Monday, August 10, 2009

Loving Chiang Mai

Ok, maybe I am a bit of an addict. A whore, even. But toss a temple, Buddha, dragon or elephant at me and I am all yours. Throw them at me all at once and I become something of a screamer. I’ll even beg for more. Bring it on and keep it coming. Yes, yes, yes! That’s it…

Chiang Mai seems to know this, and how. The whole city seems built with only those four images in mind, and I keep walking from temple to temple trying to get my next fix. Every temple I see leaves me wanting more and more and more and I fear I may end up overdoing it.

And being in a city with over four hundred temples, temptation is everywhere. I have even tried promising myself that ‘this one is the last one’ and then I see a golden pagoda and I give into the urge the binge. I feel embarrassed by my lack of willpower as I succumb to my desires, feeding them. And feeding them only makes them hungrier. It is a vicious circle in which I find myself and I just can’t get enough.

Chiang Mai is absolutely gorgeous, and has a laid back vibe. While Bangkok is all about faster and now, Chiang Mai is all about doing it slower, taking the time and doing it right. No rushing here. Service is slower, people walk slower, drive slower. This makes it so much nice to just walk around and explore all the little nooks and crannies. And that is how Chiang Mai is to be discovered. Slowly and like a lover, taking the time to find and enjoy all the secret places that bring so much pleasure. I started with the Lonely Planet walking tour and after ten minutes decided to just make my own way. From pretty much each temple, another temple can be seen. And if not, just walk for a minute or two, something is bound to be there. Walking down almost any street or even alleyway is almost guaranteed to uncover a lonely temple off the touristy path.

But unfortunately, like it happens so many times, it is over before it feels like it even began and while I would love for it to go on and on, my time in Chiang Mai is coming to an end. I am not sure yet where I should go. I am thinking of either heading more north to Chiang Rai, or heading east to Nong Khai for a few lazy days sitting by the Mekong or perhaps on a slowboat going a bit down the river. I am thinking of crossing over into Laos, but not sure yet. But I will figure that out later. Right now, I am basking in the afterglow with a smile that says I have been satisfied yet left wanting more.

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