Friday, 13 December 2013

Oh My Chiang Mai

It's Friday 13th & we're in our riverside hut in Pai, Thailand writing the blog. Today we were supposed to rent a moped & see the sights as everyone does in Pai. We've never hired a moped before and we're a bit anxious about it but it turns out it is chucking it down so Sterry went off and got soaked but we stayed in bed. Not sure if Friday 13th has been lucky or unlucky?

Chiang Mai is about 430 miles north of Bangkok and takes 12 hours on a coach, the journey was surprisingly easy we managed to sleep all the way pretty much. We arrived at 7am and were taken on large tuk tuks to a central guest house. The couple we met in Bharatpur, India, Vicki & Chris were in Chiang Mai so we thought we'd stay at the same place as them as it looked nice & had a pool. When we arrived at our drop off point we were given a bit of a sales pitch to stay there - it worked! It was half the price of the other place, looked ok and had a pool. Plus, it was 7am and we had been travelling all night so it was the easier option.

We spent the day sleeping & laying round the pool which was nice & we planned to meet Vicki & Chris that night and go to the local boxing stadium to watch some Thai boxing. 

When we met up with Vicki & Chris we had a few beers & some food and then had a big decision to make - do we buy cheap or vip boxing tickets? It was a democracy & 3 of us wanted to go vip, guess who wanted the shit munchers tickets? You guessed it - Russell! So we ended up paying £12 each instead of £8 to sit ringside - I reckon it was worth every penny and even included a free drink. 

The Thai boxing was ace. Ladies fight first - they were quite ferocious and really going for it, we even got a bit of blood which I'm always happy about. All in all there were 7 fights - including 2 ladies fights and a 'special fight'. The special fight was 6 fighters blindfolded hitting each other. The ref was pushing them into each other and at one point the ref got knocked down. It was hilarious. Chris is a very talented photographer so these 4 pictures are courtesy of Chris Francis Photography.

After the boxing we carried on the night in a rock bar near our guest house, they had a really good band who played System of a Down, ACDC and other ace stuff so we rocked the night away until everything closed at about 3.30am which was too early for Russell - he wasn't happy about it.

By the time I arrived in Chiang Mai my broken thumb was very painful so Russell made a splint out of cardboard until we bought a real one and i took a lot of tramadol so the next day we went temple hopping but I can't remember much of it due to the tramadol - the devil drug! I puked all along the street so no more tramadol for Cats. We've seen a lot of temples now so we weren't overly impressed, just like the churches in Italy after a week or 2 but the temples are so colourful they are good to take pictures of.

There's a few things that people do in Chiang Mai, mainly visit an elephant sanctuary, go trekking or go zip lining. I've always wanted to go zip lining & I found one where you do a 90 minute trek first so we booked it for the next day (what kind of nut job goes trekking & zip lining with a broken thumb?!) Anyway, we went to the one called Thai Jungle, it was expensive at £40 each but you could see where the money went. We got picked up in a really nice SUV and taken 1600 metres above sea level to the top of a mountain. After a cup of coffee we were given army gear & wellington boots to wear - we declined the army gear but took the wellies, we were also given a trekking stick and our guide told us he had water, raincoats and muscle relaxant in his bag for us - how hard is this trek guna be? The answer? HARD! Especially with a broken thumb. At 1 point we had the trekking stick in our right hand pulling ourselves up the mountain by a piece of rope with our left hand - my broken thumb is my left hand so I really struggled. After that though it was time to go down which was easier, the guide had a sling shot and we had to hit a tree far away - Russell did it on his 2nd attempt - I hit a tree that was almost behind us. We were almost back when we hit some really deep mud - now after countless festivals I'm pretty good with mud but I must had been out of practice cos I fell & my welly came off so I was plastered in mud for the rest of the trek, which, thankfully, was only another 10 minutes or so. 

When we got back I changed into the army pants and we had a really nice freshly prepared Thai meal, unfortunately the tramadol had made my appetite disappear so Russell ate a lot of mine. We had 30 minutes to relax on the rooftop which was lovely and then it was time for zip lining - woohoo! There were 20 platforms - 10 ziplines, bridges and the sky viking which was like a sling shot swing. It was all lots of fun and we were on our own with the guides all day so no waiting around for anyone. On one of the zip lines it was double so we went down together. I loved it but it would have been better with 2 working thumbs.

 Chiang Mai is known for its street food but we hadn't seen much in the first few days. Vicki & Chris had been up north caving for a few days and came back to Chiang Mai on Saturday so we met up with them to visit the legendary night bazaar. It was massive with tons of food stalls, there weren't many veggie options so Russell ended up with a corn on the cob. It was ok, we walked around with beer from the 7 11, it was a bit too busy for my liking though, we were having to take tiny steps just to move. 

Fermented eggs at the night bazaar - yummy
So we were just casually walking round, eating, drinking and having a laugh and looking at the weird stuff you can buy when I felt my phone buzz - I thought that was weird as there's no way I'd have wifi there so who the heck would text me these days?! It was Sterry (Steve & Kerry in case you need reminding). They were approaching Chiang Mai at the end of a 36 hour journey to see us - seriously how cool is that?! We knew they were coming but we weren't expecting them until Monday. We all went back to our guest house and I sorted them a room and then the reunion began. We went out back to the rock bar where the band this time were playing Slipknot and there were the Thai version of Hell's Angels in there too - The Outlaws.

We had already arranged with Vicki & Chris to go the the Thailand International Balloon Festival on Sunday. Basically a festival at a golf course with food, drink, bands and lots of hot air balloons. Only £4 each. Of course Sterry are never ones to miss out on an opportunity to party so they came too. It was a really good day, even the music wasn't too bad - we heard a cover of Jay-Z's 99 Problems. I had been watching people play in these little zorbs all day & really wanted a go so before we left we all had a go pushing each other round, unfortunately we knocked into a few people as well. For some reason we didn't get any photos of the zorbing, it was quite late on though.

Before leaving Chiang Mai for Pai Steve really wanted to go to a temple that is 2000 feet above sea level called Wat Phra That Doi Suthep. We got a tuk tuk up there then climbed the 300 steps to the temple. It was really nice up there and the views were pretty cool but something was going on - there was loads of military there and they were restricting where you could go. We never figured out who the important person visiting was.

We were in Chiang Mai for 9 days and both really liked it. It's kinda like a mini Bangkok. It has lots of markets, bars, restaurants, shops etc but is all walkable, again, somewhere I could probably live. The temperature is a bit cooler too and it's cheaper than Bangkok. Russell could probably even live there due to a vegetarian restaurant called Bamboo Bee. Really cool little place run by an ace Thai lady & her sister - this is the review Russell put on Trip Advisor - I Love Bamboo Bee - I have just returned from my third visit to Bamboo Bee in as many days. I love this restaurant. I love the owner, I love the food & I love the portion sizes. The smoothies are far superior to any street vendor or any other restaurants for that matter. The vegetarian Thai meals are the best I have had so far in Thailand. The coconut tom yum should be renamed tom yummy! The meat free burgers & meat free KFC style fried chicken are amazing. Cant wait for visit number four :)

KFC meat free chicken

No comments:

Post a Comment