Chiang Mai is the capital of northern Thailand and the second-largest city in the country. There is lots of development going on here but some of the old things remain. Some lovely old traditions, some quirky stuff.
DOGS. The Thai love their dogs and the dogs seem as mellow as their owners. but why, in 80-degree weather, do the dogs wear coats and sweaters?
BEGGERS. I hardly see anyone begging, not like Toronto and no one seems to sleep in the streets unless they are young backpackers.
MOUNTAIN BIKING. Very popular and easily obtainable, but only down the mountain - never up=hill. They bus you and your bike to the top and you ride down!!!
SCOOTERS. Everywhere, some with two people and two children squished between them. Lots of school kids riding scooters, sort of like borrowing mums car. There is no minimum age for driving and no test to pass, yet there do not seem to be many accidents. Thai drivers are very polite and no one is in that much of a hurry.
SMILES. Everyone smiles at strangers and friends alike. If I went around TO smiling at everyone I would probably get arrested.
APPEASING THE GODS. Little shrines with a few flowers, a bit of food, and maybe some incense. Old ladies walking around carrying big trays with small triangle-shaped baskets containing tiny birds. You pay her one or two dollars to release the birds and the golds will smile on you. Pillars topped miniature temples outside most buildings, on street corners, and in parks.
MONKS. In their saffron robes, monks are everywhere. It is very bad luck for the monk to be touched by anyone, even brushing past them is a no-no. Makes it a bit hard on crowded streets.
FOOD. Cooking is everywhere on the streets. Sometimes the cooking is on the road and the tables by the buildings and passers-by walk between the two.
SIDEWALKS. Sidewalks belong to whoever gets there first. Parked cars and scooters, tuk-tuks, food vendors, craft vendors, signs for trekking, and a 120 B bus ride to Bangkok. I spend halff my time walking in the gutters.
INTERNET CAFES. Thousands of them and they are always busy, often with students playing games. I could go on and on. It's a fascinating place to be and two months does not seem long enough.