Saturday, 23 June 2012

Meanwhile in Chiang Mai...

The moat surrounding Chiang Mai Old Town
As I am soon leaving and just realised I have arrived here almost six weeks ago, it might be about time I write something about Chiang Mai. Where has that time gone and what the hell have I been up to?

It breaks down pretty easily actually given I chose to come to Chiang Mai for some of the same reasons so many expats and retirees land here and settle, which is to say living is cheap, weather is good, people are friendly, it's a good size town with lots of great restaurants but not too big or crazy like Bangkok, good Internet connections, etc. For me in addition to the fact that it's cheap to hang around here, I hadn't been to the North of Thailand, it's not too far from Vientiane where I was before, and I needed better Internet connection as I had a lot of work coming up. 

I spent two days cycling around to visit rooms when I arrived (I'd researched a bunch of areas and potential studio apartments to rent by the month beforehand). Once I found a good room, I spent the best of the four following weeks working full on. And now in the past 10 days I've been taking massage classes (I'll keep that for a separate post). That's about it. I haven't left town, didn't go visit anywhere in the region. I've not really been in the mood for much sightseeing or visiting the countryside lately and I'm keeping my money to buy a new laptop which is really needed, mine is over 4 years old and dying, I was just waiting for the new MacBook Pros to be announced.

Chiang Mai is a nice town, as I said it attracts a lot of foreigners: tourists of course, many retirees, expats, travelers and working nomads. I've talked about it with some people I randomly met and this place seems to have this effect on many people that they never want to leave once they arrive. I, on the other hand, am looking forward to leaving next week. I'm still ambivalent about Thailand, as I thought when I visited quickly last year, I don't have strong feelings for the country either way and aside from rational reasons (cheap, warm weather, friendly people) I don't feel the same way as many people who are drawn here and love it so much. Context is key as usual and one thing I'm starting to really miss are good friends. I've met some nice and interesting people here and there but not really made any friends. I might come back, I might not, we'll see. For me it's mostly been convenient to stay here for a while and I don't regret it though I'm really looking forward to catching up with friends in Hong Kong soon. I don't have many photos as I still don't have a camera since I lost my last one in Malaysia last year and only have my crappy iPod Touch for photos right now, I'll get a new one soon.

One of the many temples in Chiang Mai, if you're into Buddhist temples, this is a town for you.
A few highlights of my stay in Chiang Mai:
  • Having my own place. Sometimes when you're traveling these kinds of thngs matters and after staying with friends and family for the past few months it has been nice having a place to call home, as well as small luxuries like a desk, a fridge and a kettle
  • Being invited for a night of Muay Thai fighting, which I enjoyed a lot more than I thought I would, had a really good evening. An American Texan girl was fighting that night and I saw her open invite on a CM Facebook group, met with a cool bunch of people. Jenny won her fight by the 2nd round. I learned Thai people traditionally try to place points winning high kicks or throw downs and don't use punches that much. Meanwhile if Farangs fight they go for overpowering punches and trying to KO their opponent - in this case successfully
  • Trying out restaurants in Chiang Mai, there are loads of great ones, both Thai and International
  • Meeting up with an old friend from France who moved here and I hadn't seen in a very long time. If you read French he maintains a good website with a lot of great recommendations for Thailand and surrounding countries
  • Learning Thai massage, I'll write more about this soon.
Trying out for some kind of artistic photo...

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