WANDERING IN CHIANG MAI

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I treated myself to a short getaway last week to Chiang Mai and it was everything I had hoped for it to be. It has been more than 10 years since I've last been and my last time there was a lot of touristy stuff done with family like visiting elephant camps and doing river rafting. My friend, Nalinna, who I recently caught up with in Bangkok invited me to stay with her in her home and it was an amazing experience to say the least. I can't say we even did much because there is so much I have yet to see in this part of Thailand but it was me being able to let go of a lot of things that had been happening in Singapore and find peace with myself again. I've always preferred staying with friends whenever I travel to get a more authentic expereince of really experiencing 'living' in a new place so I was really glad I got to spend time with Nalinna and her family in her beautiful home. Her family runs a little curry restaurant called Hinlay Curry at Natwatkate Road and everyday I found myself the most happy just helping out around at the restaurant whether it was plating up dessert or washing some dishes. Its weird to some to think that I took an aeroplane to hang out in a restaurant but I simply loved being with Nalinna and her family. It warmed my heart to see how passionate her parents were to running the little eatery. As for Nalinna, some of you may find her familiar as she calls herself the 'forest wanderer' on Instagram and I'm not kidding when I say this girl truly lives up to that name. I don't think I've ever gotten so close to nature in my entire life and Chiang Mai was definitely the last place I expected to do that. Nalinna is passionate to her craft, so amazingly talented, beautiful and filled with so much fun and energy. Whenever she sees an interesting flower or plant she goes up to it, takes some photos and admires it from afar. She has also explored several forests all over the mountains and I was lucky to spend a day with her up in Chiang Dao. She was such a great tour guide and sharing with me about her time growing up in Chiang Mai and the UK, introducing me to Northern Thai cuisine which I absolutely love and giving me the most authentic experience one can get. I am so lucky. Having been to Bangkok every year for the past 13 years of my life, I found Chiang Mai vastly different- it is a lot more peaceful and all about the slow life. No hustling or bustling. Locals are also less hostile, a lot more patient and friendly. It was a refreshing change from what I am used to and I cannot wait to be back again.