Chiang Mai started its existence about 700 years ago as the capital of the kingdom of Lanna. its a cultural centre, digital hub, expat retiree haven, with a population of about 130,000. The country around Chiang Mai is mostly mountainous jungle with some flats that a sown down to rice. As well as an overnight earthquake magnitude 6 in Myanmar (Burma) which is not far from here and a magnitude 4 in Chiang Mai. There has been rain, streams are running strongly with a foamy creamy look about them.
The nights sleep was a bit fractured, but started with the porters making the beds up at 8pm. They had a bed made in about 2 minutes then you have no option but to get in your little cubby house and read, sleep, eat chocolates or all three at the same time. The people on the top bunk (TMM is one) complain that the cabin light shines through their cabin curtain and keeps them awake.
Daylight arrives and its a grey looking day, farmers are out planting rice in the paddy fields, a bloke without a shirt is trimming a jungle vine from his front fence and the traffic at intersections gets busier the closer we get to the train station. The train station is a long way from the old walled center of Chiang Mai where we are staying in the People Palace Hotel. To be fair its better than the Peoples Palace in Pitt Street in Sydney that I once stayed at when we went to Sydney for the State Rugby League Carnival. After the shuttle buses drop us off looking bedraggled and sleep deprived, we have a breakfast of toast and coffee and leave our bags in Naa’s (Intrepid Tour Leader) room as we can’t check in yet.
The shuttles then take us up a mountain, steep and winding to Wat Phra Doi Suthep, a 600 year old Buddhist temple, its 1050 metres above sea level with 330 steps upwards from the car park to the temple, some walk and others take the lift. I’m nearly 67 but I figure I’ll try, if I fail then the instructions are to burn me there and fly me home in a box, But as fate would have it I survived, just, I was last up, my heart was pounding and I was sucking air like turbocharged v8 with a blocked air filter. Howvere the walk up is impressive and the temple is super impressive.
After this we return down the mountain to our hotel where we can now get into our rooms and have a shower and freshen up after the overnight train trip and the sweaty morning at the temple. Its exhausting this tourist travelling stuff.
For TMM ( remember him?) has his first fair dinkum Thai dish away from his normal chicken fried rich, although it has a Thai name it does look awfully like chicken fried rice but I say nothing and allow him his victory and take a photo to put on Facebook so in years to come he can lie about the fantastic Thai food in Chiang Mai. I’ll say nothing more.
After lunch we walk, for ages and Google maps have to find us a track home. Some of the others went off on a 30km pushbike ride, but we’re smarter than that and know it when we see them return later lathered in sweat and red faced.
Tonight we find a night market not far from the hotel with a great food area. I have a stir fried squid with a salted egg sauce, it is so bloody good, washed down with a Singha beer, TMM has the usual chicken fried rice but he tells me its a good one.
I had a foot massage earlier in the day and tonight Dale went to a flash spa for a massage, mine cost $8, Dale’s cost $20.
Tonight a tropical storm descended on Chiang Mai, it absolutley bucketed down, the streets were almost knee high with flood water and I got soaked as I was walking back to the hotel from the markets. The 59 baht rain jacket from Bangkok paid its way tonight.
Tomorrow we’re doing a tuk tuk tour of Chiang Mai, some are doing a Thai cooking class after lunch, some of us aren’t, some are going white water rafting (not us), is there a picture forming here? Tomorrow night we are all going to a local cultural night with food and Thai dancing.
Ciao from Chiang Mai – Pauolo