After a long 36 hours in and out of airplanes, adapting to time changes poorly and basically becoming the walking dead, Thailand’s northern city opened its gates to us (literally) with a flood of incredible splendor. Chiang Mai, thank you for that! This city is a boiling bowl of humanity, steaming up glasses and dripping with sweat, grit and beauty.
Golden rimmed temple peaks scatter and dot the city’s skyline like glittery jewels on its fabric. Its kind of hard not to run into one of these bad boys when exploring the city considering just how many of them there are. Each is as unique and rich in history as the next, providing sightseers, expats and Thai people alike a chance to admire their opulence and grandeur while perhaps even running into a monk or two along the way. Yep, monks real life monks, people! But otherwise, Chiang Mai’s gritty street life remains unsullied by its cleanliness enthused European visitors. The electric wires are tangled, the trees are overgrown and limping in the most gorgeous way, the sidewalks are sporadic and inconsistent, the traffic requires a defensive judgement… but it is raw and beautiful that way. And I love it for that.
In the past two days alone, we’ve come across the most incredibly kind Thai people. The type of people who walk up to you just to ask where you are from without any hidden agenda. The type of people who resist the urge to laugh at your horrible mispronunciation of “hello” and “thank you.” (Sorry about that Chiang Mai residents, I’m trying my best here!) We’ve been given some incredible suggestions and recommendations from the local people. And for that I am all too thankful! I’d always read bloggers mention the sweetness of the Thai people, their constant smiles and patience with sometimes ignorant expats… but I had no idea just how accurate these perceptions of Thai people are.
The one thought I keep coming back to since we’ve landed in Thailand is the idea of assimilation. I’m someone who believes in traveling as locally as possible. I believe in eating true, uninhibited and unrestrained meals and living according to cultural customs and practices as much as possible. This non-touristy type travel allows visitors a chance to truly experience life as the country’s people do, allowing us to have a deeper understanding and appreciation for all that it is. Assimilating is what I try to do, always.
But, I can’t seem to quite grasp that here. As much as I feel welcomed and happy exploring this city, I do feel like an outsider. I am not Thai. And I never will be Thai. I do not look Thai, act Thai or speak Thai. And there is nothing else to it. I keep reminding myself that it has only been a few days since we’ve touched down in the northern city and that with time perhaps I will feel closer to Chiang Mai and perhaps I will feel more assimilated with its culture. But for right now, just appreciating it for all that it is, even as an outsider will suffice.
And of course, the food. Ah yes. It’s silly but when most people asked why we chose Thailand to explore for the summer, my answer most always included tasting its food. I love Thai food. And I mean that I realllllllllly love Thai food. I’m pretty sure on my deathbed, my last supper would have to be some kind of Thai meal. The spice, the pairing of flavors, the heat, the colors! It’s been difficult to snap pictures of any of our meals here because most of the time I end up scarfing them down in pure ecstasy before I can get my poor camera out. And I have no regrets! Expect a post on recommendations!
I can’t wait to share more about our experiences here in Chiang Mai! Its food, its culture, its must-sees/ must-dos, its people, its sights, its smells. I’m excited for it all! If you’re wanting more updates on our time here, make sure to follow the blog’s Instagram account for more weird and wonderful confessions and thoughts I have day to day. So stay tuned friends! More Chiang Mai goodness coming in hot soon. Now I’m going to go eat some curry…