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  • Writer's pictureEryn Gordon

A Song for Me: Music at a Chiang Mai Bar

Updated: May 31

I trailed along the southeastern corner of the old city, a perfect square separated by its boroughs with a moat. The river used to hold a specific purpose, keeping what belonged outside out, but now it’s just a nice place to walk at night.

After hours spent weaving through the crowds of foreigners, who were concealing their drunkenness with bandanna face masks, I looked for a safe haven. Somewhere out of the nighttime air that never seemed to dry, where I could listen to live music and eat something spicy under an industrial-sized fan.

This place stood out of an alleyway corner like a Christmas ornament lit up from the inside. All the bar lights filtered through their antique stained glass, coloring the street below with all shades of green and blue.

Walking inside was like stepping into a clipping from a 1950’s houseware catalog; a time capsule of things. Each flat surface is put to use. Toy trains, books, candle sticks, and somehow unsurprisingly, a wooden loom.

Seats were sparse and fitted sporadically in any available corner, waiters weaved around provincial, splintered furniture with deep bowls of Thai curry.

I sat in front of the performers, one guy looked like he aimed at a promised music career, and landed on service. More interested in his guitar than his bar, he took requests from the crowd by whoever had the loudest voice.

As people screamed HOTEL CALIFORNIA and LAYLA, he looked right at me, noticing how clearly foreign I was. He asked me where I was from.

“Massachusetts,” I said.

He started strumming his guitar.

“The girl from Massachuus” he cooed. As he played a tune that came from somewhere inside of him, his head swayed in a dreamy state. An intoxicating breeze that cuts through sweltering days in the sun, he let some other forces carry him off.

It was 15 minutes of fame, if only in a Chiang Mai dive.

📍 Chai Restaurant

Chiang Mai, Thailand

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