Resident Expert: Sudaporn “Som” Teja
Neighbourhood: Mae Rim
What are the defining characteristics of your neighbourhood?
Mae Rim is where I grew up. There are so many good memories I have of this place, and despite having to travel for work to Bangkok, Pattaya and even Paris, Mae Rim is still the place I love the most. The people are well mannered, warm and friendly and the lifestyle is even calmer than Chiang Mai, with nature all around and a really peaceful feeling wherever you go.
What do you like least about it?
Mae Rim is growing, like any city, but with the main road getting busier and more and more developments happening, it is getting more dusty and noisy.
Who lives here?
Most people who live in my area of Mae Rim at least, are local vendors. Food vendors, or handicraft vendors, all trying to make a living in and around the town. There are also a lot of civil servants living here as there are many government buildings between Mae Rim and Chiang Mai.
Best everyday restaurant:
Som Tum Pa Noy is by far the best som tam restaurant I have ever found. Selling grilled chicken and pork, classic and northern style som tam and fresh sticky rice, it’s perfect for any time of the day. The auntie who owns it opened it before I was even born after she came into some money from winning a national som tam making competition! It’s under the foot bridge opposite the Nakornping Hospital. Try her northern style green mango som tam – it’s unlike anywhere else, a real traditional style which I must eat every time I am home.
Best special occasion restaurant:
I don’t usually eat out at expensive places. In fact the best place for a special occasion is at home with family and friends. But I must say there is one place that is great (not expensive or fancy) but really hearty for a memorable night out. It’s called Laab Rot Nung or Number One Tasting Laab (located down the soi near Som Tum Pa Noi). It does a great laab kua, a northern style laab made with blood, meat and a more earthy taste compared to the Isaan style laab.
Best night out:
The Suan Luang Rama 9 Park (www.suanluang rama9.or.th/en) has a lake with bars and restaurants floating around the edge for a really fun night out. It’s not far at all from Chiang Mai, right next to the tribal museum just north of Kuang Singh junction off Canal Road and is a bit like Huay Tung Tao but less known and much more exciting. There are karaoke rafts, bars with live music and some good food too.
Best cheap eat:
Best place to get cheap eats is at the Mae Rim Market opposite the Nakornping Hosptial. Here you can get amazing fried chicken at Jae Or Gai Tord, sweet Thai coconut milk treats, and a large amount of fresh curries, soups, cooked salads and really good northern food.
Best daytime activity:
There is so much to do in Mae Rim. I personally like to visit the Tita Gallery (www.facebook.com/TitaGallery) and admire the artwork they are showing, but there are loads of adventure centres, and beautiful waterfalls to visit if that’s more your thing.
One of my favourite places to go is 700 Years Stadium on the Canal Road. Most people go to exercise or watch football games, but I use it for something quite different. When I was younger, my friends and I used to have band practice there, because it wouldn’t be too noisy for anyone. Now I like to take a stroll and enjoy the beautiful atmosphere. I tend to go alone, get a coffee, sit and just paint.
Mae Rim is a beautiful place, so make sure you explore it properly before leaving. There is so much hidden away just waiting to be discovered.