Thailands second city...

Trip Start Mar 03, 2010
Trip End May 02, 2010

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Saturday, March 27, 2010

Went for the 1st class bus to Chiang Mai, as the local ones are way too slow for my liking.  You can also get VIP buses for more money but I don't like other backpackers so I go for the middle option.  As it was, I got to watch "17 Again" in Thai, but even with the language barrier it was simple to figure out.

So Chiang Mai.  After Bangkok it's easily the most popular destination for most tourists to Thailand.  They go there to walk in the hills nearby, meeting "authentic" Hilltribes, doing rafting trips and jumping on the back on an Elephant.  Basically what you can do in Northern Laos but caters for the more lazier tourist who follows everyone else ;-)

My thoughts of CM were:  Fairly large, very westernised but enjoyable place to mooch around in.  The Night Bizarre Market was huge, took hours to look around, but again it's the same tat you get elsewhere in Thailand, only for more money.  I managed to swap my books in a secondhand store though so I did make at least one happy note in my journal!

My travel buddy decided to do a Cooking course on one of the days, so I chose to rent a Mountain Bike and have a cycle around Chiang Mai, in particular too destinations that looked interesting.  The first was Wat U-Mong, a temple about 6km from the center of Chiang Mai.  Navigating the city by bike was fairly easy, just a little mental crossing 4 lanes of traffic when all the power comes from your own legs!  The temple though was well worth the effort and risk of death.  It's in a forest setting and was built for meditation.  It included a large, peaceful lake where locals came to feed the Catfish and try their English out on me - always welcome in my book.  It also had a rather grim statue of Buddha fasting, showing plenty of ribs etc.

Back on the bike, I went north for 14km, along a dirt track following a small stream, towards Huay Tung Tao reservoir.  For 40p I got to cycle around this stunning lake, surrounded by high mountains, and see what locals do on their days off - eat and drink by the lakeside on small bamboo platforms.  What a way to spend a day eh?

Back in Chiang Mai, I had a quick scoot around before taking the bike back, before stuffing my face full of goodness at one of the millions of food stalls around the city.
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