Chiang Mai

Published on October 19th, 2013


Chiang Mai: OMG It’s a S.A.L.A.D. BAR!


The truth is, it’s been touch and go since I landed here in Chiang Mai with the intent of settling in and making it my new “home”. Touch and go ‘cuz – though it’s a lovely place, and extraordinary in its own way – I can’t help but compare most everything here to my blissful experience in Vietnam.

Don’t get me wrong – Chiang Mai has much to offer (e.g. the crumbling ancient walls and a most charming moat dotted with water fountains surrounding the old city, not to mention the amazing Night Market just steps from my hotel serving HUNDREDS of delectable Asian dishes for little more than a buck, plus the Saturday Walking Market brimming with all manner of wondrously exotic trinkets). But after two years in Vietnam, I can’t help but miss the dear friends I’ve made there and the distinctively endearing ways of the Vietnamese culture.

That plus – just the usual initial challenges (and there are many) of dropping into a wholly new foreign culture, with a new gibberish language (and Thai – unlike Vietnamese which at least uses the Roman alphabet – is even more baffling as even the signs are in a seriously curlicued foreign script that is utterly indecipherable). Getting a grip on the city’s layout, finding a comfy place to live, figuring out a new transport system (xe oms are out, now it’s songthaews and tuk-tuks, each with their own set of bartering rules), etc.


Then there’s the challenge of a wholly new visa system here in Thailand. The sobering reality that obtaining a long-term (anything more than a month) visa here is fraught with ack. I came in on a free 30 day (non-extendable) tourist visa which means I MUST leave the country by the end of October. Worse, a simple overland visa run to (relatively) nearby Mae Sai at the Myanmar border takes you all day and only buys you another 15 days in Thailand. Repeat: a measly FIFTEEN DAYS! But apparently many folks here are making such runs every two weeks!

VisaCloseUp350x241For now, fortunately, I have to head to Saigon to pick up my stored baggage anyway, so I can grab a 2 month (extendable an additional 30 days in Chiang Mai -whew!) at the Thai embassy while I’m in Ho Chi Minh. But after that…   Suffice apparently there ARE alternatives – a work visa of course should/when I get around to teaching EFL, else – interestingly enough, it seems many of the foreigners here opt for a 1 yr. “ED visa” (Educational visa) by way of simply taking a Thai language course. The course needs to be at least 180 hrs. though and isn’t cheap (around $800 payable upfront), so that alternative too, is a bit daunting.

In short, clearly I have much to research and learn about the visa situation here, but suffice that compared to Vietnam (where I only had to leave the country every 9 months), living long-term in Thailand is looking rather grim.

Ah but all this downer talk is not why I’m here pecking today. Nosiree. Today I have come to share a most FABULOUSLY POSITIVE bit of news from the Chiang Mai front.

Indeed, I’m here to tell ya that – all of the aforementioned Thailand ugh swiftly paled when I recently stepped foot into a farang (the local term for any and all foreigners in Thailand) supermarket here in Chiang Mai and…


LETTUCE, and tomatoes and cucumbers, oh MY!

Lo and BEHOLD!

OMG – is that what I THINK it is???

Why it’s a  S-s-s-s-SALAD BAR!

We’re talkin’ LETTUCE here, people! Tender, green LEAFY L.E.T.T.U.C.E.! No less than SEVEN different varieties – red leaf, green leaf, bibb, and romaine. Chicory even, and arugula and omg – is that, could it be? RADICCHIO?! Plus TOMATOES, and OLIVES (omg – BOTH black and green!) and great big ol’ medallions of radish slices, both green and red pepper rings, shredded carrot, cucumbers, younameit.

Th-th-that’s it folks. Yes, oh my YES.  Visa ack aside, Chiang Mai shall do just dandy as my new home here in Asia.

About the Author

Off-the-beaten-path travel is my passion,and I’ve always lived life “like-a-kid-in-a-candy-store” – eager to sample as many flavors as I can. Indeed, my life motto has long been: This ain’t a dress rehearsal, folks!

9 Responses to Chiang Mai: OMG It’s a S.A.L.A.D. BAR!

  1. Graefyl says:

    A salad bar eh?And weren’t you the happy bunny 😀
    Graefyl kindly contributed to world literature by posting…An unplanned day in MadridMy Profile

  2. MCRT says:

    I finally figured out a good way to deal with the lack of e-mail notifications. I just added your page to the ones that open with my browser. Looking forward to watching the adventures.

    • Dyanne says:

      Sorry Mike – as I’m still on my little netbook here in Thailand (lots slower than my 17″ laptop that’s presently buried in a backpack in Saigon), I’ve not been able to track down the problem with the lost email subscribers.

      Glad you figured out a way to ensure you don’t miss a word of my TL blather – I’m honored!

  3. Tricia says:

    Fabulous report! You are living life!

    • Dyanne says:

      Thanks Tricia – so happy you stopped by. Yes, even unearthing lettuce here is an adventure. 😉

  4. It IS so hard setting up in a new place, especially if you don’t already have a job or flat or at the very least a friend there! I’ve been in France 10 days and thought about running away a few times. At least I don’t have visas to worry about, but I can’t afford to be out of work long at this price point!

    Imagine! You wouldn’t get a salad bar like that in Vietnam, would you? Sometimes you just need a sweet, sweet little taste of home.
    Ruth Elisabeth kindly contributed to world literature by posting…The French influenceMy Profile

    • Dyanne says:

      So true Ruth – unless you have a job or a pal or some sort of connection to SOMETHING – it’s hard to even know where to settle down within a new city. Nonetheless, it’s precisely that uncertainty that is so exhilarating – why I can’t seem to stay in one place for too very long. Indeed, I could have easily stayed all comfy same-same in my beloved Dalat, Vietnam – but all these new challenges here in Thailand are just what the doctor ordered!

      And you – in France now, eh? Poor thing. 😉 Then again yup, no doubt a pricey little place – bet ya don’t get dinner for a buck there!

      • I’ve been surprised how many people are shocked that I’ve (twice, three if you count university) moved to an entirely new place without any prior connection. It never occurred to me that it could be abnormal!
        Ruth Elisabeth kindly contributed to world literature by posting…The French influenceMy Profile

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