Chiang Mai Part I

After just a few days in Bangkok, we took the one hour flight to Chiang Mai, a vibrant and dynamic city snuggled in the foothills of Northern Thailand. We liked Chiang Mai a lot for its old walled quarter filled with temples, craftstores, markets of all kinds, and of course massage parlors. We stayed inside the old city in a small apartment (for a decent price), complete with a beautiful kitty guarding the gate, and ended up renting a scooter as it is the main way to get around-as insane as it can be.

imageAbove & below: easy riders tearing up the streets of Chiang Maiimage imageAbove: one of many cute kitties that lived next doorimageAbove: a couple of young buddhists walking the streets of Chiang Mai

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On our first day since we arrived around mid-day, we took it easy and just got some good food at a nearby recommended joint called the “Bird’s Nest cafe”. We ate delicious sandwiches and Sylvie tried the banana mint lassie (yogurt shake like drink). It was delicious.The next day we visited 3 of the main buddhist temples: Wat Phra Singh , Wat Chedi Luang and Wat Phan Tao. The temples were beautiful and ornate as was the Grand Palace in Bangkok. We also witnessed a monk prayer session at Wat Phra Singh honoring the king (they do so every 5th day of the month) and to us it really did not feel very authentic or sincere as the monks were getting lattes while praying and others even checking their cell phones or talking between themselves.

image image image image image image image image image image image imageAfter templing around, we headed to Chinatown for a crazy ride on the scooter. Chinatown was bustling with a beautiful flower market, food stands where we tried some banana rice goodie, and shops of all kinds.image image image image Below: vendor climbing on her dishes to reach more inventoryimage image image image imageAbove: banana & sticky rice wrapped in banana leaf – yum!imageCockroaches anyone?

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The next day, Sylvie really wanted to get a haircut and color so after a late breakfast at Bird’s Nest, we went to the famous lady in town named “Ma”who is renowned (locally anyway) for cutting hair.  Neither Ma or her staff speak English so it was a pretty stressful experience. Also, Sylvie does not like to get her hair done anywhere else but her salon in Portland, Urbaca, and cut/colored by Jasmine, her wonderful hairdresser. But she had gone almost 6 months without a cut and done her color herself (OK with James’ help) so it was time. The hair washing was OK, a bit rough perhaps, but then the staff asked Sylvie to pick a hair color- which back at home doesn’t happen this way, they just pick a color that matches your own. So she picked one… and after 10 minutes or so, the coloring stage started to take on what looked to be a disaster – Sylvie’s hair was turning pink! Then the cut and blow dry came and Ma seemed to know what she was doing so Sylvie felt slightly better. In the end, Sylvie’s color did turn out funky (brownish on roots and dark brown/black for the rest of her hair) but the cut was fine . Oh well, it will grow back anyway.image

Above: the “during” , hair turning pink??
Below: the “after”. Cut looks fine, color doesn’t but you can’t really tell on this picture because of the lighting.
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We then headed out of town to a village called Bo Sang, famous for its umbrella making factory. Here, the umbrellas are completely hand made, including the paper. It was quite a process to witness – each station with its own piece of the  umbrella puzzle to complete and hand off to the next station. The factory also employs many artists to paint the umbrellas as well as wall hangings and even tourists’ items such as purses, glasses cases, cameras – anything that can be painted. After running into a French lady who had had some items painted 4 years ago and still looking very good, we decided to get our iPad cover “stylized”, as well as Sylvie’s purse. It took the artist just 10 minutes to complete for what was very good work.
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 Next on the agenda was to hit up the famous night market, and it didn’t disappoint with a wide variety of food, handicrafts, gadgets, and clothing. It was an endless and colorful stream of lights, people,  and smells. We wandered it for hours, sifting through stall after stall of “stuff”. We ended getting home by midnight which proved to be a stressless scooter ride home (sans traffic).
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Above: One of the many massage places at the market
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Above & below: this is a big craze here – letting fish eat off your feet’s dead skin (very tickly according to the woman in the picture).
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4 Responses to Chiang Mai Part I

  1. Amy Castleton says:

    Love love love Chiang Mai!!! Hope you took some time to go to one of the elephant sanctuarys. Best one is Elepahnt Nature Park. Best experience of our 2 weeks in Thailand. Beautiful country and wonderful people.

    • speters14 says:

      Yes, we loved Chiang Mai very much also and were upset with ourselves for having pre-booked our flight out of there – we could have stayed another 3 or 4 days. We had thought about getting to one of the elephant places around the Chiang Mai area, but after seeing them wild in Africa and then how they were treated in Nepal (we did an elephant trek there), we wanted to keep the Africa memory. Although the sanctuaries are probably a good thing for them, unlike Nepal. The people here have been nice and helpful for the most part.

  2. Terrea says:

    I sure hope you two are going to make a coffee table book of your travels when you get back home! Your photographs are National Geographic quality! Hope your energy is coming back and that you’re back into enjoying your grand adventure! love ya!

    • speters14 says:

      Yes, we’ll probably glean out some sample pictures of each region and put together a photo book(s), which will be difficult. Yes, we’re just about all over that cough – just a little bit here & there, but energy levels are back. Life is good again. Hope Bonny’s b-day bash went well.

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