I think when most people hear about Thailand, the first thing that comes to mind is Bangkok. Then the second thing is the beaches such as Phuket or Koh Samui, and then usually if you know someone who went you would hear about Chiangmai, a province in Northern Thailand closer to the borders of Laos and Myanmar.
Before arriving to Chiangmai I had just spent a few days being a beach bum at Phuket with Alex. While that was all fun and good I was also a bit disappointed by how touristy the whole area was. After spending a few days in Bangkok, you really get tired of seeing generic souvenirs over and over again with the words “Phuket” or “Thailand” written on it. Instead of shopping and booking the normal day excursions, we just chose to relax on our own time and lounged around wherever we pleased. And perhaps the most radical thing we did was not visit Koh Phi Phi, the glorious island nearby known for its rock formations, white sand and emerald water. Why? Personally for me the way the island was over-advertised, and the fact that the island is well on its way to an ecological crash, plus a not-so positive experience of water activities from the past, all left a pretty sour taste in my mouth. So we decided not to go, and we have no regrets. We still enjoyed ourselves quite a bit by the beach and pool, and Alex went home happy and dandy.
Today I’m writing to you from Chiangmai, and all I have to say is I love this little town. It’s got everything that Bangkok has to offer but without all the hassles from the tuk-tuk drivers, taxis, and souvenir shops. It’s REALLY nice to be able to walk around town in leisure without being stared at like a dollar sign! And I actually find myself in a less hurried, lighter mood, and I actually want to shop because there are so many more private boutiques selling unique artisan goods. It’s fun to look and they don’t make you feel bad for not buying. Sigh. What a relief.
For the first time also I’m truly alone and by myself in a foreign place. Before this I’ve always had family or friends around even if I wasn’t always with them everyday. But they were there and it made me feel safe. The night before I departed Bangkok, I’ll admit I was extremely scared, nervous and homesick. I even started to doubt myself. Do I really want to do this? Am I ready to do this? Who am I to wander around this big world? My hotel room without Alex also felt extra empty and unnecessarily big. I couldn’t even sleep. But in the end what helped comfort me was reading the advice of others traveling and trusting that everything will be ok and that I can do it. So the next morning I headed out.
Now after a few days in Chiangmai I’m happy to report I’m feeling much better and more confident traveling alone. I’ve also had the fortune of picking an awesome guesthouse (Vanilla Place) with a wonderful, wonderful owner, who offered me invaluable advice during my time here and truly made me feel at home. After serval days of unbelievably fun activities, sightseeing and meeting wonderful travelers from other parts of the world, I can now see why so many people fall in love with Chiangmai and decide to stay here for weeks and eveb for months. Except I won’t be. After almost three weeks here in Thailand, I’m starting to feel like I need a change of scenery. I’m sure I can visit some other areas of Thailand and discover new scenes there, but for some reason my heart is pulling me in a different direction and I feel ready for a completely new country. So in a few days I’ll actually be heading out to a neighboring country. Which one? I won’t tell you yet, but you’ll see in my next post if pay attention… 🙂
Now for pictures! So many but I can only share 8!