Swimming pools in Chiang Mai, Thailand

One of the great ways to exercise in Chiang Mai is swimming. Most of the year you can swim both in the daytime and in the evening – it is always warm and all the swimming pools I know of are outside. The only time of the year that you may prefer only to swim during the day is the winter (from November to February) when the air temperature may drop to 15 degrees in the evening.

Even for a working woman like myself, I still feel as if I am on holiday all year long when I go to my favorite pool twice a week to swim. The picture below feature my favorite swimming pool. Thomas and I swim here together. It is the pool on the 7th floor in the Lotus Hotel in Central Kad Suen Kaew on Huay Kaew road. The swimming pool which is open from 9-21 costs 100 baht to use per time and with that comes a clean towel (not sour like most laundry in the rainy season they must have the only hot water washing machine in Chiang Mai 🙂 ). In the weekends we like to spend time sunbathing here as well and if you hide yourself you can even sunbath without a top (Scandinavian style).

Tina, Lotus Hotel Swimming Pool

Another pool you might want to consider is the Olympic size pool in the 700 Years Stadium. The entrance fee is 50 baht, but you have to remember your own towel and padlock for the safe. Be warned that the showers and toilets are a bit dirty. To get to the stadium you drive north on the Canal road for about 4 kilometers (from Huay Kaew road). It is on your left-hand side. The opening hours are 9-20.

A third option is the Duangtawan Hotel (although more expensive). The hotel has a sauna and a big L-shaped pool. The cost for using the pool for one day is 200 baht, but monthly and yearly memberships are also available. The Duangtawan hotel is located on Loi Kroh road just off the night Bazaar..Lotus swimming pool, Chiang Mai, Thailand

A cheaper option is the swimming pool at Hillside Plaza and Condo on Huay Kaew road. The pool is fairly small and not really suitable for laps, but it is nice to sunbath there (although topless is not accepted). The entrance fee is 50 baht which includes free refill of ice cold water

Hence you don’t need to stay in an expensive hotel in Chiang Mai to have access to a swimming pool. It’s perfectly affordable and accessible without paying a lot for accommodation. Enjoy 🙂

Burmese restaurant in Chiang Mai, Thailand

The Burmese restaurant on Nimmenhaemin (across from soi 13) it one of our favorite restaurants in Chiang Mai. Not only is it very cheap with dishes ranging from 20-30 baht (0.60 $ – 1$), it is also very tasty food. The cuisine of Burma has been influenced by Chinese and Indian cooking, but it also has its own distinct flavor. The staple food is rice (htamin) served with mild curries (hin) made with vegetables, chicken, fish or seafood. Being a vegetarian I am not much in favor of the fish or chicken but the salads they serve are divine.

“Salad” is perhaps a misleading term for such intricate concoctions as these, full of sharp, contrasting flavors and varied textures. Green Tea Leaf Salad, made from fermented tea leaf, garlic, tomatoes, onion, and broad beans, is a smoky, utterly delicious and addictive dish. The menu in this restaurant is long but the dishes available few. However, they are all delicious. Besides the curries and tea leaf salad, they have tomato salad, fried egg salad, pennyworth salad, tamarind leaf salad, mango salad and bean soup.

The interior is nothing to write home about: brightly lit room with florescent lights and about seven tables. So it may not be the interior for a romantic dinner but then again it’s the company that matters isn’t it? 🙂

The picture below is taken outside the restaurant.

Burmese restaurant in Chiang Mai, Thailand

Sound file: Night time in Chiang Mai, Thailand

[audio:http://media.libsyn.com/media/earthoria/earthoria_2_sound.MP3|titles=Sound file 01: Night time in Chiang Mai Thailand|artists=Earthoria]
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This was recorded from outside our house in Chiang Mai. We fall asleep with these sounds every night – from the Cicadas and barking dogs on a dry night, to thousands of mating frogs after the rains, it is never quiet outside! Is it any wonder we both sleep with earplugs?! The mating frogs come after the barking dogs.

Traditional Thai massage at Wat Umong, Chiang Mai

Tina, having a massage at Wat Umong, Chiang Mai, ThailandIf there is one thing Thailand is famous for it is definitely their massage parlours both erotic and non-erotic. Now I have never had an erotic massage (Thomas might – but I am sure he would not admit it) but I have enjoyed Thai massage many times. Thai massage is bodywork that is performed on a mat/futon on the floor. No oils are used, as it is performed over loose-fitting clothing, usually provided by the massage parlor. During the massage you are placed into numerous Yoga stretches that flow into one another, the masseuse (usually a woman) kneads and compresses the muscles, while intermittently applying acupressure. You are suppose to be completely relaxed while receiving a massage but that can honestly be a bit difficult sometimes when the pressure on the muscles is too hard. Then you will swiftly have to say "bao bao" which means "soft" in Thai. I usually do that every time in the beginning when I receive a massage – that saves me from saying it after it hurts too much.

My favorite massage parlor in Chiang Mai is located next to Wat Umong (please see directions in the blog A visit to Wat Umong (forest temple), Chiang Mai). When approaching Wat Umong you will see a big yellow sign on your right hand side saying "99". This means that the Thai massage costs 99 baht for one hour and is basically as cheap as you can find it in Chiang Mai. The house itself is open in the front and the roof is made from leaves which helps make the atmosphere very relaxed. There are always around 12 ladies working in this massage parlor, but in the weekend you might have to wait a little while to get a massage as the place is very popular among the Thai residents of Chiang Mai.

Thomas and I enjoy going there on the weekends when we are not working and usually get one and a half hour massage at a time enough to make you completely tranquil and forget about any stress you may have had during the week. It is definitely worth a try!

Podcast: Learning to Ride a Motorbike in Thailand

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Tina has been wanting to learn to ride a proper motorbike for a while now, so on a cloudy Saturday morning in Chiang Mai, I gave her some lessons in the road that we live in.

Earlier this year we spent some time trying to find an official driving school in Chiang Mai where we could both learn. In the end, having searched everywhere, we came to the conclusion that not only were there no driving schools geared towards foreigners here, but that there were no driving schools at all. This realisation fitted well with the general level of road chaos in Chiang Mai.

On the BBC website, there is a guide to ‘Driving Etiquette’ in Thailand. It states:

The first rule of driving in Thailand is: Don’t!

The second rule is: Don’t!

The most incredible thing about driving in Thailand is that a people who are so lovely, friendly and forgiving turn into complete monsters when sitting in a car or complete idiots when sitting on a motorbike. Actually driving in Thailand isn’t quite so bad as its reputation would have you believe, but it still is not to be undertaken by the faint of heart.

Tina learning to ride a bike in Chiang Mai

Despite know this, I ended up buying a bike to learn on, the bike in the photo – a Honda Phantom 200cc. I had already been driving mopeds around Chiang Mai for a year. After a quick lesson from a friend, and a few thousand kilometres in the surrounding countryside (including a mountainous trip to Pai) I decided it was worth trying to get my Thai Motorbike license. I drove on my moped to the test centre, and immediately got issued with a car license based on the fact I had a UK car license. Easy!

However, as I didn’t have a motorbike allowance on my license, I was told I would need to do a motorbike test. They sat me in a room and tested my reaction time and eyesight with various archaic-looking contraptions, before taking me to a room full of computers. I had 30 minutes to answer 30 multiple choice questions chosen randomly from 80 questions in the system. To cut a long, frustrating story short, the pass mark is 23 out of 30, and I got 21 the first time and 22 the second time I took the test. I therefore failed.

To compound my misery, I realised that some of the questions I had got correct had been marked as wrong – for example – a picture of a blue circle with ’30’ inside apparently means “You must go a minimum of 30km/hour” in Thailand. When I questioned the examiner on these surprising answers he replied “Haha! Computer in Bangkok wrong….you want to do test again?”

I left the test centre on my moped, promising myself I would never return. I could now legally drive a V8 Toyota Landcruiser out of the test centre, and park it illegally on a junction just like everyone else, but alas, not my 100cc moped.

For more information, check out the Golden Triangle Rider website for excellent maps and tips on some of the possible motorbike trips in Northern Thailand. Take it from us, don’t go on a ‘elephant trek’ in Chiang Mai – hire some bikes and head out into the mountains!

A day at Huay Tung Thao lake, Chiang Mai

Huay Tung Thao lake, Chiang MaiWe often head out to Huay Tung Thao lake, about 12km outside Chiang Mai, to escape the heat of the city, have a swim and relax in a hammock. The lake is set at the foot of a mountain, and has some beautiful views of the surrounding countryside.

There are quite a few simple restaurants set around the lake, with huts on stilts in the water that you can sit in if you prefer some shade.

To get there, you head North along Canal road about 10KM, and take a left. After a further 2kms you will arrive at a ‘toll booth’ where you pay an entry fee of 20 Baht per person.

For those of you into more adventurous activities than swinging in a hammock or swimming, around the other side of the lake is a small painballing (that was not a deliberate spelling error but it seemed appropriate so I left it) range (why anyone would want to go paintballing in the Thai heat utterly escapes me), and some Kayaks for hire. There are also ‘cute’ little pedalo (pedal-powered) boats that look like swans if you like that kind of thing…

Mike, Huay Tung Thao lake, Chiang MaiIt is rumoured that there is some off-road back route up to Doi Suthep from here, but we haven’t explored this rumour further at this time!



Google Map of how to get there


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Colonic Irrigation: detox at the Chiang Mai Ayurvedic Center

I decided to write a small blog on colonic irrigation/ hydrotherapy. For years I have suffered from constipation and have been drinking herb teas, drinking lots of water and eating fiber and I still feel constipated from time to time. So after having been recommended to try colonic irrigation by an acquaintance of mine (who has done it 10 times and was very happy with the result) and reading lots about the topic on the internet I decided to try it out.

Colonic Irrigation

For those of you who are not aware what exactly the term covers – here goes: Colonic irrigation is the process of flushing large amounts of warm water into the intestinal tract, reaching the upper portions of the bowel. Basically you are cleansing the colon by passing several gallons of water through it with the use of special equipment. It is similar to an enema but treats the whole colon, not just the lower bowel. This has the effect of flushing out impacted fecal matter, toxins, mucous, and even parasites that often build up over the passage of time.

As you have probably already guessed the procedure it done by inserting a speculum the size of about 1 centimeter in diameter and 15 cm long in the bum much bigger than I had expected. Now I have often done coffee enemas myself at home in the bathtub but believe me – a coffee enema involves a thin tube whereas the colonic irrigation involves a much bigger instrument inserted in your rectum.

At first I entered the room which was serviced by two Thai women working at The Chiang Mai Ayurvedic Center (http://www.detox-chiangmai.com/). They asked me to go to the bathroom and take off all my clothes and wrap a piece of material around me. After this I was instructed to lie on a bed in the middle of the room on my side. The end of the bed was standing up against the colonic irrigation machine. During colonic irrigation, a speculum is passed into the bowel through the rectum. This is attached to a tube, which leads to the colonic machine that pumps temperature-controlled water into the colon at a controlled rate (they basically asked me when it was uncomfortable for me). It is important that the right amount of water is used, as too much will cause discomfort and too little will be ineffective. The temperature should ideally be body temperature but I think it was a bit warmer than that.

The amount of water in the intestine will wary from person to person. Most people can hold between two and six liters at any one time. The amount you can hold is also determined by your psychological state so to speak. Getting lots of water sprayed into your intestines makes you feel like going to the toilet and you may not like lying on a bed surrounded by strangers feeling like you are going to empty your bowel all over the place . The girls at the clinic told me that many people only like to have a little water sprayed in every time. This means that the process will be repeated many more times.

Filling the intestines with water generates peristaltic movement and you begin to expel the water along with fecal matter back through the tube and into the machine. The fecal matter is flushed out through a viewing tube, so that what is eliminated may be monitored. Quite often, unsuspected parasites are expelled, along with very old fecal material, very dark in color, which may have been in the colon for years.

During the treatment, one girl was holding the speculum in its place in my rectum and monitoring whatever was coming out with comments like "ohhh I think you have eaten mushroom" and "that must be passion fruit seeds" and the other girl was massaging my stomach to help dislodge impacted fecal matter. Unfortunately for me hardly anything came out and the girl who was first holding the speculum seemed to be assuming that the other one massaging me was not doing a proper job- so she took over. They were both giving me what can only be characterized as a hard massage and I didn’t feel comfortable at all to be honest.

After one hour of having water pumped in and water massaged out I was allowed to go and use the washroom. I went to the toilet and washed myself. After that I went back to the bed to have oil injected into the rectum. They told me that the oil would kill any worms etc. But as you can imagine it is not possible to retain oil inside of you- so it all went into the toilet.

Once I had dressed they served me a green drink and another hot drink with was suppose to generate healthy bacteria. I paid 1200 Baht (the equivalent of 38 $) and left.

On websites and at clinics advocating for colonic irrigation it is emphasized that Anyone suffering from gas, bloating, cramping pains, acne and other skin complaints, arthritis, and a list of bowel complaints such as irritable bowel etc., may benefit from colonic irrigation. Removing toxic matter is suppose to relieve you and can lead to the alleviation of symptoms such as arthritis, chronic fatigue syndrome, candidacies, and a host of other illnesses.

Some allopathic practitioners claim that colonic irrigation flushes out essential electrolytes and friendly bacteria from the bowel and that it can be dangerous. Practitioners counter that this can easily be remedied with the use of probiotics and that in any case, these possible disadvantages are easily offset by the benefits of having large amounts of putrefying matter, harmful organisms, and parasites removed from the system.

Now I had expected to feel immense relief but instead I had pain in my stomach and the pain continued the next day and I was constipated and had no bowel movement at all. But I had already paid for 3 treatments in advance and therefore I wrote to the clinic and asked them for advice. They responded very kindly and told me that I could get the money back that I had paid in advance or try to see if I felt better after another session. I chose the first option. I try as much as possible to listen to my body and due to the fact that my body reacted with pain, I decided not to do it again (for now).

I might try colonic irrigation later in life but momentarily I think I will stick to self-administered coffee enemas and raw food which so far has kept me happy.