Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Chiang Mai: Our Secret Garden

Yesterday we arrived in Luang Prabang, Laos. The flight in was stunning: jagged peaks shrouded in mist, covered with, lush, green vegetation. I need to tell you about Chiang Mai before Laos wins me over.

Chang Mai did not quite hold the laid back charm that we had hoped for. It's a small city, full of cars and trucks and exhaust. Significantly less than Bangkok, but an unpleasant presence nonetheless. We were staying in the old part of the city for the first few nights, so good food and massages were never hard to find. We found a highly recommended masseuse around the corner from our guest house and could not have been happier with our $7, 1.5 hour massage. Heavenly!

Simon and Martin were still a bit out of sorts with their various ailments, so we really took it easy, besides the zoo, we also checked out the famous Wat Doi Suthep, which was beautiful. Simon was very excited to see Buddha again, and I was less than thrilled with yet another poorly timed dirty diaper. We need to get that belly under control, boy!

On Wednesday everything changed. Per the recommendation of a fellow traveling family, we had booked the next 5 nights at a small family run guest house just outside of the city, The Secret Garden. Yet again, we were looking forward to getting out of the city and enjoying some fresh air. We were hopeful that this time we got it right.

We were not disappointed. Located in the small handicraft village of Bosang, it is about 20 minutes from central Chiang Mai. It is green, lush, secluded, and tranquil. The German-Thai family that runs the place could not be more accommodating, working hard to make your stay extremely comfortable.

One of the best features is the dinner option. They have a set buffet menu for every night of the week, and for a bargain price you can sample a variety of local Thai dishes. Definitely the best Thai food we had during our 2 weeks in Thailand.

Breakfast (included) and dinner were served in the covered Sala area, where you could watch the family cooking up a delicious feast. This communal area was a great place to connect with other travelers, share stories, and make friends. We really enjoyed meeting Lily and Steve from California, on their delayed honeymoon. We found out that we both had planned our trips to Chiang Mai in part around the northern Thai festival Yi Ping. We managed to organize a whole group from our hotel to go to this breathtaking lantern festival. (Separate post here.)

It is exactly the kind of place that I want to stay at over and over on every leg of our trip. Probably the best place I have ever stayed anywhere. We were dragging our feet as we left, thinking how nice it would be with just one more night, one more meal. Martin would have been happy staying there for the next 3 months. But we made it it the airport and made it to Laos. We are moving on.

Going to Chiang Mai? Stay here!


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