Mini bus: 1 Hour
Bus: 20 minutes
Boat: 2 Hours
Bus: 1.5 Hours
Pick-Up: 5 Minutes
Tuk Tuk: 25 Minutes
“Sleeper”Train: 12 hours
Wait at train station: 2 Hours
Train: 14 Hours
That was the gruelling trip we made to get from Koh Samui to Chiang Mai. We arrived around 10pm determined to shower and hit the sack. However, after getting off the damned train and driving through the bustling city on the way to our guest house, we decided to head to the Sunday night market to stretch our legs. That lasted all of about ten minutes before we realised just how tired we were from our travels. We chose to grab a quick bite and call it a night. To Bret’s delight there was an abundance of Mexican restaurants available so we hit one of them up for a night-cap (with FREE chips and salsa) and a plate of nachos. Surprisingly they were pretty well done and they definitely hit the spot.
A long sleep and a good workout the next day had us ready to explore Chiang Mai. We spent the day checking out the old town, which is surrounded by a moat and is home to numerous temples as well as many modern stores, coffee shops and Thai/Western restaurants.
Our second day we had organized to learn a little about Thai cooking. We were picked up at 9am and were taken to the local market to take a look around and learn about the staple ingredients used in Thai food. From there we made our way to the school where we were introduced to Nancy, our teacher for the day. We were asked to each select six dishes and together our menu consisted of: hot and sour soup, spicy soup with Thai basil, pad Thai, spring rolls, spicy papaya salad (my new favourite Thai dish), chicken with cashew, fried holy basil with chicken, northern style pumpkin curry, jungle curry and sticky rice with mango.
After we prepared each dish we sat down to dig into our wonderful creation. It was a lot of food to consume in five hours so luckily we had the option of taking some away with us. We both thoroughly enjoyed the class and walked away fat, happy and excited to try the dishes back home with the recipe book we were given by Nancy.
We were dropped off back at our guest house and ready to chill out in the air-conditioned room and recover from the food coma.
While we were exploring the old town the day before we found an Irish pub that was going to play the Seahawks Vs. Packers Monday night game. We were stoked and had our Tuesday night planned. After a little rest we enjoyed the last of the delicious rum we picked up in Koh Samui. We then headed out to the bar to catch the game. It was the first full football game we have been able to watch on our trip and were lucky that it happened to be the Seahawks. What a game to watch – Seahawks win! Although it was somewhat controversial, we’ll take it 🙂
As Bret says in his Koh Samui post: Live to ride and ride to live. We were at it again in Chiang Mai. Another day on the badass scooters to get out of the city and up Soi Duthep mountain. It was a scenic ride and much cooler up near the top, a welcome relief from the 90 degree heat and 90% humidity in the city. We stopped off at a view-point to catch a hazy view of the city and a few kilometers further up we took a break to take a look at yet another temple. Although the temples are beautiful, the ones we’ve seen so far are more of the same. I say this now but don’t hold me to it – I’m templed out.
After the temple, we continued further up the mountain to see if we could catch a glimpse of a royal palace. Unfortunately we could not see if from the road and it had started raining so we called it good and headed back down, stopping at a few buddha temples along the way to get out of the rain.
We navigated our way through the Chiang Mai traffic to a tribal craft market but were quite disappointed with the selection of goods on sale. Bret asked “where to next” in a flat tone and with pleading eyes that we could be done with the scooters and call it day. He’d been a good sport with all that exploring, wearing a helmet that barely fit the top of his head. It was back to the comfort of our air-conditioned room to chill before braving the massive night bazaar.
Our last day in Chiang Mai we chose to head for the mall to see if we could find some last-minute deals before leaving Thailand. Instead we wandered aimlessly by the American and British designer shops before deciding to see a movie, Bret’s second-favourite pastime. Later on we stopped by our new favourite pub to watch a bit of football (Bret’s favourite pastime), the Thursday night game Browns Vs. Ravens.
In total we spent five nights in Chiang Mai. It’s a great city that we instantly fell in love with. A little less touristy than Koh Samui and much, much nicer than Bangkok. Clean, friendly and cheap!