Thailand -- Keeping the Experience Female-Friendly...
Ways to Enjoy Chiang Mai
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...
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
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...
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!
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
Chiang Mai Thai Cookery School
Office at 1-3 Moon Muang Road. Tel: (66-53) 206-388
25 Moon Muang Soi 9. Tel: (66-53) 219-896
218/6 Chotana Road
Lek Chaiya Massage
9/12 Hutsadhisawee Road. Tel: (66-53) 404-253.
Thailand Shopping tips...
offers some of the world's best values on precious and semi-precious
--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"
(Source: The Treasures and Pleasures of Thailand, Impact
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
A woman's map of local
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.