One of the best parts of traveling is walking. Strolling city streets, trekking a jungle, or wandering the edge of the ocean - walking allows you to slow down and soak in your surroundings.
We spent four days in Chiangmai, Thailand, continuing our trip from Cambodia. Almost as soon as we set our bags down, we set out on foot to see the city. It was much bigger than we expected. A tree-lined canal ran down the center of town and we followed this past street vendors and restaraunts and even a pet shop. We passed students who seemed like they had just gotten out of class, and the world famous tuk-tuks speeding down the road.
Coffee is up and coming as an industry in Thailand (I was reading an interesting article on the airplane about it). These people are speaking my language! It seemed like on every corner, a cute cafe had popped up with all the right American buzzwords - "life begins after coffee", one sign read. Others boasted free wifi, "real" lattes, and artisan roasts - the hipsters would be drooling.
I would be lying if I said I didn't get a coffee at every other shop we passed - you're only in the Asian version of Berkeley once, right? My personal favorite was the See You Soon cafe, which served their drinks in sweet little mason jars atop marble countertops, surrounded by lots and lots of plants (my fave).
The city was quiet most days, with a gentle hum of ongoing activity. The people were so friendly, but didn't stare at the foreigners like other Asian countries I've been to. I guess we weren't the only tourists they'd seen.
The artist in me was intrigued by the blend of ancient culture and modernity. The trendy coffeeshops sat just next to gilded buddhist temples, crowned in extravagent gold leaf from centuries ago. On some corners it felt like classic Thailand like you imagine, on others I could be walking an alleyway in San Francisco it felt so like home.
Hopefully I'll be seeing you again someday, Chiangmai - until then,