Posted by: facetothewind | December 23, 2013

Jai Yen and the Sunday Market in Chiang Mai


This is my room in Chiang Mai — just me and the clarinet and my 3 screenless windows on the world. I’m strangely happy in a hotel room with not much more than you see above. Sure, Thailand is polluted and noisy. But at least I can walk out the door and immediately be with people. Friendly people. The only time you ever hear angry words and raised voices are from Westerns. Usually it’s Israelis, Americans, French, and Germans who lose their composure first. Thai people are all about the jai yen — the “cool heart.” They simply don’t lose their cool. To lose your temper is considered poor upbringing and they feel sorry for us. But they won’t fight back. They simply disappear you.

The Thai are not a passionate people, they’re cool kittens. It’s good training for a person with a very hot heart. I am working on being more Thai…just so long as I don’t lose my ability to fix things. Thai people never fix ANYTHING right, dammit! They’re OK with brokenness and mess. What about my bathroom sink that is not attached to the wall and the toilet seat that isn’t screwed on right and slides to the side when I sit on it?!! And what about the the dirty air filter in the AC, huh?!! Ok, calm down. Cool heart, remember? Ah, smile and take a deep breath of filthy air. Now that’s Thailand. And however they came to be this way, they are an undeniably happy people and it’s contagious. I smile more here. For all our privilege in the America, we’re such an unhappy and angry lot. It’s such good medicine to be here.

Anyway, when I’m not in my room practicing my smiles, playing clarinet, or designing clothes, I might be at the fabulous outdoor markets. Here’s a video of the market (with a couple little other moments thrown in). Stay tuned to the end so you can see a VERY cute ending. (Though it’s in English, I have no idea what they’re singing. Maybe something about a fox and a duck?)


And here are a few photos…

Thousands of people come out to enjoy the great food, the crafts, the music and the only time you don't have cars and motorbikes all over you.

Thousands of people come out to enjoy the great food, the crafts, the music and the only time you don’t have cars and motorbikes all over you. (Click to enlarge.)


Ooodles of noodles. That’s like 18 square feet of pad Thai.


Forgot what this is called, but it is a leaf stuffed with bitty bits of yumminess. Spicy and sweet. Very Thai – just a feast for the tongue.


The hill tribesman who presents his indigo batik work at the market. Lovely stuff. All hand made and natural.


I bought one bandana as a special treat.


Glass blowing.


Thailand isn’t known for its particularly good taste in art. In fact, I have yet to see any original art here that I like. But it’s fun to see the colors at the market knowing that I can safely go home with none of THAT in my luggage.


What is Thailand if not colorful?


I ducked into a temple for a little refuge from the market madness only to find that in this case, the view from the rear was better…



  1. Lovely video and photos. Makes it feel like we’re there! As for the song, what they’re trying to sing is that crazy old pop hit, “Who Let the Dogs Out?!”

    • Ahah! I like the boys’ version way better than the original. Thanks for helping me with that.

      Sent from my iPhone5


  2. They’re singing “What Did the Fox Say?” You can hear the original here:

    • Thank you RB (whoever you are!) – that is indeed what they’re singing. Thanks for solving the mystery!!

  3. […] Being back in a city had its ups and downs- it’s nice to get a decent cup of coffee, stock up on travel supplies at a modern mall, eat at vegetarian restaurants or get a craft beer on tap at half the price of back home. At the same time, cities come with a higher concentration of westerners and everything that comes with it- I’m convinced that the greatest danger to my health in Chiang Mai were westerners on motorbikes who don’t seem to be able to fall into the rhythm of traffic the way in which Thais do, it’s as if they can’t tell when to speed up versus when to be patient- or that they lack jai yen (“cool heart”) as it was described to me by another traveller. […]

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