Chiang Mai Digest

Dining, Travel and Living in Chiang Mai & Northern Thailand

Chiang Mai is a great place to live. Bangkok Thai will exclaim their envy when they discover you live there. For western (farang) folk it allows for a complete Thai lifestyle or a practically complete western lifestyle. Most of us living here end up choosing a happy medium somewhere in the middle.
 
A few minutes ride out of the city center will put you in to typical Thai neighborhoods. You can integrate into the day-to-day life at any level you wish, should you choose to do so.
Neighborhood local Mini Mart
These local shops, operated out the front door or back-room, are the local gathering places and gossip centers. You can find essentials such as eggs, a shot of whiskey or a packet of cigarettes. Almost every soi has at least one.
Regardless of where you choose to make your home in Chiang Mai there Plenty of markets that cater to western palates and habits. Foods and goods from the U. K. Australia, New Zealand, The U. S. and Europe are available. After sampling the western restaurants across the country; I've come to the conclusion that Chiang Mai offers the best western food restaurants.
Having a Quiet Meal on the Water in Chiang Mai
Huay Tung Tao is a few kilometers north of the Old City. You can swim, rent a boat or, have relaxing snack or meal on the water. The service is unobtrusive, there is no rush.

Thai or Western Style Living?

Thai village life is not for everyone, personal choice. There are high-rise condominiums and gated communities at reasonable prices to live in.
Chiang Mai High Rise Condo
An example of high-rise living in Chiang Mai. This one along the eastern shore of Mae Nam Ping (The Ping River)
We choose to live in a common Thai neighborhood. Our soi was, at one time, a family owned tract of land. Over generations the children took their own plots, married, had children, further divided the land pieces until the neighborhood grew into what it is today.
Our house sits in a compound of three buildings; two houses and a small, single-story, apartment building. As I stroll down to the mini mart to banter with the woman there, buy a bag of sticky rice to go with a dinner of deep fried, fermented pork ribs and garlic I can pick out the progressions from the older family homes to the more recent additions. Nothing on the soi resembles what you might call "modern" except the recent new construction over what was probably the most interesting and oldest house on the block. The owner, a cousin of my landlord, has taken a liking to me for some reason.
Perhaps because I stop and joke with her on my walks. Maybe she has a weakness for tall, long-haired farang. She became my buddy, and my intro into the neighborhood. The operator of the neighborhood gathering point is another sponsor. She introduces me to the local gentlemen as they sit around one of hte concrete tables eating unidentifiable brown goo (tastes much better than it looks!) and drinking white Lao Khao (rice whiskey, more like vodka or Everclear). Once you get past the initial "You like Thailand?" and "You like Thai women?" it can get interesting.