City Number 2 - Chiang Mai

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June 20th 2012
Published: June 20th 2012EDIT THIS ENTRY

We arrived a little before 10am after a pretty awful night’s sleep and were bombarded at the train station by taxi offers. We walked away from them to figure out whether our hostel was walking distance of the station. Exhausted from a broken night’s sleep we quickly decided it was definitely too far and hopped into a taxi-bus thing. Typically, just as the taxi stopped to let us out the rain started but we were soon safely into Finlay’s Cottage and greeted by Ratti, the extremely friendly Thai lady who helps run the place.

After a little nap, we headed out for a walk to explore the place before the real sightseeing begins tomorrow. As we were just within the gate of the old city I heard a voice behind me say ‘hello where you from?’ I thought – great there really is no escape from touts! A quick glance behind before I continued to ignore them revealed that it was indeed a monk who was greeting us. We walked along with Wahyou (probably spelt differently) for some 10minutes as he lead us somewhere that was good for local food. His English was great, he asked us many questions and told us he was on his way to Buddhist university, where he learnt his English (alongside cable tv and American films). At the end of this surreal experience, he asked for our e-mail addresses and home addresses in order that he could write to us to practise his English some more.

The place he took us to eat was lush as well, but I can’t remember the name of it. After eating we decided we had time to fit something in we wanted to do but were dressed inappropriately for any temples, leaving us with one obvious answer – massage! Rather than having an ordinary masseuse pull and crack our bodies we decided to go to Chiang Mai’s Women Correctional Unit and have inmates massage us (as recommended in LP – an obvious fact as 3 out of 4 groups who entered after us we clutching the book – and also featured on An Idiot Abroad 2). For a little under £4 we had a full one hour thai massage. I cracked in places I never believed possible and somehow came out feeling slightly more crippled than when I went in but the benefits are long term (so I’m told..)

We went home to shower and book some courses – which Ratti was more than happy to help with. Cynical readers will think, of course she was happy! She got commission. However, there is no tour desk as such, just leaflets. The only benefit is that booking is sped up by having a native speaker and she even got us 10% off than we would have booking ourselves. So we have a half day cooking course booked on Friday (£14) and white-water rafting booked for Saturday (£32)

For food this evening we wandered into a little establishment and dined on delicious local food. You really can find nicer cheaper places if you just walk a little further. On the way home we accidentally walked through the night market – an attraction we decided we would avoid earlier and instead head to the Saturday market. However it made for an interesting walk home!

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