Sunday, August 9, 2015

Chiang Mai, Thailand: Like A Giant Dollar Store

Just a disclaimer - the wifi in Myanmar is borderline nonexistent and I've had these posts in queue forever.   BEAR WITH ME.

I've made it to Chiang Mai, Thailand!

First off, it is oppressively hot and sticky here. With the one negative out of the way, I had forgotten how much I love Southeast Asia.  It has so much richness, culture, and everything is SO CHEAP.

I've actually been to Chiang Mai for a day about a decade ago when I was studying abroad, and sadly enough, I only remember two things: 1.) Eating a giant bowl of noodles that were way too spicy (typical), and 2.) Getting a massage with a friend, and having him panic the entire time that the ladies were going to offer him a happy ending (they didn't, for the record).  Therefore, this might as well be my first time here.

What It's All About:
Chiang Mai is a city in Northern Thailand - it's a popular jumping off point to explore Northern Thailand, and is also very popular with tourists given how cheap it is, and the plethora of activities there are to do. Chiang Mai used to be the capital city of the Lanna empire; therefore it has a ton of cultural richness and beauty - and it also has all the amazing outdoor activities N. Thailand is known for (riding elephants, bamboo river rafting, trekking to the hill tribes, etc.).  It's super gorgeous, and such a great, great not-to-be-missed city.  Every corner of this city has a massage place, a fruit smoothie place, a guesthouse/hostel, and cheap shopping. Every. single. corner.

As the title says, Chiang Mai is especially cheap for SE Asia.  Like a giant dollar store; though more Family Dollar than Dollar Tree (if you don't know the difference between the two, shame on you). A dollar here goes so, so far.  A giant plate of stir-fry noodles = $2.  A one-hour Thai body massage = $5.  A freshly blended fruit shake = $1.  A taxi ride out of town = $1. It's like living like royalty.  Once you take price out of the equation for me, there's really not much holding me back.  = danger ahead.

Cliffnotes of the Day:
  • A 30+ hour commute and 4 flights later (Denver -> Los Angeles -> Seoul -> Bangkok -> Chiang Mai), I arrived!  On a side note, I took Thai Airways - and it's like they'll look for any excuse to feed you.  I seriously ate like 6 meals between those 4 flights - even in the 55 minute flight from Bangkok to Chiang Mai, they managed to force a sandwich and a dessert on me.  I use the word "force" very lightly.  Asian airlines, man.  The best.  Anyhow, I got in around 3pm, and even though I was beyond tired, I forced myself to go out and wander in an attempt to avoid jetlag.  I'm going to apologize for the terrible photos in advance.

In the cab from the airport was this brochure - do you see all the things there are to do!?  Pet a tiger! Watch an elephant paint! Chill with a bicycle-riding monkey!

Visited Wat Phra Sing - Chiang Mai's most famous temple. I nicknamed it Temple Phrasing ("wat" means "temple")

Inside Wat Phra Sing. This is one instance where I wish there could be a video because the photo doesn't do it justice. Basically, there was an entire Thai band in the corner playing bells and chimes and drums and such and humming, and there were monks milling about. The main monk in the photo was reading something aloud into a microphone, while there were little boy monks preparing drinks on the side. It was such an experience

Super old wall paintings in the temple

This is the Buddha for which the temple was named (Buddha Phra Sing). He's just chillin' in the back of the grounds. He looks so comfy
Buddhist wiseness all around the temple grounds

Also, schools everywhere! Children in their adorable school uniforms were seriously mobbing the streets

A rando temple I wandered into. I love that there are temples everywhere on all these busy streets, but you can go in and explore and feel like you're in a totally different world.  This temple had this lake with GIGANTOR catfishes that you could feed

A terrible photo, but the incredible Chiang Mai Night Bazaar - you can seriously buy ANYthing here and it is my favorite place ever

Oh, just a man eating on his motorcycle while a bunch of parakeets chained to the front eat seed out of the basket

Fun Facts of the Day:
  • There's four kinds of taxis. I spent the better part of 10 minutes learning about each one, so I thought I'd share that delightful knowledge with you all as well.  You can flag down all the taxis below, agree upon a fixed price with the driver, then climb aboard and pay when you arrive.
This is a yellow shared taxi. These are best for rides outside the old city walls

This is a red shared truck taxi. Like the yellow taxi, but best used for trips inside the old city walls.

A tuk-tuk - a motorcycle taxi, and the most fun of all.  Best for longer trips, i.e. to the airport, farther away, etc.

Me in the back of a red truck taxi.  Also just to prove I am here

Meal of the Day:
This really isn't one meal, per se, as much as it is a compilation of all the amazing I've eaten here.  I can't get over how inexpensive and delicious everything here is.

Coconut ice cream!!  Not only was it freakishly delicious and under $1, but it came in a coconut shell, was lined with fleshy coconut meat, topped with crunchy bits and a maraschino cherry, and had delicious green icy stuff on the bottom (not visible).  Dying.

Noodles, a specialty of Northern Thailand.  It comes in a spicy curry broth (it's not that spicy, but of course I was dying). $1.50

Magic Thai ice cream, where they use a block of dry ice and pour a milky, liquidy ice cream mixture (adding whatever flavor you order into it) onto the slab - then they mush it around until it becomes ice cream!  MAGIC.  This is the man rolling the newly-formed ice cream into rolls 

Ta-da! The finished product


  1. I can't help but wonder WHAT IS THE FOURTH TYPE OF TAXI?! I read the provided 3, but you said 4, and I need to know or I will forever dwell on this mystery.


    1. Hahahaha couldn't sneak one past you! The wifi was so atrocious that I refused to proofread this entry. And not to be a huge disappointment, but the missing fourth kind of taxi is just a regular, air-conditioned, marked taxi. Whomp whomp.


  2. Connie! I left a piece of my heart in Chiang Mai and these photos just made my day and gave me the feels. So happy you're having fun on all your adventures - love reading your blog!! :) xoxoxo

    1. Yes, Chiang Mai is the greatest! Just means you have to come back one day (and have a $0.50 fruit smoothie, and a $1 beer, and a $1 plate of pad thai).

      Miss you and hope all is well! So happy you are following along!

  3. I want to open a 5-10 $ shop. From where I can get the staff?????