A few months back, I traveled to Chiang Mai in northern Thailand to work on a story about betterment and meditation and health for Lufthansa Magazin. I spent three days walking the old town, visiting temples and eating delicious food and meeting a large cast of characters–both teachers and students–responsible for giving the town its new claim to fame as a healthy, hip, nomadic travel destination.
From Muay Thai to meditation, from massage to manic displays of freeform dancing, I tried to document as much of this alternative travel culture as possible. Vegan restaurants, energy harnessing workshops, and transcendental meditation classes were everywhere it seemed. Yoga retreats miles and miles away from anything. Dreaded men hula-hooping on quiet streets at dawn. And it’s easy to get down on western travelers coming to Asia to find a part of themselves or to capture some kind of fleeting bliss in a holy house on a mountaintop somewhere, but there’s another part of it that’s kind of endearing and completely without cynicism.
It was a pleasure meeting all of the people I photographed for the story. They believed in what they were doing, and they believed in Chiang Mai. Whether they had grown up there, been in the region for years, or just arrived, they were passionate and thinking about the future, for themselves and for those that showed up on their doorsteps, day after day, inquiring within. And in the end, what more is there?