July 25 - Aug 7, 2018
2 Weeks in Chiang Mai
Location: Chiang Mai (city), Thailand
Chiang Mai on the Radar
When I landed in Bangkok, I thought I would spend my entire 30 days there. As a general rule, I do a 30-day mini-life in any destination before I move on. But Mike offered me 2 weeks in his Nawa Saraan Hotel in Chiang Mai. On top of that, I couldn't find an extension in Bangkok beyond my 15 days at Adventure Hostel. The die was cast for Chiang Mai. This is how my universe communicates to me. What's in store for me in Chiang Mai? Only one way to find out.
13.5 Hours on the #51 Seated Train
A new luxury train was just introduced into the service at B1038 - tempting, but a little too rich for me. I'm lucky they offered a cheap open-air seated train for B270 - #51. It was very comfortable with open windows, but a problem when you want to sleep. The seat is for 2 pax. I was lucky again that no one was beside me so I was able to curl up instead of sleeping while seated fully upright. The train ride was without any hitch and arrived promptly at 12:10pm as scheduled.
The red taxis were all awaiting at the airport. I knew the trick from my last visit. I whispered to the driver, "I'll give you B50 to the Old City and I won't tell the other passengers". He smiled and we were in business - otherwise, he would charge B100.
It was so good to be back at my old hotel - Nawa Saraan. Mike left instructions with the staff about my arrival. I was given a spacious luxury room - 2 twin beds, flat screen tv, split a/c, personal safety box, compli tea/coffee, water kettle, in-room wifi, spacious ensuite, the works! I still don't know what I've done to Mike to deserve all this. But I'm always grateful.
Mike arrived shortly to welcome me. When asked how my money situation is, I simply replied, "bleak, but I'll make my money in Chiang Mai". Without missing a beat, he pulls out his wallet and hands me some big bills. Whoa! Free money? I was surprised, thankful and felt a little awkward. Even from my Dad, I don't accept free money. But at the same time, my cash was really low...good for a week or two. I accepted the money on condition it be a loan. He shrugged it off and laughed. What a guy! Really, what a guy!
I sent out feelers to yoga studios and 2 of them have responded favorably. On top of that, I met up with Tammy, a yoga teacher I met in Siem Reap (Cambodia), and gave me a heads-up about free yoga in the park. It was great to see Tammy again, after 2 years! I have attended a few of these classes and even conducted one.
I just stopped by a bicycle rental shop, Top Thailand Adventure Tour and offered them a barter deal they could not refuse. I walked out with a bicycle I could use during the entire duration of my stay in Chiang Mai. At the usual rate of B50/day, I'm saving lots, not to mention I extend my range. I would ride out and if I see any place interesting, I'd lock my bike and walk around. Whoa! Great way to discover interesting neighborhoods in Chiang Mai.
Chai and Friends
A pleasant surprise was Chai and her Filipino friends (Marc, Mar and Josephus) who spent the long weekend in Chiang Mai. We hung-out at Akha Ama Cafe, walked the streets of Chiang Mai as we engaged in long talks about many things. I had been traveling Asia for a good long while and it's rare for me to meet, let alone hang-out, with Filipino travelers. Now I have friends I can bug when I come back to Bangkok!
An Indian Sikh who spent nearly all his life in the military service was Navraj. He was in pursuit of spirituality when we met in Dharamshala. As good fortune would have it, he's now in Chiang Mai. It's odd for a soldier to be seeking spirituality but Navraj is a man of dimension and complexity. We shared insight and shared ourselves. He is one person I've connected to on a deeper level. I would liken him to be karmically entangled with me.
Life in Chiang Mai
With not enough cash to sustain me, I didn't have the luxury to do touristy things. For the most part, I worked - sending out business proposals, knocking on cafe doors, or writing my blogs. That's the basic difference between me and the average traveler. They have a budget for traveling to begin with - so they spend it and have a good time with food and tours. Me, I usually don't have enough and I still have to make my money - so I work while they party. I'm not really a tourist. I'm just a guy choosing a different destination to do his work. Still, it's not a bad life - steamed momo in Nepal, buttered naan bread in India, tom yum soup in Bangkok, khao soi in Chiang Mai. Like I said, it's not bad. I find pleasure walking the streets of a neighborhood in search of anything interesting. More often than not, I find good food to eat. I'm happy with that. Small pleasures!
Last time I was in Chiang Mai, it was wet and wild with the Songkran Festival. Now, it's still wet because of the monsoon. But it had a different flavor. I wasn't a tourist but a traveler finding bearing, grounding and ways to make sense of my survival despite the abundance. Just a few days upon arriving, the abundance started happening. After choosing a life of abundance in Bangkok, I've always felt Chiang Mai will be the start of the unraveling. Good things have begun to happen and the energy feeled just right. Let me end my Chiang Mai sojourn by thanking Mike - my host, my friend and benefactor. Without him, I would have no idea where I would have ended up.
Reader Comments:Doris Tagle-Villareal
(July 31, 2018) Please eat some kao soi for me...ask with no chili on it
(July 30, 2018) There's an amazing cave temple 25 km outside in the villages. The size is bigger than a football field. It has a huge lying down Buddha and other temples including Hindu ❤
Next stop: Yoga with Adam at Hidden House Yoga, Chiang Mai
Chiang Mai, Thailand
Chiang Mai International Airport
Nong Buak Hard Park - free yoga classes daily
Nawa Sheeva Hotel - big room, high ceiling, salt-water pool
Nawa Saraan Hotel - upscale container-themed, garden setting, most expensive coffee maker in Chiang Mai
Natural Bird Nest by Burapa - authentic bird's nest soup
Zira Spa - upscale authentic Thai massage and spa treatment
Top Thailand Adventure Tour - bicycle rental
Chiang Mai FYI / Tips
- the tourist area where most of the hotels, restaurants, ticket offices, tour operators are, is located in the Old City
- to exchange your dollars to Thai Baht, the Super Rich Money Exchange give the best rates. There are many branches scattered around Chiang Mai
- get a cab outside the train station for Baht 50 (instead of paying B100 if inside the train station) to Old City - if you haggle nicely enough...I did!
- for only B50/day, best to rent a bike to go around the Old City - it's a 2.5km2 with lots to discover
- FREE daily yoga classes from 9:00am to 10:15am at Nong Buak Hard Park (southwest corner of Old City). Resident and passing-through teachers take turns conducting yoga classes.
How to Get around Chiang Mai
- red taxi (shared) - B50 standard fare
- bicycle - B50 daily rental
Blues/Jazz Bars in Chiang Mai
- North Gate Pub - at Chang Phueg Gate, great Tuesday jam session
- Road House - in front of Porn Ping Hotel
- Boy Blues Bar - at the Night Bazaar
Chiang Mai Cost Index
- B60 Chiang beer
- B250 1 hour drop-in yoga session
- B200 one hour Thai body massage at WAYA Massage (highly recommended)
- B50 noodle soup with meat
- B50 coffee
- B40 pad thai
- B30/kilo wash-only laundry
- B50/kilo wash+iron laundry
- B100-150 dorm bed/night
- B250 fan room/night
- B30 internet cafe/hour
- B170-190 Movies Sat-Sun and public holidays
- B130-150 Movies weekdays
- B100 Movies Wednesdays (movie discount day)
- B750 1/2 day Thai cooking lessons
- B900-1000 1 full day Thai cooking lessons
- B400 Muay Thai boxing ticket
- B2500 starting room rate at the luxury hotel, Nawa Sheeva (highly recommended)
- B450 bus, Chiang Mai to Bangkok
- B160-180 bus, Chiang Mai to Pai
- B1250 bus, Chiang Mai to Luang Prabang
- B1650 slow boat, Chiang Mai to Luang Prabang
- B210 bus, Chiang Mai to Chiang Rai, 3-4 hours
- B360 Green VIP bus, Chiang Mai to Mae Sai (Thai border town for visa run to Tachileik, Myanmar)
- B50 bicycle rental, 24 hours
- B200 motorbike rental, 24 hours
- B273 #51 sleeping train from Bangkok to Chiang Mai
- B638 #7 a/c train from Bangkok to Chiang Mai
- B50 red taxi fare from point to point
- B100 red taxi fare from train terminal to city
- B2000 full day elephant sanctuary
- B750 Chiang Rai one-day tour
- B1500 mountain biking scenic ride
How to Get to Chiang Mai from Bangkok by Train from Bang Sue Train Station
For more train info: Bangkok to Chiang Mai trains - departing from Hua Lamphong - MRT (Bangkok)
(I'm using Bang Sue as a starting point because I was closer to it, but you may be closer to the Hua Lamphong station)
- take the MRT train to Bang Sue Station. Take the #1 Exit to the north provincial trains
- Proceed to Counter 2. You will see an information booth, a train schedule chart and the ticket counter. Choose the train and pay at the ticket counter.
- daily train schedule:
- 8:48am - #7 Train, arrive Chiang Mai 7:30pm, not sleeper, B638
- 2:06pm - #109 Train, arrive Chiang Mai 4:05am, sleeper
- 6:31pm - #9 Premium Train, arrive Chiang Mai 7:15am, sleeper, B938 upper deck, B1038 lower deck
- 7:56pm - #13 Train, arrive Chiang Mai 8:40am, sleeper, B768 upper deck, B838 lower deck
- 10:22pm - #51 Train, arrive Chiang Mai 12:10pm, sleeper, 3rd class B270 (non sleeper), 2nd class B438, B728 upper deck, B798 lower deck
Chiangmai Blogs by TheLoneRider
- Mike Chong Aug 8, 2018
- An Intimate Conversation with my Universe in Chiang Mai Aug 8, 2018
- Kneaded and Pampered at Zira Spa Aug 4, 2018
- Savoring a Baht 3,500 Birds Nest Soup at Natural Bird Nest by Burapa Aug 3, 2018
- Yoga Exploration at The Yoga Tree with Gernot Aug 1, 2018
- Yoga In The Park - Chiang Mai July 31, 2018
- Yoga with Adam at Hidden House Yoga, Chiang Mai July 29, 2018
- 2 Weeks in Chiang Mai July 25 - Aug 7, 2018
- A First Timer in Chiang Mai Apr 9-23, 2016
- Dance Mandala in Chiang Mai at The Yoga Tree Apr 19, 2016
- Songkran Waterfight Festival in Chiang Mai Apr 13-15, 2016
- Border Crossing from Siem Reap (Cambodia) to Bangkok (Thailand) to Chiang Mai April 9-10, 2016
General Travel Tips
- avoiding scams - as a general rule, I ignore the touts or anyone I don't know who call out to me. The calling comes in many forms - "Hi! Where are you from?", "Excuse me! Excuse me!", "Where are you going?". I don't look them in the eye and I remain non-verbal with them. If you reply to them, you just gave them an 'in' to hound you. In order not to look rude, I smile and wave the 'not interested' hand to them, without looking at them.
- power bank - hand-carry your power bank. Do not check it in. You can be called in when you are already inside the plane to go all the way to the loading dock so you can personally remove the power bank...and chances are, you'll have to surrender it to them. And you might delay the plane departure!
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