Monday, April 22, 2013

MY CHIANG MAI WALKING STREETS - THAILAND

Chiang Mai is the largest city of Northern Thailand and capital of the province with the same name. More than 140.000 people call Chiang Mai their home and despite it being a big city with it's traffic problems, it feels serene and almost village-like in certain parts of the city. One of the first inputs I got when I arrived in Chiang Mai was, that it is very difficult to get across the major streets and intersections and while this is true, it is more a western perspective. Thai's walk across a 6 lane street thru the flowing traffic. Europeans will stand at the marked pedestrian crossing and wait for a gap in the flow, which might take a while. I also found some pedestrian crossings with a traffic light and pressed it several times to cross, though the fast moving 11 seconds I had, were barely enough to make it to the middle of it, while the oncoming traffic did not really stop (despite the red light).

However I found some really nice and quiet backstreets with almost no traffic and enjoyed the old wooden houses and beautiful temples. Life there reminded me of being outside of the big city in the small villages. In the old historic part of the town the amount of guesthouses and coffee shops is overwhelming. Outside the city moat, with the exception of the area around the Night Market, I found the small streets to be mostly living areas with friendly people, local food stalls and very much a representation of present-day Chiang Mai local life.
















Sunday, April 7, 2013

MY SUNDAY WALKING STREET - CHIANG MAI THAILAND

It is a tourist thing! But then, not all tourist things are bad! It is actually nicer than the nightmarket in Chiang Mai, where we had been almost every evening due to the location of our hotel on a former trip. 

I did meet up with a new friend from the states who wanted to explore the market and we agreed to meet at the market. He walked in from the east and I came from the west, which I thought was easy. But I had not expected so many people during the high season. So it became a challenge to meet and only thanks to modern technology were we able to meet. 

I like to start at Wat Phra Singh, the famous temple in Chiang Mai, send a little prayer off  and then do the tourist thing. Anything can be found at the market here but it is more arts and crafts than at the night market, though a lot of the items sold here are also mass production. There were several artists selling their own art. Food and drinks of local production are also being sold. So, it makes wandering up and down the full Ratchadamnoen Street a fun evening. Don't go too early though. The market is usually more fun when it is dark. Several temples along the way might be open and are worthwhile to be explored as well. A bit strange was one stand which offered shooting games within the temple grounds though.