The night train to Chiang Mai proved to be a cute and cozy little way to travel. I arrived early Saturday morning, and posted up at one of the many adorable coffee shops, Overstand, waiting to meet up with one of my very best friends, Eric, who is also backpacking through Southeast Asia. He was a huge inspiration for this trip, for that and many more reasons – I will remain eternally grateful to him.
I instantly liked the vibe of Chiang Mai. It was a great walking city. We were averaging about 8 miles a day. We may have profusely sweat through all of our clothing, but it was worth it.
I enjoyed some great meals while in Chiang Mai. Our first night we went to this awesome spot, Dash. The food was amazing (the Khao Soi and Crispy Tamarind Chicken were out of this world). The staff was so friendly and accommodating. The atmosphere was beautiful and there was an awesome live singer covering some power female jams – I was digging it. I enjoyed it so much I took myself back there before I left Chiang Mai for a little solo date night, a romantic evening of candlelit journaling.
Cooking Love, was another of my favorites. The coconut curry soup, served in a coconut was to die for – the best meal I’ve had so far. This place goes heavy on the spices though – I stuck with “a little spicy” and survived but Eric learned this lesson the hard way, opting for “medium spice”.
Paak Dang was another crowd pleaser. A cool spot on the river that serves a mean pineapple rice.
One of my favorite spots was The North Gate Jazz Co-Op. It’s this awesome little jazz bar with a balcony that overlooks the band. The musicians the night we went were so talented it was insane. There’s something in the air there. As I sat up on that balcony, enjoying a cold beer and breathing in the music I had a surreal moment . I looked around and couldn’t believe where I was. I was in the middle of Chiang Mai at this tiny little live jazz bar, sharing this experience with people from all over the world. I felt so filled with appreciation.
Another awesome experience was the very lively and energetic Sunday Night Market. It is overwhelming to the senses to say the least. Lots of people, colors, foods and smells surrounding you. I got some sweet new digs – the elephant printed ensembles are rapidly multiplying. Still pretty pathetic at haggling, but hey at least I’m not paying full price. The food there was incredible – great street food and so cheap. One stand had this huge pile of pad thai that I wanted to swim in.
There were a few moments at the market when we got stuck shuffling along in the crowded herd barely able to move and unable to see an end in sight. I thought I was going to die or perhaps that I had already died and was in some twisted purgatory scenario, where I was destined to shuffle along this unending line, enduring the heat and smells until I made amends for my multitude of sins. At that point I sincerely regretted any and all wrong doings and searched the recesses of my memory for the words to the Act of Contrition. Finally, we broke free and escaped to nirvana in the form of a balcony bar, Moon Pie, overlooking the colorful and lively market and across the street from a great live jazz band. There aren’t many things I enjoy more than live jazz music off in the distance on a hot night with a cold one in hand, in the presence of good company.
All in all, Chiang Mai is definitely up there as one of my favorite cities. I am excited to get over to Pai though – I have a feeling that place is going to steal my heart.