Yee Peng Lantern Festival in Chiang Mai, Thailand

Yee Peng Lantern Festival in Chiang Mai, Thailand

I had never been to Asia before and here I am in Chiang Mai, Thailand with the intention of spending a year exploring the area. It has been a long flight from Houston via Atlanta and Seoul. I guess it could be a bit of adrenaline working in my favor but I am not jet lagged even though I have been traveling for over twenty-four hours.

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Chiang Mai is Thailand’s second largest city yet its population of around 200,000 it is but a tiny fraction of Thailand’s largest city Bangkok which; 700 km south. It was founded in 1296 CE on the banks of the Ping River and is located in the foothills of the Himalayas and was once the capital of the Lanna Kingdom. Chiang Mai’s city center, “Old Town” is enclosed by ancient city walls and surrounded by a moat. Within those walls are over thirty temples, some dating back to the city’s founding. Chiang Mai was voted to the list of the “25 Best Destinations in the World” in a 2012 survey done by the popular website TripAdvisor.

I really didn’t know exactly what to expect when I arrived late night in November 2012, and that night all I really saw was the airport and my hotel but, one thing sticks out.  I had arranged for a shared taxi van to take me from the airport to my hotel near Old Town. I was the first passenger there and after the driver helped me load my luggage I had a few minutes to just stretch my legs, after the long flight, and look around. I know cabbies generally have a great feel of the city in which they live and I was struck by the fact that she left her purse sitting in the open back cargo area, out of sight, while she milled around the loading area. I know no place is crime free, and this was but one situation but this was, to me anyway, definitely a good sign.

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