I’m writing this guest blog post from a cushion on the floor of Freedom Yoga, in Chiang Mai, Thailand. Quick plug: Visit Freedom Yoga if you can. It’s amazing. We wanted our sabbatical to include a yoga retreat. Well, I did. Rana might have been humoring me. We found options from humble ashrams (with outdoor showers, and pre-dawn sessions) to luxury resorts (that were way too expensive).
Instead, we happily returned to our teachers Adam and Ning at Freedom Yoga, whom we got to know on our first trip to Chiang Mai. The biggest advantage was freedom. We slept where we wanted, ate what we wanted, and did yoga when we wanted. This was a good decision!
Plus, Rana and I were both ready for some familiarity. Traveling is wonderful because of all the new people, ideas, and places. …and it can be tiring when everything is new. We were both happy to spend two weeks back in ‘our neighborhood’ in Chiang Mai.
This is a very cool, relaxed city. We had already explored Chiang Mai, so we had our favorite restaurants: Dash, Riverside, Sababa, Rock Me Burger, Somewhere Cafe & The Corner. We also already knew our favorite spots – like Lila Thai Massage, Bauk Had Park and Loi Kroh Road.
So we took a vacation from our vacation and spent two weeks just relaxing. There was lots of sleeping and reading and lounging. We played word games together on the iPad. I went for leisurely jogs around the moat that surrounds the old city.
Plus, we did lots of yoga. We went to 25 yoga sessions in two weeks. That’s almost one 90-min yoga class for each of us, every day. Yay! We both feel stronger and slimmer, and we are much more flexible, with better balance. Our yoga retreat was just what I wanted…and our bodies are sore & tired, so we will likely take a break from yoga.
Along the way, we deliberately left a bunch of room for the unexpected. On our first day, there was a flower festival at our favorite park.
One day there was a parade, that surprised even the local shopkeepers. One evening, we went to Chinatown and celebrated the Chinese New Year.
We spent a day at the huge, modern, western-style shopping mall (that was me humoring Rana). Rana visited a famous umbrella factory, while I lounged at the pool.
Overall, our second visit to Chiang Mai has been a great chapter in our sabbatical. This place increasingly feels like our second home. I’m confident we will come back to Chiang Mai someday.
Next, we catch a bus to Pai, which is a small (4,000 people) bohemian town on a river in the mountains even further north. We hear that it’s peaceful and beautiful. Nice!