Esarn is the part of Thailand that plays some weird libidnal role in the Thai culture. It’s the place where men 2 meters tall and women scrappy and young can put down their terraforming utensils pick up a keyboard and a guitar and proceed to hum the nation’s next luk thong anthem. It’s the type of place where pampered big city khatoey can get a lesson in down home country loving or maybe even steal a boy or two. The town itself is a small, the smallness of it compared to Bangkok only reinforces the division between Bangkok and the rest of Thailand. The city feels conscious, this is a town with an arts festival and probably a recycling program… it has a few Montessori schools. Chang Mai is where many in Bangkok are from, but is where more in Bangkok keep a home. The princess (the tom one) has a house there. The point of Changmai, as far as I can tell, is to retain that fusion of Western tourist desire and Issarn lifestyle. It is a blend of backpacker ethics and the immersion that backpackers seek. It in other words is the opposite of the working class immersion one gets from living in Bangkok. My neighbors wake at 5 a.m. and eat meat on sticks before getting in their hyundia to go to work, a motorcycle taxi driver couriers his daughter to school in his lap, Changmai isn’t like that. It’s also cleaner than Bangkok, little if any red light districts which is nice. The main draw remains the way it fuses issarn with tourism, to make a shell of other in a clean and cool mountain village.
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