Greetings all, long time no talk. The post holiday haze has pretty much faded now after a week of adjustment, and perhaps a soupcon of reluctance to let go of the holiday spirit. I’m back into my routine though and feeling good so thought it was about time I got around to posting about our trip. It was brilliant. The combination of myself, Mr Market Basket and my brother worked really well with no hitches at all. We had a trip filled with exciting activities, great shopping, indulgent relaxing, and a whole lot of good eating and drinking. This was my second visit to Thailand and I highly recommend it for anyone wanting a fun, easy and cheap getaway. Thailand really is the land of smiles and such a joy to travel through.
We landed in Bangkok and on our second morning we visited Chatachuk markets. These markets are insanely massive and packed to the brim with an assortment of goods from clothes to homewares to plants to food to anything else you can think of. You could spend days there and never get through it. We barely scratched the surface but had a good couple of hours before it got crazy busy. That night we went to the Sofitel hotel which overlooks the huge and lush Lumphini Park. We had hoped to go to the outside roof bar there however rain earlier that day had closed it. We were pleased with the alternative though, a gorgeous bar with floor to ceiling windows. We passed away a couple of hours sipping on delicious cocktails whilst the Bangkok skyline faded into the sunset and then transformed to dazzle the evening with its bright lights. From there we paid a visit to Khao San Road where my brother convinced Mr Market Basket to partake in a fish massage. Mr Market Basket managed to sit there calmly whilst my brother squealed like a girl and constantly lifted his legs out of the water. It was highly entertaining to watch.
From Bangkok we flew to one of my favourite places in Thailand, Chiang Mai. This historical city is dotted with temples and circled by lush green mountains. The people here are particularly warm and friendly. It’s cheaper than most parts of Thailand and we love the old city precinct. I had taken special efforts to ensure we were in Chiang Mai for the Sunday Walking Markets as I so enjoyed them last time I was there. These are set up on each Sunday afternoon at about 4pm and last all night. They’re across two main roads of the old city and cover a lot of distance. Fortunately our guesthouse was in the thick of it so we were able to drop off our purchases and refresh during the night. We spent about 4 hours wandering through and picking up so much great stuff, I regret not getting more in retrospect. But I did do pretty well, amongst other things I bought some jewellery, silk bath robes, wooden cutlery, scarves, bags and sandals.
Along the way we replenished with some tasty morsels, including a som tam (Thai green papaya salad). We eat this all the time in Thailand, it is so delicious! This version was interesting as it included seaweed and some sort of beans as a garnish. It was still very good, although very spicy! I needed to get a bottle of water to wash it down, and the vendor had put about a third of the usual chilli in it. I like spicy but I think Thais must have teflon taste buds! I also managed to find the stall where I found a salad I had enjoyed 5 years earlier in the same spot. I never forgot that salad and was delighted to find it again. It’s basically a rice vermicelli salad with beansprouts and pork crackling in a tangy, spicy dressing. I am salivating just thinking of it… After some serious walking/shopping we decided to treat ourselves to a foot massage. This cost us the equivalent of $4 and was bliss. It was also a great vantage point to sit back and watch the people of the markets meander by.
The old city of Chiang Mai is made up of a series of little paved streets that create a network all over making it perfect for two things – segways and bicycles! We went on a segway for the first time ever and wow they are fun. If you’ve never tried one before you should give it a go, it takes a few minutes to get used to but then feels natural in no time. Our guides were great and took us to a series of lovely temples and other sites around the city. We also hired bicycles another day for a few dollars. I loved having a relaxing cruise around the city where I popped by the local markets for a gander. I couldn’t resist picking up some pineapple, and one of my favourite fruits of all time, mangosteens, which set me back less than a dollar. The pineapple was perfectly sweet and cut up into pieces ready to eat.
One activity we did last time we were in Chiang Mai was a zipline tour through the rainforest canopy with Flight of the Gibbon. This proved to be even more enjoyable this time as they have obviously increased the amounts of cables (some up to 800 metres long). Our guide was hilarious and despite the adrenalin rushes from whizzing along cables high up in the trees, we felt safe at all times. This is a truly amazing day out with spectacular scenery. It was a full day, with lunch and transport included. It worked out to about $120 per person and I think it’s totally worth it.
After such a great day we walked through the old city and wound down with a good old tower of Chang beer and watched the world go by. That’s enough of a mega post for now, I’ll fill you in on our last day in Chiang Mai and our visit to the island of Koh Tao in my next post.