My Time in Chiang Mai
Hello all! Hope this post finds you well. As I sit in the Chiang Mai airport awaiting my flight to Bangkok (which I have very mixed feelings about), I figured it would be a good time to give an update on my time spent in Chiang Mai.
First off let's cover the biggest change for me. It has been hot (like well over 100 hot), which has been a shock to my system considering it was still snowing when I left Kentucky. From 11am-4pm I've pretty well camped out in my room, or in a café. It's hard to get anything done when it's too hot to breath! But I can't complain, beating the heat with a good book and an iced coffee is always nice. Tips for staying cool are pretty universal: stay in the shade and A/C during the hottest parts of the day, drink plenty of water, and pay attention to your body. Aside from the iced coffee and water, I've recently fallen in love with fresh coconut water; something that is quickly gaining popularity back home, though I never much cared for it before. I've grown to love it here!
Fresh coconut water!
Which leads me to my favorite thing...
I have never eaten so well. From Thai street stalls, American breakfasts, Indian food, and even the odd Mexican or burger joint. The food has been incredible (and cheap)!
I spend most of my morning at a local café, called The Bird's Nest, which specializes in locally farmed and organic food. They have been providing me with some of the best meals I've ever had. And best of all everything is incredibly fresh and homemade (even the jam and peanut butter)! All of their dishes are made to order, and the vegetables are always crisp and flavorful. If you ever find yourself in Chiang Mai I highly recommend the Bird's Nest! I suggest their breakfast menu, smoothies, grilled sandwiches, or the Khao Soi. Or anything on the menu at all really...
Some of my meals from the Bird's Nest: Muesli with oats, fruit and yogurt; chicken and veggie omelet; chicken and pesto sandwhich with a banana/peanut butter/coconut milk smoothie and a cookie.
I've also been thoroughly enjoying the street food (as everyone in Thailand should). From Pad Thai to Khao Soi (a famous northern dish), and even the basic stir fry dishes. There is a reason Thai food is world renowned. I can honestly say I have never eaten so well in my life (and cheap!).
I did have one incident with some chicken and veggie stir-fry that has scarred me a bit. On the menu, the dish was listed as "not spicy", so me being the spicy-food lover that I am, asked them to make it a little spicy. Lesson learned. I suffered through that meal, but am pretty sure I no longer can taste anything.
The overly-spicy meal in question and a tradtional Thai dessert (mango and sticky rice).
Oh yea, and there is lots of fresh fruit! Mangos and watermelon have been my favorites, super tasty and refreshing.
Now, how have I been dealing with eating all this food? Back home I'm a huge fitness junkie, and take daily runs and trips to the gym. In an earlier post I mentioned that falling out of my workout routine was actually what worried me most about traveling. So, for a couple days I tried to maintain my running regime, supplemented with some bodyweight stuff, but found it's simply too hot to run regularly, and bodyweight exercises didn't give me the 'accomplished' feeling I was searching for. I tried out a couple gyms as well, but they just were expensive and not as well equipped as I'd like. So I decided to try some Muay Thai (when in Rome, right?)
Chay Yai Muay Thai
I have never studied any form of martial arts before, but I figured I was in decent shape so I'd be able to keep up pretty well, right? No way! We started our session with a 5km run (hey this is easy, maybe I will be able to hang!). Then we moved to shadow boxing. They had to work with me quite a bit, as I had no idea how to properly hit stuff, and it was much more complicated than I ever imagined. But after picking up the basics we moved to the pads. I went three rounds with my trainer, and it was far more of a workout than I ever imagined (especially when you have to do 20 pushups and sit-ups any time you make a mistake!). Day two of my training was even more enjoyable as that time around they allowed me to do some sparring! I thoroughly enjoyed my Muay Thai sessions, and I really hope I can keep practicing while here. I can definitely see how it would not only benefit the body, but also the mind. I also highly recommend Chay Yai Gym, they where very friendly and more than happy to help someone who had no clue what was going on.
I was here in Chiang Mai during Songkran, which is the traditional Thai New Year celebration. The most obvious aspect of Songkran is the humongous water fight. Almost everything in town shuts down and people take to the streets to celebrate by throwing water on each other. The water aspect originated with the cleaning of the Buddha statues, which is symbolic to starting the New Year refreshed and renewed. I didn't partake much (though I did join a couple discos in the middle of the road), but getting doused with water is certainly not a bad thing when temperatures can hit 100 degrees and above.
The moat during Songkran. A temple next door to where I was staying.
Other than that I've led a fairly uneventful life here. I've spent lots of time working, reading, and catching up on my TV shows (looking at you Game of Thrones and Archer). Cruising around town on a moped and seeing the occasional temple has been enjoyable enough for me. Recently I took a scooter and drove up Doi Suthep, which I will be posting about before too long. Keep tuned as I have plenty more to report soon regarding my job hunt and some various day trips I have planned!
Sunrise and sunset.