Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Two Chiangs - Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai

So as I arrived at the Chiang Mai bus station, my guesthouse has arranged a pick-up waiting for my arrival at the station, with my name on a cardboard.

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.

chiang mai riverside trees


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.

map of chiang mai


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.

chiang mai home garden


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

chiang mai home


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.

me with panda and brownie
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.

me hugging panda


We blogged together.

blogging with panda


Web cam together.

chatting and blogging with panda
Panda looked bored.


And cam-whored together.

me with panda


Simon loved Panda too.

simon and panda
But panda was giving no response, lol.


Chiang Mai has a lot of Wats (temples), you will spot one every 100 metres you walk.

wat phoenix


It was the Songkran hence many people came here to pray.

giant joss sticks
Giant Joss Sticks


I prayed too.

me banging gong
Or at least I tried too.


The police that came here to pray was eyeing me suspiciously. So I stopped playing praying with the gong.

But guess what I saw?! He cling wrapped his gun for songkran!! Hahahaha!

police during songkran
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

chiang mai songkran


One thing I couldn’t forget during Songkran in Chiang Mai was the ice.

selling ice during songkran
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.

me holding watergun and bucket


At the end of the day, Simon and I realized that we should have gotten our passports cling wrapped too. -.-

simon with his soaked passport


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.

bicycles
Locked our bicycles at the big ass poll.


Once up there, it’s a 309 steps climb up the hill,

doi suthep staircase


hmong tribe costume
Little girls in H’mong tribe costume: “100 baht each photo please~”


where you get a see a lot of golden monks and monuments.

golden monks
Note: Never stand higher than the monks, kneel down when you approach them


me at doi suthep temple


me and big buddhe inside doi suthep


Rub the big gong.

me rubbing gong


Count the bells in the temple

bells at doi suthep temple
15 baht each, spotted a price tag behind, tee hee.


And a magnificent view of the city of Chiang Mai.

me at doi suthep hill


To be honest, Chiang Mai was rather foggy.

foggy chiang mai


It’s the dry and hottest season, so I have been sweating every single day since I arrived in Thailand.

doi suthep hill in chiang mai
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.

pouring praying oil


There’s a lot of things sold here.

buddha statues


One of my favourite buy in Thailand.

pineapples


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.

strawberries


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.

kalare night bazaar


Hundreds of stalls selling everything can be found here. Almost like the weekend market in Bangkok.


accessories


samurai swords
Samurai swords!


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.

love candles


But they were really gorgeous.

valentines candles


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).

orchid farm


40 baht to enter Orchid Farm.

pink orchid


purple orchid


orange orchid


red flower 2


red flower 1


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.

gold plated orchid


Or butterfly

butterfly sample
Which in my opinion was rather cruel.


But do visit the elephant camp, the show was very entertaining. 120 baht each.

me in front of elephants


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.

elephant camp
The artists marching out.


And then my camera died. -.-


sleeping elephant


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.

mass work out in chiang rai
A park with old folks doing synchronized aerobics


main roads in chiang rai


It’s easy to get around town on a cycle.

cycling in chiang rai
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.

akha pick up truck


backpack behind pick up truck
My backpack chucked behind the truck


Btw, I stayed in Akha River House (recommended by Lonely Planet).

riverside house
That’s my room on the second floor, 150 baht per night.


It’s facing the river, which was nice.

riverside


With a construction going on next to it, which wasn’t so nice.

riverside construction


That night, I did the same as I did for every town. I scouted the night bazaar in Chiang Rai,

chiang rai night bazaar


which said to offer some exquisite jewelleries.

jewellery


But not before dining at this super nice restaurant.

cabbages & condoms


It’s said to help promote awareness of AIDS/HIV with the concept that condoms are as easy to obtain as cabbages.

condom shapes and sizes
The flasher, LOLOLOL


This restaurant has a really nice ambience to dine at.

cabbages and condoms restaurant


And a lot of quirky, but cool board tag lines hanging all over the place.

funny sign


At night I stopped by Doi Chaang café for a drink.

doi chaang menu


Actually I was halted while cycling because I was so captivated by the beauty of this café.

doi chaang cafe waterfall


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.

doi chaang cafe


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?

drinking water


Water, that’s what.

drinking water got a problem look


What? Drinking water very ‘throw’ Malaysian’s face meh?

25 comments:

  1. Sounds quite a relaxing trip this time, Nicole ^__^

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  2. Hello Nicole~
    Thanks for showing so many beautiful photos.

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  3. nice pictures..
    i love chiang mai and chiang rai..it's so beautiful..u must try their sticky rice with roast chicken..we bought them at the roadside as the tour guide just brought us there...we shared 1kg of sticky rice among 5 of us..i know it's a lot but when everyone started tucking in, 1kg seemed very little...with the roast chicken..we got caught by a surprise as we bought 2 and after we ate everything we noticed that both chickens were missing their drumstick...we only found the little drumstick belonging to the wing..no one admitted eating it...yeah, so beware of the missing drumstick...

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  4. The first guesthouse is awesome

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  5. The Chiang Mai guesthouse looks very nice! I must think of staying there if I ever go to Chiang Mai...the problem is that I have a bad memory -_-

    And i love the logic of "those who drink go to heaven" :P

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  6. windwalker22/4/08 5:08 PM

    Wonderful...just wonderful...:)

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  7. Wow, what a post. Seems you're having a great time. Keep it up!

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  8. freakuency22/4/08 5:23 PM

    Yo ..
    When u back Msia let's go Wendy ...thnk still affort buy ais kosong lar.

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  9. Hi, just came across from blog hopping. While the most significant part of songkran to uninformed 'tourists' is splashing water, there is just so much more than that. Hate to list everything out...but Do you know that the Thai authorities were actually trying to discourage, in fact banning splashing water on motocyclist and bicyclist?? Because it is dangerously life threatening, that's why. I hope your travels will make you wiser..It's just not about the fun part really.

    By the way, how and where can you get FREE BIKES to rent? Tell me Tell me! LOL.

    janeplain,not,plainjane

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  10. i am so going to thailand for my 1st SEA trip...

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  11. Coming to the US of A anytime soon? I can show you around the midwest - if you make it this far inland......

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  12. Haha.. Water.. Did they even charge for that? Anyway, I beg to differ, I tried vietnamese pineapples and they were pretty dang good too! Best I've tasted at least.

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  13. Beautiful pics. hmmm.... Is it just me, or you seem a little dark these days ?

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  14. hello nicole!

    i love following your blog especially about your journey. it's as if im there too! plus, i can learn and pick up a tip or two about these places that you were at. thanks so much!

    would love to see more and more and more of your journey!

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  15. Thailand is really a very nice place to go. Hope to tour around Thailand in the near future. Do show us more of your travel photos! Enjoy urself!

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  16. OOohhhh..... I absolutely love love love Chiang Mai.... the place, the people, the FOOOOD. I'm soo going to retire there one day (and liberate a few village girls as well while I'm at it :P).... hahaha.

    And yes, not just the pineapple but ALL the fruits there are awesome compared to Malaysia. Great post :D

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  17. tung tung chiang~~~ chiang chiang chiang~~~~

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  18. LOL. Very 'diu ga'. No lah.

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  19. hehe so do they actually charge for water? how much would that be then?

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  20. Nice set Nicole!

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  21. Nicole you have big legs lah!! like footballer legs..

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  22. hey how much estimated RM that you have spend so far for these trips?
    me like to go travelling too but lazy to drag my feet but been to Bangkok once bout 1+ years ago.

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  23. nice.
    Thailand is really a very nice place to go.
    I love chiang mai and chiang rai..it's so beautiful.
    my blog Travel in Thailand
    http://travelthailandhitz.blogspot.com

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  24. I like the last sentence!

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