My week long stay in Chiang Mai was possible due to the fact that I had to finally get my work visa for my teaching job in China. Technically speaking, I could have gone to Chiang Mai for maybe just three days to get my visa, but I decided that I should stay for an entire week instead.
The first stop on my first day in Chiang Mai was to this adorable little oasis, vegetarian restaurant, massage garden. It was the perfect introduction to Chiang Mai. Located just off of one of the streets in the old town, this garden was so silent and calm, mind for a few cheerful birds chirping away in peaceful melodies. I knew I was in for a relaxing week after coming across this sweet little garden . I would return here a few days later to get an amazing full body oil massage in one of the cabanas on the other side of the garden.
In my head I like to refer to Chiang Mai as the Land of the Wats. By this I mean that no matter onto which street corner you turn, no matter which road you wander down, no matter in what direction you are headed, you will pass a beautiful, often slightly hidden Wat along your path. I also like to think that I coined the term "Wat-hopping". It's similar to
bar-hopping... only you replace the drunks with gorgeous golden Buddhas, and you spend your time meditating and trying to soak up as much of the universe as you can, instead of socializing and drinking up as much liquor as you can.
Inside the Wats you can find other foreigners in lotus pose, taking time out for their daily meditations, local Chiang Mai residents paying their respects and offering up their gratitude, monks in the back corners chatting on their cell phones, and me, often times trying to get sweet yoga pictures and videos.
On the topic of yoga, I also found the most amazing yoga studio, Wild Rose Yoga, tucked away on one of the street corners inside the old town. It had a precious little garden out front, and the yoga room itself was made of wood, sort of like a big cabana, incense wafting around its interior. I went to a few classes at Wild Rose, both of them were unique and very relaxing. One was a Tai Chi inspired yin class, and the other an Ashtanga /Pilates mix. The other yogis who attended these classes were from places all over the world, including the cutest Japanese yogi couple, a beautiful girl from Spain named Julia (we made instant friends, too bad I was leaving just a couple days later) and another girl named Tiziana, from Italy of course, who I also immediately connected with over the amazing yoga- spirituality-ayurveda book collection at the studio.
The teachers of both of my classes were Americans, traveling the world finding yoga teacher jobs wherever their hearts lead them. Incredibly inspiring for what I want to do with my life-- just that.
My last full day in Chiang Mai was one of the best of the week. After a nice leisurely breakfast in a cafe across from one of the many Wats lining the streets, I decided to take a stroll over to the Buddhist university for a look. As I walked through the gates, on my way to the main Wat in front of the entrance, I started to hear a faint chanting coming from behind the building. I quickly made my way around the Wat to the Monument of the Three Kings (the base of which is the background of the above photo) which was gradually being lined with young monks from the uni. They lined up in 3 or 4 long rows and proceeded to say their chants and their prayers in front of the monument for the next 20 minutes or so. When they had finished singing their initial verses they began to circumnavigate the monument in another session of chanting. All of the foreigners there for the amazing scene slowly began following the monks around the monument until we had come full circle.
It was one of the most magical things I have ever happened upon.
This my friends is the beauty of traveling. The magic that is aimlessly wandering. Life will take you to the places you need to be at the exact moments you are meant to arrive. If you can give in to the universe, but just enough to keep a balanced control over your life, you will never be led astray.
Life loves you. Life loves those who travel. Life loves those who are open and willing to take in whatever comes their way. If you offer up your gratitude life will always be on your side.