I have never seen a city as green as Chiang Mai.
I don’t mean environmentally— waste actually seems to be a big problem here— I’m talking about color. I’m talking about plants.
This is a city that can barely be seen amongst the trees.
The city has sprung up amid the growth, not the other way around.
Trees are so abundant that residents mark the ones they don’t want cut down with colorful bands of cloth. These are “spirit trees,” where ancient spirits reside. They often sit near “spirit houses,” colorful shrines built to entice spirits away from the human dwellings.
In fact, it’s difficult for me to find a photograph I’ve taken here which doesn’t have SOME green in it.
As soon as you venture outside the city limits of Chiang Mai, you are quickly immersed in a world of green. The lush mountains surrounding the city make it easy to see why the mountains in my home state of Colorado are called the “Rocky Mountains.” There’s not a rock in sight, here.
But unlike my home of Colorado, nature and urban aren’t cleanly delineated. People here are constantly sweeping dead leaves away from their storefronts and into the streets. Even in this big city, it feels more like a jungle than any place I have experienced in the U.S.