Published: July 14th 2012July 14th 2012
Chiang Mai has been a really nice break from the craziness that is Bangkok. While still very much catering to the large amount of tourism, it maintains an element of charm and authenticity while still being a pretty big and important city.
One of the things I really am liking about Chiang Mai is that you can wander around and everybody pretty much leaves you alone unlike Bangkok where I was always being bothered. I also really like the hostel I'm staying at. It is a really chill place with a great staff and atmosphere. Last night we had a big BBQ with everyone staying there, where they made free soup for everyone (why they love super hot soup when it is already so hot outside baffles me) and chicken for sale. I met another British guy who had just returned to the hostel after 6 months in australia. He had previously been at the hostel for a few months before that and knew everyone there really well. He introduced me to the owners, the cooks, and everyone else who were really nice and super funny. They even shared some of their Thai rum that they drink like
juice. Yet they really water it down a lot and therefore are really proud to say they never get hangovers.
There are a number of different travelers at the hostel and it has been easy to find people to do things with and go out with. Chiang Mai is really known for a number of touristy things to do. Some of these include taking Thai cooking classes, elephant sanctuaries, Thai massages, and trekking. While the cooking classes seem fun, they are a little more expensive and not really my cup of tea. I also am a little apprehensive about doing a Thai massage as everyone says its one of the most painful things they have ever done, I'm going to give it a little more thought before I subject my bony body to such treatment. What I am excited about is a 3 day trekking tour in the mountains that I booked. It goes up through the hill tribes and also includes elephant riding and bamboo river rafting. I actually booked this in Bangkok and I know I overpaid for it (I also booked my slow boat ride into Laos... More on that later). But, as a
solo traveler it is sometimes nice to have everything already all arranged for you for a few days and not really have to worry about much. They take care of all the transport and accommodations and most meals. I leave for the trekking tomorrow morning.
The other thing I had to do while here was get my visa to visit China. What a pain! They are incredibly particular about things and make it twice as hard for Americans... Literally. Americans have to have two copies of all our documents and apps and pay nearly three times as much as any other nation. I had heard some horror stories from a German couple trying to get their visa in Bangkok and read it was less of a hassle in Chiang Mai. I was happy to report that Chiang Mai was easy to it and I was in and out with my paperwork. I pick it up in a couple days after my trekking.
Now I am off to the famous Saturday market.... Last nights night market proved successful for a couple gifts and great deals. I particularly like the thing I got for my sister
Another generally popular thing for tourist in Thailand is the lady boy shows. I also didn't have a ton of interest in these, but you see the guys (or girls) on the street everywhere trying you to get you to see their show. As I have been walking Chiang Mai, I have been twice stopped in broad daylight by guys who recruit for English speaker promoters for the lady boy shows. They literally fly past me on their scooter, turn their head, pull over and then come up and introduce themselves, ask where I'm from and tell me they would like me to model and recruit. They like that I'm tall, english speaking and look Asian in their eyes (the Thai are kind of pretentious as they think anyone dark must be Asian) Anyways, I politely say no and they go on but I am flattered to know I could get a job here if I ever needed one... Haha
There are more photos below