Well we’ve escaped the monsoon storms & flooding and we’re now in Chiang Mai in Northern Thailand. We travelled up from Phayam back to Bangkok via the VIP bus, the journey was again sleepless and excluding a boy preaching zero-energy(?) to us at our midnight stop, the journey was fairly uneventful. We arrived in Bangkok at around 5am and we we’re shattered! We headed back to Banglamphu to see if we could get a room in Lamphu house again but they were fully booked so we headed to another lonely planet recommendation further up the street called Baan Sabai. It was totally no-frills; it had a hostel vibe about it with big shared bathrooms/showers on each floor and noise through the night. We didn’t like it much but we were only there for a couple of nights.
We decided to get the train to Chiang Mai so we could experience something different from the VIP busses. Due to availability we had to stay two nights in Bangkok instead of our intended one and we spent our time in Bangkok exploring temples, buying a new camera (and sending the faulty one back to the UK - it turned out to be a very expensive misfortune!), visiting the IMAX to see Legends of the Guardians in 3D (which was awesome), hanging around the shopping district (Siam - our favourite area in Bangkok), boat rides up the Chaopraya and a visit to the Bangkok Zoo - which was loads of fun! We also visited the tallest bar in Thailand which was on the roof top (64th floor) of the State Tower. The views were spectacular but it was rather pricey - each cocktail cost more than our accommodation! - Thanks Jack, Aims & Will for the cocktail fund and the great recommendation! The train journey to Chiang Mai was quite an experience, we were in the second class air-conditioned carriage (apparently you have to book 1-3 months in advance for 1st class). The train seemed to go pretty slow (it was a 15 hour journey) and most passangers we’re pre-occupied with squashing the cockroaches which seemed to out number the passengers 50-1! It was gross and Neil had one crawling up his leg!! After a few card games and a bit of food, the assistants started preparing the bunk-beds and although they were rather comfy, neither me or Neil got more than an hours rest!
We arrived in Chiang Mai at around 10am and got a Sawngthaew (open-aired shared taxi van thingy) in to town for breakfast before we checked in to our accommodation: Baan Hanibah - awarded ‘Top 10 B&B in Asia 2010’ by Trip Advisor! It’s totally blown our daily budget but we felt like treating ourselves to a little luxury! It’s a beautiful little place tucked down a back street. We’re staying in a 3 room suite and enjoying 3-course breakfasts each morning! Chiang Mai itself is also beautiful, it’s an ancient city with a 1km x 1km moat running around it and well-kept remnants of the old wall fortifications. It’s steeped in history and there are Wats (temples) and other grand buildings and monuments around every corner. It’s mega chilled out and although we’d heard it had become quite touristy we’ve found it to be a world apart from Bangkok. We’ve been here for 2 nights now and so far we’ve visited a few of the old Wats in the city, eaten by the Mai Nam Ping river, had Thai massages form blind people (which were rather painful! Our bodies were stretched, clicked, cracked and at one point I think my rather large masseur had me doing the splits!), visited a hill tribe, the kings palace and done a lot of chilling out! We’re booked on to a cooking course all day tomorrow which is run by a famous Thai TV chef. The day after that (Thursday) we’re planning to get the bus up to Tha Ton and from there we’ll get a slow boat to meander East along the Mae Kok River to Chiang Rai.
Anyway - that’s enough for now - check out our photos! x x x