Here are a few of our random observations abou Chiang Mai after only a few days of moving in from the Northeast part of Thailand, also known as Isaan.
This is what I observed from a fresh set of eyes.
*Chiang Mai people are different than their Isaan cousins. People here look different and act differently.
*There is more prosperity here in Chiang Mai. Mercedes and BMW’s seen on the streets. Less motorbikes.
* Isaan got the short end of the stick when it comes to infrastructure and city planning compared to Chiang Mai.
*Chiang Mai has mountains, trees, and many flowers! Isaan is flat, hot, & dry plateau and has mainly been deforested.
*It’s cooler in Chiang Mai and we can live with our windows open during the day. At least until the hot season when we have been told that smog will descend into the valley and sit there in dangerous levels for a few months.
*There are not as many food stands on the street, especially those serving Isan sticky rice and Som Tam! Most everything is more neat, clean, and spread out in comparison.
*Chiang Mai is a hub for every type of Christian organization working in Southeast Asia. This means lots more help and compassion for the Thai people. A great thing!
*Lots more tourists here than in Isaan which has almost none in comparison. Our family is no longer that much of an anomaly and we are not stared at… as much. Backpackers and tourists are all over the city center, especially during the weekends.
*There are more resources for education and family life than in Isaan. Many bi-lingual and/or international schools have been established.
*Even though Chiang Mai still has more Christians and depth of work than Isaan, the percentage is still low and the people are all still considered unreached people groups. There is still much work to be done.
*A Spiritual awakening and/or revival could come through this city and touch all of Thailand and SE Asia.
*Hill tribe people groups seem to be a focus of lots of missions organizations, but not alot of people seem to be reaching out to the Thai people themselves in and around the city. We didn’t have tribal people in Isaan, so learning about them is new for me.
*Like most places in Asia, English language is a huge felt need especially with university students. There are tens of thousands of students in the city .
There seems to be many more English speakers here in CM than in Isaan. This has advantages and disadvantages.
*Chiang Mai could use a new modern bilingual multi-cultural city church that thinks outside the box, breaks stereotypes, and takes risks for the Kingdom. If you take the line that church planting is one of the best forms of evangelism, then Chiang Mai could use some new churches! Isaan is where the growth rate is happening the fastest, but it is also the most needy section of Thailand.
-These are just a few of the main things that have come to our minds. With all of these observations, we realize that everything is just different; not necessarily better or worse.
We do however have our Isaan people firmly set in our hearts. We are so thankful to have started off in Thailand where we did in a city like Khon Kaen. It has taught us so much about Thailand that we could have never understood living in another part of the country.
There is a time and a season for everything under the sun. (Ecc 3:1) There is a purpose for the “boundaries of our habitations” that has to do with seeking the Lord and finding His purposes for us there. (see Acts 17:26,27)
What do you know about the differences between the two places? Share away!