Posted by: facetothewind | June 29, 2013

Parting Glances Chiang Mai, Thailand


Enjoyed a leisurely week in Chiang Mai while waiting for my visa to Myanmar to be processed. For you hardcore travelers headed to Burma: you can get your visa from Chiang Mai from pretty much any good travel agent. There is a 2,500 THB processing fee + a 5 day wait. Someone will take your passport to Bangkok and stand in line for you and get it stamped and will return it to you safe and sound. Any amount is worth it not to have to return to Bankgok. Also, there are flights from Burma (Myanmar) every Thursday and Sunday on Air Bagan.


So while I waited for the visa, I spent my days sleeping late, wandering about the city doing my favorite thing: scouring. That’s what I call it when I have nothing to do but set out on my bicycle with my camera like I’m looking for something. Usually a theme will emerge.


One day it was temples. How to capture the temples in a way that hasn’t been done a billion times. Temple abstracts and details. I looked for recurring patterns.



What would we tourists do in Southeast Asia if they didn’t have temples?


Yeah, OK, this has been done before—dogs in temples. I couldn’t resist.

Then a mini-theme arrived. Monks and nuns at tables in matching colors…



Scouring with a camera is a great way to get to know a place. Leave the tour book behind and just wander aimlessly. This trip has had a lot of human interaction in it, and not all of it pleasant. So now when I have a free day, I actually look forward to being alone. Well, with my camera, it’s just the two of us and I’m completely content. I put on my earphones and just slip into a visual word.

Here’s another mini-theme that emerged…finding something old amid the new.


There are some old little teak gems in Chiang Mai tucked between a lot of modern crap architecture.


This city has buried most of its past beneath guesthouses, hotels and shops, but if you keep your eyes open and slow down, you can spot an old beauty.


Here’s an old teak house turned into a cafe. I have been to visit this cafe several times. It is in the Wararot market though you’d never know it. It is upstairs, the entrance tucked in the back of an Indian clothing store. But after walking up the gorgeous, smooth teak stairs, look what you find…


The name is Thamel. Try finding it next time you’re in Chiang Mai. You can sit by the window and look out on the street through the windowless shutters of the old Asia.


A little about cats and dogs. Siamese cats abound. It never occurred to me that such an exotic cat bearing Siam’s name would be such a common kitty here in Siam. Most of them are not pets, they’re just wild. They sleep the hot days away in places safe from the wandering wild dogs who torment them. When you rouse them, they reveal turquoise eyes like the waters of the Andaman Sea.


This schnauzer is definitely a pet and belongs to the Tri Gong Guesthouse where I’m staying. He joins the line of schnauzers here with wacky names. Her fellow schnauzers are named Money (the gray one), Whipped Cream (the white one) and now, introducing iPad…


Mee the new puppy named iPad.

Wandering the Wararot fabric market I noticed that Thailand seems to be going through a plaid phase. No complaints from me.


So I had a blue gingham shirt made to order. Perfect fit. $9 includes the sewing and the fabric…


Chiang Mai is a lovely place in some ways. I kind of fell in love with Thailand on this trip. I guess I had to go to Burma to realize how soft and easy Thailand can be. I’ve never gotten sick here, you’re never far from great food and massages. Thai interior design is inviting and pleasant. Everything is cheap for Westerners, the people are friendly and easy-going. What’s not to like? Bankok. You just have to avoid Bangkok.


HOWEVER! It wouldn’t be me to not show you the ugly parts of Chiang Mai. Here’s a truckload of ugly parts. Pig parts. Complete with swarming flies. I nearly vomited as it pulled up behind me at the flower market (of all places). It left me resolute in my conviction to remain pork and beef free…


Here’s the video summary of the week in Chiang Mai where you can see some of the above come to life, even the pig parts.

Next stop: Burma. I will be there until July 18.




  1. Great images, esp. the temple in the stormy cloud background. Your photos always seem fresh to me, even when you do things that have been photographed many times before.

    I’m glad the sight of the animal carcasses made you more detgermined to avoid eating cows and pigs. I bet, though, that the animals whose bodies you saw in that truck had better lives than the factory-farm anmals in this country. I bet they were free-range pigs, or at least allowed some freedom of movement…or so I hope. Enjoy the rice, tofu, veggies, and nuts for me.

  2. Gorgeous photos! You have an unerring eye. I love the white temple w/gold window! Superb! D.

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