A Travellerspoint blog

Thailand

We arrive in Chiang Mai

1st day

sunny 28 °C

It doesn't take long for our cases to come round on the carousel, and it's a great relief to see them all there and in tact (not always a common fact in our travels)

The doors slide open and we can feel the warm air immediately and the noise of the taxi drivers all touting for business. First taxi driver comes up to us asking where we are going, we tell him the name of the hotel and he knows it - great. We agree on 120 bt to take us there. A really friendly guy and we chat all the way.

We get to the hotel, and it looks great. Simple but just what we need, set down a quite little lane behind the temple, but walking distance from everywhere you need in the old town. Olivia is impressed straight away with the pool by the reception area.

We check in and go straight to our very spacious room (with a double and a single beds), we all have a much longed for shower and change of clothes and we are off out with map in hand to explore the local area.
IMG_4547.jpgIn the local market choosing what nibbles to have first

In the local market choosing what nibbles to have first

Olivia waiting for her BBQ chicken and pork

Olivia waiting for her BBQ chicken and pork

Smells good, looks good - BBQ street food

Smells good, looks good - BBQ street food

We have a wander around the local area and stop again for a fresh fruit shake and get talking to Alila a very bubbly and talkative lady, who persuades us to book a "curative" 2 hour massage each for the following morning.

We head back to the hotel and jump in the pool and while Olivia stays swimming I log on to the internet and let everyone at home know that we have arrived safely.
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After a swim, relax and catch up, we pop out for a quick pad thai, papaya salad and cold beer

Posted by Olivia-travels2 03:34 Archived in Thailand Comments (0)

Massages and markets

sunny 28 °C

After a fairly good first nights sleep with jetlag, we woke up early at around 6am, thinking it would be perfect to have a wander around before going for our 2 hour massage (although it may no be that easy as we were not aloud to eat anything until after the massage). But we all fell asleep again and woke just in time for a speedy shower and race down to meet Alila at 9am. Alila asked us to follow her on the motorbike down the little lanes to the temple, and Olivia was invited to hop on the back, which she did so with a massive smile
Olivia off to the temple massage with Alila

Olivia off to the temple massage with Alila

Olivia off to the temple massage with Alila

Olivia off to the temple massage with Alila

Alila left us at the temple massage room, and we changed into our 'massage outfits' - this was a Thai massage rather than oil massage.
Olivia got a smiley young girl, Carlos got a rather camp guy, and I got the original lady with 100 years experience and one leg.

The massage was a good one, supposed to fix all ailments and aches and pains. They were two intense hours, with moments of relaxation and moments of holding your breath to fight the pain barrier. 550 baht each later, we came out feeling quite floaty and in a little more pain than when we went in. Olivia loved it! Not quite the memories of the rather painful but still very enjoyable Thai massage we had in the School of massage in Bangkok in a Wat on the Chao Phraya river, where my masseur had 6 fingers on each hand. I came out of there as though I was floating on a different planet.
Massage comming to an end

Massage comming to an end


All floaty after a 2 hour Thai massage

All floaty after a 2 hour Thai massage


View from the massage room

View from the massage room

After the massage, we wandered around the temples and the little quiet roads, and then went off in search of a place to have some late breakfast. We found a nice looking restaurant with just a few tables. Olivia had a fresh mango shake and Carlos and I shared a massive bowl of Tom Ka gai (my favourite) a spicy sour soup with chicken, vegetables and coconut. It was out of this world.
Tom ka gai

Tom ka gai


Lime leaf heart at the bottom of my bowl

Lime leaf heart at the bottom of my bowl

After a wander around some temples, we made our way back to the hotel for a swim in the pool. Carlos went for a siesta and I caught up with a bit of work and then went up to the hotel roof terrace to relax and play with Olivia.
Olivia taking a moment with Buddah

Olivia taking a moment with Buddah


Chillaxing and playing on the hotel roof terrace

Chillaxing and playing on the hotel roof terrace

Olivia driving a tuc tuc home... well nearly

Olivia driving a tuc tuc home... well nearly


In the evening, we walked down to the Sunday night market, a very large market that sprawls across the old town, selling handmade products, new factory produced stuff and some things that you couldn't really tell if they were second hand or not.... and of course not forgetting the food stalls. We had some weird mushrooms wrapped in ham and grilled, served with cabbage and a spicy-ish sauce, then we sat with the locals for our first try of the local noodle curry 'Khao soy' - very nice.

Sunday market Chiang Mai

Sunday market Chiang Mai


Enjoying our first try of the local speciality Khao Soy

Enjoying our first try of the local speciality Khao Soy

Olivia thought these mushroom parcels were yummy

Olivia thought these mushroom parcels were yummy

Buddah and Incense at the Sunday market

Buddah and Incense at the Sunday market

Posted by Olivia-travels2 06:53 Archived in Thailand Tagged market chiang mai massage sunday Comments (0)

Touristy stuff and Travelling down the Mae Ping river

sunny 27 °C

Not sure what to do today, we went for a fresh fruit breakfast and a 7-Eleven ice-coffee, to make a plan on what we were going to do for the rest of the day.
We decided to go out of town and then later on, a trip down the river.

We bargained with a taxi driver who was trying to get us to go and see monkey shows and elephants that paint pictures (not our scene at all) and in the end got a good bargain if we we were to go to the craft factories where he then gets petrol stamps from the factories for taking us there.

Our first stop was the silk factory, seeing the whole process from the moth to the larvae to the silk to the product. Great educational stuff for Olivia.

Entrance into the silk factory

Entrance into the silk factory

Silkworms and cocoons

Silkworms and cocoons


Weaving and pulling the silk after dying it in a selection of natural dyes

Weaving and pulling the silk after dying it in a selection of natural dyes

Then on to the jewellery and emerald factory... seeing as diamonds and gold don't do anything for me, the girls trying to sell the jewellery obviously got the gist and moved their attentions to Olivia can you believe it, who was 'ooing and aaring' at the most garish shiny bling in the place....needless to say we didn't buy anything, other than a lovely simple piece of Jade for a necklace. With Carlos relieved that our Visa card was not smoking, we moved on to the Silver factory.... now Silver I DO like!

After a few more stops here and there and a refreshing honey icecream from the honey shop, we agreed that we'd had enough of factories and were ready to go for our cruise on the river.

We said goodbye to our lovely driver Udon, a soldier in the Thai army when he's not being a tour guide (he even showed us his pistol in the glove compartment of the car - was that just to make sure we didn't step out of line?? I don't really think so as he was so genuinely friendly)

At the river cruise jetty, we decided to get a private boat rather than a shared one, which would mean having to wait until more people turned up.

Leaving the city behind, we headed North up river and sat back and relaxed awhile, carried along the cool waters of the river Ping. Enjoying the ever-changing river bank scene. Teak houses, wooden huts, rural greenery and smiley-faced kids diving into the water from the jetties and playing on homemade wooden rafts. We even passed a bottle with a message in it, but were unable to grab it as we went by.

IMG_4963.jpgIMG_4803.jpgKids on the river bank

Kids on the river bank

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Rambo snake fight pit

Rambo snake fight pit

Pineapple, Watermelon and star fruit snack

Pineapple, Watermelon and star fruit snack

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We stopped at a local farmer's riverside garden where they grow jasmine rice and a variety of herbs for use both in medicine and cookery...the guide rushed much too fast for my liking, but later we were able to sit down enjoy a snack of fresh watermelon, pineapple and some freshly picked star-fruit followed by a refreshing lemon-grass juice.

After a quick look at the place where the movie Rambo was filmed during a snake fight and some old farming tools (in the same breath), we headed back down to the boat with a full tummy and a few mozzie bites.

The sun was going down as we arrived back from the country into the city.
Coming back to the city at sunset

Coming back to the city at sunset

We walked to the night market and went and had some delicious Indian street food in a small food court in the middle of the market

Lots of sights and smells, but Olivia was mostly taken back by the drag queens (lady boys) who put on a bit of a show ... she really couldn't work them out.

Drag Queens in one of the market squares

Drag Queens in one of the market squares

Posted by Olivia-travels2 05:12 Archived in Thailand Tagged river cruise chiang mai silk silver mae ping jewlrey Comments (0)

Pandas, Temples and Night markets

A day at the Zoo and centre of Chiang Mai

Today we are off to the zoo, and Olivia is sooo excited!
We were up early to go for our second trip to the post office to send a package, this time with the right address! We got side tracked by some temples and stopping for some noodle soup for breakfast, and didn't realise how late it was getting

What could be better than noodle soup and coca cola for breakfast

What could be better than noodle soup and coca cola for breakfast


Monk walking to the temple

Monk walking to the temple


My very spiritual little girl taking it all in

My very spiritual little girl taking it all in


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YEAAY, we're off to the zoo

YEAAY, we're off to the zoo

We got to the zoo and bought our entrance tickets (around 200 baht each) and jumped onto the monorail, after paying another (150 baht each for the privillage) - it was excruciatingly SLOW and the windows had a shade sticker thingy printed over the whole glass, so it was almost impossible to see out. We couldn't wait to get off it.

Finally we arrived at the Panda's enclosure - we paid yet another 150 baht each to get in to see them- but it was worth it. We got to see them really close, but their living habitat wasn't as "natural" as I had expected it to be. We stood and watched all three of them eating for a quite a while until the last one deceided he had quite enough of the public and turned his back to us, so off we went to go and see the rest of the zoo. Apart from the white tigers, and Olivia getting to feed a Jaguar (!!), the rest of the zoo wasn't much to write home about - so I won't. It wasn't bad, it just wasn't the best.

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The ride back into town on the red songthaew taxi/bus was an adventure in itself. Olivia and I sat in the front with the driver and Carlos hung off the back - we did keep checking to see he was still there after each sharp turn.

Ride back from the zoo - stuck in traffic

Ride back from the zoo - stuck in traffic

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We jumped out at the flower market and had a look around before heading for the street food area to try EVERYTHING, well almost everything. Only a few of our choices we bad ones, the rest was yummy.

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Posted by Olivia-travels2 08:49 Archived in Thailand Tagged food flower street market zoo chiang mai panda jaguar Comments (0)

Doi Suthep (Hightest point in Chiang Mai & beautiful temple)

When visiting Chaing Mai, one of the biggest tourist draws is Doi Suthep. And for good reason! That's where we decided to go today.
The temple Wat Phra That is perched high on the mountain offering amazing views, not to mention the temple itself, which is stunning!

Tuk tuks are not allowed to go up the mountain as the roads are too steep, so we got a tuk tuk as far as the entrance gates to the Zoo and carried on the journey by songthaw up to the top of the mountain. In hinesight, we would have taken a songthaw (return trip) from town all the way up and saved ourselves the time of hanging around at the zoo gates waiting for the taxi to fill before he set off up the hill.
The round trip worked out at around 500 baht

There are two options to reach the actual (temple). One is walking the steep 307 stairs, which we did, or you can ride the tram up. At the top, to get into the temple grounds, there was a sign pointing to buy tickets for a 30 baht fee. No one was there checking tickets, and I think we were the only ones who did, which is a bit sad.

As soon as we reached the top, we were greeted with the sight of the golden spire in the centre of the mountain top temple. The walls around the spire form a mini enclave and are richly decorated with historical murals and shrines. Here you find a beautiful copy of the Emerald Buddha statue on display. The real Emerald Buddha statue is now in Bangkok.

Just past the viewing terrace is one of the worlds largest gongs, which makes an earthly rich sound when struck. Give it a try, it is allowed.

At the top there's the white elephant, some beautifully ornate chedis, a model of the Emerald Buddha, bells, shrines, huge jackfruit trees, and stunning views. It is a great spot to watch the sun go down or watch it rise over the city of Chiang Mai.

Monks with iPads getting photos with Olivia
O doing her homework, with a little girl trying to add some art work to the page.

Posted by Olivia-travels2 16:00 Archived in Thailand Comments (0)

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