They call it "the most culturally significant city" in northern Thailand. It is indeed enchanting. Chiang Mai gave me the strange sensation of finding a place in this world that accepts you, loves you, gives to you and simply asks for your happy spirit and respect in return.
Breakfast at Chiang Mai Gate MarketYou'll hear this market often spoken about as one of the finest night markets of Chiang Mai. And while it certainly does impress culinary and culturally speaking, my favorite time of the day at the Chiang Mai Gate Market was in the early morning. From 8-11am I could meander the stalls, watching the true lives of locals and market-goers, even getting to the point where we could share smiles and salutations with the vendors that we visited most often; coconut waffles, spicy fish broth soup with rice noodles, or a bunch of bananas for snacking at home.
A little early for fish and meat? You may be surprised how the stomach and mindset adjust to fried chicken at 8:30am.
Chiang Mai Gate Market (south east corner of the old city)
Chiang Mai, Thailand
When I arrived to Wild Rose Yoga in Chiang Mai, I immediately felt apart of the community - not to mention the Eat, Pray, Love aspect and romanticism of meditating in a Thai bungalow surrounded by towering green palms. In fact, it was rather difficult to leave the city, as I knew my temporary home with the yogis (in my case the Puerto Rican sensation Vadi) and my Thai grandmother were soon to be obsolete. Rose, the owner and temptress of the studio - and a California native - was amicable and attentive. The classes were challenging in the kick-your-ass because-you-know-you've-been-too-long-on-the-sofa way, the teachers positive and supportive of your practice and complimentary fresh fruit, such as exotic (to me) mangosteens and baby bananas were for the taking at the conclusion of every 90 minute, 250 baht class. Thanks and Namaste Wild Rose!
While this is not in fact a posture at Wild Rose Yoga, the feeling of peace was the same. (also not intended to offend Buddists)
The sweet white flesh of the purple mangosteen.
Wild Rose Yoga Studio
Chiang Mai, Thailand
Temples and Brunch, or Temples and Lunch, or Temples and Early Dinner
Walking around the perimeters of Wat Suan Dok and the Buddist University, Chiang Mai, Thailand.
Sure you could spend the afternoon temple hopping, taking in the old and new that Chiang Mai has to offer, or the stunning Wat Phrathat Doi Suthep with a view. But because yours truly is so obsessed with food, when I have the potential of adding a noteworthy spot on my itinerary - therefore killing two birds with one stone - I'll certainly do it. That's why I'd recommend that one visit Wat Suan Dok, which in and of itself is an interesting stop; they offer free monk chats Monday, Wednesday and Friday 5pm-7pm, also during other times of the day you can tour the grounds and temple (take off your shoes and sit like a mermaid). However, the real gem is the sustainable vegetarian and organic restaurant/seed saving project 'Pun Pun,' open 9am - 5:30pm daily except Wednesday (although timetable could change).
Sit under the Bayan tree on the patio and be sure to order the banana black sesame shake (kluay nga dam pun) and the banana flower salad with mushroom and egg (yam hua blee), both a revelation.
The banana flower salad that changed my life. Seriously, one of the best things I've ever tasted.
Who knew that banana and black sesame were such an awesome combination!!
Sunset and reflection on the chedi of Wat Suan Dok in Chiang Mai just before our "Monk Chat"
Pun Pun Restaurant at Wat Suan Dok (west of the old city)
Chiang Mai, Thailand
Akha Ama Coffee Break
Don't let the after lunch or dinner drowsiness set in. Head straight for Akha Ama coffee shop, which is guaranteed to make the 2013 Lonely Planet guide - so get in now! The crowds might come, but I wouldn't doubt that Lee and his team of baristas and coffee producers keep the quality high. Aside from being an über cool hangout cafe, Akha Ama lives and breathes a sustainable message of "socially empowered enterprise," wherein every cup of coffee ground, brewed and consumed in Akha Ama, is obtained from, gives back and helps the future of the Akha tribe in the northwestern Chiang Rai province. More to come on this inspiring coffee journey.
The prettiest and most responsible cafe latte in all of Chiang Mai at Akha Ama Coffee.
Antonio checks email, sips an iced coffee and contemplates sustainable farming methods at Akha Ama Coffee.
9/1 Mata Apartment. Hassadhisawee Road Soi 3.
Muang, Chiang Mai, Thailand
After the food and drink had settled and we'd taken our lap around the walled-city, we liked to relax, digesting the amazing sites, sounds and tastes of Chiang Mai while we fell into ecstasy with a one-hour foot or Thai massage. We tried a few different spots, ranging from soft and delicate movements of young beautiful women to the strong, rough and determined hands of a seasoned professional. In the end, I can't tell you which massage will be the best for you - you have to try a few out and decide if you prefer the lighter or harder muscular pulling and stretching, or if you need the ambiance of a luxury spa (at roughly 700-1000 baht per hour) as opposed to a single-sized bed with little privacy and cheesy music (in my opinion the down and dirty places at 150 baht per hour do just fine). If you're fine with the latter, I recommend the little massage shack next to Ratchadamoen Coffee on Ratchadamnoen Road, opposite the police station.
Shoes off please.
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