Saturday, November 13, 2010

Chiang Mai

We arrived in Bangkok after the islands and found a place to stay near Koh San Rd. We had arrived in Bangkok around 3am, so we waited until 4:30am to check in as we didn’t want to pay for an extra night. Guest houses will charge you for the previous night if you check in before a certain time. In this case it was 5am, but after waiting for an hour and a half they gave up and let us check in a half hour early with no additional charge.

After being on the islands and spending some significant cash on the internet we decided we needed a laptop. We were basically using the internet cafes to download pictures and write on the blog, things we could be doing for free on a laptop. We went shopping and bought a laptop. In addition to making our lives a little easier, we are now able to skype with our parents, edit our photos, watch movies in our room, and I can write the blog whenever I want and post it once we have a connection. The next day we had dinner with Bobby, his wife Jib and their 2 kids at a restaurant called Cabbages and Condoms. They give out condoms at the end of each meal instead of mints, to educate people about safe sex. Their belief is that condoms and safe sex should be as available as vegetables. We had a great Thai meal with Bobby and his family. His wife is Thai so we let her pick the dishes, and they were fantastic. The next day we decided it was time to leave Bangkok so we headed over to the train station and bought 2nd class seats to Chiang Mai, in Northern Thailand. The train left at 2:30pm and was scheduled to arrive at 5:30am. Even though it’s only 750km’s the train makes a lot of stops and that’s why it takes 15 hours. It’s wasn’t too bad while there was still daylight as we had an opportunity to see the vast flooding in Thailand, as well as see some of the countryside. The challenge was when it got dark, and unfortunately it gets dark fairly early at this time of the year. There was really nothing to do except read and sleep. It quickly became evident I would not be sleeping on this train, mainly because of all the cockroaches that came out at night. There were really quite a few. I was so grossed out that I didn’t want to put my feet on the floor so I sat with my feet up for the remaining 8 or 9 hours of the journey.

We arrived in Chiang Mai an hour behind schedule. We found a hostel to stay at and went straight to sleep. We woke up around 12pm and went to explore the town, which is surrounded by mountains. The city of Chiang Mai has around 175,000 people. It’s divided into 2 parts, the old town and the new town. It’s not a large city and it had a much more down low feel than Bangkok, which we appreciated right away. Bangkok is a very hectic city and as I have previously stated in my earlier posts, a lot of people haggle you, but Chiang Mai is different. There is still the odd Tuk Tuk driver who wants to get your business but it’s a lot quieter than in Bangkok. We stumbled across a night market, and we were thrilled because these always have great street food. Again we pigged out on pork bungs, sausages and tiny tim bits. I call them that because I really don’t know what else they were. The next day we rented a scooter and went into the mountains. The intention was to visit the Tiger Kingdom where you see a large tiger, a medium tiger and a small tiger (their labeling, not ours). When we arrived there we found the prices to be atrociously high so decided against it. We continued driving higher into the mountains only to find a couple of guys riding elephants. They stopped for us and we were able to take some pictures with them. The sun would be setting in the next couple of hours so we knew it was time to start heading back. Surprisingly it got cold in the mountains. Even in the sun it was quite chilly and we were completely unprepared in our t-shirts and shorts. We did make it back to town before sunset. The scenery is beautiful in the mountains. It looks like straight out of a movie. The rolling hills, the dense trees, with the sun shining, it looked amazing. The air was clean and crisp and you didn’t feel the oppression of the big cities.

The following day was Sunday and there is a large night market which takes place every Sunday night. Large is perhaps an understatement. It is extremely large, continuing with no end in sight. We walked for a good hour and a half and we didn’t reach the end. Again you can buy anything from t-shirts to shoes to hand woven silks and of course no market would be complete without food. We were once again happy to eat all that the night food market had to offer. Eating the delicious and cheap food has really become our favourite part of the night markets. We can eat very well for $3.50 for the both of us. The interesting part was the amount of people that came out. While sightseeing during the day, you see a lot of locals but not a lot of tourists. But the night market was packed with tourists. I really don’t know where they came from.

We had been on the go for most of the month, doing a lot of hiking, walking, sightseeing, etc. And we decided to take a day off. We literally spent the whole day in bed, and we were lucky enough to have a TV in our room, so we watched re-runs of Law & Order all day. That night however we decided to get out of bed and watch a live Muay Thai boxing fight. Muay Thai boxing is a combination of boxing and kick boxing. The fight began with 2 kids fighting, and after them it was 2 girls who were around 16-17 years old. Surprisingly theirs was the only fight where we saw blood. It was actually quite gross but Andrew of course managed to capture it all in photos. The last fight of the day was between a Thai and a Canadian. There were a surprising number of people supporting the Canadian (including Andrew with his Canada t-shirt) and I’m happy to say the Canadian kicked ass and won the match.

It was in Chiang Mai where Andrew wrote his post and I saw that disgusting spider. It was as large as my whole hand. Andrew thinks I always over exaggerate the size of any bug/insect but it was that large and he would agree. It was also hairy. The worst part is that when I started screaming Andrew was turned away from the wall and by the time he turned around of course the spider had ran under the stool, and Andrew thought I was exaggerating its size. He was going to turn back to his post but I would not let him. The funny party (maybe sad?) is that as soon as I convinced him of the large spider, he did not go looking for it, he went looking for his camera. I thought he was insane and told him as much but he would not listen. He did end up finding the spider, photographing it, and killing it with his sandal. Much to my relief.


  1. Oddly enough, I have a t-shirt from Chiang Mai!! About 20yrs ago I was working at a finance company in Montreal and my boss did a 3wk vacation to Thailand - she was wandering through Chiang Mai, saw a Hard Rock Cafe and bought me a t-shirt from it, knowing it was (at that time) right up my alley.

  2. Man, I love all these great, exciting stories. Keep them coming. I feel like I'm actually there with you seeing all, touching all, smelling all, simply enjoying all. What type of laptop did you get, how are the prices of electronics, yeah that spider does look big. Thanks for taking a photo of it Andrew, I have it saved as my background on my work PC. Every time someone notices it and asks me what it’s all about, why I have it on my screen... LOVE IT, the spider picture that is.