Some street scenes from Chiang Mai, Thailand’s chic, cosmopolitan #DigitalNomad city

“Do you ever get to a city and immediately think, I want to live here?”

This question, along with “Do you ever get to a city and instantly hate it?”, is frequently posted in some of the travel groups I’m part of on Facebook.

Tha Pae Gate

Big girl + little girl = captivating scene near the Tha Pae Gate, on Chiang Mai’s moat.

In the case of Chiang Mai, it was the former for me. I could say it began the moment I stepped off the overnight bus, when I saw I had two lovely Tinder matches, while deciding how to head where next. This is no big deal for some, but for me teaching in rural Thailand for three months, the Tinder pickings have been slim.

The feeling certainly grew as we took our Grab taxi to the old town, and I spotted so many cute cafes, and more men – and trees! (Isaan is the dry part of Thailand so I have been longing for greenery).

But to be honest, I was primed for this ‘love at first sight’.

A close friend spoke highly of it, saying his fancy-sounding Italian mamma talked dreamily of retiring there. And it’s a hot spot among the global #DigitalNomad community, of which I hope to be part of (someday soon?).

Anyway. It didn’t disappoint.

Apart from my self-confessed bias, several of the other foreign English teachers who came to Thailand with the same agency as me had the same feeling. Unlike Bangkok or Pattaya, which can turn some (including me) right off, Chiang Mai is a heart-stealer of note.

Here are some pics I took while walking around, all starry-eyed and full of that hope-filled energy only a truly promising strong first attraction delivers.

(I’ll be posting more on what I’ve gleaned on the city’s #DigitalNomad scene, and what to do there if you’re just passing through, soon.)

Chiang Mai cafe

Asian Art Deco: A cute cafe (and English signage, rare in my Thai experience so far) on Ratchapakhinai Road in the Old City.

Kad Klang Wiang chiang mai

Tempting streetside seating at the Kad Klang Wiang foodie/shopping square in the Old City.

mango Thailand

When it comes to tourist pics, this mango place is ripe for the picking 🙂

asian beauty

Glamour pusses take a break to post those all-important status updates 😉

John's Place chiang mai

John’s Place, beside the east side of the Old City’s moat. Go here for nice views of the NYE Lantern Festival goings on.

wat temple chiang mai thailand

Ah, the temples you see, just walking around at night … peeping at monks going about their daily business.

thai monks morning alms round

Speaking of monks … they’re an everyday sight in Thailand, but I can’t get used to it. It was beautiful to be up early and hear their chants as they walked the streets on their morning rounds collecting alms. They do this every day, barefoot, no matter the weather. Read more at: http://www.thaibuddhist.com/monks-on-their-alms-round/

Wat Phan On temple walking street chiang mai thailand

This little lane in the Wat Phan On temple provided brief respite from the crowds of the Sunday evening walking street market. I saw women circling the temple’s Golden Pagoda, carrying flowers; heard the bells being rung; saw delicious food; and bought colourful earrings here.

capervan thailand

Cocktail, anyone? No, but I do WANT THIS DISCO CAMPERVAN REAL BAD!

wall art graffiti thailand

Hello Kitty wall art on one of the little lanes I liked.

urban hanging garden

Lush hanging garden that fills me with a good kind of envy…

scooter thailand

White respite.

massage chiang mai

A welcoming entrance to one of the many massage parlours in the city.

 

 

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Seen at sea

Like the majority of people around the world in January, I’ve thrown off the devil’s horns and dusted off that halo. And to make it shine, I have vowed to do more of two things this year: write and move.

So the #writeandrun31 challenge put out by Christine Frazier (who deconstructs bestselling books at the Better Novel Project) and her brother Matt Frazier (a vegan ultra-marathoner and author of No Meat Athlete: Run on Plants and Discover Your Fittest, Fastest, Happiest Self) felt tailor-made for me.

Basically, for 31 days, starting whenever, you devote some time every day for 31 days to writing (or any creative work) and running (or any form of fitness). The idea is to start small and that the two activities should reinforce each other.

I am aiming on the following each day:

  • 15 minutes of free writing with prompts (which the #writeandrun31 team offer on their Facebook page) or journalling
  • 30 minutes towards blogging
  • 30 minutes of movement (walking, run-walking, yoga or gym)
  • 20-30 minutes of breathing meditation, specifically the Sudarshan Kriya (a toughie for me)

Hope I haven’t set myself up for failure with this list. Anyway. Yesterday, day one, was good. Ticks all round… apart from the breathing.

(Doh! Must. Remember. To. Breathe.)

Today was day two of 31. I got my writing task done this morning, but was procrastinating on the walk part (baby steps) of #writeandrun31 all of the dull day. Finally decided to just get out to the Sea Point Promenade, my favourite place in Cape Town, this stunning city at the bottom of Africa.

Stepped out… into drizzle.

But I headed to the Prom anyway, and was glad I did: It wasn’t raining that side of the mountain. As I began walking, I looked at the public artworks that have caused such controversy, with many ardent articles written on them in recent months, and agreed that between the seal-shaped benches, the Ray Ban sunglasses sculpture and the like, the Prom is beginning to look like the bottom of a giant’s abandoned toybox.

As I moved, I wondered on the link between motion and memory and metaphor. I saw boys and girls in their Shabbat best. I saw a man with jeans caked in grit, inhaling glue from a plastic bread bag, dancing dangerously close to the railing’s edge in his inebriated bubble.

Where will his story end?

I felt blessed when I came to the photography exhibition plastered on the concrete Promenade wall. Called “Sea Change”, the term first coined by Shakespeare in The Tempest, the multimedia project looks at man’s transformative relationship with the sea and its kelp forests and aquatic creatures, starting with the first (wo)man. And in just several steps, I went from feeling glum to being in my head to noticing others to going way back in time to where the human story started.

Early San and the sea

Early hunter-gatherers relied on the sea.

One of the photograph’s captions spoke of divers finding their “sea eyes”, and seeing creatures they’d never spotted before with regular diving. I guess with this challenge, I am hoping that repetition and paying conscious attention to movement and writing will help me strengthen my writer’s eye.

As I was leaving, the sun burnt through the clouds. And the day felt that little bit brighter.

Click here for more on the Sea-Change project and their support for MPAs (Marine Protected Areas).

Navigating the rich kelp forests.

Navigating the rich kelp forests.