Scooters and taxis loudly zoom by in the frenetic morning air. A biker weaves in and out the thick bustling traffic. He turns down a side road, pedaling leisurely through quiet residential streets. In an area near the moat vendors begin to set up their stalls. Metal skeletons of incomplete tents stand partially assembled. Next to these unfinished structures sits a colourful array of parked scooters. A man backs one out cautiously. He gradually inches through the crowded market. The local park is energetic and lively, full of early risers and runners of all ages. A group of elderly men chat amongst themselves. Their conversation emanates from nearby, mixing with the shouts of takraw players. Along the old wall pigeons take flight. They intermingle, flapping noisily over the other side of the wall. The shops begin to open. Rusty garage doors are lifted. Metal entrances squeakily are slid aside. Chiang Mai is slowly waking up.
Recently I decided to go on a morning run through the city. Being new to Chiang Mai, I wasn’t exactly sure where to go. So I pulled out my tourist map, laying it on my bed. I knew I needed a definitive route. I eventually decided to run along the moat. I ended up loving the whole experience. The neighbourhoods were quickly beginning to rouse. Hectic streets presented a stark contrast to quiet roads in my Colorado hometown. I took in all types of sights and smells, absorbing the unique beauty of Chiang Mai. I ran along the moat for quite some time, and later through a small local market. Eventually I stumbled upon the city park. There was a takraw game going on, being played on a small concrete court. The players speedily knocked the ball back and forth over a net. They shouted competitively, completely drenched in sweat. I observed the game with total fascination. I had never seen or heard of that sport. It was completely new to me, and far different than any sport in America.
Being a foreigner, Chiang Mai is definitely a lot to take in. The intricate winding markets and beautiful temples are truly sights to behold. It becomes clear to me why so many expatriates live in this city. I’m awed by the level of detail in the temples. I’m amazed by the size of the markets. I’m enticed by the exotic food. It’s unlike anything I’ve ever experienced before. The local culture is strikingly unique and truly vibrant, the city a hub of activity.
I finished my run in a small neighbourhood. Opening the door to the guesthouse, I walked silently into the hallway. As I trudged up the stairs to my room it hit me. Chiang Mai is truly a beautiful and diverse city, and I can’t wait to explore it.