We recently spent about a week in Chiang Mai, Thailand. Before we decided to go there, I had never heard of it. Not on the internet, not in class, not in the newspaper (which I don’t really read, but I try to skim the headlines every now and then). I assumed it was a sleepy little Thai village, and I wasn’t too keen on spending an entire week there. But I was totally wrong! Chiang Mai is a big city, with the sixth largest population in the whole country! It was big enough that we decided to hire a guide, Young. He took us around Chang Mai and neighboring Chang Rai. Here are my Northern Thailand highlights and favorites…..
Favorite Activity: A tie between ziplining; an Asian foot spa wherein you put your feet in to a bucket filled with water and tiny fish. The fish eat the dead skin off your toes; and the Thai cooking class. All were so amazing!
Favorite Saying we Learned: “Ladyboy” is Thai slang for someone who is transgender. It’s very common and sometimes it’s hard to tell a ladyboy from a real lady. The Thai people are very accepting and open about this, which is very refreshing and nice.
Favorite Person We Met:
1. The owner of Sabbaba Israeli Restaurant, a very kind middle aged Yemenite-Israeli. He left Israel for Chiang Mai a long time ago, and he really missed his daughters. I think we made his day just by eating at his restaurant and talking to him.2. Young, our tour guide, was recommended to us by an Israeli couple we met in Shanghai and it turns out that he’s only guided Israelis for the last 10 years. He was a little surprised to find out that we were not Israelis. He spoke excellent Hebrew and cooked kosher, plus he was very funny and kind.
Favorite Food: Crickets! We stayed in Chiang Rai for one night, and Young convinced us to try fried crickets! They were surprisingly crunchy and seasoned to perfection- I ended up eating an entire bag!
Other Highlights: Hiking to a waterfall AND ACTUALLY GETTING TO SWIM UNDER IT!; visiting the Hill Tribe people, especially the Karin (long-neck people); visiting a whole bunch of Buddhist temples; visiting the beautiful Royal Gardens; visiting the Chiang Mai night market.
Chiang Mai is a great city with no shortage of activities to keep you busy! We had an amazing time, and I hope that I get to go back there some day.