I’ve lived in Lampang for almost three months, so I’m not sure how to sum up everything about this small mountain city in one short blog post. What I know for sure is that I love it here. It took my former home in the crowded, polluted Paknam to show me how lucky I am to be in Lampang. It’s small enough to have a friendly, communal atmosphere, but big enough that it doesn’t get too boring. Chiang Mai is also a 1.5 hour bus ride away, so I have easy access to a major city if I want to indulge in some western food or shopping.
One of my favorite things about this place is that I really feel like I live here. I have a frequent member card at the local coffee shop, I know which lady sells the best pineapple, food stall cooks know my orders, and I’ve learned more Thai in three months here than I did in 5 months in my last town. In an attempt to catch you up, here’s a list of some of my favorite things about Lampang.
Kad Kong Ta (Walking Street)
Every Saturday and Sunday night, the historic trade center of Lampang turns into a bustling night market with tons of great food, clothes, accessories, and souvenirs. While you can usually spot a few tourists because it’s close to a bunch of guesthouses, tons of people from town gather here to snack, shop, and hang out. If I’m not traveling during the weekend, you can usually find me here looking at beautiful Lanna clothes and snacking on coconut pancakes– my new food obsession.
Old Teak Wood Buildings
Kad Kong Ta is also home to some of the best old teak wood buildings in town. I’ve developed a minor obsession with the beautiful, intricate teak wood houses that line the streets of Lampang. I know next to nothing about architecture, but I love the way these houses look—the deep rich color of the wood and the often intricate carving along the edges of the house. I have seriously considered building one in the U.S…
Khao Soi (and Northern Thai food in general)
Khao Soi was one of my favorite dishes in Bangkok, so I was beyond excited to live in the home of Khao Soi—Northern Thailand. Khao Soi varies from restaurant to restaurant, but it always consists of a rich coconut curry broth with egg noodles, chicken, crispy egg noodles for texture and pickled vegetables. I’ve also discovered some delicious new Northern dishes. My favorite is Gaeng Hunlay– a rich ginger garlic curry that is a bit similar to Massaman.
The mountains and river
Being from one of the flattest states in the Midwest, I still get really excited every time I catch a glimpse of the mountains rising above Lampang. One weekend day when some fellow English teachers and I had no plans, a few of us took our motorbikes (I rode on the back of one) to a more rural area just outside town. The scenery was gorgeous, and we ended up in a small town where we climbed about a million stairs to reach a secluded hill-top temple.
The Coffee Shops
They are EVERYWHERE. I have yet to check out all them, but here are a few of my favorites, because let’s be honest– we all know this is where I spend the majority of my time/money.
This place has some of the best coffee in Lampang, and the nice owner, Sea, and her two adorable dogs Nom (milk in Thai) and Latte don’t hurt. Sea introduced me to her delicious concoction of Thai tea and Thai coffee that she calls Cafe Tom Yam. I’ve gone through two member cards since I’ve been in town mainly because of this addicting drink.
Green Bus Coffee
This classic VW van-turned coffee shop is close to school and make great lattes, so I’m here a lot.
Aside from the occasional trek through a national park, I ‘ve done little to no exercise in Thailand. But when I heard about a park in town, I decided to give it a try. The park has a pretty big running path, tennis courts, workout equipment, free aerobics classes, and because this is Thailand, karaoke and dance lessons. It’s a great place for people watching and trying to work off all the rice and coconut ice cream I eat.
She epitomizes the Thailand bar scene. It’s an outdoor bar/restaurant with live music– usually consisting of a guy playing guitar who sounds like he’s singing the same song over and over again. There are a bunch of young hip Thai’s sitting at tables drinking towers of beer or vodka and chatting over the music. It’s a great place to have a drink and hang out after a long week of teaching.
My House and Neighborhood
I seriously lucked out in the housing department. I live in a two-bedroom “townhouse,” with a fellow English teacher named Kait. The house is pretty old, but it was recently remodeled, so it has a ton of character. There’s a kitchen and bathroom on the mainfloor and two bedrooms on the second floor. It’s only a 3-minute walk to school and 5-minute walk to Kad Kong Ta.
If I ever get homesick and need a dose of western-ness, I head to Central– a mall that feels pretty close one you’d find in America. It has a Starbucks, department store, movie theater, drug stores, clothing shops, and Tops (a nice grocery store).
I’d heard that people in the North are incredibly friendly, and it is definitely true. During my second week of teaching I was invited to the wedding of a co-worker I barely knew because “we are all an English department family.” I’ve even been to three Buddhist funerals (which I hope to talk about in a future post) for the same reason. Two brothers who teach English at school have really taken the foreign teachers under their wing, and it’s been great hanging out with them.
There is still a lot more to Lampang than what I’ve mentioned above, but I’ll save that for another post. I’ll leave you with a picture of one of my favorite temples in town lit up at night: