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Monday, February 4, 2013

Chiang Mai 2013




Day 9

Rice porridge and pineapple juice yummo. I’m going to miss Nicky’s breakys. The girls went back to the room to pack and I wandered across the road to pick up our washing and to change a few travellers’ cheques.
I finalised our bill and we bid farewell at everyone at Nicky’s. And laden with our packs we hit the street looking for transport to airport, I was approached by a tuk tuk driver who wanted a firm 1000THB to the airport. NO WAY. Same thing happened with the next few guys.  A Thai guy yelled out from across the road I weaved my way across the heavy traffic and asked how much to the airport, he said 800THB I then said 700THB, he said ok.  We filled his boot with our packs and jumped into his cool air conditioned car and off we went to the airport.
We self-checked-in with Air Asia and made our way to the gate and waited for our flight. We had arrived at the airport early and had 2 hours to wait, so we found a few rows of seats and lay down for a nap. And when I awoke the terminal was full. And it was nearly boarding time; thank god we didn’t sleep past our flight departure. The gate soon opened and we boarded our flight to Don Mueang Airport Bangkok. 


The flight didn’t take long about an hour and 15 minutes, but as we approached Bangkok I found myself sitting gazing out the widow like a small child taking in the view of the urban sprawl which drifted into a concrete jungle of building and roads to a mixed up confusion of the city of angels that is Bangkok. My excitement was growing as this was my first time in Bangkok, but I couldn’t get Murray Heads song “One Night in Bangkok” out of my head. Showing my age now.


Touch down and we quickly made our way out of the airport to the taxi stand outside terminal 1. Wow the lines were massively long, so we were sent down to terminal 2 taxi stand and half an hour later we had our taxi to Hua Lamphong Railway Station I paid our driver 580THB. We hurried inside the station and dropped our bags off in the left baggage room. I was meeting my cousin at the station for a chat, we haven’t seen each other for 10 plus years and I waited this moment with great anticipation. 


We arrived back at the station with half hour to spare. We quickly stocked up on toilet paper and some snacks and water for our journey to Chiang Mai. Just outside the family mart at the railway station we grabbed some dinner. I bought myself a cup of sweet corn for 12 THB and 2 sticks of pork balls for 24THB and an ice tea for 18THB another cheap yummy meal. 

We boarded our train number 13 overnight sleeper to ChiangMai. I had booked a 2nd class sleeper a few months before we travelled. On the Thai rail site found here. But it seems the on-line booking has stopped for now, which means first in first served and may not always guarantee a seat or bed. There is a Facebook page for updates and they did a poll to return online bookings. I guess it’s a wait and see what happens. The Man in Seat 61 is also great for rail travel info also on Facebook.
Anyway the 2nd class sleeper has along corridor down one side and has small compartment containing 2 lower bench seats /beds and 2 upper beds. Except for one end which had just one of each making in a perfect private 2nd class sleeper. Each had a curtain to wrap around when sleep and a small night light. The beds are made on thin mattresses with a bottom sheet and pillow with clean pillow case and a clean thin blanket.
The A/C is freezing cold; I started to call it the artic express. I suggest you have long pants a light jumper and socks or an extra blanket it gets bloody cold. There is a ladder to get to the top bunk and a small table. Under the table there are 2 round pin power plugs.  The toilets are of the good old knee tremblers; take your own toilet paper. Dinner and breakfast are served as well as drinks.
740pm and we slowly started rolling along heading for Chiang Mai at a steady pace. There were a few young guys on the train that liked to keep walking up and down the train, which was a little annoying. By about 1030 – 11 pm most people had settled in for the night. 

Day 10

 

I woke at 630am and drew back the curtains, and it was instant freeze from the A/C, my god it was cold. I peered out the window to see the country side encased in a thick fog that had an eerie sense about it. I sat shivering peering out the window enjoying the view of thick lush countryside and fog slowly gave way to the power of the heat of the sun whose rays reached slowly around the mountain and between the trees to warm the cold ground.
Around 7am it was “coffee, you want coffee” or “juice”. No thanks. 45 minutes had past and breakfast was served, the rice porridge was hot and yummy and the orange juice was strong but tasty. But with the breakfast service also came the bad news that the train was going to be 2 hours late. We were supposed to be in Chiang Mai at 10am.


We finally arrived in Chiang Mai at 1215pm just a short 2 hours and 15 minutes late. We hurried out the front of the station to find some transport to our hotel.  I pushed my way past the touts all fighting for my business and approached the few towards the back a guy said to me where are you going, so I told him he came back with 300THB I just looked at him raised my eye brows and kept walking to a women she said 300THB as well, I just kept walking and she followed me and said 250THB, I said NO 100THB and she said 150, 50 baht each. I agreed and piled into the back of the little red truck with an English couple, and off the women went to get someone else to fill up her little red truck.
With-in 10 minutes the truck was full and we were on our way , and yep first stop was the Funky Monkey Guest House and our stop but we were 1st in the truck, so the other 7 with backpacks had to get out in order to let us out. I did wonder why the lady didn’t organise us a bit better. 

Funky Monkey Guest House - website here 

Funky Monkey business card - front - back

Photo's - here

We walked through the front door of the Funky Monkey to be greeted by David and Nuy and the dogs made us feel very welcome. We were given a welcome drink and a chat about what’s where and a few great places to eat, David and Nuy where full of knowledge. We went to take our stuff to our room on the 4th floor. We freshened up and dropped the laundry off a few door up and across the road from the Funky Monkey and just 40THB per kilo. It was late afternoon so we decided to take a walk along the moat towards the gate. Just then I realized it was Sunday and the walking street markets will be on. It was around 430pm when we arrived and at the end of the moat near the gate there is a guy who sell food for the pigeons and the fish, we bought a bag and fed the fish. 

Miss G wanted Mc Donald’s for dinner so we crossed the road and washed our hands and Miss G got her dinner and we sat outside and watched the markets stall slowly pop up and stock spread over the tables. I did like the position of the Chang beer stand out front of Maccas.


We crossed the road and Miss C and I hit the food section of the markets on our gastronomy tour of Chiang Mai Sunday night walking street. We grabbed a plate of vegetarian spring rolls for 40THB with had us salivating we grabbed a plate of vegetarian Pad Thai and a plate of BBQ Pork which was delicious both for 40THB each and 2 ice teas for 40THB. We took a slow wander around the markets and picked up a few bargains we didn’t even try to get them any cheaper, except the sun glass lady who was tough to bargain with. We had had enough of walking around and decided to grab a foot massage, half hour for 60THB. I'm loving Chiang Mai. And we got a tuk tuk back to our hotel for 70THB.


Day 11    
            
Morning Chiang Mai, we got ready and went downstairs and grabbed some fruit and a banana shake for breakfast and a bottle of water from the fridge. We sat out the front of the hotel and waited for the tour guide to arrive. When he arrived, Nuy introduced us to Sacron our guide for the day. I had organised a day tour with David and Nuy yesterday and I also promised I wouldn’t blog about it, as a blogger I have too and I will in the form of a photo essay.
Our View from the Funky Monkey
Tarantula Hole
20THB Basil Chicken and Rice

Coffee Plants
Balloon Flowers
Coffee Beans Drying
Spider Webs
Grinding Corn

Our last stop of the day, which wasn’t on the tour I was offered but I wanted it to be added was Wat Phrathat Doi Suthep. We started out pilgrimage up the 309 steps to the temple and once at the top grab some photos and a blessing.  The view of Chiang Mai was obscured by smoke.


I finally bought myself a singing bowl, I seem to buy something each country I visit besides a t-shirt.
Back at the Funky Monkey we were greeted by David and Nuy and asked how we enjoyed our day and a chat about our day. We freshened up and had a rest. I picked up our laundry and dropped off another load. 

We grabbed a tuk tuk to the night bizarre which cost me 60THB, we wandered around amazed at how cheap some stuff was and loving the handicrafts, we decided to grab a meal at O’Malley’s Irish Pub which had a big selection of Thai and western food with great prices and service. It was time to head back to our hotel so we grabbed a tuk tuk which was a bit tough as most of them want 150THB; I persisted and got one for 80THB.

Day 12

Miss G wanted Mc Donalds for breakfast so we took a slow walk along the moat until we reached Maccas. We sat inside as the morning air was still very fresh and cool.


After breakfast we visit the Thapae Gate and to take a few photos. We needed to change a few travellers’ cheques, and found a money changer at a bank with a great rate. We quickly hurried to the hotel to drop off my passport and to secure some of our cash.
Back near the moat we were approached by a guy who asked did we need a taxi/private car, I told him we wanted to go the Tiger Kingdom and a Cobra show, and he said 250THB. Let’s go I said and we were on our way. 

We arrived at Tiger Kingdom all nervous and worried; we selected small tiger of a 5 or 7 months old. We walked around looking at the tigers and then made our way to where we would have our interaction and waited our turn. The ground and cages at the tiger temple resembled a zoo, they animals seemed happy enough but some of the cages were very small.
256 the man yelled. That’s us girls. We made our way into the cage with mixed feeling of joy and shitting ourselves.  But this quickly disappeared and we loved the interaction between us and the tiger cub. Next stop was the shooting range (not a planned visit, but we enjoyed it in Phuket) Miss C and I seem to enjoy shooting hand guns, I chose a 9mm and Miss C took a 38 and 30 bullets later we had managed to improve our aim.

 

King Cobra show was next, we bought a ticket, I have always wanted to see a King Cobra and wow these guys a big and darn long. We walked around checking out the cages. Then grabbed a seat as the show was about to start. I kind of didn’t like the show, it was basically piss the snake off and hope it don’t bite you. One guy had a small python in each hand and tried to catch the 3rd with his mouth, well karma kicked in and the snake latched onto his top lip and wouldn’t let go which gave me a bit of a cheeky smile. Then next guy swung a snake around by its tail, not a good way to treat animals. I guess I can cross that off my bucket list and never go a snake show again.


We got dropped back to the moat so we could grab lunch off a small few street carts before we headed back to the hotel. I purchased a banana pancake that kicked arse on the pancakes in Patong this was less fatty and a little crisp and only 20THB and 18THB for an ice tea a cheap yummy meal. 



Miss G stayed at the hotel while Miss C and I went out adventuring and we went walking with no destination planned, we got down near Mc Donald’s and took a left turn towards the night bizarre area for a look around. We had been walking for a while when we stumbled upon a man and his rickshaw. He asked did we want a tour of the city, how much I said 300THB per hour I said 200THB an hour he agreed and off we went. Miss C and I soon discovered the seat wasn’t big enough to fit both our arse on. But it was something different and we settled in and enjoyed the ride, but we soon learned our guide was a little nutty he kept going on about number 1, anyway the tour lasted for an hour and a half we saw heaps of Chiang Mai some of it we still don’t know what we were looking at but it was a wonderful way to see the old city. I even had a try of his bike.

Back at the hotel and we freshened up and told Miss G about our adventure, we all had a giggle about it, he was a nice guy but we knew things were wrong when he showed us a picture of him at the gate and he kept telling us it was Singapore.


We went to the night bizarre area for dinner at a small restaurant owned by an Aussie guy from Queensland, we had a few friendly works about the state of origin and left laughing. He was a nice guy for a Queenslander  : ) . We finished the night off with a wander around the night bizarre and got a tuk tuk back to the hotel.

Day 13 


Our last day in Chiang Mai and I wished we had more time here to explore around town and other parts of Thailand’s north. I was awake very early so I went for a walk around to see what morning life was like in Chiang Mai. I walked along to moat to the gate and the pigeon and fish food guy had just arrived, So I bought a packet of food and fed the fish and pigeons. I quickly went to Mc Donald’s and washed my hands and kept walking and took a few turns and ended up at a wet market. I wondered around and got a bowl of rice porridge and chicken for 20THB and an Ice tea for 20THB great breaky for 40THB. I slowly made my way back to the hotel just as the girls were waking up.


We showered and packed all our stuff and let it with David and Nuy around 11am and went for a wander around town was lunch, the girls wanted Maccas (I’m sure they would live on it if they could) I agreed and went with the pork and rice which was beautiful and thought to myself why they don’t do these meals in Australia or have the ovaltine drinks or milo drinks like in Malaysia.
I spotted Thai silk sleeping bags next door to Mc Donald’s and thought just whats needed for the artic express back to Bangkok. I asked how much and he said 500THB I bargained him down to 300THB, which was 900THB for 3. I have no idea if it is real silk but they feel good and thick material and keep you warm.
We all had a foot massage in a spa for 120 THB for an hour. Then found a Mr Juicy shop and sat down and enjoy a natural juice drink which was tasty and refreshing. We also took advantage of the free Wi-Fi and checked into our Facebook and Google + worlds. We stopped into a 7/11 and got some supplies and toilet paper for the journey back to Bangkok
By this time it was nearly time to head back to Funky Monkey Guest House and to get to the train station. I had arranged a lift to the train station with the taxi/private car I hired the other day to take us to the Tiger Kingdom. It cost me 120THB to Chiang Mai station. We bid farewell to David and Nuy and the dogs and set off.




We boarded our sleeper train number 14 to Bangkok, we had to share our compartment with a guy from Japan his name is Daisuke we chatted for a while and around 1030pm we decided it was time to try get some sleep. I drew the curtain and lay there listening to my IPod thinking about Chiang Mai; it had taken a hold on all of us. I was hooked, the people were nice here and seemed so lay back and relaxed. And the joy of walking around without being pestered of asked what or where you going or a shop owner running out to try attract you in. Even buying most stuff around the markets is that cheap we didn’t need to ask for a discount or bargain a cheaper price. Yes this picturesque place had won my heart and I will return again.

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2 comments:

flyforicarus said...

Booked a ticket to thailand for 4 days this April. Your post is one of the best ones I've read. It's made me feel like I was there. Thanks!

Andrew Bennett said...

Thank you flyforicarus. I hope you have a wonderful trip to Thailand.

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