The other day a good friend said to me, “Katie, you keep saying how much you love Chiang Mai-why do you love it so much? What is it about Chiang Mai that has kept you there for an entire month?”
Ya know what? I really don’t know. I’ve actually been pondering this question for a few days now…driving around the city, taking pictures of things that interest me, absorbing the atmosphere, ect ect….
I really just haven’t been able to put my finger on one single thing, it seems to be a combination of bits and pieces here and there. Chiang Mai is like Mom’s spaghetti recipe- it’s AMAZING, it’s a little different each time you come across it, and it’s IMPOSSIBLE to pin down the exact recipe!
Anywho, let me attempt to describe what I love about Chiang Mai…
Let’s start with entering the city.
The old city is surrounded by a really old and quite large moat, it’s almost ruins itself. To get anywhere near this old city, you have to drive along this moat, it’s really quite beautiful with old brick ruins (with pretty ivey growing on the sides), fountains, trees with large root systems and ribbons wrapped around, Christmas looking lights hanging here and there in the branches, bushes cut to look like elephants, tuk tuks racing taxis racing motobikes racing pedal bikes, with a few cars and a tour bus creeping along here and there, ancient statues sitting in quiet corners, monks dressed in orange robes walking along the sidewalk…Ok, that’s just the moat.
All around the moat, hidden among old trees, on either side are all sorts of unique treasures. From mobile vendors, brick and mortar stores, alley ways, resturaunts, guesthouses, garden bars, internet cafe’s, and the like all scattred amonst ancient ruins and spectacular Buddhist Temples.
The mobile vendor variety includes anything from the push cart ice cream vendor, hot soy milk man, fried dove egg person, pad thai peter to the cook to order sausage vendor, to the dried fish lady, to the passion fruit person….and the list goes on. These mobile vendors are awesome! When you are hungry, you can detect how close you are to one of these guys in a couple of ways. Here are the ways I’ve figured it out: One, someone passes by on a motorbike while nibbling at something on a stick. This means you are in the vacinity of said vendor, but not too close, as they are likely to be on the move also. Two, they each have a distinct noise that they make while they are on the move, if you can associate the horn, whistle, bell, song, ect with your favorite food item, you will know when they are close. Third, the breeze will blow the scent of something amazing cooking in your area, but again, the winds can switch directions, so you better move quick to catch these guys! Oh yes, and there are some vendors who seem to have earned their right to a particular street corner or area, and you can be sure to find them there!
Maybe, I love Chiang Mai for it’s sounds…the loud motorbikes revving, the distinct honk of the tuk tuk, the sizzling of the dishes being cooked by the mobile vendors, the whizzing of the red taxi’s, the tuk tuk drivors constantly asking you, “Hello! Where you go today?” or simply “Tuk-Tuk?” Maybe, it’s the daily reminder of that evenings Moi Thai boxing match. What about the ladies asking simply, “Thai Massage?” Or could it be the, as before mentioned, honking, singing, ringing or the mobile vendor?
Ok, so that’s the “meat” of it, but there are also the smaller bits that are quite essential, but harder to describe….Maybe, it’s the tenacity of the Thai people, how they work hard at their “thing” everyday, rain, shine, humidity, ect. it doesn’t matter what the conditions are, these people are there trying. Maybe it’s the fact that they don’t show anger or frustration under extremely difficult situations they seem to manage to always keep their cool. They impress me with their reverant love for their King. That man is loved by ALL of his people, it’s quite impressive, if you think about it. Images of him are EVERYWHERE! Literally.
Ok the computer is acting crazy, and I can’t handle it anymore…I will try to finish up later…..