Sunday, 29 July 2012

Chiang Mai, Thailand

Having enjoyed the delights of Pattaya and Bangkok, we decided to finish Thailand off in Chiang Mai, our favourite place in Thailand. Getting here is super easy from Bangkok with loads of options but the best one is the train as you can actually get a nights sleep and not have to play catch up once you've arrived.

Arriving in the early afternoon, some three hours late (maybe not the best option then) we got a sangtheaw and headed to a small guesthouse we knew from before. However, it had been renovated and the once beautiful price of £4 a night had been quadrupled, disaster. Thankfully there was a cheap place just up the road so still managed to avoid the main tourist drag.

Relaxing spot outside the room

Having been to Chiang Mai a few times over the years, it was more of an opportunity to unwind and relax more than anything, no point going mad trying to see everything that the city has to offer, even though there are plenty of options up here.

On the outskirts of the city lies the Chiang Mai zoo, a pretty good really, especially for two pound entry, no complaints. Been before but missed the pandas so was looking forward to seeing them here as there are three. Unfortunately they decided to hide/ sleep/ do nothing so I got one photo of one of them, shame. Apart from that, walking around the grounds was my best workout in a long time, got to feed elephants and giraffes and watch two pairs of turtles mating and making E.T. noises, bonus.

I said no more bananas
Lazy bugger
Not overly enthused
Nice one mate
Greedy baby

In the city itself there is the night bazaar, a market that is on every night where all the usual dross being sold in Thailand is available, plus there is the Sunday market which is in the heart of town by Thapae gate, a little cramped and always incredibly busy, this market sells pretty much the same things but there is a more relaxed, friendly atmosphere to proceedings. Buskers take up half the street playing traditional instruments, the nearby temple is aglow with colour from locally made lanterns, and hawkers sell fresh fruit, shakes and all manner of snacks.

Among other sights, there is Doi Suthep, the temple on the mountain just out of town. Easily accessible by taxi or moped, it's great for sunrise views over the city and the steps to the temple itself are a decent workout so you appreciate the temple more. A little further afield is Doi Inthanon, the tallest point in Thailand, and plenty of scenic routes to take to explore the northern most reaches of Thailand.

See anything you like?
Fresh corn and mango
Night bazaar under cover

Of course, I don't think it's possible for me to write a post without mentioning food at least once or twice, but I really do have ot stress how good this food was. Going to India next means that my options for halfway decent Western food are limited (not that I want any with all the curry goodness coming my way), but still the allure of a tasty burger is always there. Cutting straight to the chase, if you ever go to Chiang Mai, go to 'The Dukes' restaurant, there are two. I think the pictures do the talking.

The one and only, apart from the other one
Chilli burger and chips
Sandwich and onion rings

Having come to the end of my South East Asian part of my trip, I am filled with new memories from places old and new. Sumatra was a real treat and I know I will be back there again, for Lake Toba and to explore more of the island, I hear the diving north of the island is incredible.

There really is so much to see in this part of the world and I know I have barely touched the surface. I still haven't even been to the Philippines, the Palawan time. As for now, time to pack up and get ready for my second trip to India, only this time to concentrate on the north and west of the country. 

Next stop, Delhi, and this time I will see the Taj Mahal.

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