The army presence is evident, but this is Thailand and their presence is not threatening nor disturbing. The quite visible presence is a more obvious almost reassuring statement than the dodgy backroom ways politics are handled in other places like Australia. This is a vignette of my understanding of the presence of a military government in Thailand. They are there and it is business as usual. Well a somewhat diminished business as anyone will tell you. Retail is not flourishing anywhere much it seems and edgy tourists are not coming here. The Chinese are though and there are many more menus and signs in that language(s).
I feel at home in Chaing Mai where I know my way around a bit and where there is a balance between the stimulation of difference and the inconveniences of being away from what is familiar. What I lack is the ability to speak Thai and miss the enjoyment of speaking English and the wordplay of my own language word mosaics.
One factor makes a world of a difference. That is the connectivity of this city. A couple of people have affirmed to me that Chaing Mai is now the world connectivity city par excellence. My informants were people who live in London or Vienna and work in Chaing Mai. It is cheaper than both places to live here and wi fi connectivity is available in many ways around the city. Certainly guest houses and coffee shops see it as a given and almost always free.
What this also means is that every Joe Soap has a device welded their selves. Couples can be sitting in an eatery each with their phone or pad linked to a world separately from the other. And there are the photos! Since the days of my childhood, the Kodak Box Brownie, the costs, chemists developing photos and the week's wait for results, the culling of dud shots and the pasting into albums of the good pictures, things have moved monumentally. It is as if the citizenry is engaged in open circuit capturing of everything which happens and collecting many more photos than they will ever look at again. The result is there must be more photos taken in the last twelve months than in the rest of history. And the old "Slide NIght" when travelers inflicted their shots on friends and neighbors is replaced by a quick illustration of what the person has just seen or done in a graphic rather than a verbal description. No wonder the word "like" is used so much, like.
The Buddah found enlightenment sitting under a tree and spent a lot of time beside a stream and all that the stream symbolized. Just above the city I was struck by this 2014 image.