm, an orchid farm, and a village of northern tribe people, including the famous “long neck” people.
We did not enjoy the elephant camp as they made the animals do tricks like kick a soccer ball and paint pictures. The animals looked like they
were well cared for; but nonetheless, they were in captivity, performing instead of living. After the elephant show we did find a woman who has opened an elephant sanctuary and she has rescued 31 elephants. We were very happy to learn she was out there trying to make a difference. Evidently the elephant shows are very popular among tourists and there are a few Thai business men making a lot of money so it is not likely to go away. The orchids were beautiful and the snake show was amusing in that they had some audience participation. The “long neck” people were grouped with other northern tribes in a somewhat contrived village. All of them politely posed for pictures and hoped to sell you some trinkets or something they had weaved. We enjoyed our visit to the hill tribe and the long neck village, although we feel it had somewhat of a “people zoo” feel to it. We are ok with it as they have agreed to do this….again, they are all trying to make a living.
In Thailand you can have a fairly good size bag of laundry done for less than $2. Drop it off in the
The older we get the less we like zoo atmosphere
morning and pick it up later in the day or the following day.
There appears to be many expatriates here from northern Europe and some from the U.S. Perhaps they have found the charm and warmth of the region to their liking. Many of the local restaurants cater to European culinary tastes.
One night we enjoyed chatting with two expatriates. One has been here for several years and has a house in Grant’s Pass Oregon. He is retired and finds that his retirement money goes further here. He says the health care is wonderful and saving money is allowing him to get his house in Oregon paid off much quicker than if he were living in the states. The other young man is teaching at the International University and has only been here for a short time. His parents have been here for 10 years and his sister for 5. He lived a good part of his life in the Atlanta area. He says back home he would spend a 3rd of his salary on housing and here he only spends a 10th. At this point he says there aren’t a lot of reason to stay in Thailand
They need to be free, not playing soccer and painting
working but that there aren’t a lot of reasons for him to go back to the states. He is enjoying his teaching job.
We have had to dodge a few raindrops as the end of the monsoon season is going out slowly. There is no real pattern to it so you have to be ready just in case the skies open up.
All in all, a very nice place to spend some time……………but now on to Laos, Cambodia, and Vietnam…….
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