The guy looked shocked when he saw me, thinking Nicole is a name of some “farangs” (what Thai people call caucasions, literally means “long nose”, lol, worse than our “gwai lou” – “ghost”) but saw a Thai-looking Asian girl walking towards him, followed by a white dude, Simon.
Chiang Mai is overally, very new. Or at least that was the impression it gave me.
Everything is just so wonderfully beautiful here, the trees, the river, the roads, the “castle stone” gates, etc.
If you look at the map, Chiang Mai city is basically a square, surrounded by artificially made river.
Don’t think the square is tiny, that’s a 2-3 km wide square you’re looking at. Rent a bike or curse like me when walking from one end to the other end thinking it would be no more than a few steps to reach.
My guesthouse is especially a lovely place to stay in.
Gong Kaew Chiang Mai Home (quite a mouthful) is 4 months old, according to the owner, is a family-run home. They have few rooms and dorms settled on a lovely garden with fruit trees of all sorts, hand plucked and eaten to your delight (lychee, mango, banana, etc), serve free toasts and jam all day and free wifi! (yay!)
Air-conditioned with hot shower, RM25 for a bed at the female dorm is most worth hostel guesthouse I have stayed in so far. (Super clean too)
This is the place where I sit and blog/chat all day. :D
There are two dogs which I especially adored during my stay there. A Shihzu called Brownie, and her daughter Panda (a poodle and Shihzu mix, omg so cute). There’s Toffee the grandma too and Porkie the poodle father.
Panda on my lap, Brownie lying beside me.
I have never seen a Shihzu and Poodle mix before, curly hair with brown patches all over. Panda is my all time favourite.
We blogged together.
Web cam together.
Panda looked bored.
And cam-whored together.
Simon loved Panda too.
But panda was giving no response, lol.
Chiang Mai has a lot of Wats (temples), you will spot one every 100 metres you walk.
It was the Songkran hence many people came here to pray.
Giant Joss Sticks
I prayed too.
Or at least I tried too.
The police that came here to pray was eyeing me suspiciously. So I stopped
But guess what I saw?! He cling wrapped his gun for songkran!! Hahahaha!
What if there’s robbery and he needs to shoot at robbers? Slowly unwrap the cling?
Actually I shouldn’t be laughing, because I plastic wrapped my camera too. LOL
One thing I couldn’t forget during Songkran in Chiang Mai was the ice.
RM5 per block. Most expesive H2O ever.
All that ice cold water throughout the day, it’s amazing I haven’t got sick yet. To be honest, I don’t know whether I should miss the festival or thank the god that Songkran’s finally over!
I mean, I missed the time and expressions of the people when I splashed ice cold water at unexpected motorcycle and tuk-tuk drivers who thought my water was just plain warm water from the tap/river.
But I really froze when someone did that to me. -.- which you would come back with a vengeance with more ice and more water repaying other people and hence making the icemen very very rich.
At the end of the day, Simon and I realized that we should have gotten our passports cling wrapped too. -.-
There’s a famous hill temple 8km from Chiang Mai – the Doi Suthep Hill Temple. My suggestion is to rent a bicycle/bike, and ride out to the zoo, park there and take a tuk-tuk up the hill which would cost you 40 baht (another 30 baht to return) instead of 500 baht if taken from town.
Locked our bicycles at the big ass poll.
Once up there, it’s a 309 steps climb up the hill,
Little girls in H’mong tribe costume: “100 baht each photo please~”
where you get a see a lot of golden monks and monuments.
Note: Never stand higher than the monks, kneel down when you approach them
Rub the big gong.
Count the bells in the temple
15 baht each, spotted a price tag behind, tee hee.
And a magnificent view of the city of Chiang Mai.
To be honest, Chiang Mai was rather foggy.
It’s the dry and hottest season, so I have been sweating every single day since I arrived in Thailand.
Sweaty Simon and Me.
Many people came here to pray, I think it’s overrated, with all the tourists and foreign visitors, there wasn’t anything special worth looking at here.
There’s a lot of things sold here.
One of my favourite buy in Thailand.
Seriously, no pineapple in the world beats the pineapples in Thailand. Every one I have tried here so far is juicy, sweet and juicy, and sweet. :D
There’re also cups of strawberries that cost 20 baht each.
At night, cycle out of the “square” to a night bazaar located in the East. Chiang Mai night bazaar is somewhat well known in South East Asia if not.
Hundreds of stalls selling everything can be found here. Almost like the weekend market in Bangkok.
I found this really cute candle which I was so tempted to buy. But I know it would be just those spur-of-the-moment-buy-no-use-leave-on-shelf-to-rot items.
But they were really gorgeous.
During my stay in Chiang Mai, I also visited the Orchid farm and Elephant Nursery camp (do not attempt to cycle here, it’s suicide up-the-hill mission).
40 baht to enter Orchid Farm.
I love orchids, don’t you?
I’d say skipped the whole bloody Orchid Farm. I have just shown you possibly all the collections of Orchids they have there.
Unless you want to buy a side gold plated orchid.
Which in my opinion was rather cruel.
But do visit the elephant camp, the show was very entertaining. 120 baht each.
There’s a show at 8:30am, 9:30am and 1:30pm. And I can bet my 10 dollars bill that you will catch the afternoon show than waking up 7am in the morning.
Ripley’s Believe or Not once showcased an episode about elephants painting flowers and trees on a canvas. Yep, this is the camp where you will find the priceless elephant paintings that cost from a minimum 2000 baht to NOT FOR SALE.
The artists marching out.
And then my camera died. -.-
So no photos here. T_T
I stayed four days in Chiang Mai, and move up north to Chiang Rai – a suburb small town with nothing but peace and quiet to offer. One of my favourite place in Thailand. In the late 80’s, many wealthy businessmen spotted opportunity in Chiang Rai and came here to invest.
A park with old folks doing synchronized aerobics
It’s easy to get around town on a cycle.
This is becoming a habit.
The only way where you can get cheap transport. My guest house offered free bicycles for rent. :D
They also have free pick ups from the bus station to the guest house.
My backpack chucked behind the truck
Btw, I stayed in Akha River House (recommended by Lonely Planet).
That’s my room on the second floor, 150 baht per night.
It’s facing the river, which was nice.
With a construction going on next to it, which wasn’t so nice.
That night, I did the same as I did for every town. I scouted the night bazaar in Chiang Rai,
which said to offer some exquisite jewelleries.
But not before dining at this super nice restaurant.
It’s said to help promote awareness of AIDS/HIV with the concept that condoms are as easy to obtain as cabbages.
The flasher, LOLOLOL
This restaurant has a really nice ambience to dine at.
And a lot of quirky, but cool board tag lines hanging all over the place.
At night I stopped by Doi Chaang café for a drink.
Actually I was halted while cycling because I was so captivated by the beauty of this café.
Not even KL’s café and beat the gorgeousness of this little corner coffee shop that serves ice chocolate at the price of 40 baht each.
I decided to order a drink here. Just for the sake of drinking and sitting next to an artificial waterfall in a rural town.
What does a traveller like me with tight budget order from this café?
Water, that’s what.
What? Drinking water very ‘throw’ Malaysian’s face meh?