I am writing from Chiang Mai, in the north of Thailand and I feel like a real traveller now. Everything had started to feel a bit like a city break in Bangkok, but I have now washed my pants in a sink and sat for hours on various buses, it actually feels like I'm on the road and I'm going to be here a while. I've been getting used to Thailand a bit too, I don't tend to do a double take when I see entire families piled onto a 50cc scooter or temples that are pretty much located in petrol station forecourts. I did have to cross a busy road earlier though and it took about 20minutes. It was ridiculous, four lanes of traffic and a broken pedestrian crossing. Still not quite comfortable with the whole 'just walk and hope the cars stop' mantra they seem to have adopted over here.
The first town we stopped off at on the way up was Sukothai, another ancient capital of Thailand. Sukothai is split into the New City and the Old City. We stayed in the New City for 2 nights, about 12k from the ruins. The New City is certainly
nothing to write home about, we stayed in what was essentially a large wicker basket and the local bar had an American theme, which essentially meant a Thai man with an acoustic guitar and very little sense of rhythm or melody attempting to sound like Bob Dylan with the same few songs over and over. The Old City was fantastic though. A bit like the ruins at Ayatthaya but on a much larger scale. We hired some bikes and set about touring the ruined city. There was (thankfully) very little traffic about, save for our fellow tourists on bicycles and being completely out the town made these old temples somewhat more charming than the others. I find you can appreciate 13th centurary arcutecture much more when you know you're not within 10minutes of a McDonalds. The big temples at the centre of the ancient city where definitely the highlights. How people so long ago could build these artifacts so large and intricate is completely beyond me. I suppose they must've had quite a lot of time on their hands though.
We checked out our wicker basket the next day and headed up for Chiang Mai, another 6 hour coach ride away. Being in Thailand seems to have cured my travel sickness, which is a relief, meaning I could just sit back and enjoy the various grasslands and villages rolling past the windows as we drove. We arrived and all of the others had some incredibly attractive pictures of me asleep, head back mouth open, slight drool; the whole lot.
Chiang Mai is the second city in Thailand and is in some ways quite like a scaled down Bangkok, but it's got a much more Asian feel about it though. I don't think we'll be getting any takeaway McDonalds here. It's a university town though, so there is quite a good nightlife and bohemian feel to the place. A lot of travellers too. It's also been here for quite a long time, meaning that the main centre of the city is surrounded by a moat and the way the mountains rise up behind the city is really quite picturesque. The hostel we are in has far more people in it than any of our previous ones, so there has been plenty of people to chat to around the place. We are in a dorm room with 4 other people as well, which definitely has a much better vibe than the other places we've stayed.
We arrived late afternoon yesterday and headed into town for dinner and a few drinks last night. Upon finishing our food we had a wander to try and find the main backpackers area, however we must've entered some kind of red light district as we ended up in some kind of Go Go Bar completely by accident. It was all very funny once we realised, but since we'd already bought a round of drinks we decided to at least finish them before moving on. The girl in there serving drinks misheard my name too, so I ended up having to answer to 'Mister Collin!' for the next few minutes. Only in Thailand.
Today we have seen the sights of Chiang Mai, which mainly consisted of a few more temples and markets. I had a brief chat with a Buddhist Monk too, sadly his english wasn't too great but he did somewhat inexplicably give me a new map though. I must've looked very lost. We are now off to a jazz cafe (I'm wearing my Miles Davis t shirt, I can't wait), before heading up to the leafy town of Pai for the weekend before returning here to play with some elephants.
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