Chiang Mai: 20 years on

When I was in my 20’s, I had romantic ideas about Chiang Mai. They were fostered in stories from travellers, and embellished through fantasies cultivated out of B grade movies about the golden triangle!

Twenty years on, riding a bamboo raft down a muddy river, trekking across jungle suspension bridges and drinking coffee and whiskey made by villagers… my fantasies were given some foundation.

The ideas I had back then have now been shaped into a view that reflects a more realistic picture of this beautiful region.

I’m sure Thailand has changed a lot in 20 years, but not so much that it is a completely different experience to that of travellers back then. I think that the way I travel now probably influences my view as much as the developing country around me. I look at twenty-something backpackers arriving in the country and I cant help thinking that their thoughts & experiences will not be too dissimilar to my own from 20 years ago. Even if I can now see that there are changes.

When it come to travel, the motto is: It doesn’t matter when you go, just go.




River leap

Chiang Mai rafting


let it rain

7 thoughts on “Chiang Mai: 20 years on

  1. you really capture community and connection in your photos. and I love your point about the way you travel being influential. not that I travel far myself, but I think its true for all kinds of transitions. when I was young and moving house, we’d just load up a trailer and go. all these years later, and all this experience, you’d think it would be at least as easy. but it’s become astonishingly complex.

    1. Yes, in some ways I think it is age and the things that come with it, responsibility, thoughts of consequences..fear of consequences.

      The other factor is that as we grow up we learn more about what we like, what we want as minimums and how to get those things. So we make an effort to ensure sure those things are available.

      If it is travel and we are talking about nice bathroom facilities, we pay a little more money for our room or we research every option. If it is moving house and it is seamless access to internet and TV, we plan in advance to create a smooth transition.

      When younger we often settled for ‘It’s the way things happened’ a lot of the times not really understanding just how much influence we had on those things.

      Thanks for the nice comment.

  2. You’re so right ….just go, cause life is amazing if you embrace what it has to offer. Just like your wonderful “real” photo’s.

  3. “It doesn’t matter where you go, just go.” I like that. But I’d also add, “Go with your eyes and heart wide open…” We can gain so much more if we aim to find beauty wherever we go. While living in Taiwan, I knew a few people who only wanted to criticize…

    It’s great, too, when you get to spend some time in a land, rather than just passing through. It is only then that you can get the true, full flavor of a place.
    Lovely images, Simon!!!

    1. Thanks Jessica. I totally agree with your thoughts. Cash in some miles – take an extra day from work – fly in – do the tour – fly out. It’s so very common to blast through a country without absorbing the smaller beauties that sit behind the tourist attractions.

      On short visits, we always tend to go for the big sights so we can ‘tick the box’. One of my best trips to Paris was when I spent the afternoon sitting on a sidewalk cafe, sipping red wine, eating bread watching the people, the next day I took a bike around the city. I saw a completely different side of the city.


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