Cheers Chiang Mai

6-weeks has never gone quite so quickly! We purposely stayed a bit longer in Chiang Mai.  Knowing Hong Kong and Tokyo were going to be pricey, we took the opportunity to extend our time in Chiang Mai.  We knew there was a ton to do, we had friends visiting us, there’s really strong expat community, and Thailand is inexpensive. I remember heading into Chiang Mai with a full list of places to visit, a pre-planned running path, and so very excited to see some of our very good friends from home. Honestly, Chiang Mai lived up to all my expectations and leaving was bitter sweet.

Running

My goal was 80-miles and I was looking forward to the cooler weather. I was eager to get back outside for some runs and I even pre-planned my running path on RunKeeper, unfortunately, after my second run outdoors I realized I was going to need a back-up plan.  While yes, the weather was much cooler than Dar es Salaam, the traffic and pollution of my Old City running path were both pretty terrible.

Though I did run outside several times, I also researched and found a gym, so that I could knock out a few indoor runs. I ended up going to Harris Fitness Center, which was about a 5-min walk from the house.  While the equipment wasn’t top of the line, it was in good condition, the staff were always super friendly and it was less than $5 for a day-pass to run.

While in Chiang Mai, I also completed a 22K Trail Run, which was incredible! I was a little reluctant at first, but I am super glad I completed it and it was for sure a challenge! The trail run was organized by Thailand Mountain Trail, which I would strongly recommend to anyone interested in a trail run in Chiang Mai. Here are a few pictures of my trail run — check out my Instagram Post.

Total Miles: 94.5 miles

Loop Distance: 5.5 miles

Best Pace: 8:22 average pace / mile

^ An interesting side note, we were in Chiang Mai for a portion of December, all of January, and a couple days of February, so my Old City run made an appearance across all three months, which is a first for the trip and also pretty cool.

Here are a few pictures from my Old City run. My run included 4-gates and 4-corners to made the complete loop:

^ On every run, I’ve always had a smell. In London, it was cigarettes smoke. In Amsterdam, it was mirijuana. In Kiyv, it was body oder. Italy it was manure. Sitges was the ocean breeze. Tanzania was my sweaty mess. And in Chiang Mai .. it was the exhaust from all the vehicles.  It was so bad!

^ There was a really great side-walk around the entire Old City.

^ The largest Starbucks in Chiang Mai.  I never went, but it always made me chuckle. 

^ Suan Dok Gate (west gate)

^ Fort of Ku-Hueang (southwest corner)

^ Suan Pung Gate (south gate)

^ Fort of Ka-tham (southeast corner)

^ Tha Phae Gate (east gate)

^ One of my favorite sites at the Tha Phae Gate. This massive sign when up during our stay and I still saw people feeding the pigeons.

^ Fort of Sri-Poom (northeast corner)

^ Chang Phuak Gate (north gate)

^ Hua Lin Corner (northwest corner)

^I also retired my shoes while in Chiang Mai, which is always pretty cool!  

Coffee

I wasted no time picking up a coffee pot during our check-in shopping trip. I found a nice, but inexpensive pot, so it was a no brainer.  Nolan was my little helper and started my coffee most every morning at the house.  Chiang Mai was a great place for coffee, I tried several different coffee beans from the grocery store and picked up a few bags from local coffee shops.  I found my favorite coffee bean was from Ristr8to. I really enjoyed morning coffee at the house, but also found so many amazing coffee shops around the city. I actually wrote an entire post about coffee shops!

Self-Care

Chiang Mai was a breeze for self-care. Services were really inexpensive, so I took full advantage with manicures, pedicures, massages, eyelashes, and I even got my hair done!

I got my nails done four different times in Chiang Mai and three different places.  I went a little crazy with a few of the nail designs, which I normally never do, but something came over me and I was inspired to do something different. Of all the places I went, Love Princess House was by far my favorite. Love Princess House was a brand new salon, so everything was new and clean. It was super girly, everything was pink & princess themed, and the staff was super cute.  A manicure was about $15 in Chiang Mai, so I took full advantage and splurged.

My eyelashes were impressive in Chiang Mai, I  got my lashes done three times, including a full set and 2-fills. As with the manicure, eyelashes were also super inexpensive. A fresh new full set was $28 and the fills were about $15, so again, I took full advantage. I really loved the lashes in Chiang Mai. They were super soft, the perfect length, and I think they lasted the longest. I went to Bundarnjai Eyelash Studio for all my lashes! 

Thailand is known for its traditional Thai Massages, so of course, I wanted to make sure I experienced a traditional Thai massage in Thailand. There were massage parlors all over the city, it was actually a little overwhelming. Honestly, I don’t think you could walk down a street in Chiang Mai without finding at least one massage parlor. The pricing was also very different — some places offered a 90-min massage for $6, while others were up to $30.

I did get four different massages while in Thailand, including a massage at the Women’s Ex-Prisoners Massage, which I would totally recommend. As an opportunity for rehabilitation, women prisoners are taught the massage trade while in prison.  Of all the places I went, my favorite place was the Chinola Massage. The atmosphere was super relaxing, I like the massage therapist, and after my massage, they provide the yummy cup of tea and the tastiest cookies I’ve ever had.

As we were preparing to leave Chiang Mai, I decided I should probably get my hair done as well.  It has been about 10-weeks, so I was pushing it.  I was in desperate need of a cut and my highlights were sorely outgrown.  Since the area we were staying in offered so many services by English-speakers, I thought I should take advantage of the opportunity.  I ended up booking an appointment at New York New York Hair Studio, which is an AVEDA salon and I loved the outcome.  Great color, great cut!

 

What I loved about Chiang Mai

  • The food was incredible! Yet another city that really offered amazing food. We had traditional Thailand street food, we visited a few amazing Thai restaurants (Redbox and Dash), we found the most incredible Mexican food at Salsa Kitchen, and we even found some really great Texas BBQ at Lone Star — there was no shortage of great food.  I weight myself leaving Chiang Mai and I’ve officially put on 4-pounds since October … Thanksgiving, Christmas, and then Chiang Mai  … not great for my hips!  
  • It was really amazing to see friends from the US while in Chiang Mai. I was so very thankful Marc and Meghan Friend made the trip over to Thailand. I was getting really homesick, so seeing friends really helped. We spend a couple fun days in Chiang Mai with them and we even made a quick trip to Bangkok.
  • So many outdoor activities — the trail run, the mountain biking trip, the Grand Canyon waterpark, the Elephant Sanctuary, the Sticky Waterfalls — we did so many amazing things outdoors.  

What I didn’t love about Chiang Mai:

  • The pollution and traffic were terrible. The evenings seems to be the worst in Chiang Mai.  We also took a trip to Bangkok, which was even worse. 
  • The kitchen space and amenities.  I really struggled with cooking in Chiang Mai.  While we had an amazing selection of groceries the kitchen was not at all conducive to cooking. I did make a few meals, but we did end up eating out way too much.

Here are a few of my favorite pictures from Chiang Mai:

^My family of elephants tank!

^ My favorite picture from the mountain bike tour I went on. The scariest thing I’ve done in my ENTIRE LIFE!

^ The best New Years Eve ever!  So many amazing memories.

^ So many great Day Dates with my #1 — and we celebrated out 9-year wedding anniversary while in Chiang Mai.

^Snuggles with my #2. I really tried to embrace my part-time work schedule and soak up all the special moments with Nolan.

^ A trail run and mountain bike tour — with (2) great men, neither of which were my husband.

^Countless runs!

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