Friday, July 9, 2010
Back to Chiang Mai
When we leave Chiang Mai on a night train back to Bangkok Saturday afternoon we will have been here for about 10 days. Ten days is the length of some people's vacations. For us it is the time to kill between Cambodia and our flight home.
Chiang Mai is a completely different city this time around. Songkran is over, it is the low season and the protests in Bangkok significantly affected the tourism industry. Chiang Mai is almost a ghost town when it comes to tourists. Don't get me wrong, it is still crowded. The city itself has a population of 150,000 (just under the population of all of Samoa) and the metro area is home to just under a million people. Its just the farang that are missing.
We've had a chance to do some things we didn't do when we were here the first time. We rented a moto. After a significant amount of experience in Cambodia, Cale was feeling more confident about driving in Chiang Mai traffic (which is still ridiculous) and I was no longer deathly afraid of the moto. We motoed out to Bo Sang, Baan Tawai and other handicraft "villages." Talk about deceptive marketing. These are not villages where people make things, these are outdoor strip malls where every store sells just about the same thing. We were less than impressed. We were also less than impressed with the hot springs. I think mainly because it was already hot outside. Hot springs are better in colder weather. That and the geyser wasn't natural, there was a pump. You can buy eggs and put them in the hot water to boil, but we weren't hungry, so we didn't.
We also motoed up the mountain, Doi Suthep. We skipped the mountain-top temple (the only temple that charges admission in the city) and the tourist clap-trap village that has sprung up at the entrance and continued on to the Doi Suthep National Park.
We also visited the Night Market repeatedly. When we were here the first time Cale told a musical instrument vendor that he would come back at the end of our trip to buy the instrument. Two months later we returned and the first thing the guy said to Cale? "You're back!" He had remembered Cale. How crazy is that?
We saw Holland kick Brazil's ass at a bar we originally thought was called Holland House, but have since discovered is called The Wall. The Dutch owners just covered it in signs saying Holland House to encourage Dutch football fans to watch the games there.
Cale had a suit custom tailored. I got a manicure and pedicure. We ate an excessive amount of Mexican food from Miguel's. And I had a 4th of July argument with a Thai woman about marinara sauce (more to come on this one later). All in all, I would say a good time was had by all. Tomorrow we are back on the train for another 14 hours back to Bangkok.
Posted by Cale