BootsnAll Travel Network

Chiang Mai: Going through the Motions

The heat and wanna-be hippies of Bangkok forced us onto an overnight bus to Chiang Mai, Thailand`s second city and a twelve hour bus ride away. The twelve hours started with the bus driver taking forty-five minutes to complete a lap of Sanam Luang, a huge park in the middle of Bangkok. It was peak hour traffic, around 6pm, and we inched around the park with the other cars, never stopping to pick anyone up, just driving round in circles for forty-five minutes for the hell of it. Oh well, what can you do, eh?

I had a refreshingly comfortable night`s sleep on the bus, and we arrived in the drizzle of Chiang Mai by 8am. But rather than arriving at the bus station, we were dropped at a service station outside of town, then taken in a tuk-tuk with all the other backpakcers from the bus to a guesthouse where the owner tried to sell us a room and some tours. We politelz declined, drank our complimentary tea, and then got the hell out of there.

We located a guest house that we`d heard good things about, and that we`d emailed the previous day to try and book a room. Though, we hadn`t heard anything back from them.

”Hi, we emailed yesterday about a double room….”
”Hmmm, well, you can have a room with two single beds tonight, but then tomorrow I`m not sure”
”Oh ok, are you booked?”
”But we can`t book a room now?”
”So you`re fully booked?”
”Mmmm, maybe.”

This was getting us nowhere fast, so we eventually found a friendly guesthouse owner at a place with a nice restaurant next door, and spent the next three days hanging out in the relaxed city.

Chiang Mai is famous for the trekking around the region. But having just spent three months in Nepal, trekking wasn`t really what we had in mind, especially when the majority of treks around Chiang Mai seemed to involve gawking at hill tribes, something we`re pretty keen to avoid. Instead we hired a motorbike, put on some ill-fitting helmets, gripped the handlebars with much fear, and rolled out into the busy streets. Once we had the hang of the bike, we rode out of town to Wat Doi Suthep, an impressive religious building perched atop a hill affording some decent views back down over Chiang Mai.

And that was about it for excitement in Chiang Mai. It was just, well, meh. We grew tired of seeing the middle aged western men perched at the open fronted bars in town. There was one street that had an endless row of identical bars, each with a few old guys and a group of young female staff members in ridiculously short skirts flirting for their lives. I understand that the sex tourism industry is big in Thailand, but for Bec and I, it just made us want to get to Laos as fast as we could.

We also weren`t helped by our longing to be back with the kids at the orphanage in Kathmandu. Simply, Chiang Mai was not where we wanted to be. But given that we couldn`t go back to Nepal, we left Chaing Mai and headed to the Thai-Laos border town of Chiang Khong, where our first Asian adventure had really begun a year-and-a-half ago.

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