Adjusting to life in Chiang Mai was helped by our group of 24 students from Washington State University We had been meeting for months discussing everything from culture to the Thai language and camaraderie. While in Chiang Mai we had to attend class in the morning and most afternoons were spent touring around the area visiting local temples, speaking with Buddhist monks, and trips to the night market.
On one occasion we had been introduced to the gentlemen from Australia whom had moved to Chiang Mai to become a Buddhist monk. He had been living and learning at his monastery for 20 years. He explained that he had given up his worldly possessions and was focusing on his life around the Buddha’s teachings. Thai Buddhists are predominately of the Theravada school of Buddhism. The monk also gave us a lesson in meditation and suggested that in order to obtain enlightenment would should consider practicing mediation daily.
A daily trip to the night market was always a highlight of my time in Chiang Mai. It not only gave us a chance to haggle for the goods at the market, but also allowed us to practice our Thai language skills. My favorite phrase continues to be “Lot noi dai mai”, which means, make it cheaper or give me a discount. If you didn’t receive a discount, it was always commonplace to walk away and have the vendor follow you to offer the discount.
Life in Chiang Mai over the next several blogs with showcase the cultural immersion we seek on all Knutson Travels tours.
After a whirlwind few day’s in Bangkok and a day’s drive, we finally made it to our home for the next three months, Chiang Mai. Our accommodations for the first month were the International Center at Chiang Mai University (CMU).
The next day was a free day around Chiang Mai, where we learned quickly where to find the nearest restaurants, bars, & convenience stores. It wasn’t to hard to find these places because our dorm was right off Nimman road, which is a high traffic area near CMU. The best part of this trip was discovering the various places we could go, and because we had learned a little Thai before we went, we were able to converse with Song Thaew & Tuk Tuk drivers.
Our first experience at CMU was meeting with our “Thai buddies”, who would help show us around CMU & Chiang Mai. My buddy was Pep, he was a little intimidated as I was a good 1 & 1/2 feet taller than him. While meeting our buddies, we partook in a local dinner with lanna dancers and music. As customary, we received flower garlands to put around our necks to show respect for our newfound friends.
The day was completed when we visited the night market, it was a place to get whatever you desired, from DVD’s, t-shirts, bags, watches, & knick-knacks. As I would be living in Chiang Mai for the next three months, I decided against to forgo a souvenir purchase, but I did see Starbucks, so got my usually white chocolate mocha.