I arrived in Chiang Mai, Thailand last week and have been spending a relaxing time hanging out in this second largest, Thai city. I’ve always loved it here. The city is small enough that I can walk to everything interesting, and it has several significant Buddhist temples that I enjoy hanging out at and talking with the monks. It also has several interesting markets and dozens of wonderful mom-&-pop restaurants. I’ve been here many times, and often spend a month or two in this charming city.
On this trip, however, I’m finding the city rather tarnished and crawling with tourist. It normally has an abundance of tourists, but this year there are at least 25% more foreigners roaming the streets than at any other time I’ve been here. I’ve noticed that many of the visitors are Chinese, on holiday from Mainland China. These Chinese tourists are well to do (rich), loud, and very hip. It is exciting to see that the Chinese are now affluent enough to become world travelers, but the added influx to the Chiang Mai streets has made this city a bit of a turnoff.
I’m beginning to think that I’ve simply become too familiar with this city; to the point where it has lost it’s charm for me. I’ve been here at least a dozen times, and have fallen into the rut of going back to the same temples, same restaurants, and same activities, and now all of my favorite places are pack with people. I suspect it is time I found a new, fresh place to spend my time while in SE Asia.