Chiang Mai, Thailand, is known for it’s vibrant culture, spectacular festivals, and many live events. But the Thais are not the only ones who are contributing to this.

There is a large holistic community of non-Thais, visitors, travelers and expats from all over the world. They are into yoga, massage, holistic life styles, meditation, healing arts, just to name a few.

You can see them at holistic festivals, in the many Thai Massage schools, in yoga classes, in the city park, and in the restaurants that cater to them.

There is, at least at the time of this writing, a farmers market happening every Friday afternoon next to the Three Kings Monument. I happened to see one very graceful and talented western woman doing a spontaneous dance performance right at the market.

She is living proof that Chiang Mai’s famous atmosphere and culture is a mix of Thais and westerners. Chiang Mai is a multi-cultural city with tens of thousands of visitors and expats present at any time.



shama 100pxThe author, Shama Kern, has been living in Thailand for well over a decade. He is the founder of Thai Healing Massage Academy, an online training school for Thai Massage. You can reach him at [email protected]

If you have children, this is for you! Watch a big high school event where students from several schools in Chiang Mai, Thailand, are competing in sports and dance. The dancing is similar to western cheer leaders, however the sports events are less serious and more fun.

There is ‘sack hopping’, chasing a little ball with green eggplants hanging from the hip, and other fun events. This is not a tourist event, but footage about real life in Thailand. Watch the video below:

In Thailand there are colorful local markets everywhere. In small towns they are the main shopping venue, and in larger towns they co-exist with supermarkets.

Thais like shopping in local markets because the food is fresh, there is lots to see, the atmosphere is friendly and fascinating, there is social interaction, and often you can even get a massage right in the middle of the market.

Here is a quick peek into a local market experience in Chiang Mai in northern Thailand.


Resort in Muine Vietnam

Here is one of many dozens of resorts in Muine, Vietnam, with amazing value. My room in this one was $15 a night. I had cable TV, Wifi, fridge, A/C, a great view and a gorgeous pool. Actually I took this picture from my balcony.

This was not a steal of a deal special bargain. This was the regular room rate. Ok, it was a single room. For a double I would have had to pay $18. But even if you had to spend a little more you could still live like a king on a small budget.

A dinner can be had for $3 (not including drinks), and a 4 hour jeep tour to various attractions costs $6. Sure, you can splurge and spend a lot more on fancier rooms and dinners, but you don’t have to.

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being right is my religion650

In western countries, like the US for example, being right is like a religion. People are absolutely convinced that their opinion is the only correct one, and they feel compelled to tell everyone. Read the rest of this story

How old are you

The reaction to the same question in Thailand would be very different

Why do the Thais always ask you how old you are?

In the western world you don’t dare asking a woman how old she is. It is considered rude and intrusive, and many western women will flat out refuse to tell you their age.

The implied concept is that aging is a bad thing for a woman and should be hidden as much as possible. Being secretive about age and even lying about it is considered acceptable.

Now let’s move on over to Asia. Here comes our first time Thailand visitor, a woman for our story, and she is taken aback since people regularly ask her how old she is. Why are they so nosy in Thailand? Why do they pry into such intimate subjects? Read the rest of this story

thai massage session

Thailand is the land of massage. It’s everywhere. You don’t have to look for it. It will find you. The easy and very affordable access to massage in Thailand is one of the pleasures of living here.

Like everywhere in the world, the quality of massage varies greatly. I have received many wonderful Thai Massage sessions in Thailand, but I also had some rather bizarre experiences. The silver lining of those sub-standard massages was that they helped me to develop an approach to finding good therapists.

One story sticks out in my mind which in hindsight seems quite funny, but when it actually happened, I wasn’t laughing. That was the point when I decided that I needed a better method for finding good Thai Massage. Read the rest of this story

Thai Massage and Yoga connection

Thai Massage and Yoga are family members

Thai Massage has its origins in India’s yoga system. According to legend, an Indian physician came to Thailand and introduced what is now called “Thai Massage”. His name is a tongue breaker – Shivaka Komarpaj -and nobody agrees on the spelling. I always called him “Dr. Shivago” for simplicity’s sake which is fairly close to how his first name is actually pronounced.

He is still revered as the founder of Thai Massage and many massage schools display his picture or statue. He was a contemporary of Buddha, which makes Thai Massage about 2500 years old.  Many Thai therapists begin their sessions with a prayer to him. Read the rest of this story

tourists posing with soldiers

Tourists are lining up to pose with the soldiers in Chiang Mai’s Sunday Market

I have lived through two military coup d’etats here in Thailand. They were both very uniquely Thai style affairs. Normally we associate coups with violence, shooting, arrests, and political prisons, in other words very unpleasant events.

However Thailand has come up with what I call “velvet coups”. I remember the first one in 2006. The army rolled out tanks in the streets of Bangkok. But instead of creating an atmosphere of terror among the citizens, many Thais took it as a fun event.

They climbed up on the tanks, handed flowers to the soldiers and had their pictures taken while posing on the tanks with the soldiers. No shots were fired and nobody got hurt. Read the rest of this story

Crazy House in Dalat, Vietnam

Would you believe that you are looking at a house?
Yes, you are – the Crazy House in Dalat, Vietnam.

I went to the Crazy House today here in the city of Dalat in Vietnam. No, not to the loony bin – I did not go crazy.

The truth is that there are no crazy people in the Crazy House at all. But there are plenty of tourists who are happy to pay the entrance fee to see this really unique house. Actually it is several houses, not one. Read the rest of this story