Chiang Mai Life

Episode 7: Songkran
April 24, 2017
How Do Chiang Mai Long Term Residents Live?
July 15, 2017

A typical morning

My typical morning in Chiang Mia starts with my favorite Thai tea and a bowl of yogurt and granola. It’s a spartan setting, but in cool weather I can sit on the tower porch and enjoy a view of the sunrise over the roofs of the near by dwellings. I like to start when it’s quiet and plan my day. In the off season, after Songkran, there’s not much going on. The heat and the field burning are still in full force. So, indoors is best until June when the rainy season starts.

Thai Tea with yogurt and granola

Things begin to cool off. The air is cleaner and you can see the mountains and Doi Suthep temple in the west. This is only my second rainy season, so I can’t say what’s normal. But so far, I haven’t found the rain to be a problem. Yes, you might get caught in a down pour. Sometimes I start off for a walk and find it’s raining by the time I get down to the ground floor. I hurry back up for my umbrella, only to find it’s stopped by the time I get back downstairs. But even if I get caught in the rain, there’s usually a friendly coffee shop close by where I can stop in until the rain stops. So far, the big storms have mostly happened at night. But don’t take my word for it. Just come and enjoy the slower off season pace and walking in the rain.

My favorite tea is called Cha Tra Mue and it’s a very strong black tea with a mixture of cinnamon and other spices. To make authentic Thai tea, you need to add sweetened condensed milk. I find that a bit too sweet. So, I just add a bit  of milk with mine to soften any bitterness. If the weather’s really hot, I make an iced version with lychee juice. You can find the canned fruit in juice in some American grocery stores. Here in Thailand, it’s readily available as one of the one liter juice selections.

This early morning is a good time to write or work on craft projects. I can get in a couple of hours, if I’m up early, before the local gym opens. In Chiang Mai, there is usually a gym within walking distance. I have several in about ten minutes from my home. This is where you would expect to see a recommendation, but the owner at my gym says he likes to know his members. So, he’s not interested in any write ups. This may seem strange, but every gym has its own atmosphere and  social network. So, it’s best if members are long term and serious about working out. So, if you live here and you are looking for a nice gym. Message me and I’ll take you around to mine.

Don’t get the wrong idea. I’m not a jock. I’m just a mature woman who believes you have to keep moving if you want your body to keep going for you. I can always get some exercise walking into the old city for the activities that happen there. The summer season is just starting and even though it’s still raining sometimes, the public events are gearing up.

Chiang Mai International Yoga Festival

Last weekend there was the Chiang Mai International Yoga Festival sponsored by the India Consulate. Hundreds of people gathered in front of Thapae Gate for a full morning of yoga instruction by the top yoga studios in Chiang Mai. I met a nice Thai lady who was also “alone.” Thai people say that with such sadness. I told her we say, “on our own” or “solo.” it sounds much happier. And indeed it was a happy day. What a great way to start the weekend, with hundreds of other people, all doing yoga together! Just look at that group of young women in front of us showing off their flexibility! I’m so jealous, but I had my own young years. Now it’s their turn.






Lanna Expo

This week the big event was the Lanna Expo at the Chiang Mai Convention Center.  I set out with two friends in a songtaew (red truck used as a taxi) hoping it would be the right place with no sudden changes in schedule or venue, as sometimes happens. As we approached the main gate we knew it was the right place there were already lots of cars and songtaews in the parking lot. You never know with these events if it will be small or large. This one was huge! The main entrance had a large exhibit hall entry on three sides and there were also crafts and food booths outdoors. Each exhibit hall had about twelve aisles. Just finding our way around was going to take up a lot of time. We each had our own interests, so we decided to split up and meet back at the entryway in a couple of hours.

I love finding out about the about the culture of the different countries I visit and the things the local people produce are a good introduction to the culture. From there you can explore more about the parts of the culture that interest you the most. This expo was perfect for that. It covered all the areas of products and cultures of the northern Thai people, who are collectively known as Lanna. There were the usual textile exhibits, silver smiths, wood carvers, and traditional musical instruments. One hall had all the agricultural products with the mountain grown coffees as the stars. Thailand is a wonderful place to experience organically grown teas and coffees. There are farms, both large and small, throughout the mountains that border Thailand with neighboring Myanmar (Burma), Laos, and Cambodia specializing in coffee and tea. And it appears that most of them were at this expo.

All of my friends in Thailand are new and it’s interesting getting to know each other. But it does take a while to know what a person is all about. I was surprised to find my friends thought I was interested in this expo because of shopping. I did buy some things in the agriculture building because I like to purchase local foods when I can. Also, my refrigerator was mostly empty, so the tea, coffee. and yogurt that I purchased would have been on my grocery list anyway. But my real purpose was to learn about the culture, particularly about the crafts. Any one who knows me well knows that I feel you can learn a lot about the people from the things they make. Seeing handmade goods and experiencing how they are made first hand gives you a better appreciation of the artistic skills involved and the dedication of the artists. It’s just something I cannot explain unless a person already has an appreciation for the cultural value of the arts in general. But this was the first time my interest in crafts has been judged to be materialistic.

But never mind that. I had a mission. I wanted pictures and I wanted to improve the shots I came away with. For once, I remembered to bring the tablet instead of the phone for taking pictures. It was a good move. I took pictures on almost every aisle. I have a lot of stills and even a few short videos for you. I’ll just put the stills here and add a short video later.  I hope you enjoy them. I’ll add further description with some, but mostly I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves.

Silversmith at work

Chiang Mai is also famous for its silver work. Silver comes from Burma (Myanmar) but the craft work is Thai.

Handwovern straw hats made mainly for the tourist trade.

Thai lacquer work

Another silversmith at work

Handcarved wood panels make beautiful accents in traditional Thai home decoration.

The craftsman here is teaching a woman how to make the little palm leaf baskets used for offerings of food or candles


Ladies in traditional dress selling local Thai food.

More lovely Thai traditional clothing. Each tribe has its own style.

Weaving cotton cloth

Dye pots and natural dyed cotton yarn.

Thai fashion is highly influenced by traditional styles. These garments might be seen on the street in any Thai city.

The headdress on this tribal costume is decorated with silver bobbles.




Long necked woman. Originally from Burma, they have become a part of the Lanna culture in Thailand.

Joy Harmon
Joy Harmon
A crafter, a traveler, and a scribbler

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