I spent some vacation in Chiang Mai, Thailand. Chiang Mai is in northern Thailand, so it is near the mountains and not the beach. It is a very laid back city. There are a lot of tourists—both Western and Chinese. I actually think if I was coming from North America I would find it too touristy, but coming from China its a nice break. I spent plenty of time walking around, browsing in shops and markets, visiting cafes, and taking in the scenery. It was nice and warm and sunny, so I replenished my vitamin D supply.
The prettiest iced chai latte I’ve ever had at Free Bird Cafe (which supports an organization that works with Burmese refugees).
The old city is still surrounded by a moat and a few remains of city walls. There are also a lot of Buddhist temples in Chiang Mai (that’s the building in the background, with the pointy top). It seems like people take Buddhism much more seriously in Thailand than they do in China.
I think my highlight was taking a cooking class for one day. I made all of those delicious dishes! Now I just have to be able to recreate them at home.
Shallots in a market across from my hotel.
My other big activity was a day long “trek” (hike) through the jungle outside of Chiang Mai. For awhile we climbed along a river with some rapids and waterfalls.
We were also in an agricultural area. These are rice paddies that aren’t being used right now. It is the end of “winter” right now with summer following for March-June (I think). Then comes the rainy/wet season. These paddies are used during the wet season, because rice takes a lot of water to grow. If they have enough water to irrigate they can also be used at other times, but there is a water shortage right now. They also grow vegetables like tomatoes, baby corn, lettuce, and others.
Not sure what kind of flower this is, but it is pretty!
I didn’t get a photo of my favorite moment of the hike. We ended at a Karen (one of the people groups that lives in these hills) village. Several of the women there were weaving and selling scarves and other items to earn cash for their families. They used to be subsistence farmers, but that isn’t enough any more. My guide had me wait with one of these women while he asked someone from the village to take him down to where our van was parked on a motor scooter so he could come and pick me up. This woman was very lovely and spoke a bit of English. She finished the scarf she was working on while I was there and I decided to buy it because it was the prettiest one (and it was shockingly cheap for a handmade item that she had been working on for three days). As she was finishing it off, she asked if I was Christian, or Buddhist, or …. I told her I am a Christian. She said, me too. Several families in that little village are Christian and they have a small church. As I was leaving, I turned around to say “God bless you” and she said it at the same time. It was a beautiful moment and memory.
I am thankful for the time away to refresh and regroup for life in China!