Nowhere to Be in Chiang Mai

Published On June 20, 2013 | By This World Rocks | Asia, First Impressions, Recent, Southeast Asia, Thailand
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Rarely do places as hyped as Chiang Mai meet our expectations, but in this laid-back Northern Thailand city, we are just as in love with the place as everyone else we’ve talked to about it.

After visiting eight cities in just three weeks in Myanmar, where we spent the whole trip out of our comfort zone and immersed in the culture, we were craving a relaxing place with some cuisine we could stomach.

Our one-day stopover in Bangkok was dedicated to sleeping in, catching up on online projects, and not feeling guilty about eating Subway and tacos. The train to Chiang Mai felt like we were floating on air, after the 12-hour roller coaster ride to Yangon a few days ago.

Our guest house in Chiang Mai: Giant House

Our guest house in Chiang Mai: Giant House

Arriving in Chiang Mai in the early morning, we find a cheap hotel that we decide will just be for the first night (3 of the 4 shared bathroom stalls are out of order), and check off our second to-do item: renting a motorbike for our four days here. We discovered the freedom of having our own wheels in Bali, and love it for how much more of the city we can see just by getting lost. Not to mention, we are typically less crabby while deciding where to eat when we are not on foot in the sun.

chiang-mai-street

We set off exploring the city, and love it instantly. We are staying in the old city, a few square miles  of land surrounded by a canal and the remains of the city walls from hundreds of years ago. The roads are easy to navigate, and for the largest city in northern Thailand, it feels small. Locals live, eat, and shop at places mixed in with tourist guesthouses and western restaurants.  Even Starbucks and McDonald’s:

starbucks-chiangmai

We are here to relax, but after that gets a bit boring, we decide its been too long since we worked out and check out our options.  I opt for a yoga session at Wild Rose Yoga and meet a great group of expats (and yoga pros) for a challenging two hour class.  The next day, we look up a pool that I can do some laps in, and also happen to find an ultimate frisbee pickup game that will be happening later that day.  In a moment of great motivation, we decide to do both.   Dan runs on a track while I swim laps in the morning, then at 5pm we meet the frisbee plays and run around for a 3 hour game.  Its great to get the heart rate up again, and play with some fun people.

We spend our last day in our new favorite city getting thai massages for our sore muscles, and having dinner with another couple from Minneapolis, who found our blog through her brother, a college friend of Dan’s.  It was great sharing travel and Thailand stories with them, and made us feel even more at home.  The restaurant we went to had one of the biggest varieties in types of food we’ve ever seen:

DSC_0047

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