Saturday, November 9, 2013

Old Chiang Mai Cultural Center


The Cultural Center was our first real landmark in Chiang Mai because it is conveniently located across the street from our school. A portion of it is a café that serves standard fare like coffee, juices, smoothies, and small selection of baked goods. They provide free WiFi to customers, and we enjoyed the comfortable atmosphere that made the center suitable for studying, or even enjoying coffee with friends on the couches tucked away in the corner. Sometimes we just stopped in to escape the Chiang Mai heat, because unlike our dorm, the café had aircon.

The Cultural Center is a place where new visitors can enjoy dinner from a pre-determined menu featuring traditional northern Thai food. The meal is served family style and samples sticky rice, fried chicken, pork omelets, pork curry, vegetables with chili paste, etc. Some tables are close to a main stage, which is the focal point of the dining room. The seating closest to the stage is more authentic, with low tables and cushions for guests to sit on the floor as they enjoy the meal and watch a performance of traditional music and dance. The food was delicious, and the show was pleasant. However, tripadvisor had it right when they said visitors should check it out 'if they have time'. For us, it was a great way to bond with some fellow massage students and to get a taste for hill tribe culture. The traditional garb worn by the female dancers was exquisite. After a fair amount of rum, we joined the dancers on stage for a circle dance, and were able to see the traditional dresses in more detail. Following the show, they ushered us outside for more performances, making sure to walk us through a line of merchants selling small trinkets and hand-made hill tribe jewelry.

If you're pressed for something to do in Chiang Mai, then check out the performance. However, the hill tribe culture is best appreciated by taking a trip directly to a hill tribe village. Ultimately, you shouldn't have FOMO if you aren't able to make it to the Cultural Center show. Check out some pictures of the traditional dances below!






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