Chiang Mai's Bizarre Bazaar

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November 22nd 2006
Published: November 24th 2006
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The notice on our wall in the "Safe" HouseThe notice on our wall in the "Safe" HouseThe notice on our wall in the "Safe" House

Essentially it means - we're going to steal from your room. If you're worried about this you could always lock stuff in our safe. But we'll probably nick that too.
We went from Ayutthaya to Chiang Mai by train, 10 hours through some pretty spectacular scenery, it was no Trans-Pennine Express I'm telling you. We travelled 2nd class which meant a soft reclining seat, air con and food. It was abit like being on an aeroplane, people fed us every 3 hours or so! We also got in flight entertainment from a little baby sat in front of us who seemed to think that Kris was the hairiest man he had ever seen (Thai's dont tend to be very hairy) and pulled faces and pulled Kris's leg hair for the whole journey.

We got to Chiang Mai pretty late and got a taxi to try and find somewhere to stay. Loads of places were closed already or full so we got a room in the first place with rooms - called Safehouse. This was an oxymoron - as the signs all around the room suggested that the staff like to steal people's stuff and even if it was in the safe they couldn't guarantee its safety. Coupled with the room over looking drains on both sides we quickly decided to move onto somewhere else the next morning. We got
Room with a viewRoom with a viewRoom with a view

Downgrading and saving money has its disadvantages
another room in the Eagle House, which was ok, at 190 bahts per night we didnt expect more. We have been trying to save money this week, and have reduced our spending on rooms from 1000 bahts per night (14 quid) (when we first arrived in Bangkok) to 190 (under 3 pounds).

Chiang Mai is in the North of Thailand and abit more chilled out than Bangkok. Its apparently 1/40th of the size, and I can well believe that. The old city is surrounded by walls and we walked around this area in a very small space of time. We went to see some wats (temples) and obviously some giant buddhas. Again lots of tuk tuk drivers wanted to take us on a tour, but refreshingly these ones were very nice when we said we wanted to walk and just made jokes with us. Saw Wat Phra Singh, the most visited temple, that holds the lion buddha, and Wat Chedi Luang which were both very peaceful.

Chiang Mai is famous for handicrafts and trekking. We werent really interested in trekking, so we decided to do some window shopping for handicrafts. We had heard that the Night bazaar was
Kris and the Three Kings of Chiang MaiKris and the Three Kings of Chiang MaiKris and the Three Kings of Chiang Mai

Kris didn't mean to look so annoyed at them.
very good so took a walk down to have a look. It is ENORMOUS. Streets and streets of stalls, whole shopping centres full of more stalls. It is some sort of shoppers paradise, shame we couldnt carry anything. You can get silk goods and cotton clothes and designers tshirts, bags and shoes, dvds, cds, some amazing wood calvings and pictures and some of the obligatory ribbetting frogs sold by women in jangly hats. There is a climbing wall and a square of outdoor bars looking over it. It goes on and on. There is a food hall in the Kalare Night Bazaar centre where you can get loads of different types of food - kinda like the food hall at Metroland or the Trafford Centre! Then you sit and eat it and there are performances of traditional Thai dancing. We both ate and had a beer for 2quid. The entertainment was free. The shopping got abit overwhelming after a while, especially when we were walking along and a women jumped out and dressed me in a pair of wrap around silk trousers. I was so stunned I didnt know what to do, and she was very annoyed when I didnt want to buy. What exactly I was going to do with a pair of black silk trousers while looking for monkeys in a Thai rainforest I dont quite know.


The bizaare was really bizarre. I wandered in imagining something like an oriental version of Leeds market and found something completely different. Everywhere you looked someone popped up and offered you bizarre goods. I felt overwhelmed and had to return to the food hall for a jug of Chang beer...

We've developed a method of seeing off the jangly hat women who sell wooden frogs. We've realised that if you just say no and sit there waiting for them to go away, they don't. They'll stand there for half an hour showing you every bit of jewelery they have to sell. They'll even offer you their jangly hat as a last resort. Trick is, to make them leave quickly - be deep in conversation. This has proven difficult as the sight of an old lady grinning at you in a jangly hat tends to make you forget what you were saying. So now we make stuff up. Went they approach, we politely decline their ribbeting frogs and
Wat Phra SinghWat Phra SinghWat Phra Singh

Another giant golden Buddha
then stare at each other and I start ad-libbing a mock account of some horrible accident as if we're mid conversation. Something along the lines of - "Yeah, so anyway, the explosion basically blew his hand clean off" Kate replies with "Thats awful, how is he now??" and so the conversation continues untl the jangly hatted lady retreats, perhaps detecting the seriousness of our discussion.
Feel free to use this technique yourselves.

The Badger of Home

We went into a bar last night in Chiang Mai and had a lovely chat with an ex-pat British bloke and some free food off the Thai owners. When I asked where the toilet was I was directed out the back f the building to a door decorated with the skin of a full grown badger. The European type. You know, like off Wind in the Willows. Gruesomely it was nailed to the toilet door. I was clearly taken aback by this but our grinning host took my lok of horror as some kind of misty-eyed nostalgia for the English countryside. She nodded knowingly and said "Just like home!"
Hmm. I'm not sure it's legal to nail dead badgers to the toilet door in England (not to mention tasteful). Maybe we'll find English bars over here were this is thought to be the done thing in a traditional English pub.......

Additional photos below
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White elephants at Wat Chedi LuangWhite elephants at Wat Chedi Luang
White elephants at Wat Chedi Luang

Apparently white elephants were really important to the Thai Kings and were often given as presents. However, it took along time to check whether they were really white and it was a lot of trouble, which is where our white elephant stalls come from - gifts that you dont really want.
Around the World in 80 British pubs #1 Around the World in 80 British pubs #1
Around the World in 80 British pubs #1

The Red Lion in Chiang Mai. A London style lamp post, red and white checked table cloths, HP Sauce and lots of old fashioned adverts for bile beans and other remedies makes a typical British pub here. Plus they served chicken in a basket and Strongbow. No badgers here though.

24th November 2006

Hi Folks, Sure you don't know me Kate, but Kris can tell you who I am- that weird bloke from rentokil who used to engage Kris in discussions about convergence or other stuff whether he wanted to or not. Hope your adventures continue good, keep your travelogue going, and maybe we'll meet up again if you ever return to wet, cold and dreary England. Best wishes, Alan T.

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