A soi is a small laneway between two major roads. They are numbered, odd numbers on one side, even numbers on another. There are usually several soi between each road. As I walk around the old town of CM I take a different soi each time. This is a great way to see life as it really is for Thai people. Sometimes you get a big surprise, a lovely courtyard with fountains and flowers or a fantastic cafe run by a cooking school.
Often you see family life being enacted before your eyes. Tiny stores, selling very few items that seem to be open 24 hours a day. Micro-businesses, tailors, laundresses, shoe repair, hairdressers, massage, and tiny cafes and stalls of street food.
After visiting the dentist here yet again, I took a small soi with lovely old teak houses and gardens which suddenly opened out into what I can only describe as the Yorkdale of Chiang Mai. In the middle of the average commercial and residential mix were several small side streets of amazing small shops and galleries.
This was not at all in a tourist area but in an area outside the moat that surrounds the old town and close to the university. UCM. I spent a happy couple of hours browsing. A couple of the shops had wonderful old jewelry pieces from surrounding countries and ancient tribal beads. Most were very expensive but I did manage to find a piece of carved lapis set in silver with lapis beads. I was wearing it as I write this and have just broken the string and lapis beads are all around me. Guess I should have known better than to wear it but it's so lovely. Now I will have to wait until I get home to safely re-string it.
Looking at some pictures of Chang Mai, Thailand. the first one is of my drug store. Not exactly, Shoppers! the third one is my $8 a night apt building. price includes maid service three times a week and the location is in the center of the old moated and walled city.
The Flower Festival is one I always look forward to. Starbucks has a cafe with a roof-top balcony so I can look down on the activities and stay cool.
Elephants are a big part of life. Tree trimmers stand on their backs with machetes as they walk along the street. Construction workers use them to pass up lumber. My pictures were taken at the elephant rescue farm. first the massage. second elephants painting (they sell the paintings as a fundraiser and I bought one, it hangs in my upstairs hallway) third log rolling.
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 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.