Nimman: The Foreigners’ Comfort Zone in Chiang Mai

Wat Suan Dok - Ubosot
The ever beautiful Wat Suan Dok on the western side of Chiang Mai

Since I’ve touched down in Thailand, I’ve had this insane urge to explore. A feeling I haven’t had since I was a kid. However, one thing I’ve found during my week in Nimman is that I’ve fallen back into the land of comfort.

Let me explain.

Nimman is like the western hub of Chiang Mai. You’ve got 24/7 cafes, a 24/7 Subway, and other little western niceties, and that’s a good thing for those wanting to ease themselves into Thailand, but I kinda want a crash course.

Don’t get me wrong, this is all well and good, but I’m quickly realizing that it’s extinguishing that fire I had when I first got here; that passion in me to discover the undiscovered… Well, undiscovered to me, anyway.

Everything here is a little too convenient, and I sure as hell didn’t travel to a foreign country as beautiful as this to fall back in the trap of convenience.

I want to feel lost again, I want to feel uncomfortable, I want to feel like I have no idea what I’m doing or where I’m going. If life has taught me one thing, it’s that if I’m there and in the moment, I’ll push forward and grow. There’s no other option. It’s either that or give up, and I’m not a quitter.

I’ve been comfortable for too long and it’s encouraged this sense of complacency in myself. And I feel that Nimman is doing the same thing to me.

On the upside, the people here are beautiful. I’ve heard from others that the locals here are a bit stand offish to foreigners, but that couldn’t be any further from my truth. I smile at absolutely everybody, and guess what? They smile back. A far cry from what would normally happen back home in Australia.

Yesterday, a shit ton of rain came out of nowhere and walking back to my apartment from Maya (a large modern shopping mall) felt like a trek through a river. No joke. The water came up to my knees in some parts.

BUT IT WAS SO MUCH FUN!

Splashing through all the puddles, getting absolutely drenched… I felt like a kid again. Anyway, I digress. The point I’m making is that so many of the locals offered me an umbrella to borrow so I could get home dry (or at the very least, less wetter than I was). Looking back, I should have taken one of them up on the offer as I almost ruined my Canon 60D, but oh well, the memory is something that will stay with me forever.

I’ve also learned not to sweat the small stuff on an internal level. I’ll give you an example.

Recently, I visited The Salad Concept on Nimmanahaeminda Rd. I took a seat and this time, instead of ordering my usual Tofu Salad with Japanese Soy Sauce, I thought I’d change it up and order the veggie pizza.

First, I asked the waiter if it was vegan (Mạngs̄wirạti – มังสวิรัติ) and he assured me it was, and since I saw no cheese on the pic of the pizza and it wasn’t listed in the ingredients, I figured ‘Hell yeah!’

Well, 15 minutes later the pizza came back to me and this thing rivaled the amount of cheese my brother, Chris would chuck on a pizza.

I wasn’t phazed or annoyed. I was calm, because in the big scheme of things, it didn’t matter. Because it doesn’t.

I explained to the waiter that I don’t have meat, cheese, milk or egg (you know, vegan) and he apologized profusely and headed back towards the kitchen. 10 minutes later, he comes back and apologizes as the pizza base itself has egg in it.

I laughed.

I could see the tension building in the other staff members because by this point, I had been waiting for just under 30 minutes and still no food. I think they thought I was going to lose my cool so understandably, he was a little nervous telling me this news. I turned to him, smiled and said “Dude, it’s okay. These things happen. Can I just get the Tofu salad with the Japanese Soy Sauce, please?”

The Salad Connection - Japanese Tofu Salad
Seriously, how can you get irate with this coming your way!

His face changed, as did the rest of staff’s energy. They all began smiling. Shit yeah! Talk about turning a negative into a positive. Usually, there would be some sort of annoyance there within me, and understandably so, right? But for the first time, there wasn’t. I was in a foreign country and loving it, and I wasn’t about to ruin some poor guy’s day by being a dick because I was hungry.

Mistakes happen people and how we react to them is what defines our character.

Anyway, in closing I’m venturing out of Nimman to explore the non-westernized parts of Thailand, the real Thailand. I’ll be heading north to Chiang Rai and going off the recommendation of another solo traveler I met here, I’m hoping to volunteer at the Elephant Sanctuary. I say ‘hoping’ because I’m wondering how I’m going to fit in my work requirements. But where there’s a will, there’s a way, right?

Have you been to Chiang Mai before? If so, let me know what you guys think of Nimman. Do you agree with my thoughts? Perhaps you disagree? Either way, I’d love to hear what you have to say in the comments section below.

Love and strength,

Rich

 

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