Chiang Mai, Thailand! Jesse and I have waited a long time to finally step foot into this beautiful town in Northern Thailand. We’ve heard lots and lots about it, and it’s safe to say our expectations were a bit high. We hopped a bus from Sukhothai to the Old CIty in Chiang Mai. The Old City is surrounded by a moat and brick gates that allow you into the square, inner city.
My first impressions of Chiang Mai were: touristy and built-up. Everyone looooves Chiang Mai. I felt my expectations let me down somewhat, but as we’ve spent the last three weeks here, my opinions have definitely shifted. The nice thing about this city is that it is definitely slower-paced than Bangkok, and it’s very walkable and intuitive to get around. Not only that, but there are restaurants offering cuisine from all over the world! Western, Mexican, Thai, Indian, Pakistani, Japanese, Chinese, Burmese, German, French…every type of cuisine is represented here, which is really cool to see.
The other thing I’ve grown to love about Chiang Mai is that temples are scattered everywhere! There are temples on almost every other block throughout the city, and there is no shortage of forest temples and temples on top of mountains. It’s not uncommon to see groups of monks walk amongst locals and tourists. The Thai mentality of keeping things simple and easy definitely rub off on anyone who visits here! Thai people don’t want to deal with the stress of arguments or getting angry, and it’s manifested into the laid-back feeling you can’t ignore, even in the cities.
Jesse and I headed to Bosang Handicraft Village a couple weeks ago to see how the paper and silk parasols are made. I wanted to look for some umbrellas for our wedding (way in advance), but there were simply too many styles and colors and designs to choose from – I didn’t end up getting anything 🙂
We also visited Wat Phra Singh, one of the most famous temples in Chiang Mai. It has an important Buddha statue that was said to be carried from Bodh Gaya in India, through Sri Lanka, Ayutthaya and finally to Chiang Mai. We also happened to be in the city for Buddhist Lent, so that day we visited Wat Pa Pao. I had read about that temple in a magazine – a young monk, maybe 9 years old, said Wat Pa Pao was his favorite temple, so that stuck with me! The temple itself was actually very beautiful. It was a Burmese style wat, and looked much older than other temples in the city. However, there was so much trash around it! People were just lounging around, kids were running all over the temple, and it was just a strange vibe!
One of my favorite temples was Wat Umong. This was a forest temple about 10 minutes outside of the city. There was a beautiful pond where you can feed the fish, and tunnels underneath the temple that house Buddha statues. It was a gorgeous, peaceful place to escape from the city.