Chiang Mai, Thailand
Thailand is amazing! Luke and I stepped off the plane and were immediately overwhelmed. Experienced a bit of culture shock as we immediately started bartering for a taxi to the guest house we were staying at. We arrived to the guest house around 11:00 pm and met Boyd, our host, who told us to drop our bags and go straight to the Sunday Night Market. This night market is one of the biggest and cheapest street markets in Thailand that thousands of people attend. It closes at midnight so we had to make it for as much as we could. Boyd immediately offered to drive us there on his scooter...but he could only take one person at a time. Luke hops on and they drive off as I stand there for about 15 minutes. Boyd comes back, I hop on, and he takes me to Luke right across from the market. He explains directions and how to get back when we were done and that was that. We immediately learned that the game of Frogger is alive and well in Thailand. Cars, scooters, buses and tuk-tuks (“toohk-toohks”) were flying by and there were no lights or signs for them to slow down or stop so we basically began playing in traffic. You just have to start walking into the street and then quickly cross when there’s a sliver of space for you to get by. Exhilarating, haha!
The night market was already starting to shut down but the merchandise we saw was pretty neat. Lots of jewelry, scarves, clothing, unique lights, etc. I was in so much awe of everything around me. This is a high touristy area and I loved seeing so many different kinds of people, learning where they are from, and hearing many different languages just by walking down the street. The night market, although the biggest and best on Saturday and Sunday nights, runs every night. You can find street food and drinks for really cheap - we had Pad Thai and two sticks of Thai Barbecue - for about $2.80!
Just one of the many entrances to the Night Bazaar.
The next day, Boyd sat down with us to ask what our plans were while in Chiang Mai and he pulled out a map and told us all the places we had to see at some point and the best times to see them. So for our first full day we walked around the Old City and saw five temples. All a little bit different, and very cool! I bought some elephant pants to cover up my legs when entering the temples and might I say they are pretty sweet pants! We sat down for some beer and fried mushrooms at a nearby restaurant, and then went back out for the Night Market and some street food! Later that night we aimed to hit the Blues Bar Boyd recommended but by the time we found it, it was packed. So we opted for the Bus Bar on the river next to our place. Ain't nothing wrong with that!
Wat Chedi Luang Temple. We were able to make it at the time the monks all gathered to pray. Band we saw on the river at Bus Bar - very mellow but I loved them!
Day 2 (Tuesday), was pretty rainy so we slept in and eventually made our way to Doi Suthep Mountain. It was pretty cloudy so we didn’t go to the very top or see much else, but we walked up quite a few stairs and walked around another temple. We took a tuk-tuk bus back and were exhausted so we stopped at Lila Thai Massage where we got an hour long foot massage by female ex-prisoners. It was divine and much needed after so much walking! Afterwards we went to munch on some wings and beer, and then to a blues bar which Boyd recommended. So lucky to have had a host that was honest and helpful!
Making spring rolls! Soooo yummy. Our cooking instructor. She took us to the local mart and explained many of the common foods and ingredients they use in Thailand.
Wednesday was rain as well. We had hoped to make it an outdoor day to see a few different sights, but instead we opted for a Thai cooking class. It was a bit chaotic and felt slightly unorganized but the food we made was great, and it was an experience to say the least. Plus, we got a cookbook full of awesome new recipes we can try so not too shabby of a rainy day activity! To be honest, we took advantage of the rainy day and napped a bit since apparently we can’t hang anymore and three days of activities wears us out.
We woke up early on Thursday, ate breakfast and were picked up at 8 AM to go to Chai Lai Orchid for the day. It was about an hour and a half drive and when we finally got there we immediately started our GORGEOUS ~2 mile hike! Chicken was our guide and he stopped a few times along the way to show us a few fun tricks. He almost loured a tarantula out of its hole, he showed us how to weave a fish from a banana leaf, and he showed us a green leaf that when rubbed, produces a reddish purple liquid. He also sang a few songs along the way and did the entire hike in flip flops (which was a pretty muddy, slippery hike) so I was impressed. Of course, I’m amused by even the littlest things, but I find that to be a good thing. Along the way, we stopped for a bit to enjoy a waterfall and talk with some locals. A woman showed me how to make scarves, and we had a delicious lunch. We finally got to the elephants and were told that each person will ride their own elephant bareback as it is better for the elephants than carrying two people, and with a “howdah” (saddle). We first bathed a baby elephant (DeeDee) who LOVED the water. She sprayed us and gave us kisses, and then pooped a few large turds right at our feet! Fortunately they floated so we didn’t step in anything, haha! We fed the elephants with sugar cane, and then went on a short trek with them for about 15 minutes. It was an amazing experience I’ll never forget!
We spent Friday walking around the Old City one last time before we left Chiang Mai. We walked through two very nice malls, more street markets, saw a fire dancer, got another awesome foot massage, and then went to a cabaret show - so funny and entertaining! Although we didn’t get to do some of the items on our list, we had a “top-notch” (to quote Luke) week in Chiang Mai and just have a couple things to do next time. :)
Next stop - Krabi!