He’s a Quiet City, with Bohemian Friends

Posted on September 29, 2009. Filed under: Uncategorized |

And so we’ve just left Chiang Mai. It’s an
old city in the north of Thailand, and is one of the seats of Thai
(more specifically Lanna) civilization.
However, this is all history. Right now, it’s an incredibly welcoming
and laid back city, with a reasonably well preserved, low rise old
town surrounded by a rectangular moat as well as selection of
excellent and well cooked food.

We left Bangkok on a Friday evening sleeper train, when I was still
feeling a bit queasy (see Rachel’s previous post). I had been worried
that the journey across the city to Hualamphong train station was
going to do me in, but it turns out that the new (as in, since I lived
here) underground/metro/MRT now extends out directly to the station.
Bonus. The MRT is air conditioned (double bonus) and the train
station, of King Churalongkorn heritage, was both comfy and non-busy.
Our train was delayed leaving by 75 minutes (the Thais in the seats
around us didn’t seem too fussed), but when we were finally underway
and our seats had been turned into bunks, I got a good amount of
fitful sleep.

It was raining when we arrived in Chiang Mai, and the songthaew driver we
spoke to had difficulty understanding where we wanted to get to. After
delivering us to a guest house on the wrong side of the city through
the driving rain, a helpful receptionist there eventually instructed
the driver where we needed to be. We were overcharged but did manage
to miss the rain; the delay meant it had finished by the time we
stepped out of the vehicle to meet up with the my excellent friend
Kat, whom I haven’t seen since university 7 years ago.

I introduced Rachel to her and we caught up over a vegetarian meal
(tom kha minus the gai) and she helped hook us up with
accommodation and got us rolling around the city.

Quick break for technical detour: our internet connection today is
quite slow, so we haven’t uploaded any of the pictures from Chiang Rai
yet – we’ll get them up as soon as we can and then update this post
*and* send out a new post with just the pictures. It’ll help to read
these side by side ;->.

So, that first afternoon we went on a power temple walk, using the
Lonely Planet Thailand book. Each Wat we went to was impressive, and
each for different reasons. My two favorites were the last (with a
large meditative garden), and one in the middle, which was entirely
made of teak. We also managed to dodge another rain shower by the
power of being in a photography exhibition at the time. We have all
the luck.

Speaking of which, here are our other highlights from our 3 days in Chiang Mai:

* Night bazaar (food most good, wallet most forlorn, people most honest)
* Faranged out at a
movie theatre (go and see District 9 if it’s out where you are – it’s
how science fiction should be)
* Relaxed Sunday street market stretching for a few kilometers
(filled with locals, lovely produce, and the vendors are much less
pushy – a must see)
* Rachel’s cheap-ass mojito under a clear sky on a rooftop bar

It’s been good, and I can certainly recommend the guest house we
stayed at – great location, good price for an aircon’d room: Baan
Manee. We’re now in Chiang Rai having travelled up by bus today. The
last thing we ate in Chiang Mai was from the Freedom Cafe – a cafe and
a shop that puts all its profits towards supporting and educating
Burmese and Hilltribe refugees. The food, art, jenga and setting were
great, especially under a cloudless sky.

Until next time (and the photos),

James

Posted via email from dreadpiratesarcas

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