It’s been a while since I wrote a personal update, so I felt it was time for one of those.
I’ve been back in Thailand for a few weeks now and while in the past I have treated this place like my home, I’m now trying to see it with fresh tourist eyes. I only have a few more weeks left here before I continue with some more travels around SE Asia, so I’m trying to tick off as many items as possible off my Chiang Mai bucket list. It helps that Sam’s family and a large group of their friends are currently visiting us, because it’s the perfect opportunity to get out and play tourist in my adopted city.
Also, this month I finally got a smartphone! It had been 10 months since I last owned a phone in South Korea, and while I still don’t consider a phone a basic necessity, it has been kind of nice having a way to document my daily life through Instagram. I have to admit that whenever I find myself in Chiang Mai, I get kind of lazy about bringing my camera along and taking pictures – I’m home, who takes pictures at home?! – however, this new toy has been the perfect excuse to do so. So here’s an update through Instagram:
This is my charming little neighbourhood. It’s been kind of chilly (by Thai standards) these past couple of weeks, so I’ve been enjoying going out for the occasional morning stroll. The streets are lined with bright orange flowers, so it’s a nice way to start the day.
I have been doing a lot of temple hopping around the city lately. If you’ve been to Chiang Mai you probably know that there is a temple every few meters, so when I went out for a walk with Sam’s family the other day, we ended up stopping at every wat along the way. That included Wat Pan Soi, Wat Ched Lin, Wat Chang Taem, Wat Chedi Luang, Wat Pan Tao, Wat Phra Singh, and a separate visit to Wat Sri Suphan, also known as the Silver Temple. They all started to look quite similar after about the third one, so I think we’ve had our fill for the rest of our time here.
The other morning I made it out to the Chiang Mai University campus for a walk around the Ang Kaew Reservoir, and I coincidentally discovered that there was a graduation ceremony taking place. The students were dressed in their very best, sporting bright smiles, and taking photos in their caps and gowns. It was a nice little surprise.
This shot was taken along the Mae Ping River. This river is popular for its river cruises, but I enjoy just walking along the riverfront footpath. This area is so lush and green, and if you go out early in the morning, you can see people fishing from the shore.
The city is filled with ruins and even after living here for several months, I’m still just as fascinated by the history all around me. I like the intricate brick detailing on some of these older stuppas.
One of the things I love about Chiang Mai is that the city is full of surprises. The other day I heard music and drumming from my balcony so I ran down to the street to find that there was a parade taking place right in front of my building. There were singers, dancers, flag bearers, little boys drumming, and monks cloaked in orange. I never found out what exactly they were celebrating, but that’s the life of an expat – you bear witness to all these little things that you can never fully understand as an outsider.
Prior to Sam’s family visiting, we were in a bit of a restaurant rut – always eating at our favourite places, but never venturing out to try something new. These past few weeks have been all about finding new places to eat at. Even though I’m not vegetarian, I eat like a vegetarian most of the time, so I’m trying to find out the best veggie spots around Chiang Mai. So far some of the highlights have been Khun Churn, Brown Rice, Salad Concept, and Juicy 4 U. I still have a rather lengthy list to get through, so I’ll report back once I’ve tried all the others.
This month I’ve been reading The 100 Year Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared. It’s a really cool story about a Swedish centenarian, who decides he’s bored with life at the retirement home and climbs out of his window without much of a plan. Upon his escape he finds adventure and a cast of really strange characters, but what I like most are the flashbacks into his younger years. This book is a pleasant reminder that everyone has a unique story to tell and that sometimes the most mild-mannered and soft-spoken individuals are the ones with the best stories.
And that’s a little glimpse at my 2014 so far. Next week I’ll be making a little escape to the quiet hillside town of Pai, so you can expect more pictures from there upon my return.
How has your start to 2014 been so far?