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Journey Doctor


Thailand -- Keeping the Experience Female-Friendly...

Wonderful Ways to Enjoy Chiang Mai

We're delighted to welcome Bangkok-based Nima Chandler to the Journeywoman Network. Nima is a single American woman in her early 30s who grew up in Thailand, and still calls it home. A former journalist, she now runs her mother's company, Nancy Chandler Graphics, which publishes maps of Bangkok and Chiang Mai. We asked Nima to offer some female-centered advice to those women travelling to her part of the world. She writes...


Shop and dine by the river...

Some of the most popular restaurants and highest quality shops are located on a short stretch of Charoen Rat road, from Nawarat Bridge to Wat Gate. It's worth visiting this area around 7:00 PM, exploring the Vila Cini and Oriental Style shops, checking out the art exhibit at The Gallery restaurant before it fills up for the night, and then having dinner at The Good View or The Riverside just next to it. If you like live music, The Riverside generally has two bands playing, one on either side of the restaurant. Later, at around 10:00 PM, for those that love acoustic guitar, walk back up past The Gallery to Le Brasserie to hear 'Took', one of Thailand's top musicians.

Tour the Secret Silk Street...

Tourists visiting Chiang Mai all shop the Night Bazaar, but few realize that just a few blocks north, on Kuang Mane Road, are the dealers of silk and handicrafts who sell to vendors at the Night Market. Granted, many are now retailers as well, but if you price goods in the Night Market first, you are still likely to get better bargains here.

Take the time to learn something new...

Chiang Mai's biggest attraction these days isn't it's sightseeing, restaurants or trekking. It's the Thai cooking schools in old teak houses (Chiang Mai Thai Cookery School and Thai Kitchen School), massage schools (Lek Chaiya Massage School), Thai language schools, and meditation schools (Raya Yoga Meditation Centre) Recently, I've even seen an advertisement for private Thai dancing lessons! The biggest complaint I hear from visitors to this city is, in fact, that they didn't leave enough time to take a course. Have fun, everybody!

A reader's suggestion...

Volunteer at the Elephant Nature Park
I wish to add an amazing destination in Chiang Mai, Thailand. Everybody visiting this attractive city should also spend time at the Elephant Nature Park. This park is home to cats, dogs, cows, water buffalo, and, of course, elephants. These pachyderms are orphans, or have been harmed by humans in some way; most of their stories are incredibly sad. You can visit the park as a day visitor or spend up to two weeks as a volunteer, or anything in between. Those who come for the day usually regretted not being able to stay longer. The web site will give you an idea of life with the ellies, but most days start with a quick breakfast of toast and jam, tea, and coffee. Then you can go for a walk with the beasts, if you wish, and/or scrub the elephants in the river on their return. Each animal has its own mahout (trainer and caregiver), who keeps a watch over his charge. Before lunch a truck arrives loaded with fruit and vegetables that the volunteers wash and cut up into (elephant) serving sizes. The elephants stand on the ground around the dining hut while those humans who wish stay on the deck and feed their chosen animal. The one I usually chose was very fussy; she insisted on eating all of the fruit first before she would consider the vegetables. The way she separated the fruit from the stalks and leaves of the pineapples was fascinating and the elephants with larger appetites were happy that they were able to eat the leaves she left on the ground. During the afternoons most of us kept busy in a variety of ways (listed on the web site), but I usually went dung collecting: This is not as bad as it sounds as the excrement is mainly undigested grass and has no smell. Besides, you can handle it. You're a Journeywoman!

The food for volunteers at the Elephant Nature Park is very good with many dishes being available at lunch and dinner. Accommodation is in very simple two-person cabins with a 'bathroom' (toilet and shower) shared by each group of cabins. Those of you who have travelled in Asia will be happy to know that the commodes are the sit-upon variety, not squats, and toilet paper is provided! When I was at the park most of the visitors were women, but there were also some families, and a sprinkling of men. It is definitely a female-friendly vacation. Please note that the idea of the Elephant Nature Park is to allow the elephants to live as nature and God intended: They do not give rides, do tricks, or perform in any way. They are just wonderful animals that have definitely earned their time at the Park. Please visit: for more information.
Sue, Toronto, Canada

Chiang Mai Addresses to know...

Chiang Mai Thai Cookery School
Office at 1-3 Moon Muang Road. Tel: (66-53) 206-388

Thai Kitchen School
25 Moon Muang Soi 9. Tel: (66-53) 219-896

Raya Yoga Meditation Centre
218/6 Chotana Road

Lek Chaiya Massage
9/12 Hutsadhisawee Road. Tel: (66-53) 404-253.

Thailand Shopping tips...

--Thailand offers some of the world's best values on precious and semi-precious stones.
--Thailand offers excellent buys on gold and silver
--The best quality jewelry, with styles appropriate for Westerners will be found in shops around the major hotels.
--Bronzeware tarnishes, is not dishwasher approved, and is a constant headache to keep clean and spotless. If you buy bronzeware, ask for the "nickle bronze" version

(Source: The Treasures and Pleasures of Thailand, Impact Guides)

Girl Talk...

Bring your own tampons. Thai women generally use sanitary napkins and what tampons are available are 'small' by western standards so bring your supply from home. Other toiletries are widely available. If you require prescription drugs, pick them up at your pharmacy before leaving. You'll get exactly what the doctor ordered. This isn't always the case when you're travelling.

A woman's map of local secrets...

Nancy Chandler's Maps of Bangkok and Chiang Mai are unique guides to shopping, dining and sightseeing, including lots of local secrets. Tailor your visit with her detailed market maps, listings including shops supporting good causes, places to go jogging, dining for the sweet tooth, and much more. Available worldwide for US$ 9.95 each. For further information, contact


Penguins and the Paparazzi



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