Life in Chiang Mai, Thailand.

Day to day life in Chiang Mai starts to emerge for us. Many international travelers make Chiang Mai their home, so we seek to get a feel of what keeps them here.  We have heard about the food, the culture, the nature in the surrounding area, and good yoga studios. We plot our approach to the city from our guesthouse inside the old city…
Dogs and cats seem to be pretty well treated and enjoyed as domestic pets here in Chiang Mai. This kitty at our guesthouse, enjoys some extra attention.
Ben looking at the map of the city to get a sense of the neighborhoods.
We spend our first few days at Julies Guesthouse in the old city. A very social place.
Chiang Mai is reputed to have a diverse street food culture.  We dip our toes, or rather our forks (no chopsticks used by Thais), and attest to a vibrant offering…


Lychees in abundance! It’s lychee season and there are rows and rows of them for sale at low prices. They are HUGE and juicy and delicious! What a treat
Lychees anyone? The season lasts until end of June.
Pork stew served on rice and with a perfectly cooked soft boiled runny egg.
Huge bowl of soft boiled eggs to go with the soft pieces of pork. The insides are bright orange. Definitely free range!
We were lucky to find this spot making a Thai version of a sweet dim sum. Here it’s called “Bat Moh”. A  ground pork, palm sugar, peanut filling in a soft rice noodle, covered with coconut milk. Absolute sweet deliciousness! These three are working hard to get the orders out for the ongoing flow of motorcycle pick up orders.
A Northern Thailand, Chiang Mai specialty ~ “Khaow-Soi”. Soft egg noodles, with crispy noodles in curry. If you are wondering how this tastes, Adam’s expression tells it all.
A Thai classic: Chicken satay with peanut sauce and pickled salad on the side. Not that original, but yummy nonetheless.
BBQ is quite a popular street food with everything from chicken to pork to sausages and duck heads and innards.
Some of the stalls have prepared large bowls of a variety of options: Curried fish, veggies, meat, noodles, seafood salad, minced fish mixed with coconut milk (far right).
In the evening, the streets of Chiang Mai become active with people and vendors. It’s the rainy season now and the crowd briefly scatters until the rain subsides. Rain down pours don’t usually last very long.
In addition to the excellent street food, we also enjoy organic vegetarian fare from small restaurants in the old city near our guesthouse. Many varieties of red, green and yellow curries over veggies, as well as many rice and noodle dishes make up the menus. Adam and Ben wonder how I can eat so much Pad Seeuw vegetable on the streets, but the truth is, I never tire of it and I would hate to leave Thailand and regret not having had my fill of it! Adam on the other hand is always eager to find new foods and tastes, whereas I quite enjoy going back for some of my favorites.
An absolutely delicious coconut curry over fresh vegetables such as baby round eggplant, fresh peas, basil and tofu.
A plate made especially for me at “Bubble Live” ~ Shitake mushrooms with black sesame seeds, sunflower sprouts and grilled tofu.

We also understand that Chiang Mai strives to maintain its reputation as a cultured city.  For instance, we are here during the 2014 European Film Festival.  We are keen movie watchers and opportunities to see non-Hollywood movies are relatively rare.  Adam has gone off to the Northern hill town of Pai and we indulge and structure our days around the free European Film Festival.  Our selection from the 20 or so films:

* A Belgium movie “Hasta La Vista” about 3 handicapped young men who go on a trek to Spain to have sex for the first time (or as they say “at least once before we die”)  at a brothel in Spain that serves the handicapped community; a Romanian black and white drama,
* “The Exam” about the fall of the regime in 1957 and a spy versus spy culture that takes over the Interior Ministry under Soviet influence; and
* a great movie from Hungary “Revival” about the come back of a rock band, 40 years later.

Quite an offering of free award winning European movies at a mall in Chiang Mai.
Before each movie shows, the Thai national anthem is played, every one stands up in respect in the movie theater and it ends with photos of the King of Thailand.
The King of Thailand is clearly a dog lover and a good role model for treating animals well. The national anthem ends with a succession of royal portraits of the king. Each time he is photographed with different dogs. In one photo, he had 6 dogs around him.
Chiang Mai is known for the beauty of its natural surroundings, nestled as it is in the shadow of Doi Suthep mountain.   So we take a spin in the nearby mountain of Doi Suthep and the National Park. We have read that Chiang Mai can get quite polluted. Not as bad as Bangkok, but problematic nonetheless. Happily as we are here in the rainy season, this is not at all the case. We have also luckily missed the worst of the heat, which is around April/May.

A waterfall with freezing cold water ~ usually we would be in there, but today it’s rainy and overcast.
Always great to be amongst trees.
Some local feathered friends near Temple Doi Suthep.
The infamous Siamese cat! I grew up with many Siamese cats in South Africa, so it’s fun to see them in their original habitat the Kingdom of Siam.

Another feature of Chiang Mai is the prolific craft culture in the region.   Combine this with the high level of international visitors and the result is the BEST night market we have found, so far, anywhere in our Asia travels.  The Sunday night market once a week, blocks off all traffic and becomes a walking street only. The large street is filled with very friendly and unpushy vendors (very palpable difference after Viet Nam), interesting products and wares.  This is not generic tourist stuff that one finds at other popular “night markets” but rather, many artisanal one of a kind products.

Low key, very friendly Sunday night street market of Chiang Mai.
Squid balls on a stick.
Fruits here are fabulous. Sweetest juicy mangoes and passion fruit served up in a cup.
Stuffed crab.
Pad Thai ~ best had from a street vendor such as this one who only serves one dish ~ Pad Thai
Original creative hats and caps at very low prices ($3)
Now that’s a Ben cap if ever I saw one!
Handmade sandals in all colors. Also $3! This is the place to shop if you are going to shop.
Herbal drinks such as lemongrass juice served up in bamboo cups to go. For 33 cents!
To round out our experience of life in Chiang Mai, we of course go to both massage and yoga. Massage is omni-present and at $8 for an hour of top notch Thai massage, we do our best to go at least twice during our stay here.

We go to a few yoga classes and have a yogic experience at the Wild Rose Yoga studio which is both humbling and inspirational at the same time. The class is made up of mostly very advanced yogis, both Thai and Westerners. If one considers that for Peta, access to yoga can become a daily staple, this is not a peripheral matter.  Just as having  a yoga studio across the street in Granada, Nicaragua, significantly colored our Granada experience, not only because of the availability of yoga, but also because of the community of yogis that became a community of friends, we are mindful that a vibrant yogic community is of importance to us.

Wild Rose Yoga studio is housed in an original Lanna style wooden house. A wooden floor is great for doing yoga!


10 thoughts on “Life in Chiang Mai, Thailand.

  1. silent at last

    Peta, you look stunning!

    I’m blown away by the richness of color in the foods in these photos. The lychees of course but also the egg yolks and juice in the opening shot. Even the fried foods look yummy. Squid balls on a stick . . . ? . . . !

    Adam doesn’t look too happy to have his photo taken. Haha. We should find a way to splice that pic of him eating noodles in place of the king of Thailand and see how the audience responds.

    Cute hat on Ben. Did you give him mickey mouse ears on purpose? 😉

  2. JB

    Colors, colors…The food looks good especially the pork and eggs ..Yummy!!!!!!!
    A night market…How interesting. I’d like to see some residential houses if you pass by some..
    Always interesting.

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