Hippie Culture in Chiang Mai

My friends called me in the late afternoon and invited me to Deejai Gardens – a pool/bar/hostel in the center of town. My boyfriend and I arrived to a long strip of motor bikes outside. We walked up, no cover charge, and order our first round of drinks.

I have found myself running into the same people all the time. I have never exchanged words with them, but their face has already been filed away in my brain. There are certain crowds of people that you will find at certain places, bars, venues, areas of town.

Middle aged foreign white men can be found at the seedy bars or out to eat at an overpriced western restaurant with a quiet Thai girl. Young 20-somethings who are in and out of Chiang Mai can be found absolutely obliterated at Spicy from 12 to 2am. Chinese tourists can be found staring out the windows of large tourist busses. And then there is the hippie crowd–the 20-35 year olds with dreadlocks and sparkle shawls trying to ‘find themselves.’

I have been inspired by hippie-types all my life as most have a creative, loving attitude towards life. But these hippies are the nomadic souls that had enough courage, strength, and money to uproot their lives to Asia. They are the cream of the crop–living the ultimate hippie dream. And therefore, there are S O  M A N Y.  I go to a venue that will be playing trance music and there they are with their scarves and glitter. I go to an open mic and there they are again feeling blessed and telling everyone how grateful they are. I went to Deejai yesterday and there they were (again) barefoot and jumping in a gnarly, green swamp-water filled pool not caring that they might get an ear infection.

The community is smaller than you might imagine, but I feel like I cannot escape them. And I wonder why I want to escape them – why won’t I join them? I am a free-spirited, nature-lover, nomadic traveler too! The thing about these ones is they are so involved in their culture, the music, creativity, colors, their community that it is almost a religion. It is a group of people believing the same thing together – one love, gratitude living, meditation etc. Anyone can believe whatever they want. But when people get overly involved in their spiritual practice they emit this smell or feeling…that they know something you don’t and they are better for it.

No one is better than another. Regardless of how many times you pray, how much money you have, what country you come from, or books that you have read. We are so unique that you cannot have you without me. You cannot have night without day or winter without summer. Our individual qualities fill in all the crevices of this earth and make us reliant on each other. Because where you lack, I am better and what I do not know, you can teach me. There is no way that one person can be better than me in every situation. So stop believing, even if its just for a millisecond, that you are better than another person. Maybe in one way, but, in 5 other ways, they are better than you.

At Deejai, I ordered a plate of fries to share with my friend. As I’m walking through with my fresh plate of fries some guy with tattoos, a dude I have never met nor locked eyes of any sort, comes up, takes a fry, smiles and goes back to his friends. These hippies think we are all one energy and that if a stranger has a plate of fries you can help yourself to it. These hippies and their tattoos…

I went to a rave the weekend before at The Edge because they had talented DJs booked. I have a deep connection with music and find it such a beautiful and creative way to collectively feel something. I showed up not realizing it would be a full on rave– glitter, face paint, crazy outfits, and dilated pupils. Fair enough. As my favorite DJ of the night is playing – Riyoon – some girl is dancing wildly in the front waving around an incense stick. Thank you so much for cleansing the dance floor…. I found out later that she burned my friend’s arm. Absolutely obviously you are going to burn people…Please girl, why couldn’t you have cleansed the dance floor BEFORE it became crowded with hippies submitting their soul to the full moon? All fun and games until you burn a hole in some one’s eye with your incense stick.

Please note: There was no malice in the fact that she burned my friend’s arm with her incense stick because he thought she was cute and the incident provided an opportunity for them to talk.

It just feels like every time I go out somewhere, i’m drowning in hippies or the event was, in fact, organized by the hippies. I am still learning a lot from them as they inspire me to live a more creative life. They have shown me that yes it is possible to produce art and be a digital nomad. I do not know each one personally as it is not possible to generalize them. Especially hippies – they all strive to be their own, individual self. Some of them here in Chiang Mai and on Social Media as well look at me like they think they are magical. Each human is magical. They say they are vegan and health conscious, yet they’re taking shots at 3 PM. Sometimes what they say they believe and stand for contradicts what they are actually doing. The more honest you are with yourself, the people around you, and what you post the more high quality of a person you become.

Generally, the hippies are friendly, have similar values as me, and, clearly, like to do the same things as me. I feel overwhelmed by them at times. I have never lived somewhere where they are so concentrated in one area. Each one dresses to stand out, has piercings, tattoos, and usually crazy hair. They are wild and have big personalities.

They make me look at myself and ask ‘am I like this too?’ If I keep doing the same things as them then probably yes a little bit.  This makes me feel uncomfortable as I do not aim to stand out like them. I want to be different enough to inspire while remaining relatable to all age groups and types of people. I want to be humble. I want to be balanced in my opinions, never trying to push them on anyone. I accept every person for their beliefs and lifestyles and will allow them to help me see things in a different way. And, most importantly, I aim to live honestly.

Later in the evening, we left the hippie pool party and went to a different party outside of town at a villa on the river. The pool was clean and clear. No hippies. The crowd was mixed ages and races, some people just traveling through, and some living in Chiang Mai long term. I met a lawyer only in Thailand for 10 days to investigate a controversial case regarding the Monarchy. I met another guy who told me he likes to take acting classes for fun. I even met an Australian who gushed to me about how much he appreciates America (rare). I appreciated the music, the drinks, and the conversations. It was a genuine evening. I hope to continue surrounding myself with these types of people.

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