Sunday, May 17, 2009
Chiang Mai, Thailand
…And on to Chiang Mai
We woke up bright and early this morning to catch the first boat, the Haad Rin Queen Ferry, off the island. It was absolutely pouring rain, so we covered ourselves and our packs, one carried in front and one in back, with our large, "sexy" ponchos and set off. The boat ride was completely different from our arrival- empty of people, with dreary weather, and an unenthusiastic crew. We both agreed that it was the perfect day to leave the island and set off for new adventures. We taxied to the airport, really only a bunch of jungle huts and a small runway, and flew to Chiang Mai.
Chiang Mai is Thailand's second largest city after Bangkok; yet despite its size, the city manages to maintain a laid-back, almost village atmosphere. Our guesthouse is called the Chiang Mai Bluehouse, and yes, it is shockingly blue amid the terracotta surroundings. CM Bluehouse is located within the old quarter of the city, sectioned off from the rest of Chiang Mai by a 2 km by 2 km square moat. The city of Chiang Mai is known to be a very cultural and vibrant city with bustling streets and markets displaying various tribal crafts and numerous Wats, or temples where you can observe Buddhist monks in their daily routines. Chiang Mai is also the gateway to some exciting activities including tours of hill tribe villages, elephant treks, cooking courses. Basically, it is next to impossible to become bored here and we both agreed that we would like the city within the first 30 minutes of landing here.
CM Bluehouse is a lovely guesthouse, set within a large and lush courtyard full of tropical plants and hanging vines. The owners are extremely friendly and while chatting, we quickly discovered that one is from Victoria and knew of the small island located off the coat of Vancouver called San Juan... also our hometown. What a small world! Upon setting up camp at our home for the next 5 days, we set out to explore the Sunday Walking Street. Stretching along an entire street, the market is packed with local vendors selling street food, hill tribe crafts, such as intricately woven bags, wood carvings, silver jewelry, an assortment of clothing. The streets were crowded with locals and tourists moving among the buzz that was the back and forth discussion of deals being made between purchaser and vendor. About half-way through our exploration of our first market and while we were grabbing a tasty noodle concoction from one of the stalls along the street, it began to downpour. Although we could not communicate with the noodle vendor, we were able to order a dish similar to a spicy, noodle salad, except much tastier and only costing 50-cents. I believe it was the least expensive meal I have ever had! We decided to take shelter under a large balcony to wait out the storm. Fortunately, it lasted only 10 minutes. Over the past week, we've learned that the best response to these such storms is to take cover and wait it out perched under a ledge along with any fellow pedestrians caught in the same predicament. Sometimes there are some good laughs and sharing of stories during the wait....
Goodnight, Ay and Ari