We landed late and took a much calmer Tuk-Tuk ride down a dirt road just a couple of blocks from the busy part of town. Sleepy, dark and quiet; the climate much dryer and cooler; it is already a nice change from the Bangkok scene
. There were no street lights, just scattered lone single bulbs perched atop poles to signify the few guest houses along the dirt road. I made a reservation yesterday via the internet and we had a room waiting for us in a small guesthouse just outside the noise. Guesthouses in Thailand are, ideally, teak houses owned and operated by local families with fewer than a dozen rooms that face a courtyard. A hybrid of the youth Hostel and bed and breakfast, the perfect guesthouse offers trekking services, bike rentals, usually some form of restaurant service and can be a wonderful experience to visit with other travelers. We unloaded our packs and squeezed out of the Tuk-tuk. This guesthouse had a gate in front that was locked. A note at the doorbell told us to ring if we arrived after hours (10pm). We buzzed in and were escorted to our room by the not-so- friendly, not-so-Thai owner. For about $8.00 we got a vanilla shell with full size bed, ceiling fan, private bath with cold shower; and that's all she wrote. Brian threw his bag into the corner and dove for the mattress. It was nothing more than a thick foam pad sitting on top if plywood, pretending to be a mattress. Thud.
We looked wide eyed at each other.
Brian’s lips formed into a perfect O for a second or two, "Oooooo I think I heard it crack".
Chang Mai - a northern mountain city. Chang Mai is the Thailand you envision. If you ever visit this country, don't miss it. Still as air polluted as Bangkok, but it possesses an old world charm Bangkok does not. Temples around every corner, Free to visit...and you are usually alone. The old city is still surrounded by the ancient wall that use to protect it. Torches burn around the moat and atop the wall, which encloses an all night market bazaar. Vendors of all sorts and food stalls preparing everything from noodles and veggies to fried bugs...yup, we tried them. When in Rome...
The beauty of traveling here is that you can just take a cab to the airport, buy a ticket to almost anywhere in the country and leave within a few hours (Bangkok to Chaing Mai - One hour by plane (at $40 round trip). The best part is - it is the same price as if you had booked it months in advance. Earlier that day Brian and I had decided to catch the evening flight to Chang Mai and leave the chaos of Bangkok behind a day early. The absolute best part of self-planned travel is the "wing-it" factor. There are no rules and no schedules to follow. With certain situations, however, The guidebook can be a savior – when you fly into a new city at midnight and want to now exactly where you are going. You can always move on tomorrow.