The usual search for accommodation was quick and we checked into Grace's Boutique in the heart of the city early in the day. After procuring a couple of bikes we rode off to learn our way about the town and find the school where Asiana was scheduled to attend the next week.
Chang Mai is about as user friendly as any place we have been on this trip. The city center is contained within a rectangle mote. The traffic is reasonable allowing for easy navigation walking or on bicycle. It is pretty obvious when you are drifting off course when you breach the body of water that creates a box around the city.
The abundance of temples (Wats) at every corner reminds us that we are back in Thailand and any given bike ride one will pass a dozen beautiful ornate structures. This is another cute place I think my mom would enjoy.
In the heat of the day we hopped off the bikes and hopped into the pool at out guest house. I think it is the first pool we have dipped into this whole time. Dropped off a load of laundry and by dusk we were off again getting a feel for the city.
While Asian furthers her skills taking a week long Thai massage course in Chang Mai, I am taking a quick run down to Bali. There is probably a ton of things to do here, but my biggest concern is to make sure that she is in a good space and will be able to get around with no problem. There is probably not a better spot for her to be solo. It's a friendly city with plenty of westerners to mingle with. I think she will be happy and safe here with no shortage of things to do and see.
On our second day we did another bike run to her school trying to find the easiest route and went for a ride around "china town" and the river. Again, we spend a lot of time eating, having ice coffees, and generally popping in and out of shops. There always seems to be a reason to buy something.
In the afternoon we went to a small temple near the guest house to participate in a Buddhist meditation that we had seen open invitations to. We ended up with a small group of people listening to a monk explain the basics of Buddhism. He was super sweet and had a cute sense of humor.
I had taken world religion courses in high school and then took even more in-depth courses in my early college years. I have always known the basic principles and truly agreed that if everyone followed them we would live in a very peaceful world. The two and a half hour chat with the monk was a wonderful reminder of how a simple set of outlined bullet points can hook you up with inner harmony or at least a great guideline.
Although I am not monk and even worse, I rarely quiet my busy mind with meditation, I do think I am pretty Zen. In the moments that I am not vibrating in my highest frequency, my times of disappointment, frustration and heavy ego, I find I am always looking to follow the teachings of the Buddha to give me and those around me peace.
It was good to get an understanding or their day to day life and their education. They don't just sit around meditating all day. They are learning and developing other skills. They are interested in world politics, economics, other religions, foreign languages, and sciences. To me Buddhism is not a religion as much as a way of being. I have to admit, I don't understand why a place needs hundreds of golden statues. I probably do not know any better, but deep down I don't think the Buddha would have really requested to be bowed don't to and iconized. But hey, I don't know much about that stuff anyway.
So, Chang Mai seems really great and I'm sure Asiana will have more insight and thoughts about the place after settling there for more than a week. Part of me wishes I would hanging around for a while longer as well, but of course I am driven to move on... check shit out.
Location:Chang Mai Thailand