Impressons of Chiang Mai

About a week ago what the locals call smog but I call smoke increased to where I had eye irritation 24/7. Deciding it was time to go was a no brainer.

Arrived in Hua Hin this morning. The overnight bus ride reinforced all the things I don’t like about doing that. But it had a been a few years so I figured I’d give it another shot. Result is a sore lower back and zombie brain from about 3 hours sleep on a 12 hour ride. Glad I wrote the following before the bus ride.

I already wrote a little about my impressions of Chiang Mai. Here is some more, in no particular order and of no particular importance.

The most crowded time of the year in the tourist district barely qualifies as crowded in my eyes. But don’t expect to easily find a place to stay, motorbike to rent or a train ticket. The spread out travelers converge at those 3 choke points.

Too many places in Hua Hin have uncomfortable chairs, seemingly designed for low cost construction or to encourage one not to dally to long. The few uncomfortable chairs I found in Chiang Mai were mostly in tiny places, coffee houses that didn’t want campers or where form triumphed over function.

There were many Japanese golf tourists, general tourists and students at Chiang Mai University.

Sometimes I’ll adjust a door or move something before taking a photo. Never occurred to me to do either at a temple.

Tourists in Hua Hin tend to eat breakfasts of eggs, carbs (toast / potatoes / pancakes), and processed meats. Add baked beans if they’re British. Tourists in Chiang Mai tend to eat big bowls of fruit, yoghurt and muesli.

I wonder how many of the retired people who winter in Chiang Mai eventually move here. About half of those I spoke with asked the sort of questions I’d expect of someone considering such a move.

I’ll be back. The three months here confirmed what I’d heard, reinforced what I already knew. Additional discoveries just added to the motivation for a repeat. There’s a few things I’ll do different. Most important is finding a place to stay where I don’t have to navigate some of the busiest roads in town. It will have windows on more than one wall. That’s been an absolute requirement since I left grad school.

This year I arrived in the last week of October. Pushing that back a couple weeks would mean more time to do motorbike based travel before the high season starts. I expect there would be fewer minivans careening around blind curves in the mountains. That probably means returning to Hua Hin earlier but certainly not until after New Years.


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