Chiang Mai - A Beautiful Place to Be

Trip Start Jan 22, 2009
Trip End Mar 19, 2009

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Saturday, February 7, 2009

Chiang Mai is a beautiful place to Be, in the true Zen zense of the word. The atmosphere is lovely; people are very cordial and easygoing, as the Thais are everywhere I've traveled in Thailand. Chiang Mai is visibly culturally stimulating with its numerous ancient wats; their presence beautifully woven into the modern worlds' coarser, homogenous fabrics.

Access to the wat temples is free as well. One can simply roam freely from wat to coffee house to Thai food to outdoor market. Feels like a big neighborhood, not a big city.
Sure, there's the usual car, moped and tuk-tuk congested street traffic you find in any Asian city. You just don't notice it so much here.

In Thailand, the primary form of Buddhism practiced here is Theravada and one distinction with this school of thought is the Buddhist monks here are allowed to roam freely with society instead of living a sequestered existence. I've enjoyed their very serene smiles as I pass them by on the streets or see them around the wat temple complexes. They be cool monks! Wat it is my monk brother!

As the way things happen, my arrival to Chiang Mai was a fortuitous one for Chiang Mai's big flower festival began today. The parade s extremely colorful, both in varied traditional costumes and decorated floats. The floats are completely constructed in flowers and other natural materials with beautiful women sitting waving and smiling to the gathered crowd. Reminds me of.......yeah, you guessed it....the New Years Day Rose bowl parade!

I've also rediscovered the backpacker circuit here in Chiang Mai, which supplies a sea of friendly, kindred spirit faces.

And, I've come across my first travel example for this trip of "small world' encounters. Last night while drifting through the night market, slurping my mixed fruit shake, I nearly bump into the two American couples I met five days ago a thousand miles away on a beach in Ko Lanta. Naturally....

No sweltering South Seas novel climate yet; the temperature is slightly hotter here in Chiang Mai than on the islands though still not overbearing and easy to find shade relief.

Again, the Thai cuisine is superb, and much cheaper here than on the islands. I recommend the stir fried vegetables, chicken and cashew nuts with just a few sweet and sour hot peppers for tasty pizzazz.

Tommorrow I head for the hills and visit the Hill Tribes of northern Thailand.

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