The city of Chiang Mai in northern Thailand is particularly different to her sister towns in the Andaman coast. Apart from being a land-locked city, Chiang Mai is the home of everything Thai. It is a very ‘accessible’ city from the viewpoint that it captivates travellers of all ages and backgrounds… and it appears many come here to undertake various medium to long-term projects from studying the Thai language… to rock climbing in Chiang Mai’s Crazy Horse Buttress… to becoming a qualified Thai masseuse… to training in a Muay Thai boxing camp…to going on Buddhist meditation and yoga retreats… or – for some people – to simply retire in a culturally rich, laid-back, foreigner-friendly city far away from the realities and politics of ordinary life.
Indeed, Chiang Mai is a wonderfully beautiful city… with over 300 Buddhist temples commissioned by the Lanna dynasty in the 13th and 14th centuries. It’s relatively easy to navigate… with the old town situated within a rectangular moat built to protect the city from Burmese invaders over 700 years ago.
Strolling around the little streets of Chiang Mai, one finds themselves completely absorbed in the gold stupas… the reclining statues of Buddhas… the murals telling stories of life during the Lanna dynasty on walls of temples… the multiple Tourist agencies promoting treks; tours around orchid farms, strawberry farms or insect farms; various indulgent spa packages; home-stay opportunities with families in a hill-tribe; or, a chance to train in Muay Thai boxing…
Otherwise, one may detour and lose themselves in the bright colours of hundreds of fruit and vegetables in a morning food market… or, maybe… one may treat themselves to a foot massage by a lady on the street after walking for 3 hours in the busy Chiang Mai Sunday Night Market.
Finally, one may also awake from a trance-like state of walking to realise they had been long captivated by the bright oranges of a Buddhist monk’s robe…unknowingly tracing the monk’s footsteps for who knows how long….