Coming back to Chiang Mai is like comfy shoes. The streets are familiar, I practically know the yoga schedules by heart, and there’s always delicious food to be had. Best of all there are familiar and friendly faces to reunite with and exchange hugs.
A common refrain amongst those who call chiang Mai home is that many–okay most–came here for a 2 days, were just passing through, or otherwise considered CM just one more stop along the SE Asian travel circuit. What none expected to find was a place that basically exudes a magnetic pull: if you feel it, you can’t leave the force field until CM decides to let you.
The community is vast, welcoming and seeking. Creature comforts ( such as a decent haircut and access to peanut butter) abound; there’s even an English movie theater with the latest releases. There are countless vegetarian restaurants, yoga studios, meditation groups, high quality Thai massage and new age retreats. Practitioners of every ability and persuasion make roots here (singing Tibetan bowls or past life regressions anyone? Buehler?). The Thais are friendly and the city just the right size.
It’s a new age shangri-la.
I came here originally in mid December to housesit for some folks I knew from back home. When that didn’t work out I still stick around, determined to honor my original intention to practice yoga for 30 days straight. The 30 days of yoga didnt quite work out either–I became ill from pollution and cross-global flu bugs–but I immersed myself in the community.
Now, some 5 months later I’m still bouncing around. My guesthouse really feels like home. The motorbike company jokes around with me and always inquires about my cows. I’m invited to yoga and dance classes at the behest of the studio owners. I feel honored, this place really does create warm, fuzzy feelings of home coming.
It suits too… Months ago when I started talking with friends about my plan to leave everything and embark on an adventure throughout SE Asia, more than a couple friends mentioned chiang Mai and in the same breath suggested I’d probably really resonate with the place. Whether that was a self-fulfilling prophecy, good advice or destiny is besides the point. This place works for me and I’m glad I’ve stuck around in the area.
…however the funny thing is that I don’t think chiang Mai is done with me and I don’t think I’m done with it. More than a couple of my friends here have said the same. So far the journey and getting to know chiang Mai has been fantastic and led me in directions I never could have foreseen even 5 months ago (reiki training, arm balances, becoming a competent moto driver, for example). I couldn’t be happier that my path has unfolded like this. I’ve met incredible people, experienced tremendous learnings and generosity and consider myself quite blessed to be welcomed back with open arms.
Whatever chiang Mai has in store for me I hope it will be gentle and continue to serve me.