Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Chiang Mai, Thailand

Chiang Mai, Thailand - December 30th - January 5th

Ashley already touched a bit on Chiang Mai and we left over a week ago but we have to fill you in/record it for our own memory so here goes...

We loved Chiang Mai. It kind of feels like you aren't in Thailand because there seem to be almost as many tourists and expats as there are Thai people. But everyone is friendly and smiley so we were happy. Also, Chiang Mai is a lot cheaper than the southern islands. Considering we haven't maintained our budget at all, this was a good thing. Instead of going over budget by buying beach chairs, food and ridiculous clothes and musical instruments we didn't need, we went over budget by riding elephants and taking cooking classes. We spent our days and nights walking through the many street markets, getting a lot of massages and exploring the different areas of the city.

We have a one hug a day policy. We believe a hug a day keeps homesickness away.
The buses in town, songthaews, are actually red trucks with two long benches in back, no door to stop you from falling out, and inconveniently placed windows you can't see out of unless you are 4'10". Despite this, they are really fun to ride in. Every single one advertises for the Tiger Kingdom, the place where you can pose with drugged out tigers, and unfortunately, ads for the Sn@ke Farm as well. Ash happened to turn her head to see a huge cobra staring at her and her uneasiness for the rest of the ride was palpable.

Metro system Chiang Mai style.
We took one of these buses up to Wat Phrathat Doi Suthep, the most famous temple in town. This required walking up over 300 steps lined with people selling food, tiny Buddhas and bracelets. We sampled some of the most interesting food yet here- sketchy sausages on sticks and pickled mango with chili pepper. Can't say we were overly impressed with either item and the sausages may have caused some problems later in the day.

Exploring one of the hundreds of wats in town.
Made it to the top!
Covering up for the temple (but not hiding the cleavage).
Wat Phrathat Doi Suthep
One thing that became very apparent to us in Chiang Mai is how much Thai people love their King (and don't like his son). Firstly, his picture is everywhere around town. I'm pretty sure vandalizing one of these  photos would get you into more trouble than being caught with marijuana. Secondly, we were at the very crowded night market, bargaining a fair price for a necklace Ashley wanted, when a song came over multiple sound speakers in the street and everyone instantly stopped moving and talking. It was like in a movie where someone stops time and walks around repositioning things. We almost took a bite of someone's satay standing next to us. The song may have just been the national anthem but we will pretend it was in relation to the King to prove our point. Lastly, we went to see a movie (for only $3!) and after all the previews, a video montage of the King started and everyone in the audience stood in silence while this aired.

Sneaking ice cream into the movie theater.
We are so classy.
The only hiccup we had in Chiang Mai was our lodging. We decided to be social and stay in a hostel for this part of the trip. We found a super trendy looking hostel called SoHo and booked it on a whim. In a room meant for 7 we only had 1 other roommate, a Canadian who slept, no lie, for 1 hour a night. He'd sneak in at about 6 in the morning then leave at 7. And he'd been adhering to this schedule for 2 weeks. It was at this point I really appreciated being able to use my age as an excuse to go to bed early.

So all was going well in the lodging department until NYE. We came back to our hostel in the afternoon to discover an "Out of Service" note on the elevator. We were sleeping on the 7th floor. We accepted this inconvenience as a way to burn off the extra calories we'd be drinking later in the night. Then more "Out Of Service" signs started appearing. On the computers, on the washing machines, on the bathroom doors. And then.....the whole hostel lost power AND RUNNING WATER.

 The fact they had at least 50 of these on hand (no power, no printing) led us to believe this wasn't the first time this has happened.

We'd started drinking already so didn't think of how this would affect our future and took off to celebrate NYE. Cut to the next morning. Woke up with a hangover. Foot was covered in dirt from walking home barefoot. May have vomited in one of the "Out of Service" bathrooms in the middle of the night. All I wanted to do was wash my hands, my feet and brush my teeth. But  there was no running water to be found anywhere. And so while Kyle and I slept off our hangovers, Ashley not only negotiated a refund for the previous night, she also found us the fanciest hotel in town (obviously at a super discounted rate), with a glorious swimming pool, that we promptly moved into for the rest of the trip.

From no water to this.

Full day recovery. We didn't eat a bite until 1700.


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