Chang Mai the capital of the North
Trip Start Jan 10, 2010
26Trip End Apr 16, 2010
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Getting to the Old City wasn't very hard I did it on the back of a motorcycle, a ride for which I bargained like a ruthless bastard, I had the filling that all the tuk-tuk and taxi drivers were out there to rip me off, feeling that stayed with me all the time I spent in Chang Mai.
First guest house on the list didn't have any rooms available and so I landed at "Same Same" GH where I got a room on the roof with no bathroom and three beds, just for me. Same Same but quite different :) (An inside joke for those of you who traveled in SE Asia)
Chang Mai used to be part of an ancient independent state Lanna Thai (Million Thai Rice Fields). Nowadays is the 2nd biggest city in Thailand and a proud capital of the North. Many of the 300 plus temples of CM (all in a very distinct Lanna style of 13th and 14th centuries - intricate wood carvings, colorful murals, Singha lions guarding the entrances) dot the Old City which is surrounded by an 700 years old wall (partially visible still and renovated in few places) and moats. A perfect square crissed crossed inside by countless narrow streets called Sois full of guesthouses, restaurants of all kinds and specifics some for Farangs some for locals and some for the many expats that live in the city these days. No.1 business though remains the Thai Massage. For every restaurant and guesthouse there are 3 Massage joints, it is inescapable.
The same day I started with the Wats (temples) by the end of the day I was completely watted out and still haven't seen more then 5 or 6... but I regained my energy thanks to the cook at Aum restaurant. A super simple and friendly vegetarian place (with a fantastic book selection) where I sipped on my papaya shake sitting on the mats on the floor watching the busy street outside from the 2nd level of the house.
I've heard some stories of fantastic Rock climbing at Crazy Horse Buttress from my friends in Canada so when I figured out that the place is only 20 km outside of CM and the guesthouse van arrange for me a full day with an adventure company it was a no brainer
Next day I started feeling all the muscles in my body some that I didn't know I have but still happy I decided to rest and maybe indulge in a little bit of massage...
Thai Massage is something of a combination between relaxation, pain, much pain and wrestling not necessarily in this order. You will definitely find how amazingly flexible you suddenly are when a tiny little Thai woman wraps her leg around yours and pulls it up as hard as she can, and she can!! There are no rules on what parts of her body she can use on what parts of your body but I can tell you that much that they are strong and thorough. Elbows, knees, fists, fingers, very strong fingers can and will be used on all your big and small an previously unknown muscles of yours to produce a one hour full body kind of extreme pain relaxation. 8) I don't really know if I was suppose to feel like that or not but I know I will not go for another Thai massage when I'm all sour from climbing, a couple of Advil seem like a better alternative. I did like it though, I don't know what this says about me but I'll do it again when in better shape.:)
More Wats and more chilling in CM, it was quite all right after all. CM was not exactly what I expected though, a bit too touristy, as a good friend put it: "Farang Central" but it was the place where I was reacquainted to an old friend
One night I was sitting on a patio by this busy street in a nice french restaurant working slowly through my second Singha and writing on my blog when I don't know why I raised my head and watched the cars and the Tuk-Tuks, the motorcycles, the Elephant walking by... Did I mentioned it was already night and a big busy street? The pachyderm just strolled like that was nothing wrong with this picture, slowly walking in the curb side lane... And that's not all! He had a red light strapped to his tail, one of these red flushing lights that bicycles have! :) Everything happened so fast, surreal really. I didn't see if he was also wearing car plates or not :) Crazy stuff, Thailand all right.
Time to move on towards Laos, my Thai visa expires in few days... Next destination: Chang Rai.