Saturday, January 5, 2013

Chiang Mai and the Heart of Travel

Almost as soon as we arrived in Chiang Mai, we were making plans to live there one day. Everything we loved about Bangkok was present, but it had something else too...that small town feeling that makes you feel at home.

The famous Chiang Mai moat. We saw a body in it while we were there! Crazy!!
That's the greatest part about Chiang Mai: it feels like a small town but it's actually quite large and therefore has everything you could want. There are great restaurants--both Thai and international cuisines, multiple open air markets selling a wide variety of goods, a laid back atmosphere, countless temples, fun shops, and plenty of cheery locals, expatriates, and tourists.

We spent most of our time there just strolling around and stopping whenever we were hungry or saw something interesting. I felt like we got a good feeling for the city and got to see a lot of back streets and tucked away gems.

The day we were leaving, we talked to a couple other travelers about the city. One guy started listing off a bunch of famous temples and places to visit both in and outside the city. We had only been to one or two of the places he mentioned and told him so. To that he replied, "Wow, so you guys haven't even done Chiang Mai yet. You haven't seen hardly anything."

I was surprised. I felt like I had seen so much of the city. Yeah, a lot of it was normal day to day things, but that's the lifeblood of a place--that's the heart of traveling, discovering the way other people live. It's what you discover on the way to a tourist attraction that you'll remember long after you've left.

Sometimes, touristy places teach you things too! This was taken at a very popular temple in Chiang Mai's old town.
Whether we saw all the "must see" places or not, I've still fallen in love with Chiang Mai and definitely don't feel "done" with it.

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