After a month on the Andaman coast, we’re now in Chiang Mai, 1400 kilometres up in Northern Thailand. The main reason we came here is of course travel and willingness to see more of this beautiful country. We also hoped that the weather “up North” would be at least slightly cooler. Well, it is. Sort of. 28-30 degrees Celsius is an improvement from 32-34, however, this really doesn’t help us much. Haha! At the same time, we feel a bit guilty about the folks back home who already had first snow. It’s quite weird to receive images in the family WhatsApp group of frost and people being dressed for cold weather when we have to think of ways to escape the sizzling heat.
First impressions of Chiang Mai
There’s lots of exploring to do, but we already have a good feeling about Chiang Mai. It has a medium-sized city aura and we rarely get the “tourist trap” feeling we constantly had in Ao Nang. Kids complain about the lack of a beach and crabs, but for us it is totally offset by pretty much everything else. Food is much more diverse and so far very tasty. Even if one doesn’t have transport, there is stuff to do probably for a week within the city centre alone. We have a quite long list of things we want to see around Chiang Mai and in the region, but we already feel that our two weeks are too short for all the plans. And it’s much more bicycle friendly which is important if you’re scared to try a scooter in Asia.
Guna’s going on a meditation retreat
Tomorrow Guna will leave Kristaps and the kids in Chiang Mai for five days as she’s going to a meditation retreat. It’s rising at 5 AM, going to bed early, meditating and contemplating for hours, eating twice a day and wearing everything white. Ok, these are Kristaps stereotypes coming out here. Another Latvian has done something similar a while ago (sorry, text only in Latvian). Guna will share her actual experience when she gets back after November 2.
We’ll go with Guna to the famous Doi Suthep temple and leave her there. We’re promised a big dose of Thai culture and stunning views of the valley and Chiang Mai from up there. This will finally be the day when we get to try songthaew, another mode of transport in Asia.
Chiang Mai is more affordable than expected
Chiang Mai has received a lot of attention in the past years for being the Thailand’s most prominent digital nomads hub. For this reason, Kristaps thought that it must drive prices up. However, compared to Ao Nang, here it’s definitively more affordable. Just some examples:
- Thai massage can be had for 180 Baht (4.65 EUR / 5.40 USD); was 200 and up in Ao Nang.
- Meal in a cafe starts at 50 Baht (1.29 EUR / 1.50 USD), cheaper still in food stalls; food was always 100 and up in Ao Nang’s eateries.
- Fruit shakes start at 30 Baht; was 40 in Ao Nang.
How we find good food
In our experience, there is no better way to find good food than Tripadvisor. We just fire up the mobile app, filter by a) Best nearby and b) Cheap Eats, and open Map look. Usually, there are at least several places within a short walking distance. We read the reviews of these and simply head to the best one. When following this strategy we haven’t had a disappointment in a month. If not for this Tripadvisor’s feature, we wouldn’t have found many places and passed by some that looked shabby from the outside.
If we have a scooter or a car, we sort the places by ranking and choose any of the top 10. This also works well and guarantees an even better dining experience.
How are the kids doing
Ms L and Mr M are by now quite well adjusted. Ms L doesn’t have any issues with Asia except spicy food. Unfortunately, we still sometimes forget to say “mai pet” and what arrives if often too spicy even for Kristaps. For this reason, we try to order different dishes so that everyone still can get something in case of ‘communication malfunction’. For M the weather is sometimes a challenge. Where possible, we frequent the pool at least twice a day and on most days everyone takes a siesta. Drinking lots and lots of water and fruit shakes goes without saying.
We had a bit of a pause in blogging as our laptop’s keyboard semi-retired. About two weeks ago while still in Krabi countryside, the touchpad completely stopped working and we had to attach an external mouse. Then about a week ago the letter “a” key stopped working. And then in the span of several days “b”, “n”, “z” as well as one “CTRL”, “SHIFT” and “Enter” stopped working. If we tried to type “and”, only a “d” would appear on the screen. It was even funnier with “Ao Nang” which became “o g”. Anyway, we’ve gotten ourselves a new keyboard so no more blogging procrastination.