Up above in the North of Thailand, far away from the madness of the South is a beautiful sleepy city… Chiang Mai!
Everyday is a Sunday when you are in Chiang Mai. It is difficult to find a city which is as alive as Chiang Mai. If I ever (Yes I am! Yes I am!*) quit my job, I’d move to Chiang Mai, no two minds about it.
I reach Chiang Mai from Bangkok early in the morning. I ignore the tuk tuk drivers who approach me armed with rate charts (aja meri gaddi mai baith jaa, anyone?). I am too smart a smart-traveler, I don’t walk right into the traps (or I am just full of it). I conveniently ignore everything that comes my way and go to exactly the guy who stands on the sideline making no effort to sell.
I take a sangthew from outside to the Warorot market. I am going to Moonmuang Road where I expect to find a good accommodation for my stay in Chiang Mai. It is still early in the morning and shop-keepers are just preparing themselves for the day ahead. I spot a sardar ji (a Sikh man) ordering a bunch of Thai workers to offload furniture from the truck into his furniture mart. I am not surprised, as no trip can be completed without spotting one. I wave as I pass by and he cheerfully waves back.
I take in the slow pace of the city, I haven’t decided what to do in Chiang Mai but hey just like the city and its people, I am in no hurry.
I take a budget room in Moonmuang Road which proved to be bit tricky as accommodations are full because of some marathon that’s going on. Moonmuang Road is just a perfect backpacking destination: affordable guest houses, cheap eats, creative graffiti all around and tonnes of backpackers to socialize with.
I browse through a trip brochure while the woman at the reception completes the formality. A trip to Chiang Rai caught my eye, I was bedazzled by pictures of the white palace.
The area is filled with expats from Canadians to Aussies many of whom run local businesses and are married to Thai women. I meet a Steve who runs a pizza place, and complains that there are no good Indian restaurants around. Point noted, I am shifting to Chiang Mai…
By the time I leave from Guesthouse it’s early afternoon and the Sun is out in its full glory. I have a case of (very) bad throat, in-fact I am still recovering from an infection that almost ruined my whole trip; despite the problem I could hardly resist the delicious looking orange juice. It is cold but I sip it slowly.
I am heading to Watt Phra Sing, the Buddhist temple is the top attraction of Chiang Mai. On the way there are so many other temples, it’s bit like walking in Rome which is stuffed with Cathedrals.
The architecture and inner decoration of Watt Phra Sing is stunning. There is an old ruined temple just behind the main temple, I don’t miss it. And so shouldn’t you.
I treat myself with an excellent hot coffee in the shop, @milk, just opposite to Watt Phra Sing. It’s afternoon, it is sultry, but I need the coffee to neutalize the cold effect of the orange juice. Damn, the length I will go to justify my little indulgences.
By the time I get to Watt Chedi Luang, an old temple which was reconstructed in the 90s from the ruins of 1545 earthquake, the sun is easing down toward the horizon. I take a different exit from the temple and am surprised to find myself in a street market called Chiang Mai Sunday market. As far as I can see, the road is completely claimed as flea market. Awesome idea!
The goods range from souvenirs to intricate handicrafts, and from magnificent paintings to eateries. It is the first time I see a stall selling worms: silkworms, earthworms, and worms of just about every kind…
Eww… But each to his own. Who am I to judge?
I continue to stroll around Sunday market, and am stunned to see beautiful art pieces and a great amount of talent. There are school kids performing on the streets, selling stuff and raising funds for charities, they are so happy. I chat with them, excitedly they are talking about what and why of their mission, kids speak Thai and I reply in Hindi, the conversation gets nowhere.
I take a bunch of selfies to mark the end of an exciting day.
PS: *I dislike the words ‘Yes I can’, and how it is universally perpetuated by self-appointed self-help gurus. The words only mean I am capable of doing it. which of-course everyone is; what the slogan fails to say is, I am actually doing it. Hence, the need for, ‘Yes I am!’