Life in Chiang Mai
Living in Chiang Mai from
a newcomer’s perspective
By Nicôle Rossetti le Strange
I’d been getting really itchy feet for a while; we’d been living in the same
house for six years, which is the longest I’ve lived anywhere in my entire
life - so when Kevin (my partner) suggested that since his temporary
contract with the British Red Cross was coming to an end, we should go
travelling, it seemed like the perfect time to go off on another adventure.
We gave the matter some thought, although admittedly, not much, and decided
that Thailand seemed a viable option. Kevin had stayed in Bangkok a couple
of years ago (for work) but I’d never been to Thailand. If I’m honest, Asia
has never been somewhere I’ve had a burning desire to visit but once he
mooted Thailand, I thought, why not? We talked about it for a day, asked
some friends if they’d like to rent our house (they said yes), applied for
visas, booked flights, and began the mammoth task of packing up our house.
That was in February – by the beginning of March, we were living in Chiang
Mai, and by the middle of the month, had rented a condo!
So what’s it like to live in Chiang Mai? Fantastic! Thais here are
incredibly friendly and laid back (apart from the occasional grumpy
songthaew driver!). But it’s not just that; it’s not how cheerful everyone
is, nor the fact that so many people smile and say hello as we walk along
the street, it’s actually the kindness and utter generosity of spirit of
people in Chiang Mai. In my opinion, they are truly lovely; we’ve been shown
nothing but respect, and we’ve never experienced any of the negativity we’ve
heard some Westerners complain about. We have made several good friends
here, and have found that people have gone out of their way to welcome us to
their city, have introduced us to fantastic places, wonderful people, and of
course, amazing foods!
While I am without doubt, a food-lover, Thai food has never been high on my
list. In Europe (particularly the UK), Thai restaurants offer pretty
standard fare, and it is a great shame that what seems to be most popular
there is the kind of food which is difficult for me, i.e. food heavily-laden
with chilies. It’s not that I don’t like chilies; it’s that too much
actually makes me physically ill. Happily, in Chiang Mai, there is a wealth
of food to choose from. Most of the Western food is, in my opinion, average;
fortunately, Chiang Mai also has an incredible range of Thai food on offer,
and I have discovered many dishes which I can actually eat without being
ill. The best thing about the food here though, is the street vendors;
sometimes we have no idea what the food will taste like but that’s what
makes it such a culinary adventure!
And then there’s the weather! Like the people, Thai weather is warm, sunny,
and puts a definite smile on the face. And when it rains? Wow – dramatic
doesn’t even come close! Of course, there’s also the wildlife, the plant
life... and the photo opportunities! There’s always something interesting
and/or beautiful to catch my eye!
When I say that Chiang Mai is a great place to live, I really do mean it.
There is no one, single, thing which makes it so, rather, it is a
combination of many elements - some tangible, some not - which make this
city feel like home... we love Chiang Mai!
|The Chiang Mai Mail is publishing a series of
articles on residents’ experiences of life in Chiang Mai. If you
would like to contribute please email [email protected]