Visit Chiang Mai? Why not live here!

I feel very bland next to the Lisu ladies

I feel very bland next to the Lisu ladies

In 2002 I gave, threw or packed away my worldly possessions and set off to possess the world – ten countries for starters. After two weeks in Hawaii, two more in China, and two months in Vietnam, Thailand was next. Bangkok was abysmally busy and terminally polluted. I wanted to visit Chiang Mai and went the next day. That was it. It felt like home. I’d always dreamed of living where I would vacation. The dream came alive.

I took a trip back to America to scrape the mold off everything in storage I didn’t care about, retrieve motorcycle gear and visit family and friends. Besides them, the only thing I really missed about America was the promise of tissue paper in the toilet. Here I’m never sure what to do with all those hoses, bowls and bins of water. Once you’re sufficiently hosed with the “bum gun,” how do you dry? Why don’t you see locals emerge with big wet spots in the groin area? Are there secret Thai diapers? Should I carry a portable hair dryer? So I came back home—Thailand—with only one regret: I should have moved here years ago.

I love Chiang Mai’s blend of local and international flavors. Tall, sturdy, tank-topped, Viking girls with backpacks the size of water buffalo, but weighing a bit more. (The backpack, not the girls. Well, maybe.) Ageless, smiling, smooth-skinned Thais at the train station. (“Sawatdee. I’m 105 years old. I come to get my grandmother.”) And Chiang Mai has over two billion, full-service tourist agencies. (“Where you go? Have special one-day trek/visa run with bamboo elephant rafting over waterfall while get massage during cooking course by completely hands on!”)

The best part of life in Chiang Mai is where it lives: northern Thailand. I’ve got a big bike, and I take great big trips. I wrote a song about it, but the words without music is like a bike with no wheels, a hair dryer with no electricity, or only one chopstick. Visit Chiang Mai; hear the song and the sweet sounds of Thailand. If you ever leave, I’ll bet you’ll be dreaming about coming back!

The right moment at the right time

The right moment at the right time

Ain’t it grand
In northern Thailand
Here in the heart of Chiang Mai?
Ain’t it grand
In northern Thailand?
Come on and visit Chiang Mai!

To temple bells at 4 a.m., the saffron monks arise.
Then slowly sounds of songbirds and roosters fill the skies.
The markets teem with friendly folks. You can see it in their eyes.
The Land of Smiles just comes alive in this city of Chiang Mai.

The countryside’s a biker’s dream. It’s a living picture show.
Jungle roads snake through bamboo past muddy buffalo.
Climb the misty mountains where the cool rivers run.
Hike a hidden valley where you hardly see the sun.

Lisu hill tribe ladies look like human butterflies.
Their multi-colored costumes are candy for your eyes.
Tom yam takes your taste buds on a roller-coaster ride.
A festival for all my senses, I take Thailand for my bride.

Ain’t it grand
In northern Thailand
In the heart of Chiang Mai?
Ain’t it grand
In northern Thailand?
Come on and live in Chiang Mai!

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