Chiang Mai, Thailand

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Chiang Mai, Thailand

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 These top five photos are from the Bella Villa conference center near Chiang Mai, where we participated in meetings for expatriate professionals working in China (February 2008, and again in 2013).

This was taken on our hotel room balcony. The grounds were beautiful, and we had a room overlooking this field where we could sometimes see water buffalo or elephants. Most of the complex also had wi-fi during the daytime.

The main road to town is about a kilometer up this entryway. Vehicles must ford (i.e., drive through) two creeks (one is show here), but people can walk on a footbridge next to the ford. The complex was about 40 minutes (by bus) from the city, and the frogs were loud enough to keep some people awake at night.

Our room was in the distant building in the center; supervised activities for children also took place in that building. The hotel lobby and dining area are on the left. Both western and Asian foods were available, and no one had to walk away hungry!

"The Event Company" in Chiang Mai took great care of us, even serving "Mr Donut" treats by the pool on one occasion. I highly recommend their services if you are planning a conference in northern Thailand. (

In 2008 we used this building for the main meetings. Small groups (like teachers or doctors) met in other rooms, or sometimes outside (like the meeting going on under the red umbrella in this photo). The temperature was very comfortable during the day and a little cool at night. The kids who came along often played soccer or other games on this field. Unfortunately, Andrew had to stay in Kunming to go to school.


The photos below are from our February 2007 trip (also for a conference). Michael's parents came with the three of us. It was our first trip to Thailand. (Mom and Dad also got to see Dali and parts of Kunming.)

We had a few days to sightsee before the meetings began, so we signed up for a tour that included local places of interest, including a butterfly and orchid garden (above right), a temple (above left), and the king's winter palace (below left and center).


We've seen lots of beautiful gardens in many countries, and the palace gardens were certainly among the best. Vivian, Michael and Andrew also got the chance to watch elephants perform (above right).

Michael, his dad and mom, and Andrew, in front of the palace.

At the orchid and butterfly farm.

Here you see some of Thailand's many temples, remnants of the city wall, and Starbucks coffee. Western treats like Starbucks, Dairy Queen ice cream, Auntie Anne's pretzels and Pizza Hut, plus shopping at both modern malls and a traditional "night bazaar" make Chiang Mai a popular travel destination.

But the real purpose of our trip was to attend a conference for foreign professionals who work in China. Michael led a seminar for teachers, his mother helped take care of small children, and we all enjoyed interesting lectures and seminars. (below left) Andrew got to spend time with young people his age who face similar challenges while living in a "second" culture. Unfortunately, about half of the people at the 2007 (Suan Bua) conference got sick (including all of us except Michael's dad)--the source was later traced to bacteria in the resort's water supply. The conference grounds were beautiful, but all the illness left us with a negative impression of our time there. I guess it should remind us of how important health and hygiene are, whether we are at home or away. We were also grateful that "mass illness" was not a hallmark of the 2008 (Belle Villa) conference.

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