Finally getting this posted a week late. I'm looking forward to returning to Chiang Mai for awhile next year, staying longer and taking some time off from work. There's a lot more to see than the comforts of boutique hotels :-)
Today I cooked breakfast as the Bangkok sunrise bathed my condo in its glow. Gathering my things for two weeks' wandering and a visa run, I took to the property management office an assortment of fruit that I was gifted with and had to leave behind, and set off to catch my flight to Chiang Mai.
Arriving around lunchtime, I had a pleasant conversation over coffee with some European travelers who gathered as strangers around the available table at an airport shop. Already the different vibe here was apparent -- a maturity and calm contentedness without the posturing often seen in foreigners and Thais alike in cosmopolitan Bangkok. As we all fanned out from our fleeting encounter, I hailed a cab to reach my fine accommodations. Rubbing my eyes from too little sleep or perhaps a distrust for the immediate sensation of comfort I felt as I stepped inside, I was graciously welcomed by the staff of U Chiang Mai and shown to my room.
Wearily I stepped into a shower that seemed to wash away hours. I donned a robe and cracked open my laptop to check in on the afternoon of work ahead. Seizing the "anytime, anywhere" breakfast as opportunity for a convenient meal, I received a delectable spread of eggs benedict, sauteed mushrooms, a croissant and toast, yogurt, fresh fruits and orange juice. Best Western breakfast I've been served in Thailand hands down.
Eventually I dressed, in order to move outside and round out the day's work from the spacious daybed on my balcony. Opening a beer as the evening sun's last rays glinted upon the surface of the slate-black pool below, I closed the laptop, opened a guidebook, and waited for my friend to arrive with the night's plans.
Adventurous first day in Northern Thailand? No. Rejuvenating to pamper oneself with a boutique hotel once in awhile? Oh, yes.