In a lot of ways, living in Chiang Mai is like living in Baltimore (and probably lots of other cities, but I’ve only really lived in Baltimore). Even in a small area, all you have to do is walk a few blocks or turn a corner and you’re in a completely different neighborhood. Our little neighborhood is really calm and quiet. The south side of the moat stretches out into what you might call a suburb for a few miles and then it gets sparse into farmland. Here’s some info and pictures of what we see and do every day in our little neighborhood.
We live in a fairly modern/western apartment (pictured above) just south of the moat. There’s a great little restaurant in the lobby that we can hit if we don’t feel like walking 2 blocks to the million restaurants, bars, food carts, etc. Give me a break, it’s like 100 degrees from 10am till 7pm.
Here’s a picture of our room: (I stole it from the website as ours is still a mess of unpacking, organizing, etc.) Ours is 95% as nice as the picture.
Within a short -but grueling- walk to the city, there are tons of coffee shops, street vendors and restaurants. We were under the impression that you could eat for a about a dollar a meal. This is somewhat true, but you won’t be able to sit down and enjoy. $1 meals will probably be meats on a stick or a plastic baggie filled with soup and mysterious chicken/pig parts. If you want to splurge and spend 60-70 baht (about $2) you can get all kinds of amazing delicious thai food.
Here is one of the little restaurants. They’re usually half inside like you see here:
You can get delicious soups, stir-fry and rice dishes, pad thai, and amazing Thai omelets over rice. Most of these meals are equivalent to a $10-$15 dinner in the US. I’ll do a post later all about food so I’m saving the pictures. Just be patient.
That red truck (or songthaew) is the bigger, cheaper form of taxi in Chiang Mai. They just pick people up and drive you to your destination. But the driver will pick up more people while you’re in there so you may get rerouted to drop the other people off first. You have to haggle with these guys a bit to get a good price but that’s part of the culture here.
Another quick walk from our house is this beautiful park. It’s just on the other side of the moat. There are Thais and foreigners just hanging out there in the middle of the day. People taking naps on benches or doing Tai Chi under the trees. You can rent a mat for 5 baht just so you can take a nap in the shade by the lake.
Finally, heres an amazing picture of an ancient Wat in the center of the city. Its the tallest building in Chiang Mai and you can see it towering over the other buildings when you look at the city from our apartment.