The mornings, are a time when monks walk the sois going from house to house looking for alms, workers set up their carts and shops, ready for the day’s sales, students ready for school, and mothers and fathers wander the markets finding the best deals on vegetables for their families at home. Most tourists tend to visit attractions by day and only really get to explore the city at night. They tend to overlook the early mornings in Chiang Mai, a few hours where the genuine local life pops its head out before once again disappearing behind the swarms of tourists. To see what Chiang Mai is like in those wee morning hours, Citylife took a tour of the alleyways and local communities to take a glimpse of the traditional northern morning lifestyle in the Old Town of Chiang Mai.
6.15am, on the way to the morning market, we found the Thammapakorn Social Welfare Development Centre for Older Persons. We met a group of grannies who were chatting and waiting for the monks to come by before breakfast.
Uncle Ta Khamhan, 72, who is mute, plays a salor (a northern musical instrument) in a sala in the old people’s home. He plays the salor with his friends, the man in orange is a dancer and singer. He entertains all of his friends every morning before the national anthem is played.
7am At Chiang Mai Gate Market, we met Uncle Phaitoon Luipakorn, 78, a rickshaw driver, who has been driving his rickshaw for over 50 years. He starts work at 3am daily, taking women to the market, and finally goes home at 3pm every afternoon. He enjoys riding his rickshaw (or samlor) for daily exercise and says he no longer needs the money.
Kampan Saengkampin, 67, has been selling cooking products for over 40 years. Every day he starts from 3am and he normally sells out by 10am at Chiangmai Gate Market. He returns again every evening, after a nice long afternoon nap.
The empty Tha Pae Boxing Stadium smells of stale booze and late night hedonism. A few men are sitting by the side of the rink, blurry eyed, as they fold brochures, ready to hand out to invite tourists to the night’s match.
Prapan Jaichan, 58, a firefighter, waiting for the Emergency Evacuation Rehearsal in front of the fire station. He says that there are few fires, most of his time is spent chasing after lost cats or catching snakes.
Boonmee Makaew, 68, was waiting for his niece to feed the pigeons at Tha Pae Gate, something they do together once or twice a week.
Uncle Oh, 55, become an unofficial guide for his new friend Neil Hirschouit, 53, from the United States. The two met on the streets a few days ago as Uncle Oh likes to chat to foreigners. The two were having a morning stroll in the local market down Ratvithi 2 Alley.
This is not the normal perspective of Zoe in Yellow! By 9am the staff had nearly finished cleaning and scrubbing the last night party away.
10.30 am at Suan Buak Had, very empty, with a few tourists sitting around. Akaradech Nanthipat, 19, and Boonchu Talomkam, 19, building construction students from Chiang Mai Technical College were chilling at the park waiting for their next class to start. They were debating whether to leave the park to go off to a gaming centre or not.