Chiang Mai, Thailand my winter home…

Chiang Mai, Thailand my winter home…

Novice monks at the Chiang Mai Gate market

This is my fourth winter coming to Chiang Mai and each year it feels more and more like my second home. I stay at the same apartment hotel “Smith Residence” each time and they always make sure that there is a room waiting for me.  I have begun to know the streets, the coffee shops and markets as well as any city in the world.

I rent a motor scooter when coming here for $80 a month and I can zip around town to the places outside the old city like Airport Plaza which has a Major Cinema. The movies are in english and it is  usual to hit the movies once a week. It is a treat because in much of the developing world movies are not available to me. Four years ago there were far fewer cars on the road and driving my motor scooter did not seem such a brave thing to do. However, the number of cars appears to have doubled and I am getting less devil may care in my driving habits and more cautious of the clueless drivers around me.

Chiang Mai, Thailand my winter home…

Amulet seller and at the morning clothing market.

Chiang Mai is divided into two areas “Inside the Moat” and “Outside the Moat”. The old city is surrounded by a moat and what is left of the 700 year old brick walls that once protected the city from the neighboring kingdoms. I live outside the moat, but only by a block. It is a choice to live out of the old city because it is less densely populated and quieter but many of the younger travelers, largely backpackers, want to be where all the bars are located and the action is located…Not Me, I want a good night’s sleep.

To live by the Chiang Mai Gate, which is a ever changing landscape of commerce and religion, is one of the boons of living at Smith’s.  Just before dawn as the vegetable market opens, the monks start streaming down the street.  They come from one of a dozen of Buddhist Monasteries in the immediate vicinity, to beg for offerings. Kneeling Thais line the street seeking a blessing and offering food or flowers in return.

Chiang Mai, Thailand my winter home…

Receiving a blessing in the used clothing market.

As the sun comes up clothing vendors start arriving to fill the small square… assembling metal racks and filling them with men’s and women’s used clothing. At the same time a couple of food carts pull up to offer up traditional Thai breakfast and they fill a corner of the square with small folding tables and chairs. By 11 AM all this is taken down and for a few hours the open space is filled with meandering tourist and flocks of pigeons.

Chiang Mai, Thailand my winter home…

Fruit stands at the Chiang Mai Gate Market

I love to watch this transition…maximum use of an urban space. By 4pm the vegetable vendors start to disappear and food vendors start arriving. Carts and scooters with sidecars arrive and depart, umbrellas are put up and lights strung, folding tables and chairs are placed in the square. On the side of the road where the morning vegetable sellers set up now the take-away food vendors line the street.

Chiang Mai, Thailand my winter home…

Stalls line the narrow lanes at the Chiang Mai Gate

That is why I love to stay in my Chiang Mai neighborhood…it is vibrant, dynamic and filled with life all hours of the day.  Between the Gate and my residence Wualai Road angles off from the square. This road during the day is filled with silversmiths, pounding out ornate bowls to be used in the temples for offerings but on Saturday night it changes into a open air market and the street is lined on both sides  with booths filled with colorful traditional Thai crafts and clothing. From early evening till about 11pm the street is heaving with tourist buying things to take home as souvenirs and eating street food.

Chiang Mai, Thailand my winter home…

Little streets are called Soi…this one behind the market

Every little street (called soi) or alley way is filled with an amazing array of fruits, vegetables and grains…along with street food of every description. No, they defy description and I am too much of a chicken to try much of it. They would consider me a culinary wuss.

Never a dull moment here at the Chiang Mai Gate….lots of color and texture.  Come check it out.

About Larry Bosco

In 2010 I had one of those “Is this all there is” moments and so in January 2011 I retired from Real Estate Appraising, sold off all my worldly goods and headed out as a solo traveler in search of a new place to live. Since then I’ve traveled around the world, made new friends and had many great adventures and some not so great. After staying almost a year in Cuenca, Ecuador I have headed back to South East Asia where I began the journey in 2011. Currently I am living in Chiang Mai, Thailand
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6 Responses to Chiang Mai, Thailand my winter home…

  1. Claudia says:

    You have certainly given a colorful account of your daily life there. Are you now in Chiang Mai or Turkey?

  2. David Donaldson says:

    Larry: Enjoy reading your articles, but I have the same question that Claudia asked. I get the impression that there is some time lag between postings and your current whereabouts. I recall reading your blog entry about Feitia ( spelling??) in Turkey. Louis and I were there a few years ago and we loved the place. Particularly Yeddibarunula, which is/was a hotel atop the cliff. A bit difficult to drive to but worth the excursion.

    • Larry Bosco says:

      David, Yes, there is a lag time on the blog. I am in Myanmar for a few weeks and then head to Turkey for spring. Looking to get an apartment in Fethiye and make it my home base. Hope all is well with you.

  3. Stefanie says:

    Well, now I officially miss Chiang Mai. I wish I could have dinner at my favorite stall at Chiang Mai Gate tonight. Hope you are enjoying Myanmar!

  4. Bernie R says:

    Hey Larry,
    Welcome back to CM! Liked your current blog re CM!

    For some reason, I no longer have your private email address…. If you will, please, send me you personal email address. I have something to discuss with you…. Thank you!

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