A Travellerspoint blog

Chiang Mai & Pai

sunny 27 °C
View South East Asia on suzebert's travel map.

Almost a month on the road, I've officially broken the record for my longest trip/holiday ever. Where to start, we love Chiang Mai! The city is small enough to walk around, just about, there are great markets and a huge abundance of great food, the weather is a little cooler up here and if you want to get really chilly all it takes is a scoot up the nearest mountain, of which there are many. We also love scooters! Hopping on a scooter (FAO Mammy: in daylight only with a helmet and insurance) and getting out of the town and up the hills is the best experience yet and no amount of videos and photos will get that across although you.

We hooked up with a mate of Will's in Chiang Mai who is travelling with a friend and it was their idea to go to Pai, a tiny little town northeast of CM. Nice town (it reminded me a bit of Hoi An) but tiny and a total crusty hippy mecca, not our scene at all. We had one great night out in a tiny bar where we could ignore the crusty backpackers and hang out with the locals...and by hang out I mean them insisting on us trying the local booze and beating us at pool. Apparently we were there when it was extremely quiet, in a month or so it gets really busy so I can only imagine you'd find it even harder to spot a local person in town. The place is full of dreadlocked hemp clothed hippies (who like to stare a lot which was odd) either being drunk, loud and obnoxious (perfectly acceptable to drink and drive here too it seems) or droning on about travelling and trying to out do each other with their anecdotes of where they've been and where they're going....gets very boring after a while.

We did an elephant trek in Pai, something I wouldn't do again and wouldn't recommend people to do. We turned up to one of many places in Pai that do it to find these huge animals chained up. I can only hope that when all the treks are done for the day they are allowed roam about somewhere. Apparently also, I have read that elephant trekking is now so popular with us western folk that while originally it was used to give a home and a job to old logging elephants it is now leading to people poaching them from the wild (especially around the Burmese border) and putting them into these trekking services, many of which I imagine aren't cared for properly. Also they're incredibly uncomfortable creatures to be placed on top of...our arses are still recovering.

We also went fishing in Pai, in a small place run by a lovely English guy. He has a few ponds with a few thousand fish in them (so he says), including piranha. Great day out was had, I was champ for the day with my catch of two fishies which were promptly plopped back in the water. It seems like my kind of "sport", a lot of sitting around drinking and snoozing...
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So we left the constant fight to resist shouting 'have a shower hippy!' at passers-by and we have escaped back to Chiang Mai arriving yesterday evening. We also left our two travelling companions who have stormed ahead into Laos on the slow boat so we're back to just the two of us. They don't have as much time as we do and are on a schedule to hit Oz on Nov.2nd, and they had us up and out early most days doing things....god forbid.

We're staying in the same guesthouse again with the best guy running it along with his niece, he's a local bloke and calls himself Sam (think it's short for Samoeng or something) but he's definitely our fixer here. He's done loads for us from organising scooters and buses, to directing us to the best meals in town and a massage place that was amazing. The massage place was set up by the old warden of the local women's prison to give women being released a job after receiving their training in prison - strong girls! The guesthouse even gave us an excellent unexpected fry up the morning we left for Pai.

Today is the 4th anniversary of the military coup that ousted the old PM Thaksin, so the place is overrun with redshirts. They're having a rally to mark the occasion this evening, with this area of the country being hardcore redshirt territory I don't feel as if there's any aggro towards them. There are a few cops about but they don't look too bothered. Everything seems to be going off ok in Bangkok so far today so I don't expect any trouble.

I think we'll stay in CM for a week at least before deciding where we're going next. It's gonna be hard to leave.

Posted by suzebert 01:28 Archived in Thailand Tagged fishing thailand elephants chiang_mai pai redshirts Comments (0)

Bangkok

sunny 27 °C
View South East Asia on suzebert's travel map.

A few days in and we are seeing loads of Bangkok - it's such a bloody sprawl but with taxis across town costing us €2 it's so easy to get around. Really happy at how we've managed to navigate the city, it's taken my sense of direction a while to kick in but surprisingly Will's has been working for the first time in a long time! I've handled the jetlag pretty well and the mosie bite count is at a measly 1. Will, however, hasn't been so lucky, he hasn't really had a good night's sleep since the first night we came here and he's been bitten all over. Usually it's me in that mosie scenario and he can have a bit of an air of smug about him, so, while of course being appropriately sympathetic, I'm quite enjoying it :)

It's sticky and hot as expected, only 2 big thunder storms so far as the weather is decent, although I do love a good evening thunderstorm...our hostel has a roof garden (covered) which makes a good viewing platform with a few cold beers in hand (at a cost of less than €1 down in hostel lobby!).

The hostel is great (Udee Bangkok), very small, really clean (I've learned that not flushing your toilet paper isn't as gross as I would have thought it was), there is really nice staff and it's close to the lovely airconditioned Skytrain (easiest and simplest big city transport system I've ever used) but far enough away from the city centre to be quiet, as quiet as BKK can be, and safe if the locals fancy a bit of auld riot again. City council elections were held today with no disturbances so that's a good sign. The hostel, for some reason, seems to be full of disgruntled and not so friendly Germans. We've made better friends with the family that runs the place and the maid than any of the guests and they don't speak English.

It's rare to see a Westerner/farang in our little neighbourhood which is quite nice, we're doing a lot of sign language and pointing to pictures and it hasn't failed us yet thank god. We just ate in a little local Japanese restaurant on our road tonight, we've seen no westerners in there at all when we've passed the previous few nights but it was always jammed with locals. We were a bit apprehensive about it but we didn't want to go far this evening and it turned out to be the best meal so far. The staff looked after us so well and had to show us how to eat what we were given while not speaking much English but it was oh so tasty. We had shabu shabu, like an evolution of fondu to create a Japanese hotpot where you cook your own meat in a broth full of veg and pak choi.....I just had it a few hours ago and already I want more (wikipedia explains all: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shabu-shabu).
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Next stop Chiang Mai. While we were planning on getting the train up there we found cheapo flights with Bangkok Airways for 50quid so we're being lazy and flying instead (could work out better anyway as there's a bit of flooding in the north and who knows if that would affect the train line). Money is going slowly out of the wallets so far which is great (it helps that the taxman gave me a nice bundle of money back recently so I've actually put money back from my current a/c into my rabo savings a/c...look at me saving while I travel!). I can imagine us staying in Chiang Mai a while but we've only booked 10 nights for starters, we don't have to leave Thailand until 23rd of Oct!!!

So after CM we'll pop back to Bangkok then possibly out to Kanchanaburi for a few days (Bridge over River Kwai stuff out there but apparently nice town in itself) and then back to Bangkok to catch night train to Nong Khai in northeastern Thailand to cross the border into Vientiane in Laos. It's especially amazing to not have to be in a rush...this is my sort of travelling, the kind where if I don't fancy getting up early or going far I don't have to (very very comfy bed in the hostel in BKK) :) After a month in Laos we will then go back into Thailand to go south to the islands (we've another 60 days on the visa for our second entry into Thailand) and into Malaysia through Langkawi and then into Penang...what happens after that we don't need to know right now :)

In a nutshell we're both quite content and currently after the meal we've both had....we're both fat and happy (even if Kildare didn't get to the final) :)

Posted by suzebert 01:24 Archived in Thailand Tagged thailand bangkok Comments (0)

The beginning...

semi-overcast 25 °C

Right well here you go then, a blog. Who knows how often I'll update it but it may save me sending various emails to various people and forgetting what details I've told to whom.

I have also to share the difficulty two "creative" marketing people had coming up with a title for this blog. For your reading pleasure, here are some the suggestions (mostly from Will I must admit) that thankfully ended up on the trash heap:
I can't believe it's not Buddha
Squats the Story
The Turd is the Word
No I don't need a suit, a tuk-tuk or a wooden frog
FantAsia
Thai Me Kangaroo Down Sport

Well that's embarrassing. You may have noticed a toilet theme...that's just what happens to our conversations when we travel....also, Will seems to have a thing for rhymes.

Anyhoo, I'll be back dating some posts regarding Bangkok, Chang Mai and Pai. Alot of it will be copied and pasted from emails I sent around so you shouldn't miss out on anything for those of you I bothered to email :)

Enjoy and feel free to post comments!

Posted by suzebert 00:11 Archived in Thailand Tagged random Comments (0)

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