Friday, October 3, 2008

Chiang Mai Chatter

¿Que hace? Qu'est-ce qui je fais? What do I do in Chiang Mai?

It's a question I'm asked often--and in many languages. Usually I just answer, "I live and enjoy life!!" But there are those who insist...exactly what do you do while you live and enjoy life. There is so much to tell, I almost don't know where to start.

A big reason to be in such a central global location taking advantage of it's low cost of living is to simplify options for my real passion in life--Solo Travel! I traveled often throughout my life and I'm not prepared to give it up yet. Therefore, many of my activities relate to travel in some way. Either I'm planning my next trip or writing up the last one.

Last year I spent a good deal of my time writing the new book I have coming out soon. This year I have been editing and prepping the book for publication. And for anyone out there who says that sounds like work and not play, it's a little of both. But in between my trips and all the work, I do play a lot.

If you've read my first book, you know I like to group stories into categories. So just what are these "fun" categories? They do fit nicely into life categories, i.e., lodging, nourishment and social contacts. One added element as an expat living in Thailand is the adventure of meeting visa requirements. That's a separate story all in itself. So right now we will stick to the three biggies, housing, food and friends.

For my housing I have chosen to live in a guesthouse in central Chiang Mai in the area comprising the old city, inside the moat near Wat Pra Singh. An advantage to that is, I have accessible public transport without the added expense of having to own. All that extra baht goes into the travel budget.

A serendipitous side benefit is that I meet lots of other travelers who invite me to come visit them when I am out "on the road." Definately a win-win situation from my point of view. Nothing can enhance a trip any more than having locals to connect with.

Food fun! This is such a big part of my life, I suspect I will have to do a separate posting to fully cover it. Chiang Mai, in addition to low cost Thai food, has a vast range of restaurants that offer lots of options for a palate such as mine that craves variety in my daily diet. I love to eat and eat well, and I can spend a lot of time in this arena.

So that leaves us with the social scene.

As part of a large expatiate community living in Chiang Mai I can have a huge circle of friends that includes both foreigners and locals. There is an expat club here that meets twice a month and many off-shoot special interest groups. I go regularly to the computer club, occasionally to the photo group, thinking about joining a group who meet once a month to discuss fabrics, have access to a writier's group and there are many other groups I can join if and when I make time for them.

Another big plus in Chiang Mai is the number of universities here that offer free concerts, seminars, out-reach name it. In short, there is something to fill everyone's needs.

Add to that the fact that Chiang Mai has the largest number of used book stores of almost any place on the planet. As a passionate voracious reader, I love it.

And this year, a huge time sink for me is the focus on the global fascination with the most critical Presidential race in my lifetime. All eyes are on America to do the right thing this time around. I'm a heavy "lurker" on political message boards watching the trends of support. Looking for the kernel of intelligent thought that I want to believe main stream America does possess. Hoping for the insight that will get Obama elected.
Look for separate subject postings soon to expand on activities here in Chiang Mai. Visas, food, language, books, lodging, local travel, festivals and other fun stuff.
It's called "The Good Life."

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