Top 6--Believe me there are more than 6, but these are just some highlights
1. Seeing Doi Suthep
One of the things that drew me to Chiang Mai, more than Bangkok, is that Chiang Mai is surrounded by nature. Outside the bustling city center, is Doi Suthep settled on the top of a lush mountain. Needless to say, it is pretty awesome to drive up a mountain to see a golden temple contrasting with the deep green of the tropical jungle. Not to mention, we can see Doi Suthep and the entire mountain from my school--what a once-in-a-lifetime view!
2. Watching my first lady boy show
Confession: My guilty television show is Rupaul's Drag Race, and I don't feel bad about watching it. Going to the cabaret was my first foray into the drag world and it was completely worth it. The lady boys were gorgeous, they sang and danced, and I went surrounded by some of the best people in Chiang Mai.
3. Swimming at Bua Thong, the Sticky Waterfall
Much like the mountain that houses Doi Suthep in Chiang Mai, another natural wonder that attracted me to Chiang Mai was the Sticky Waterfall. It was something that sounded to good to be true, but the waterfall is, in fact, sticky. It is impossible to slip on the rocks, even as water rushes over you. When I went to the falls, I hadn't been swimming in ages, something I love, so it was absolutely amazing. The weather was hot and sunny, while the water was cool and fresh. Visiting Bua Thong was an incredible experience and helped me to appreciate the nature of Chiang Mai. Seeing such a spectacular natural wonder reminded me how amazing earth is and how lucky we are to live here.
4. Thrifting and junk shopping
I inherited a love of all things vintage, junk, and thrift from my parents. Never in my wildest dreams did I expect Chiang Mai to be a hub of awesome vintage and thrift. The city has proven me wrong. In the past 6 months, I found some incredible pieces from vintage dresses from the 1960's to two pairs of perfectly high-waisted vintage Levi's to vintage décor pieces like dishes. Every single time I go thrifting, I find something AMAZING!
5. All the markets
From the Night Market to the fruit market to Wararot Market, there are some incredible shopping haunts in Chiang Mai. The carry all kinds of cool things like clothes, souvenirs, food and everything in between. I could spend a very long time hopping from market to market to look at all of the interesting stuff. My personal favorite things to look for are jewelry, textiles, and interesting tea blends (my personal favorites have been traditional Thai tea and lemongrass!)
6. My friends
Man oh man, have I made some incredible friends from all over the place from England to India to South Africa to America to Australia. I've met some of the coolest, most interesting people in this city and I'm so grateful to have every, single one of them in my life. It always amazes me how quickly people develop meaningful relationships into life-long friendships; that's one of the beauties of being human. Cheesy? Yes. True? Absolutely.
Future 6--everything I still need to do
1. Feed the monks
It's no secret that I love seeing monks. It amazes me that these men, and some women, give up the pleasures and conveniences of modern life, to live simply and strive for inner peace and understanding. Every time I see a monk, I'm attracted to their golden robes and enjoy being reminded of the "bigger picture" of life, and that the things I stress about are not that important in the grand scheme of the universe. At one of the temples, people can bring breakfast to the monks and feed them since the monks cannot eat in the afternoon and can only eat the food that is brought to them. I really want to have the opportunity to feed the monks and get the chance to chat with some of them and learn more about Buddhism.
2. Watch a muay Thai fight
Normally, fighting isn't my cup of tea. However, when in Thailand why not watch a fight or two? At the very least, it will be cool to learn a bit more about the origins of this type of fighting and see it in action.
3. See an elephant
Unfortunately, many of the elephant attractions in Thailand allow visitors to ride the elephants which is horrible because it hurts the animals because elephants do not handle weight on their backs very well. For me, it is important to make sure that I visit elephants that are being treated fairly and ethically. I have found some reputable sanctuaries that I hope to visit in the springtime!
4. Take a cooking class
Sole reason: I love food and eating. I figure, it is worth it to learn how to cook some Traditional Thai dishes to share with those at home!
5. Go to Doi Inthanon
While technically not in Chiang Mai, Doi Inthanon is the tallest mountain in Thailand and it is relatively close to the city. I think it would be awesome to say I went to the tallest mountain in this country and maybe even go camping there!
6. Get better at eating spicy food
Let me just say, the food in Thailand is spicy. By the end of my time here, I would like to be better at handling spice. While I've improved, I still have a long way to go. Ideally, I'd like to be able to eat an entire Thai chili without thinking I am going to die from excessive heat! Fingers crossed I will be able to do it!
And there you have it, 6 highlights and 6 future plans! Life is a daring adventure and I am going to keep daring greatly and adventuring around Chiang Mai and the rest of the world!
This photo sums up how happy I am to be in Thailand! This was taken in the mountains near the Bua Thong Waterfall.