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  • Dean Bainbridge

KindaMindful in Chiang Mai : Finding Pavana

It’s my aim to explore the practices, philosophies and contradictions that a busy western mindset finds within mindfulness. So when the opportunity to travel to a predominantly Buddhist country and stay in a rural setting far from the touristy cliches presented itself, I had to take that leap.

Chiang Mai is the northern capital of Thailand. It’s nestled between the highland peaks and ranges that bend and fold their way into Myanmar (Burma) and become the mightly Himalayas. The city itself boasts hundreds of Wats (temples). Many are within the ‘old city’ which is bordered by a 700 year old city wall and moat.

Chiang Mai is a city of contradictions. Ancient and filled with unique Thai culture… tick. A technological crossroad and haven for digital nomads… also tick.

It is estimated that around 35,000 of the capital’s population is ex-pat nomads from UK, US and Australia. The cost of living is cheap. Wifi filled co-working spaces are abundant and the locals are very warm and welcoming of the westerners. This is NOT the Thai experience that you get in Phuket. They do not seek to exploit you or flog you $5 bottles of Chanel No 5.

Half an hour north of Chiang Mai, the suburbs give way to rice fields and traditional teak stilt houses. This is our destination. The Mae Rim district is becoming a trendy place to hold your detox or rehab stint with several large resorts, retreats and rehab centres.

There are worse places to find clarity. It is a beautiful part of the world. It's fertility is evident. Rice is grown on every flat surface. Bamboo on everything else. For a westerner making their first foray into Asia, it really met the stereotype!

The Pavana Resort was our base thanks to our host-guide-fixer-translator (oh, and ex-pat cousin), Wendy. The resort is charming and tranquil and it’s position is perfect for day trips up into the mountains and across the valleys to local markets and attractions.

Over the coming posts, I’d like to share with you some of my travels and insights into the kinda mindfulness that you are likely to encounter here just by simply being among the 'Lanna' people of Northern Thailand and what happens when you set your body clock to ‘Thai-Time’.

Join me as we go temple hunting in the jungle, meditating in a hilltop with a guru from the Netherlands, tasting the best Thai coffee in a rice field house with a German name,

and experiencing the freedom (and a little bit of terror) of this region on the best means available…

a dodgy scooter.

Namastay tuned.

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