Third Time's a Charm in Chiang Mai

Sip, song, sawasdee, kup, ka…..the minute we crossed the border into Thailand Dylan and I just smiled. Familiar sounds, words, phrases, and smells all came back to us and in a lot of ways it just felt like home. A beautiful, friendly, and humbling slice of home…

Dylan, my 13-year-old, and I decided last minute to make the LONG journey from Penang to Chiang Mai to watch the famous Yi Peng lantern festival.  We just narrowly missed out on it last year and I was pretty upset we missed it.  Since it was a long journey we decided to leave the younger boys at home with dad, it didn't seem fair to drag them so far for such a quick stay.

What exactly do I mean by LONG and FAR? I mean 50 hours of straight travel to be in Chiang Mai for roughly 50 hours total, only to turn around and do another 50 hours of travel back to our pseudo home in Penang. Yes, that is 100 hours of travel in the space of 6 days; 4 long train rides, 2 ferry rides, and multiple tuk tuks, taxis, motorbikes and song taews.

Crazy? Possibly, and by most people’s standards it was. Worth it? Most definitely!

I think the thing we realized right away upon entering Thailand and emerging into Bangkok is that home is everywhere we have been. We make memories, learn, and in a sense get comfortable in each and every place we travel to. I believe before this trip we had spent a total of 3-4 weeks in Bangkok split up between a couple different trips. Yet as soon as we stepped off that train in Hua lamphong station it felt familiar. We knew exactly where to go, knew not to take the tuk tuks (mafia run), knew exactly where we wanted to go, and did not feel intimidated by the large huge city for even a moment.

We had also spent over a month in Chiang Mai but it just did not leave a big impression on us. Everyone said how wonderful it was so we were expecting the world. And on our first go round we were also approaching the city with a very new to Asia mindset after so many years in Central America. Chiang Mai taught me to be realistic about my expectations which change with perspective gained from week 1 to week 61, which is a very different thing.

So this time around we found ourselves in love with everything!  We enjoyed new temples, touring around at night, great and inexpensive food, massages so cheap we could justify getting them once a day, and we really felt a strong connection to the area and the people.  By the end of our first night we noted how we could really settle down here..a thought we dismissed immediately the first time around!

Perhaps it was where we stayed, as we have learned location does mean just about everything, especially when you rely on public transportation. Or maybe the fact that everything was more low key with just my oldest son and I for this trip. Whatever it was, we are simply grateful for the opportunity to be in Chiang Mai again and see it for all it's possibilities.

Home is where the heart is.  It's a saying we hear all the time. I can honestly say that we have left a bit of our hearts and souls in every spot we have been. Thailand is an amazing country, and it is where we started our Asian adventure. It is part of us now and we are part of it…forever!

Home is where ever your heart has been! 

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  1. Glad you had such a great time and so glad you made looong trip up. It was so nice to connect with you again!

    1. Thanks Amy, it was great connecting with you again as well. Wish it could have been for longer! Enjoy CM, its a great little city!

  2. Hi Amy, I’m glad to hear about your adventure. I adore Thai food and hope to visit Thailand next year.