By Abir Mishra
Most often we may come across Thailand for its expansive beaches, blue waters and tropical highlights. The truth of the situation, as one may see more often than not with any exploration of a nation, is that much more lies below the superficiality of the Nth resort advertised. Such is the case in Chiang Mai, Thailand. Although the fourth most populated city in the country, it is often sidelined on account of its mountainous nature.
Much more lies below the superficiality of the Nth resort advertised
Of note, I would say, is that Chiang Mai encompasses a breadth of the Thai lifestyle sufficient in conveying some of everything – what more could you ask for from a week abroad? Everything from elaborate temples and a thriving night market to white water river rafting and mountainous trekking are possible within the area, making opportunities to explore or even selectively plan what you’d like to do straightforward and even grace throughout.
The city is renowned for its preservation of Buddhist heritage, dating back to the 14th century in the form of temples, the ancient architecture standing proud some seven hundred years on. Most astounding to me was the respect commanded by the structures even now, made understandable in recognition of the reverence paid to them over many centuries. That even now bustling roads and busy hotels give way to structures so monumental, not in magnitude but in significance, cannot be underestimated; it is without reservation symbolic of the foundational importance of respect I have seen amongst the Thai peoples.
A bit of begrudging effort tends to go a long way
Alongside the many trinkets and baubles on display at the night markets is an astonishing choice of local food and drink – now this is where I believe the majority of one’s time at the market must be spent. A remarkable selection of stir fry, curries and more were being freshly prepared, encapsulating the market in many an aroma and spots of colour. Where you’d be led to believe that these markets are a dime a dozen, indeed the peculiarities of Northern Thailand shone through for a unique flavour.
Spending a week trekking through thick vegetation, river rapids and paddy fields stretching for miles, on the other hand, was a stark departure from the hubbub of the main town. The humidity of the tropics in the day was juxtaposed quite comfortably with the relatively chilly nights on mountains, making a snug sleeping bag and an experienced local tour guide essential elements to appreciating everything around me. While the more irritating parts of any trip (i.e. having a tent collapse on you at three in the morning) aren’t the most
A snug sleeping bag and an experienced local tour guide were essential elements to appreciating everything around me
Where it is clear that no one experience can properly sample all of what Thailand has to offer, the wideness of the activities participated in allow for an understanding of what is, in my opinion, the most important point of any trip abroad: perspective. Without fail, immersing myself in such a variety of activities was simply invaluable in not just going through the motions as it were, but in taking steps to developing an understanding of the world around us.
Photograph via Pixabay