TWO DAYS IN CHIANG MAI
So Mikhail fancied a blog post being from his perspective, so we constructed this together! Please enjoy.
We caught an early flight from Koh Samui and arrived in Chiang Mai with relative ease.
Chiang Mai is Thailand’s second largest city (Bangkok being the first) and we were excited to indulge ourselves within its rich cultural and spiritual history. The city is over 700 hundred years old, and after we had checked in to our basic but comfy room at the TREE RESIDENCES our knowledgable taxi driver Mr. Chai (with whom we had made friends with on the way from the airport) offered to drive us around some of Chiang Mai’s magnificent sites.
Among them just to name a few was the Gem factory where we witnessed rows of workers carve and etch beautiful Budda idols out of raw jade rocks. After which we wandered around the gift shop and were encouraged (not so tactfully to buy something) Krystal of course was immediately drawn to the beautiful buffed crystal bracelets! Its quite apt, her name being Krystal …
After successfully bartering the price nowhere, and finding Mr. Chai we were back on the road. Next stop – The Silk Factory, where a guide explained the amazing process of how silk is cultivated. We walked around the small room surrounded by silk weavers and their machines and pots full of natural dyes marveling at the silk moths and worms. We weren’t exactly expecting to see a load of buzzing, mating, egg laying moths there! But (as you may know) the silk in raw form is from the silk worms cocoon. We watched the weavers methodically weaving the string silk into beautiful materials.
Ofcourse all this touring, combined with early morning travel, made us hungry. So Mr. Chai, our guide for the day, dropped us off at a local eatery on the way to our next stop, where we enjoyed eating Thai fried rice and Pad Thai with chop sticks. (Eating rice with chop sticks is a skill I now possess)
The Doi Suthep Temple is an amazing man build wonder perched on top of the mountain at 3000 meter high. You can opt to hike or cycle up, but we thought it much better to drive up especially after our late lunch! After a 20/30 min drive up the windy mountain roads we arrived at a little village? consisting of only souvenir shops, selling singing bowls, incence and Buddha heads. (I wonder what they do with the bodies) This is where the steps to the temple began. After panting and sweating and groaning our way up the 350 steep steps and paying a small entrance fee we had arrived to what the locals call “heaven”. A budhist monastery built by the king in 1383 with a cold plated temple and some spectacular views of the city. We spent our time here overlooking the city and listening to the monks chant, and we were lucky enough to catch a double rainbow!
Pretty exhausted after an entire day of dedicated sight seeing, and our morning flight we were quite happy to be sitting in the back of Mr Chais car and looking forward to going back to our accommodation for a short rest before heading out to a night market for dinner. Mr. Chai however had other plans, he wanted us to visit a Thai culture show. After much persuasion, (the deciding factor finally being the letting off of lit lanterns at the end) we decided to go ahead and save the market dinner for the Sunday market (a mammoth monster of a market the following evening)
We were late arriving thanks to the spontaneous desision and had already missed a couple of acts, we did however get to watch traditional Thai dances and sword acts (eugh squeamish-ness enduced!)All from the comfort of our traditional seating with our tray of traditional (ish) food. We were then led outside to let off lanterns with a few other tourists!
Waking up at the crack of dawn, we had an early pick up to go to the Elephant Nature Park (see separate blog post) The journey there included a 2 hour car ride to a remote part of the Chiang Mai province. Hidden in a vally referred to as Elephant Heaven we met up with Andy, our guide whom explained all about the elephants we were going to meet that day, and our planed itinerary. …
Arriving back at our residence after spending the entire day learning about, feeding and river bathing big eared raw vegans; we had just enough time to shower and change clothes, before we headed out again for the Sunday night market. Krys and I have been to several markets throughout or Asian adventure, and out of experience it doesn’t really matter what day of the week they put in front of it, they are all relatively the same. Boy were we wrong about this one!
Entering the market we were greeted by Thai’s equivalent to X factor, but for kids! A small stage with a full audience proudly watching the shows that were being performed by the local school kids. The entire centre of the town was blocked off for this market, stretching as far as the eye can see. We wandered around in search of food and gifts for many hours and still did not completed the markets circuit. Our first pit stop was for some BBQ chicken on a stick, (Krystal’s favorite). Having devoured this we were still left a bit peckish and after walking past a Pad Thai stand the decision was made to go for that Thai classic with egg and spring beans.
We felt like urban hunter gatherers having to stalk down and investigate our next food stand. Rows upon rows of stalls boasting local crafts: intricate paintings and carvings, jewelries, herb and spice shops- to the more usual tourist junk. This Sunday experience was amazing, and after contributing somewhat to the local economy we headed back for some shut eye.
Tomorrow Bus Trip to Chiang Rai …