San Sai, Chiang Mai
I would say that my town (San Sai) is especially unique because it has a very rural feel to it, despite still technically being in Chiang Mai. It is definitely a refreshing change of pace from the city. San Sai has so many wonderful restaurants and shops within the sois, so you have the opportunity to communicate with locals and to assimilate to the culture more quickly. It is nice to have that option readily available, while also being close enough to the city that you can meet other tourists and travelers.
My favorite place to eat is at a restaurant right near my apartment called “Organic Coffee Bus.” The name is a bit misleading because there are so many options to choose from on their menu, and it certainly not just a coffee shop. They offer a variety of different options ranging from Western and Thai foods, smoothies, coffees, desserts, and an option to build your own salad (My personal favorite!) I think this place is especially awesome because they grow their own vegetables and fruits on their farm behind the restaurant. My favorite place to go out to socialize and drink is “Zoe in Yellow” in the old city because it is filled with both so many locals and tourists, it is definitely a nice way to meet new people from all over the world. They also have a couple of dance floors, a fantastic drink menu, and plenty of outdoor seating, which I think is enough to make just about anybody happy. In regard to exercise, I like to go to this gym called CNX Gym right near my apartment in San Sai because they have boxing equipment, as well as free weights and cardio machines. It also has a smoothie and snack bar inside if you’d like to grab something after your work out. They offer many reasonably priced memberships and the gym is very well-kept. If I’m looking to go shopping, I prefer to go to the Night Bazaar because you can find so many cute clothes and items, and you can bargain for reasonable prices. I usually have to dedicate a whole night to this though because it’s so easy to get caught up in everything the bazaar has to offer… so if I’m looking to simply just buy a couple of items quickly, I’ll normally just head to the CentralFestival mall, it is beautiful and has plenty of stores, including a ColdStone Creamery, which in itself is enough reason to go there.
I think renting a motor scooter is definitely necessary when living in San Sai, or anywhere in Chiang Mai, for that matter. In San Sai, there are not many taxis or tuk tuks – so a scooter, car, or walking everywhere is really your only options (and walking is unrealistic, too many highways.) As for the city of Chiang Mai, there are many more taxis and tuks tuks readily available but the costs add up, which is definitely more reason to rent a motor scooter. I was able to rent mine for $2,500 per month, which is a reasonable price being that I use to it to commute to both my school and the city.
I am very pleased with my cute little apartment. It is certainly not a 5 star hotel, but I think that’s why I like it that much more. It’s quaint and comfortable, and definitely reasonable for the low price I am paying for it. It is 2,500 per month, and it includes a large bed, a shower (with hot water, SCORE!) a toilet basically inside of the shower (Good for multitasking, right?) a decent sized dresser to put my clothes in, and space underneath of it to put my shoes, as well as a little outdoor room with metal bars across the window pane for hanging my laundry.
Typically after work I like to explore Chiang Mai. My coworkers think I’m crazy because they’re usually too tired to drive 20 minutes to and from the city after working all day. My motivation is that I’m very antsy to try many of the different restaurants that I’ve come across on TripAdvisor, and I think it is deserved and needed after a long work day. I also like to explore the different markets, because Chiang Mai has a lot of them, so I’ll normally look around for good priced items.
On the weekend, I like to explore the parts of Chiang Mai that I haven’t seen yet – this includes restaurants, excursions, scenic areas etc. I also make the effort to meet new people through social media and mutual friends while I’m not working. I am making efforts to make Chiang Mai feel like home as much as possible. I’m perfectly content creating more attachments to this place because I don’t foresee myself wanting to leave here anytime soon.
The best nearby excursion to take is definitely Pai. I went there for the first time last weekend and may have loved it equally as much as Chiang Mai. It is absolutely beautiful, with so many different waterfalls, hot springs, and a really awesome Canyon too! There are plenty of backpackers there so it’s a very nice way to step out of your comfort zone, explore nature, and to meet people from around the world that you wouldn’t have met otherwise.
The advice I would give to teachers moving to my area is to go wild in the most productive way possible. Broaden your horizons, explore the city, and do everything that you possibly can to ensure that this new place becomes “home.” I have been here in Chiang Mai a little less than a month, and I’ve already fallen in love with it.