Endless Chiang Mai

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October 17th 2011
Published: August 9th 2017
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Geo: 18.8, 98.98

Northern Thailand has surprised me, I didn't realise how beautiful it was until we went for your trek, but I guess I didn't know what to expect as i knew nothing about the area. (warning, this could be a long blog). We returned to Chiang Mai later that night and unfortunately we had to rush Anna to the hospital with a bladder infection. Luckily we only spent a few hours there and at no real cost, only for the medication.
Needless to say the following day was quiet and the only eventful thing was later that night when we grabbed some dinner around the corner at a very nice looking restaurant but owned by a scary looking, decieving, rude and unfriendly ladyboy. She points to the unmarked priced food on the black board and tells you the prices, but when the bill comes it's much more and you can't really argue unless you used the menu in which you have to ask for and she unpolitely discourages.

Theres something about this place that makes you want to stay longer. It might just be because of the sheer beauty of the surrounding landscape and the endless possibilities beyond the city itself.
Here in Chiang Mai you can rent a motorcycle for 200b ($6.50) for 24 hours and it releases you into a world of freedom and adventure.
I had never been on a motorcycle before, let alone driven one. I was a bit nervous, but mostly because I had to make sure Anna was safe. But almost instantly I felt fine and enjoyed it loads.
We set off north to Mae Rim to visit Tiger Kingdom, a place where you can visit, touch and hug tigers. Totally for tourists, but then again how often do you get the opportunity. I am much agaist animal cruelty and I didn't like the fact that they drug the tigers, but it's understandable. Just looking at a baby tiger with crossed eyes doesn't enhance the experience at all.

Tickets range from 500 - 1400b, depending on the size of the tiger and if you want to see one or all four sizes. The tigers were great though, the young ones were cute and playful and the big ones were beautiful and powerful looking creatures. Afterwards we contuinued up the "street of attractions" as I like to call it, with other attractions such as a Orchard and butterfly enclosure, monkey kingdom and a 4 wheel adventure place, but we didn't stick around for long before we arrived back to Chiang Mai to watch France vs Wales in the rugby and pick a tick out the back of my head.

Later that evening we enjoyed a parade on the street past our accommodation of what seemed to be school kids and marching bands. We never found out what it was for though.
We also went to our first Muay Thai match with a range of 7 fights, mostly young Thai's in their teens and two women fights.
there was even a match where the kids would have had to been around 8 - 10 years old and they went full on from the start. It kind of felt that I was watching something illegal, but it was cool to see the supporters, managers and trainers get excited. The Muay Thai was great and I was intrigued in the dance and blessing perfomed before the fights and my favourite fight was the special fight where they had about 8 guys blindfolded going for a freefrawl for 5 min, tripping over and hitting the ref, brilliant!
The next day we extended our stay and motorbike rental to explore Doi Suthep on the hill overlooking Chiang Mai, a noticabley golden temple on which this day was particulary busy. From there you also get a nice view of Chiang Mai, but visibility was reduced due to weather.
We carefully made our way back down the windy road to a lake on the outskirts of the city where we enjoyed beautiful views while eating lunch. The lake was great but we unfortunately didn't have enough time to go around as we were going to watch the New Zealand vs Australia game in the rugby, but on the way and at considerable distance away, our bike broke down and wouldn't start properly.
We appealed for locals driving by to help and we were lucky when a guy stopped and pushed us to a nearby mechanic, and he even waited with us till the job was done and refused our offer for some money in exchange which was extremely heart warming for me and shows the kindness and generosity of the Thai people.
The bike problem was some slipped bolts that had to be tightened and it only took 15min and 200b ($6.50) to fix and we were back on the road in time for the second half.

On the way back to our accommodation we were impeeded from reaching it by the weekly night Sunday walking market which runs all night and the total length of Ratchamanka street which is over 1km long and even in to some side streets.
It has everything from food, clothes, trinkets and more. I bought two new tee shirts and Anna bought a gift. A very impressive market but even the most professional bargainer will struggle to keep the prices low. Many vendors have set prices and if they don't then they don't care too much about bargaining so if you don't like the price then tough luck, go somewhere else. But in hindsight it's still pretty cheap.

The following morning we had been invited to join Jo, the manager of our accommodation, along with Marv (a German guy) to visit some places by bike and Jo would take and show us around at his own free will.
We grabbed our usual 7/11 bakery breakfast and set off for around 50km, possibly east of Chiang Mai, not completely sure as we forgot to ask Jo to show us on a map. When we set off Jo and Marv rode pretty fast and we were constantly behind but we took our time to be safe. Our first stop was a cave that claimed to have a hair of Buddha. Convinced in to getting a torch that we didn't need, we were then toured around by a young kid. It was an impressively large cave with one equally impressive staligtite. Next stop was some natural hot springs with two gyesers shooting from the ground and pools to dip feet in and to boil some eggs for a snack.
We then continued up a beautiful valley of jungle and hills to a small village for a really nice noodle soup and continued to loop a waterfall which was very impressively long. It had been raining which made climbing the stairs and rocks quite hard in thongs. I dropped my big camera lens where it snapped the filter off and rolled in to the water, but thankfully it still works, it's just hard to keep the lense cap on.
We then continued back the way we came and looped back around through some amazing landscape of jungles, hills and rice paddy fields. Argh!! I can't say enough how beautiful and amazing this area is. Our last stop was at a observation and research park where there was a range of animals in poorly conditioned cages. Animals such as monkeys, owls, deers, bear cat things and a bunch of different birds and completely empty of people. There was also a small fish farm with a few different types.
The weather had been pretty good, a few on and off moments for the rain. So we set off back home for about an hour, utterly thankful to Jo for this opportunity. We decided after to head to Laos in the morning so Jo organised our tickets to cruise down the Mekong for a few days and we set off for some Pizza and two hours of cheap internet at 10b per hour or 33 cents.

The time spent in Chiang Mai was brilliant, no wonder we spent a week here. The city is much more relaxed than Bangkok, the scenery is superb and the fun seems endless. The people were great, even in the guesthouse like Jo the nice manager, Jimmy the old American who was great to talk with and bound for spending the rest of his days in Mexico and even the Swiss guy who was quite odd and almost always drunk and hard to communicate with.

A few people we have met have loved this city and I can understand why..

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