The Guesthouse is called Green Tulip, it's new and almost as crazy as it's owner
. Every wall is a different blinding colour. It feels like we have somehow become trapped in a packet of tutti-fruittis or stumbled into wonderland. The effect is actually really good and the place is spotless, a real gem of a guesthouse for minimum budget. Stella, the owner, and possible borderline alcoholic, is a whirling bag of crazy. She is just what you need if you are travelling alone and need someone to help and encourage you. She is a truly brilliant host, but we could only manage her in small doses. She is also a Liverpool fan but we don't hold it against her. The room and ensuite is large and new and the bed is comfortable and inviting. Even though 50% of the room is bright baby pink with contrasting areas of lime green (which will blind you if you stare at it for too long) and sunshine yellow, it still feels cosy and it even has a safe. Unfortunately the safe may as well be made of tissue paper and if a strong gust of wind gets into the room it will surely blow away. Seriously, we have eaten bags of crisps in Thailand that are harder to get into. (Not a joke, some of the packeted food here is virtually impossible to open).
We dump our stuff and set out to explore this new corner of Thailand. Chiang Mai is an old city. It is about a mile square(ish) and once had a wall and a moat running all the way round its edge. It still has parts of the old wall and moat and is a lovely place
. This feels more like real Thailand as we stroll through the city and out of the east gate into the surrounding area. Passing a temple we are stopped by a local man who tells us a bit about Chiang Mai and advises us on a few things to see. Initially we smell a scam or an offer to show us some sights for a discounted fee (Bangkok has jaded us a bit) but we are wrong, he is just a lovely local who wants to help us. We stroll on, our faith in the kindness and friendliness of the Thai people restored. Everyone here seems to be relaxed, there are fewer tourists (and locals) and the pace of life is easy and gentle. Feeling really good about this place and its inhabitants we decide to do something a bit different. So we go and look at a couple of temples.
As evening begins to fall on our first day in the north we choose a place to eat and settle down for some much needed food. Anna was starting to feel a bit unwell so she orders pizza. Her favourite. It has olives on and she feels a bit better. We do hope we can sleep in our multicoloured, fiercly bright room. Goodnight Chiang Mai, we love you already.
Stepping out of the air conditioned taxi into the intense heat of a Chiang Mai afternoon we wonder, and not for the first time, why are our bags so bloody heavy! It is HOT today. Back in Koh Samui another taxi driver had faked a shiver and said 'brrrrr' when told him we were off to Chiang Mai. We had looked at each other and thought; oh no, hope it isn't too cold up there... Either that taxi driver was having a laugh or he was seriously misinformed about the weather conditions up north. Luckily our guesthouse is close by and we manage to get there before we evaporate into the atmosphere. Fingers crossed we approach the desk. We have been having a minor panic on the journey here as neither of us remember actually booking a room. We really do not want to have to trek about looking for another guesthouse after the insane journey it took to get us here. Fortune smiles on us and our names are on the list. Hooray!