Chiang Mai is a lovely city to visit as it does not have the tourist hype that you find in places like Bangkok. There are still the lovely arrays of markets with a wide variety of articles that are handmade or copied from originals. The food is a little different here, but most Thai dishes are available as well as Burger King, McDonalds, Starbucks and KFC. On our last night in Chaing Mai Harold and I opted for Burger King. This is the only “home” meal I have had the whole time. It was nice to have something much more familiar.
Earlier in the afternoon we had taken our washing in to one of the local laundries. The cost was 30baht per kilo so about $1.20. After dropping it off I decided to explore a bit but as I had been talking to one of the other people in our group I had miscounted the number of turns into streets we had walked down and got lost. I ended up exploring a totally different part of town than I would have so all was a bonus. In the end though I only happened to have the name of the hotel
we were staying in in my phone as I had connected to the wifi before leaving. Lucky. I asked a man on the street who directed me to another man who directed me to a woman who spoke a little English. She sent me to the closest hotel where they were able to give me directions to my hotel. This lost process took me 2-3 hours, and as usual because I did not want to give in it was a long drawn out process, but the exercise was great even in the heat.
The bus trip south from Chiang Mai finally left at 8.30ish. It was a big bus with a toilet in the rare and some storage space for water and food provided through our tickets for the journey that included a female attendant decked out in a red dress and looking like an air hostess. She was very young and quite pouty, but that was more likely to be shyness and her great level of responsibility. The seats were made to be slept in with the foot area levering up and the back area levering down that also included a button so you could have your back
automatically massaged. And still it was virtually impossible to sleep. I had Harold next to me and he is a large person, so for him I know how much he struggled with limited leg room and he could not do justice to his body length. For me it was just too hard feeling confined as on a plane and not being able to relax. Funny though. At about 2am the bus pulled in to a rest area and a cafeteria was open. We were there for about 15 minutes and people bought food. I found it strange personally as I never eat at night time. Still I took the time to walk around and stretch my cramped limbs in the hope that I could relax more once our journey began again. It seemed to work or I was that tired I just had to sleep but I remember waking when the light in the bus came on at around 6am and realizing that I had actually slept. Oh yes I forgot to mention the three stops we had with the police checking the bus for whatever they check for such as criminals, drugs and illegals??
By the time we
got off the bus and into a taxi and arrived back at the Viengtai Hotel, it was 7am and luckily we were immediately allocated rooms and off I went to a real bed. I took a shower first and feeling nice and clean with my hair washed for the first time in five days, I took myself of to a clean bed. By 9am I felt refreshed enough to cope with the day.
The day was spent wandering around the streets and market places of the area in fairly close proximity to the hotel. I have pretty much done all the things in Bangkok that I want to do and with no money to shop and no room in my bags for shopping it is not quite the same. I had a nice green curry for lunch and watched the end of the rugby game of the first test between Ireland and NZ in Auckland at the bar across the road from our hotel where there were at least another 10 New Zealanders of various ages. The streets here are alive with tourists tuk tuks, taxis, motor bikes and street vender with everyone sharing the road space.
and Stewart turned up around 4ish after they changed their plans in Chiang Mai and decided to take a flight instead of the bus journey. This turned out to be good as in the end what looked like just dinner with Harold for our last night together as a group actually resulted in all of us being together for the final dinner and that included Sar, our guide. For some reason I got appointed the leader and it was left to me to co-ordinate a place to eat. The first place we went to that had been the place that I had had lunch at earlier in the day, was far too noisy with young drunk, loud people and so we moved to another. It was definitely more quiet, but also more expensive and up until now we had always bought our own food and eaten it. I suggested we shared the food instead and the group agreed. Thus it was cheaper, less waste and a chance to try other dishes, so very successful. I had a beer and right behind us was a pool table. Harold didn’t want to play but Sar, the Thai guide said he would play
one game with me. Well that was a waste of time as he was a good player. A very good player. So the game was over before it started really and it left me feeling very dissatisfied.
On the way back from the restaurant, amongst the myriad of people from a range of cultures who teemed the streets, I found a stall making my favourite meal of pancake and banana with condensed milk. Yum. For me that topped my night off and I meandered back to my room and bed. No sooner did my head hit the pillow and I was out to it even though there was bar noise coming from a guitarist and singer across the road.
Tracy, my roomie has not long gone this morning and we will make contact again in the future. She was a lovely insightful person with a plan for her future that she felt quite sure about and a good head on her shoulders. I loved talking with her. She showed much compassion for members of her group and had a good understanding of the complexities of some of our lives.
Harold knocked on my door at around 9.00
so about 10.00 we headed off for some exercise and a visit to the Bangkok museum. We expected to get some exercise just finding the place and we sure did. It would have taken us about 6 kilometres to walk what we thought was to the museum but in actually fact we looped around and ended up back where we started. A lovely policeman helped us and pointed us in the right direction of sorts and after a few left and right turns and skirting around our hotel we eventually arrived at the museum that proved to be well worth the 200baht it cost to go there. On reflection going after we had been north was very good as we had some first-hand experiences of the people and the land and buildings or ruins more likely and today we added to that with some lovely history of the area and the kings over the last two hundred years that have ruled Thailand. We discovered that the kings are Buddhists and they have encouraged Buddhism amongst the people. Interestingly enough the present king and his brother were born, I think in America and lived most of their early life in Switzerland.
The present king is now very old. Another interesting fact was that one king only about 150 years ago had something like 90 children. That makes for an awful lot of royal Thais methinks. The artefacts were excellent too with some as old as 1000 years and made of bronze and stone and still the stone shows the writings of the times. Aayuttha is the central part of Thailand and subject to many wars and changes as it was a hub for travellers from other lands with the Portuguese being the first to meet the Thai people. France got a look in for a while a couple of hundred years ago but fell out with the king and we sent from the land. The regalia used for important ceremonies was just amazing in its intricacy and finery and the gold shines with its richness. The kings and queens and Buddhists have had a very privileged life but have also been instrumental in changing the culture of Thai that includes beliefs, clothing, mechanisation, agriculture and trade. In 1908 Thailand had trams and motor cars on its streets. Wow!
Once we left the museum we decided to take the shortest route back to the hotel to discover we were only about 500 metres from it. Ha! Ha! All that walking for nothing some might say, but we did get the exercise that allowed us to eat.
Pad Thai for me for lunch. Yum! Good to have had chats with a few people today too. Thank you for being there.
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