Thursday, March 10, 2011

Chiang Mai, Thailand - REDUX (2010-11)

(11/3/10-2/28/11) Our second stay in Chiang Mai more about mobility and living, than about adventure and discovery. And, that in a nutshell is what our travels have been all about – seeking a place or places we could call our new home. Nancy and I both agree that Chiang Mai fulfills all of our requirements (at least for seasonal living): perfect climate (for 3-4 mos. a year from mid-Oct. to mid-Feb.) – dry, temps. averaging mid-80’s during the day, and dropping to a refreshingly cool mid-60’s late night; natural beauty; friendly people; virtually no crime (in Chiang Mai); good selection of nice housing; very good low-cost health care; good (and healthy) food; and INCREDIBLE VALUE.

First of all, as noted in our earlier brief Blog entry, we found a much better Condo rental, with beautiful views of the hills surrounding the city from our oversized balcony. Centrally located and close to everything important, less than half the rent of our Condo last year, complete with beautiful lobby occupied by 2 restaurants, a small sundries store; laundramat, 24-hour reception and security, large swimming pool, and best of all one of the better equipped fitness gyms in Chiang Mai for only about US$30/mo.

Second, this time around, we rented a Motorbike (Suzuki 125cc automatic) for the full 4mos. of our stay (for only about $3/day, including full insurance). This really made a difference to us, to have complete convenient mobility. Not only did we become very familiar with every nook and cranny of the city, but really felt like actual residents, but it allowed us to eat with the locals at the street stalls nearly every evening, for healthy filling and delicious meals at the ridiculous price of about US$1.50/per person with beer. We were able to shop and run errands like any other local resident, and felt ‘at home’.

Of course, we revisited most of the same sites of interest, as our new pictures below will show. Since I wrote about these in detail in last year’s Blog, it would be redundant to comment yet again. Instead, we’ll just let the photographs speak for themselves in that regard.

We did do something new of interest, when we attended an invitation-only Wine Tasting, hosted at an upscale restaurant, which provided non-stop superb hot and cold appetizers throughout the evening while we tasted some above-average imported wines from around the World. We also had the opportunity to meet some very nice expats, mostly British and Australian; and, even had our photograph taken and published in the City’s english-language weekly. It was a real privilege for us to drink our fill of wine that night, since the rest of our stay we were limited to our favorite local beer (Chang), due to the mystifyingly high-cost of wines sold in Thailand (e.g. US$10-15 for a bottle of below-average table wine).

While last year’s stay was all about new exploration and adventure, most of our time this year was devoted to just every day living and bumming around on our Motorbike exploring the different neighborhoods and corners of Chiang Mai and its surrounding villages. However, next year when we come (and, yes, unless we settle down elsewhere due to a new job or business venture, we would intend to come back every year at this time), we have vowed to be more ‘productive’ with our time by taking up some new hobby or interest (e.g. Language Classes or other such education; perhaps Flight Lessons for Bob, and Cooking Classes for Nancy), and/or some volunteer work (eg. Teaching or tutoring English to school age children.)

NEXT UP: We left Chiang Mai on Feb. 28, and arrived March 1 on the Island of CYPRUS, where we will stay for a month thru April 2 in the small northern City of Kyrenia (a/k/a Girne), which is for now part of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC).

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