After an hour delay we were winging our way up to Chiang Mai. Bags arrived quickly and jumped in a taxi. Checked in to the room only 20 mins after touching down.
On Saturday we visited Wulai road for the market. Strolling along encountered some Thais with colourful pointed hats, possibly something to do with the elections. The side effect for tourists at the election is the banning of alcohol for a few days. In the market everything from honey in a beer bottle to a buffalo skull is up for sale. After the market it was a walk down to the Airport Plaza for some Japanese food at Fuji restaurant, great colourful presented food and very popular with the locals.
The next day, again I was stuffing my face at the lunch buffet at Grand View hotel. All you can eat for 2 quid! That night it was back to the Sunday market, a different venue similar but larger than the previous market. Stopped off at a restaurant in the middle for some waterfall pork, a spicy little number. Mum and Dad both had the roasted chicken hacked into chunks. Traipsing around you can only see so much, but you have a good excuse at the end for a foot massage.
On Monday I had to get a new passport as my current one is full, so off to the consulate with a wallet full of cash, only to be informed a) they don't take cash and b) my photos are no good. So back the next morning to rectify that, while the parents had a look around the flower market and the Chinese temple. Also nearby is Warorot market aka Kaat Luang, which has a bit of everything for sale, in a large dimly lit interior. After all that, it was time to relax in one of Chiang Mai's cafe, such as the Siam Celadon Tea House, for a refreshing cool watermelon shake.
Wat Montien was another stop, but first opposite we entered another Wat. This one had a new silver outside, also it was decorated outside with some rather cartoony animal sculptures, one of which, a dog, somebody had slipped on a pair of sandals. As we were leaving a pair of guardian statues were being craned into places, as a couple of workers used long sticks to push the pesky power cables out of the way.
We sprinted across the road to Wat Montien, a golden Lanna style temple. The monk seem to be staring at me, then he spoke. He was from Laos and had noticed my "Sabai Dii" t-shirt I had picked up in Luang Prabang. He told us the temple held the only Lanna Buddha in Chiang Mai city, but here they couldn't ordain monks until something similar to cannonballs were placed in the correct auspicious locations.
Walking south, we visited a few more wats, before arrive at Wat Phra Singh. A large golden Buddha resides inside the peaceful hall. At this time though a small group of schoolgirls were chanting/singing inside. Now weren't far from Huen Phen a popular local restaurant. Here we had the Khao Soy, a mild (by Thai standards!) chicken curry soup served up with pickled cabbage, onions, cripsy fried noodles and soft egg noodles. Sounds strange, but a tasty dish. Back round the corner we entered Wat Chedi Luang, with a large 60m pagoda, surrounded by stone elephants. Even got a big fat red buddha in the temple grounds. We found the same small shop from a few years ago, still selling their wares. Another skin carving was purchased.
That night it was off to the rather trendy, but strangely named Mo'c Mo'l (Short for Monkey Club Moon Lover, obviously). Entering into a restaurant set round a pond with fountains and lily leaves. The portions were a bit on the small side here, but it left space for some banana fritters, although these turned out to be more like bread-crumbed and battered!
Next day was a hot walk along to Wat Jet Yod, an older style temple. A newish addition however had a beautifully jewel encrusted Buddha as the centrepiece. Around the ground older chedis contain the ashes of past Kings, but nowadays provide shade for stray dogs. A quick coffee and we continued on out way. This time we decided to head out to a plant market, but by chance came across another market nearby. The perfect place to browse for specific amulets, as evidenced by Thai collectors sporting eyepieces. An intriguing place, with rows upon rows of vendors selling their trinkets. Leaving there a local fish shop was spotted and we were dragged in there to have a look round!
Finally we made it to the intended plant market, where some seeds for Thai veg were bought, wonder if they will grow in the snow? :)
A fair collection of gaudy sculptures are on sale here, which would enhance any garden, but round the corner some plants and piles of orchids. Surprisingly big place, how many different plants can you sell. The answer seems to be LOTS.
Next day we visited Wat Suan Dok, which has a huge empty hall and back to back budhhas, outside the whitewashed chedis bliding in the midday sun. A short walk brings us to the Art Museum not much on at this point, a few strange modern art exhibits but mostly empty. A small cafe in the corner of the grounds provides a welcome refreshment drink. I opted for makhiang juice, whatever that is.
Heading up the hard-to-pronounce Nimmanhaemin road, we stopped of for some lunch at Kopitiam another cafe, serving Asian food. I had the Malaysian Nasi Lemak while Dad had some spicy seafood salad, in which he insisted that the pasta was some sort of unidentified pasta-shaped seafood. After lunch back for a read of the book, then later than night down to the Ping river for a more eating! The Riverside restaurant is a popular dining spot with a huge menu with some unusual items. This is place to be to sample "Fried chinless cabbage with chinless mushroom" or if your feeling really brave why not try the "veget arsine fried rice"
On the Saturday I met up with Barry who I went trekking with in Nepal, we headed off to the women's prison in the city where we got a massage from a couple of the soon-to-be released inmates! After a haircut, we met up with my folks for a look round the Saturday market on Wualai road. Similar to the Sunday not quite as busy though. After some browing and shopping, we headed back to Hillside 4 and to the large, very large restaurant next door. A massive football-pitched size Moo Kata style place. We sat a table number 342 or something! It's certainly a dining experience with troughs of raw meat and people running around with buckets of hot coals, while a curious Thai comedy troupe entertain on stage. Also purple donuts!
Sunday, it was off to The Pub for fry-up brunch. Then a trip to the nicely air-conditioned shopping mall. A lazy Sunday. Next day it was back to the markets, this time Kaat Muang or City Market. A large busy market selling cheap vegetables and assorted other unknowns :) Buy a carrier bag full of tomatoes for 25 baht. Or maybe some pig trotters, or a kilo of chillis, or some pla ra
if you've got a strong stomach. Then is back to Warorot Market to pick up some tea for posting home, along with some incense sticks. Of course that meant going past the material shop which gave Mum a chance to buy lots more stuff.
On the Friday we headed to Airport Plaza where Dad and I went to watch 10,000 BC while Mum went round the shopping mall. Then an iced coffee at Doi Chaang Coffe. Back sitting on the balcony when Dad spotted a fire, one of the billboards had burst into flames and now belching out black smoke. A fire engine came along and sorted it out, but by that time the fire had probably burnt itself out anyway.
That night a very nice meal at the fancy new Nimman Bar and Grill. Mmmm, a tasty steak with soup for started and ice-cream desert. Staff were over-eager though whipping away one dish and replacing the next instantly! Very nice setting in the new hotel in Chiang Mai.
The nexy day Dad and I hired a songtaew and headed up to Mae Sa Elephant Camp we missed the show (I caught when I went again with Neil, it was good, they rocked out playing the harmonica!) but Dad got his hat placed on his head by an elephant and we were lucky to come at the right time as a new baby elephant had just been born, only 5 days old. Looked a bit wobbly on it's legs, hiding in between mummy's legs most of the time. On the way back we quickly popped into the Orchid farm. Loads of different orchids very colourful.
The next day my parents headed back to Scotland and the day after Neil arrived, so back to doing the tour guide all over again!