19 Jul 2013

Chiang Mai: what are we doing here?

It's a funny thing, this life that we fill up with expectations. Like a box of chocolates you never know what you're going to get. You never know until you bite into it. You can have so many ideas of what a place will be like, read about it in the Lonely Planet until the words swim around the page, but in the end, whatever happens, that thing is what it is. Well, mostly.

Something we didn't expect: fizzy drinks in a bag with ice

After an unexpected month in the UK, we flew to Chiang Mai, in northern Thailand, a land of approximately 65 million, but yet the city is home to only 250,000 if you believe the census. Though that doesn't include middle aged foreigners with grey pony tails, so bump that figure up a bit. The fact that it's the second biggest city in Thailand after Bangkok doesn't mean a whole just as how Birmingham is apparently the second biggest city in England, but nobody really knows how this affects anything.

You, our lovely readers have requested that we include maps, and not wanting to disappoint, here tis!

Out of all the places in the world to head to, you might be asking why? Here is the story. See two years ago our dear friends Nick and Pam told us about Chiang Mai, seeing as they lived there, Pam being Thai and having lived there for years and N deciding to fall in love with Pam and set up shop there. We all need somewhere to call home. Or lay your hat, or however the song goes. Anyway, It sounded lovely. So we went off and got our CELTA (English teaching qualification) so that finding a job would (theoretically) be easier. Whereas Paddy has spent most of his Irish life trying to speak the language with varying degrees of success, Maddy had actually always wanted to teach English. Nothing to do with being brought up to speak like the Queen as Paddy says, but everything to do with being bossy, sharing the passion for the language and planning. Oh, the planning! But mainly being bossy.

Shy and retiring as ever.
Yes you're looking at Maddy in a pumpkin shaped carriage covered in flowers.
In any case, here we are and worked out that if we arrived in low season with less farang (foreigners) around we could get hold of reasonably cheap accommodation and see what the city was like. This is where we wish the planning side of Maddy had emerged earlier. We planned nothing, other than Paddy checking out that he could catch the Ashes cricket live on TMS, which, after India, was not a fact to be overlooked. So the lack of planning has resulted in quite a lot of huffing and puffing on our part and not a lot of doing. We have come to the conclusion that Chiang Mai is just not we are looking for right now. A city is a city, no matter where it is on the planet. Greenery and nature is really our kind of thing, concrete and "hip" people, well, they just don't cut our mustard. But you know, whatever thickens your gravy, as a good friend of Paddy's used to say.

Double rainbow! Something else we didn't expect.
Having said that, there are some fantastic things to experience here. We love to arrive in a place and walk around, really get a sense of the place, and get our bearings. The city of Chiang Mai is based around the old city set within a moat, surrounded by one way streets that are pretty interesting to cross as a pedestrian. And quite frankly a head funk if you have to drive around. 

Simon, not driving, but hanging onto the remains of the city walls.

Rest assured, we are spending time and getting more familiar with the place, but as it happens we have found a town we love not far from Chiang Mai. More on that soon...

With much love
Maddy and Paddy

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