As said in the previous post, we decided to stay at the Chiang Mai Thai House close to Tapae Gate. We had a really good stay: clean room and bathroom, not too noisy, nice food – cheap for a hotel – and an effective fan. Overall we would recommend for people to stay there because it is good value for what you pay (it does include a glass of orange juice when you arrive and free pool towels).
We arrived on Tuesday aternoon. We had food once our bags were in the room and had a look at the tours and courses offered in the guest house, but nothing we really felt like doing. We took some time to book a hostel in Pai and inquire about a yoga retreat in Pai.
After that, we immediately hopped into the pool, which was actually only the second time we had been for a swim since we began our journey. Needless to say it was very enjoyable, especially because of the quiet atmosphere. It slowly became apparent why so many people trade the comforts of Europe for the comforts of Thailand. Chiang Mai, being the second largest city in Thailand, is probably one of the most relaxed places we have ever been to. And now, as we are heading to Chiang Rai, we are sensing how time is slowing down to nearly a complete stop.
So after the pool we decided to shower and go for dinner in the old town. We were looking for this vegetarian restaurant called Blue Diamond, but apparently it must have closed down because we couldn’t find it. Instead we found a place called Kansalong Greenlife. We had amazing food, Dennis had a beer and I enjoyed a hot ginger tea with local honey. It was amazing. The only annoying thing was the poppy/electronic/music – aka PitBull – that was being played. Somehow it really didn’t fit with the atmosphere!
After that we started wandering around the old town a little and then went back to the hotel, wondering what our next day would bring.>
As we had seen very impressive temples in Bangkok, we were keen to explore some here and so followed Rough Guide suggestions and headed in the direction of the old town. For breakfast we decided to try a place called Elliebum. We both noticed that the menu had nothing vegetarian, so we made it a point to ask wether they could make it with tofu instead of meat. It seemed like the waitress understood, however when we got the food we had noticed that it had been made with tofu and chicken. After clearing up the misunderstanding she apologised and soon after brought us what we like: tasty, meatless food.
Once we were filled with curry, sweet and sour stir fry, and a fruit plate we headed to the roughguidesuggested temple: Wat Phra Singh. It has to be said here: Chiang Mai has a lot, and I mean like A LOT of temples. Sometimes 2 or 3 in a 300m radius. I don’t know how rough guides even managed to decide which one to suggest, because from the outside (and I assume the inside too) they are all magnificently beautiful.
Wat Phra Singh is a really beautiful temple, and the gardens around are stunning, even under the rain.
There is an area in the garden with loads of food-for-thought quotes. I really enjoyed walking around and breathing in the relaxing, soothing atmosphere.
That’s when we met this taxi driver whoo offered to take us to two other temples, older and of different styles, for 100THB, and then we stop at a silk factory to see who silk is made and he gets a stamp (a bit like the tuk-tuk in Bangkok). We agreed because the guy was super nice. And we were so lucky! He answered all our questions, taught us some Thai, explained to us how to make offerings and how to pray. We felt like we came out of this taxi tour a lot richer than when we entered the taxi! Such a great experience.
The first temple we saw was Wat Suan Dok, a 600 years old Thai style temple.
Then we went to see Wat Ched Jod Temple, a 7000 years old Indian style temple.
It was two really different and really impressive visits. At the second temple, we took the time to make an offering and pray. We made a donation and each were given flowers, candles and incense to pray with. It was really interesting. We did ask our guide first if it was okay for us to do it, as we are not Buddhist, we didn’t want to be rude or anything, but he said no, it is a form of respect and it will bring us good luck.
Then we went on to the silk factory where we saw the silk worm and workers making scarves and fabric.
After that, we told the guy to just take us around so he could get some more stamps, so we went to the silverware factory and to the gem factory and then to the cotton factory. Our taxi driver said: you help me, I help you! Where do you want to go?
So he dropped us off at the bus station for us to buy our ticket to Chiang Rai, and off he went, after thanking us and us thanking him. We went off to the train station to get our return to Bangkok.
We grabbed some food at the train station (surprisingly cheap and good) and went back to our guesthouse.
We took some time to pack and donated some of our clothes to the hilltribe people (our guesthouse was picking up unwanted clothes to bring to the hilltribes for the winter).
We went for a final walk around Chiang Mai and found this fantastic little restaurant where we had traditional soup and two lassis. Is there a nicer way to finish this fantastic day?
And tomorrow, Chiang Rai!!