May 22, 2019
Fascinating Peoplescape of Chiang Mai II
Location: Chiang Mai, Thailand
Chiang Mai is really a special city - and this is coming from someone who spent 6 years traveling as a homeless nomad across most of Asia. Here, people are more laid back. Travelers are friendly and open for interaction. They want to interact and they expect to be interacted upon. At Nawa Saraan Hotel where I look after guest needs, I become friends with some. Of course, it's short. But it's also sweet. This is a highlight of the fascinating souls I had the good fortune to be crossing paths with. To those not mentioned or not written about, it's only because pressing schedule keep me from completing the write-up.
Amjad's life experience spanned many aspects. As a learned man from Pakistan, we talked life, geo-politics and global domino-effects. He also gave me a more realistic narrative of Pakistan, apart from the US-fed media I'd been exposed to. It was refreshing to talk to someone with such depth and insight. Nuts and bolts about existence without the candy-coating. Stumbling upon wise men is always a treat.
Neng is an inspiring optimizer - if ever there is one. She has a keen eye for inefficiencies and quick to suggest a better alternative. She seems to be the go-to of Chiang Mai's movers when things need to be done. And yes, I somehow felt that sense of assurance that when she takes on the job, it's as good as done - and done right the first time!
Yang exudes exuberance of youth - defying convention and braving what's out there. We casually met at Kad Suan Kaew and that was followed by a breakfast invite at Nawa Saraan where long engaging talks merged seamlessly with sumptuous kitchen offerings. We could have hung-out more, but something kept getting in the way. Anyway, just feeling grateful the moment was there to be celebrated with.
Power of Laugh
Saffiya is the default laughter yoga teacher. Attend her Tuesday class and you get your healthy dose of therapeutic laughter that boosts the immune system and literally uplifts your spirits. It's a case of fake it til you make it. Yes, according to the newest Epigenetics technology, consciousness architectures our biology - it's not entirely about genes. This explains a claim how someone cured himself of cancer by laughing his way out of it. It is sad to see her leave Chiang Mai. Her contagious laughter will sorely be missed!
I met Goi at Saffiya's yoga class and we started hanging-out up until she left - at least, that's how I remember it. She'd be a regular at Nawa Saraan where we ate, indulged in caffeine and just carried on with our conversation, wherever it took us. We spent a hot afternoon dipping at Nawa Sheeva's infinity pool and perhaps even went to see a free movie at Maya. It seems like a blur now, but the lingering feeling is that of fondness and affection. Hopefully, she visits Chiang Mai again.
Soul Yoga - Wise Ways Of Living
Apart from being a yoga teacher at Yoga in the Park - Chiang Mai, Sabrina is also a vegan and animal rights crusader. When not teaching yoga, she's out there in an animal rescue center doing her part in the service of those who cannot speak for themselves. She loves hiking and frequents the Doi Suthep area for bliss and tranquility.
Chiang Mai Holistic
Ali is a refreshing take on "conscious" people. He doesn't look the part - no dreadlocks, no elephant pants or lavish ornamental body accessories, but he walks the talk. Compare that to the gamut of babas of Rishikesh who look the part - beard, saffron robe and ashen face paint, but would control, collect money and if you're a girl, touch you inappropriately (I know, it's a handful). He founded Chiang Mai Holistic which hosts events designed to foster human evolution in consciousness. On the side, he also extends himself to the rehab of those with addiction problems. He talks straight bordering on irreverence without the esoteric 50,000 ft-above-sea-level intelectual discourse.
Mimi C. | mimi_dance_with_it
As a performance artist with talent to wit, Mimi is a refreshing departure from what could be called conventional. She is on the far end of conventional as she pushes herself, her art and her audience's buttons while performing on onstage. Across the coffee table, her mind is as free as her art. People like her add color and animation to what could be drab-reality.
Alan & Nicola
Alan: Ecstatic Dance
Nicola: Nicola Symons Yoga
In my mind, I refer to them as the dynamic duo...2 sides of a coin complementing each other in a loving, respectful and supportive union. They are fiercely independent - so I'm not talking co-dependence here where when I say 2 sides of the same coin. It's just a wonderful togetherness where they can finish each other's sentences but also don't need to utter a word to be understood. Maybe I'm saying too much given my short acquaintance with them. But I do love this couple. I'm glad to have them as regulars to Nawa Saraan's coffee gathering.
A random conversation at Thapae East with Iza allowed me to invite her for coffee at Nawa Saraan before her departure from Chiang Mai. Beautiful and an accomplished performance dancer, I found her grounded with a good head above her shoulders. I got the impression she's immersed into dance and somehow interprets life to be a kind of dance. I can only wonder how she is on stage pouring her heart out translating music into a poetic and graceful movement.
Ying's Thai Massage Courses
Ying started out a referral to a good massage therapist. I've had 2 sessions with her where she identified knots on my back. What? I do my asanas almost daily with long held stretches. And I have knots? Oh well, it only shows some muscle groups need more than stretches - they need to be kneaded and dissolved. Anyway, because of her professional competence, I made a collaborative offer to work together with her in holding courses at the hotel. In a way this paved the way for a looming friendship.
Prajna Yoga Shala
Amm is a Sivananda yoga teacher in Chiang Rai. That's how I met her 3 years ago when I offered to conduct a class. I'm just glad she visited Chiang Mai to conduct a course. It was good catching up, although we didn't really have much time to reconnect. I still remember her as the lady who put up a yoga studio in Chiang Rai and empowered the women who attended her class. This empowerment led the women to realize they were getting the short-end of the stick in their marriage. Result? They all left their husbands/boyfriends and are happier for it! Careful when you practise yoga - the transformation can profoundly affect your life!
Meeting Yvonne at Heart Space during World Meditation Day started a looming friendship that spawned long coffee talks, pizza-making and chillout time. If we don't agree on something, we just agree to disagree. Sometimes, we don't even talk - we just do our own independent work together in the same space. It's a getting-to-know-you process that's all good.
He's the 2nd Pakistani I've met in Chiang Mai. I don't meet too many Pakistanis along my travels. Hasan is smart and faced with a fork on the road - get a conventional job suited to his education as a mechanical engineer or follow his bliss into an unknown and esoteric path. Given my experience and insight, I did most of the sharing...of what it's like to live a nomadic life as a renunciate where you rely on the charity of a benevolent universe for your survival and eventually for life's well-kept Easter Eggs. I straddled between solid ground and the ephemeral glimpses of staying on the path, converging 2 worlds as one singularity. It would be too abstact to most 9-5ers, but Hasan gets it.
Vaida & Scott
Conscious Fit Coaches
They are perhaps yoga's equivalent to Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie - the dream couple. With their stunning visual appeal on the outside and conscious inner workings within, it's an inside-out total package. Attending Vaiya's yoga class with strong dance-undertones where we moved freely with closed eyes was like dancing while nobody's watching. We were given freedom of movement and exercisable options to find our range of motion. Her killer-sequence killed me on the mat a few times only to be resurrected out of Savasana like a phoenix rising out of its ashes.
Neal just postponed our coffee gathering while I was talking to a strong yogini attending his class. So, I looked at her and asked, "Wanna join me for coffee?" It was a wonderful beginning of long talks at Nawa Saraan about 'the journey' and staying on the path. She spans a broad spectrum playing hard on the urban jungle while walking placidly on the meditative realm.
It's amazing how some young people (Katie is 24) "get it" at such a tender age. When the awakening came to me, I wasn't a spring chicken anymore - divorced, going through mid-life, with a whole life behind me. As the saying goes in the movie Casablanca, "this could be a beginning of beautiful friendship."
The last chapter hasn't been written yet. As Chiang Mai's peoplescape continue to shift its sands, I'm sure to meet more magnificent lives who will positively shape mine. Always grateful for the abundance, the energy and the opportunity. Thank you Chiang Mai 🙏❤
--- Gigit (TheLoneRider)
YOGA by Gigit | Learn English | Travel like a Nomad | Donation Bank
Chiang Mai Peoplescape blogs
- Fascinating Peoplescape of Chiang Mai II May 22, 2019
- Peoplescape of Chiang Mai Jan 24 - Mar 13, 2019
(May 29, 2019)What a beautiful post 🙂❤ thank you so much for your words here x
Power of Laugh
(May 28, 2019) Awwwww thanks for the good words! I'll miss CM and the beautiful opportunity to teach laughter yoga in the park and attend yoga in the park.. 2 more weeks! ❤ 🙂
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Next stop: The Outsiders
Chiang Mai, Thailand
Chiang Mai International Airport
Nong Buak Hard Park - free yoga classes daily
Arun Dara Villa - 7 exclusive rooms, 1 swimming pool for every room, grand opening
Nawa Sheeva Hotel - big rooms, high ceiling, salt-water pool, restaurant, cafe
Nawa Saraan Hotel - low density (4 spacious rooms), stone garden setting, Koi fish pond, Old City location
La Pizza Chiang Mai - Italian pizza, pasta, wine, dessert, coffee
Natural Bird Nest by Burapa - authentic bird's nest soup
ITM - International Training Massage School - Chiang Mai's most prestigious massage school
Float Chiang Mai - sensory deprivation float pod
Zira Spa - upscale authentic Thai massage and spa treatment
Tawan Bike - motorcycle rental | +66 91 635 2863 | Si Phum, Mueang Chiang Mai District, Chiang Mai 50200
Chiang Mai FYI / Tips
- crop-burning season in Chiang Mai is between late Feb to early April. But laws change everytime. This year, 2019, there is a 61-day ban on burning so the farmers started burning early. When my plane was approaching Chiang Mai on Jan 24, 2019, there was already a thick blanket of smog covering the entire city (and beyond). But within the city itself, you won't feel it (but that doesn't mean the air is healthy). To monitor air conditions in real time, refer to site: Chiang Mai Air Pollution: Real-time Air Quality Index (AQI)
- hot season begins March and lasts until June
- wet season begins July and lasts until September
- best time to visit Chiang Mai is mid-September to mid-February
- visit Chiang Mai between October and April - best time, without the monsoon rains
- you have to try Khao Soi, this is north Thailand's culinary staple
- 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 red cab (songthao) 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!
- shared red taxi (songthao) - B30 standard fare plying all over Old City
- 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.
Blues/Jazz Bars in Chiang Mai
- North Gate Pub - at Chang Phueg Gate, great Tuesday jam session, Blues on Sundays by the 11pm band
- 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
- Optimizing Life thru Heart Math May 8, 15 and 22, 2019
- Movie Review: Aladdin (2019) June 13, 2019
- Connective Cacao and Sound Journey June 12, 2019
- Movie Review: X-Men: Dark Phoenix (2019) June 6, 2019
- Blues Music Scene in Chiang Mai June 6, 2019
- Movie Review: John Wick 3 - Parabellum (2019) June 4, 2019
- Hatha Slow Flow with Neil Jefferson June 3, 2019
- Meditating with One Million Meditators Movement June 1, 2019
- Vinyasa Happy Flow Series by Vaida May 31, 2019
- Muay Thai at the Chiang Mai Boxing Stadium May 30, 2019
- Yoga Flow Through the 7 Chakras May 30, 2019
- The Outsiders (people you need to push out of your sacred circle) May 31, 2019
- Fascinating Peoplescape of Chiang Mai II May 22, 2019
- World Meditation Day at Heart Space May 21, 2019
- Movie Review: Avengers: Endgame (2019) May 14, 2019
- Movie Review: Arctic (2018) May 13, 2019
- Abs Yoga May 12, 2019
- Kundalini and Vinyasa Yoga with Nicola Symons May 10, 2019
- Secret Sunrise Interactive Dance May 9, 2019
- Tok Sen Massage from Ying May 8, 2019
- Bruschetta: Nawa Saraan Style Apr 22, 2019
- Thai Cooking at Pra Nang Thai Cookery School Apr 20, 2019
- Movie Review: Hellboy (2019) Apr 15, 2019
- Bonding with the Elephants in Chiang Mai Apr 11, 2019
- Ziplining in Chiang Mai with Eagle Track Zipline Apr 10, 2019
- Movie Review: Shazam! (2019) Apr 4, 2019
- Movie Review: Captive State (2019) Mar 27, 2019
- Getting Thai Massage from Chiang Mai's Best (Lar Thanakrit Khamtanong) Mar 21, 2019
- Movie Review: Captain Marvel (2019) Mar 19, 2019
- Being the Soul of Nawa Saraan Hotel Mar 18, 2019
- Peoplescape of Chiang Mai Jan 24 - Mar 13, 2019
- Movie Review: Vox Lux (2018) Mar 2, 2019
- Movie Review: The Favourite (2018) Feb 25, 2019
- Curing Cancer with Yoga? Feb 21, 2019
- Movie Review: Alita Battle Angel Feb 19, 2019
- International Training Massage School (ITM): Level 1 Feb 11-15, 2019
- Sandesch Album Launch by Christoph Joerg Feb 13, 2019
- Movie Review: Spider-Man - Into the Spider-Verse (2018) Feb 3, 2018
- Movie Review: Green Book Jan 30, 2019
- Meditation in a Sensory Deprivation Tank at Float Chiang Mai Jan 29, 2019
- Bohemian Rhapsody (2018) Jan 27, 2019
- Movie Review: Aquaman Jan 26, 2019
- Reiki Share at the Mastermind Brain Spa Jan 26, 2019
- Resuming Life in Chiang Mai Jan 24, 2019
- 4 Days in Chiang Mai at Nawa Saraan Hotel Jan 2-6, 2019
- 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
- Laughter Yoga with Saffiya Arnous 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
Travel Tips for Thailand
How to Get a 60-Day Thai Tourist Visa and then Extend by another 30 Days
- Bring the following to the Thai embassy:
a) proof of money (bank statement will suffice)
b) flight booking to Thailand
c) onward flight back to your country from Thailand
d) filled-in tourist visa form
e) 2 passport pictures
f) hotel booking in Thailand (they didn't ask me for this but better be safe)
- After handing over all the documents, they will ask you to come pick your passport with the visa the following day from 4 to 5pm. That's it!
60-Day Thai Tourist Visa
NOTE: There is no need to go back to your country to get the Thai tourist visa. Any major city with a Thai Embassy will do. Apparently there is also no need to have an invitation from a Thai establishment to justify the visa.
- bring the following to the Immigration Office:
a) passport (make sure your Tourist Visa hasn't expired yet)
b) Baht 1900
c) photocopy of your passport + visa duration date stamp + TM6 card (white immigration card) and sign all the copies
d) completed TM7 visa extension form (available at the Immigration Office)
e) one 4cmx6cm passport picture
- submit the above to the Front Desk. They will give you a stub with your number on it. Take a seat and wait for your number to be called
- when your number is called, your picture will be taken. Then go back to your seat. They will call you again.
- when they call you again, they'll give you your passport with your extended visa. That's it!
- when there are no lines, the whole process can take only 10 minutes
NOTE: When your 60-day visa is close to expiry and you want to extend your stay. No need to leave Thailand.
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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