Chiang Mai

Trip Start Nov 12, 2007
Trip End Mar 28, 2008

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Monday, November 19, 2007

We knew it was bound to happen...but didnt think so soon into this blog that we would forget to write down what we have been up to. Well anyway, we're writing this in Hoi An in Vietnam trying to catch up on what we've been up to so far...

We left Bangkok and flew with Thai Air Asia to Chiang Mai. The flight cost us around 70 euro return each but we decided we weren't going to slum it on buses so soon into our trip!! We booked into the
3 Sis B&B for 7 nights because we wanted to stay for the festival that was on called the Loy Krathong. The accommodation was excellent. We stayed in the new building and we reckon we were one of the first to stay there. Would recommend it to anyone at $14 per night. The view from our balcony was of the Wat Chedi Luang and they included a really nice set breakfast menu in the price.

Chiang Mai itself is like a breath of fresh air after Bangkok. The people there are nicer and its more chilled out. The weather we had during our one week stay was fairly overcast with heavy showers, so we decided to give the trekking a miss (any excuse to get out of it!!!)

The Loy Krathong Festival which is celebrated every November at the full moon. "Loi" means "to float" and "Krathong" is a small raft made from banana leaf and flowers which contain lighting candles and incense. During the night of the full moon, everyone releases  their Krathongs into the Ping river, believe that all bad spirits will float away with them! Chiang Mai was buzzing the whole week we were there. There were fireworks and bangers going off everywhere (a bit like Halloween at home but less careful where they are aimed!!!!). Parades up and down all of the streets and amazing food stalls setup along the streets. Chiang Mai is definitely worth a visit for the Loy Krathong Festival.

Most of the western restaurants along the Ping River have lovely beer gardens to look out over the river. Some of the nicer ones we went to were Good View and Reginas (which was really chilled out, quirky and definitely worth a visit).

Just down from the Good View Restaurant, its well worth a trip up the river on a boat for 250 Baht p/p. The boat leaves at 3pm and the entire trip is about 2 hours long, which includes a stop at a herbal garden (not the kind you smoke ;-) ) with free juice and gorgeous plates of fruit.

We booked a tour with our hotel (3 Sis) for 1,200 Baht p/p to see an Elephant Show, take an Elephant Ride, Ox-Cart Trip, Bamboo Rafting, lovely all you can eat buffet lunch, and a visit to an Orchid Farm and Butterfly farm (where we seen 3 butterflies!!!). But it was an excellent day. Definately recommend it!

The Night Baazar Market is a huge area in Chiang Mai with more stalls for shopping...even cheaper than Bangkok. It starts at 5pm everyday. The Anuar Market is across the street and has a few nice places to eat very cheap! Also after eating there is nothing better than a foot massage for 50 Baht :-)

Wat Phra Sing is probably the most visited Temple in Chiang Mai and while we were visiting it we seen a Western Couple getting married by monks. Very funny...they didnt understand a word of the ceremony and had someone sit behind and tell them when to bow etc. Very nice all the same, beautiful location.

Another beautiful location is Doi Suthep Temple which is up the mountains of Chiang Mai and has beautiful views of the whole area. This temple houses an emerald buddha. We took a tuktuk to the place where songathews depart each day to bring tourists up the steep descent (tuktuks are not able for the hills).

The most frequent forms of transport in Chiang Mai are Songathews. They are basically red vans with open backs which stop tourists heading in the same general direction and ask if they want a lift. They will drop you at your destination after dumping out others along the way. Great fun, around 20 Baht.

We've learned some valuable lessons here. Always carry with you: Ponchos (out Electric Picnic ponchos are getting great use here!), Mosquito Spray :-( Suncream (for all the obvious reasons), Anti Bacterial Gel and Tissue (toilets here DO NOT have toilet roll).

Next stop back to smelly Bangkok for 1 more night in the D&D Inn to wait for our flight to Vietnam.

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