Week 10 | Chiang Mai
This is how this story begins.
You all know that feeling when your friends ask you to go out together but you’d rather stay home, and they insist “Come on, just a drink and we’ll be back home soon!”. Those evenings when you’re going out without any particular ambition but to go back home soon. You walk calmly. And then suddenly something happens… boom! You end up living one of the best evenings ever, one of those unforgettable nights where the fun is guaranteed and you’ll keep talking about it for years. This is how our story begins. Suddenly we are in one of the most beautiful cities in the world: eclectic, profound, unforgettable. Guys, welcome to Chiang Mai!
Chiang Mai is so charming that it feels surreal at times. Its color is golden, just like the temples placed at every corner. Its historic center has the shape of a square and it’s surrounded by walls that enclose the highest percentage of WOW! elements. Coffee houses reveal the same atmosphere of the European ones, several times I found myself here taking a break while reading a book. The shops make you wonder how you’re gonna find the space in the suitcase for this and that and that too. Chiang Mai offers culture and tradition perfectly melting with style and modernity, creating a wonderful mix.
We arrived in Chiang Mai in the late evening after a lo(ooo)ng wait in Krabi’s airport, due to our flight being late. Therefore, we decided to take a Grab, old good friend and asian cousin of Uber - for those who didn’t remember. We crossed the city and drove down the river. It’s love at first sight: the evening lights, the markets at night, the lanterns. We stayed right outside the city walls in a tiny boutique hotel booked last minute after a terrible experience (the apartment we originally booked turned out to be simply unlivable and we had no choice but to change our plans. It’s 9 PM, we have nowhere to go and two hungry kids. However, luck came to the rescue eventually or better yet, we demanded luck to come and gave her no choice. ;-))
We spent the first day visiting the historic centre and the first impression is definitely confirmed: WOW. Wat Phan Tao, What Chang Taem. A break at See you Soon Cafe and Boutique, one of those places where I imagine myself drinking cocktails and reading books for hours. And then again on the march. It’s almost 5PM, school day is about to end and the pupils are wearing their tiny uniform: it’s magical. Dressed in blue, hair in ponytails and braids, they run in the street towards the candy shop. We take some pictures with them, for the joy of Teo. Wat Phra Singh is perhaps the most beautiful temple we’ve seen so far: it’s all gold. Teo and Lia play for the first time a buddhist temple’ s bells. We see the monks, dressed in orange. Finally Thailand as we always dreamed.
Chiang Mai is such a small city that is possible to visit on foot. No need to be afraid to walk outside the city centre. We actually discovered our favourite neighborhood heading towards north-west, right outside the walls. Following Nimmanahaeminda road and the University district, there’s an area that has a lot to offer in terms of pubs, bars and shops. Here is also where we ate real Thai food (sometimes so spicy that we thought for a minute we were dragons, but so so good) and where:
- I tried to enter in any possible shop, activating mode: “Tetris”, trying to figure out how to fit all I wanted to buy in my suitcase without exceeding the legal limit of the light traveller. the amount of vintage shops in Chiang Mai equals that of Marais in Paris. In Chiang Mai I suffered, deeply.
- Julien tried its best to bring me back to Planet Earth not missing an opportunity to remind me that life is bitter. No, there’s no space in the suitcase. No, we are travelling light. Over and Out.
(Just so you know, I could collect priceless memories anyway).
In Chiang Mai we also had a misadventure. Lietta fell on an iron table and got up with a black and swollen eye, blood all around. We decided to run to the hospital to make sure the wound would be cleaned perfectly, begging that no stitches would be required. Chiang Mai did not let us down, at all. The hospital is very clean and all is organized efficiently, the nurses are all dressed in a wonderful uniform in shades of blue and they all wear a braid or a bow in the hair. The environment gives trust.
They checked Lia carefully before touching her, they wanted to make sure that the appropriate person would take care of her. We waited. We were welcomed quite quickly by an extremely kind doctor who speaks perfect english. She cleaned Lia’s eye. We noticed it’s a bad cut, almost as long as the eyelid. if it was vertical they should’ve applied stitches, but thankfully it was not the case. Lia got out with a clean eye and a patch. She sleeped. She’s never been upset. This calmed us down as well. She didn’t cry, it’s all good. Another issue solved.
We decided to stop a moment to gather our energies in the best possible way: pizza. In one of the best italo-asian restaurants. Here we go, Lia smiles again holding her pizza margherita slice in her tiny hands. We’re back to normal.
We felt home in Chiang Mai. The lifestyle and the kindness make of Chiang Mai a wonderful city where to live. Here you can still breathe the taste of the old traditions, that sometimes gets lost in Thailand because of the growing and imposing tourism. Here you can easily imagine how it all was some decades ago.
What we’ll bring with us from Chiang Mai is the image of the fan in the breakfast room of our tiny hotel, the lived wood of the houses, the magnificence of the temples, the colors of the lanterns in the markets at night; it’s all impressed in our mind. The Saturday Walking Street: the whole street is closed to traffic 6 days a week and it’s filled with stands, food trucks, clothing and souvenirs shops. When we walked through the tuc tuc street coming back from our visit to Doi Sutherp mountain. And last but not least that evening in the University district when I walked out of a tiny shop holding a bag in my hands. In the bag: a folly. A folly that someday might turn into a poem, the most beautiful poem. A folly that someday will be, hopefully, my wedding dress. Because if that day will ever come (and it will come) it will all be about the magic of how we arrived there. A folly, yes, but with much much poetry.
We’re jumping on a plane again, flying towards the capital. Bangkok, here we come!
With a Lot of Love - #miljiansgotothailand
With a Lot of Love - #miljiansgotothailand