Thailand part 1–Chiang Mai

Hello precious readers!  Sorry it took so long but I’m finally writing about our trip to Thailand!  I have lots of great pictures to share so I’m going to do two parts–Chiang Mai, the beginning of our trip, and Tonsai, the end of our trip!

 

Chiang Mai is located in northwestern Thailand but we landed in Bangkok.  We stayed one night in Bangkok in a random guesthouse that picked us up from the airport and then we waited around all day to take the night train to Chiang Mai.  We ate at some street stalls, explored a middle eastern market, and then ate/drank some more.

One of many street food vendors in Bangkok.  We didn't eat at this man's stall but we were watching him as we ate at another and wanted to take some photos.

One of many street food vendors in Bangkok. We didn’t eat at this man’s stall but we were watching him as we ate at another and wanted to take some photos.

Digging in to my first authentic Pad Thai.  Only cost about $2.

Digging in to my first authentic Pad Thai. Only cost about $2.

Usually Josh and I order different dishes so we can try each other's but this time we had to get our own Pad Thais!

Usually Josh and I order different dishes so we can try each other’s but this time we had to get our own Pad Thais!

Many waiting areas (here at the train station) have separate sections for monks.  As a matter of fact, women have to be very careful how they interact with monks--women should never touch them or hand them anything directly.  A few people on one of our flights had to change seats so that a monk didn't have to sit next to a woman.  If contact is made there are some types of cleansing rituals or fasting that the monk has to perform.  I'm no expert though so google for more info :)

Many waiting areas (here at the train station) have separate sections for monks. As a matter of fact, women have to be very careful how they interact with monks–women should never touch them or hand them anything directly. A few people on one of our flights had to change seats so that a monk didn’t have to sit next to a woman. If contact is made there are some types of cleansing rituals or fasting that the monk has to perform. I’m no expert though so google for more info 🙂

Our first tuk tuk ride.  I was scared but it was definitely a thrill!  Tuk tuks are like motorcycles with a little carriage attached at the back and they really whip through traffic.  A picture of one is later to come in this post.

Our first tuk tuk ride. I was scared but it was definitely a thrill! Tuk tuks are like motorcycles with a little carriage attached at the back and they really whip through traffic. A picture of one is later to come in this post.

Little kids riding on motorbikes.  Sometimes you see whole families on these things!  Scary but just a different way of life.

Little kids riding on motorbikes. Sometimes you see whole families on these things! Scary but just a different way of life.

Fresh fruit stands...Miss it every day!

Fresh fruit stands…Miss it every day!

The night train was fun.  You sit in regular seats and then attendants come around to unfold the seats into beds–top bunk and bottom bunk.  Josh and I each had top bunks, as these are a little cheaper than the bottom bunks.  We shared with the cutest little old Thai lady and her daughter.  The train was complete with a restaurant car, which by a certain time of night was overrun by people drinking, mostly other travelers.  Josh made some friends but I was pretty tired and opted to stay in my little bed with my book.

Josh cuddling up on the sleeper train.  I was pleasantly surprised how comfortable it was.  Josh was too, until he woke up hungover the next morning. Haha!

Josh cuddling up on the sleeper train. I was pleasantly surprised how comfortable it was. Josh was too, until he woke up hungover the next morning. Haha!

 

Chiang Mai was just…awesome!  This is a city I could really picture myself living in.  It has everything you would want in a city–lots to do, shopping, great food (and so so so so cheap!), transportation (love those tuk tuks!).  However, it also has a really laid back vibe and beautiful sites that take away from the ugliness of so much traffic.  There are temples at every turn and a moat with water, benches, flowers, and little plazas surrounding what is known as “old city”.  Not to mention really great weather while we were there–sunny with a light breeze and cool enough for a hoodie and pants at night.  There are guided tours at every corner to the mountains, trekking, elephants, and rock climbing as well.  Maybe there is a future in Chiang Mai for Josh and I!

 

We stayed in a guesthouse called Lai Thai–they had a pool, decently priced restaurant and the rooms were simple and clean, and only cost us $20/night.  I would definitely stay there again!  We spent most of our days sleeping in, relaxing at the pool, then going out to explore, eat some deliciously cheap and fresh food, and sometimes shop at night.  It was such a relief to eat fresh food, especially vegetables.  Korea doesn’t exactly have fresh vegetables during the winter and vegetarian cooking is not as popular here so I really ate my heart out.  All of the fruit in Thailand tasted great as well.  I still find myself craving fruit smoothies all the time.  The smoothies and fruit juices in Thailand were ten times better than even what we got in the Philippines.  Thankfully, during our whole trip to Thailand we only experienced one bout of food poisoning.  Josh was out of commission for a few days in Chiang Mai, missing a day of climbing and spending it in the guesthouse instead.  Besides needing lots of rest it wasn’t too bad.  I got sick in Tonsai but it wasn’t food poisoning.  More on that in the next post!

 

As for shopping, the night bazaar was incredible!  Seriously, if you ever go to Thailand and plan to be in Chiang Mai, do all of your shopping there!  It is much cheaper than down in southern Thailand (at the beaches, etc.) and there is so much to see, it’s really easy to buy a gift for everyone on your list including a ton of stuff for yourself.  We both had to hold ourselves back from buying a lot for ourselves, haha!  Here are some of our Chiang Mai pictures…

Me checking out a guidebook by some of the water around old city.  I don't always like to depend on guides, it's much more fun to be spontaneous, but I like knowing what to expect in terms of restaurants, places to see and prices so we don't get TOO ripped off. :)

Me checking out a guidebook by some of the water around old city. I don’t always like to depend on guides, it’s much more fun to be spontaneous, but I like knowing what to expect in terms of restaurants, places to see and prices so we don’t get TOO ripped off. 🙂

My favorite Thai food, vegetarian pineapple fried rice!  We ate at this restaurant, called AUM, probably five times while we were in Chiang Mai.   Great food, fresh, along with smoothies and juices.

My favorite Thai food, vegetarian pineapple fried rice! We ate at this restaurant, called AUM, probably five times while we were in Chiang Mai. Great food, fresh, along with smoothies and juices.

Josh's usual...Pad Thai!

Josh’s usual…Pad Thai!

Out in front of our guesthouse.

Out in front of our guesthouse.

Another Thai favorite of mine--mango with sweet sticky rice!

Another Thai favorite of mine–mango with sweet sticky rice!

Enjoying some mojitos in the sunshine :)

Enjoying some mojitos in the sunshine 🙂

Playing Connect 4 with a friend.  Love that bars set out these games for people to play!

Playing Connect 4 with a friend. Love that bars set out these games for people to play!

Another bar for mojitos.  70 baht=about $2.30.

Another bar for mojitos. 70 baht=about $2.30.

You can't really tell in this shot, but this mom is rubbing dirt from a nearby flowerpot onto her daughter's face.  I think this is so people think her daughter is homeless and give her money/buy her bracelets out of pity.  Many children came up to us while we were at this particular bar to sell us things or talk in general.  What seemed like innocent conversation came across as scam-ish to me and my suspicions were confirmed when I saw this happening.

You can’t really tell in this shot, but this mom is rubbing dirt from a nearby flowerpot onto her daughter’s face. I think this is so people think her daughter is homeless and give her money/buy her bracelets out of pity. Many children came up to us while we were at this particular bar to sell us things or talk in general. What seemed like innocent conversation came across as scam-ish to me and my suspicions were confirmed when I saw this happening.

Some gongs outside one of many temples.

Some gongs outside one of many temples.

This guy is offering free hugs, in any language.

This guy is offering free hugs, in any language.

Visiting ruins at Wiang Kum Kam, 20 minute tuktuk ride outside of Chiang Mai.  It was an interesting day trip to say the least.  While it should have only cost us 100 baht according to others who had done it before, our tuktuk driver pretended to know where it was and charged us 80.  Then he pulled over and asked another driver where it was and made another deal that we did not understand.  When he drops us off he gets in a fight with us claiming we agree to pay 250 baht or something along those lines.  When we left on our tour he was STILL complaining to the staff at the ruins.  Thankfully, our horse carriage came and took us away before things escalated.  We were supposed to be able to rent bikes to ride around the rural area to see the ruins but for some reason bikes weren't available that day.  One of those travel adventures to look back and have a good laugh at.

Visiting ruins at Wiang Kum Kam, 20 minute tuktuk ride outside of Chiang Mai. It was an interesting day trip to say the least. While it should have only cost us 100 baht according to others who had done it before, our tuktuk driver pretended to know where it was and charged us 80. Then he pulled over and asked another driver where it was and made another deal that we did not understand. When he drops us off he gets in a fight with us claiming we agree to pay 250 baht or something along those lines. When we left on our tour he was STILL complaining to the staff at the ruins. Thankfully, our horse carriage came and took us away before things escalated. We were supposed to be able to rent bikes to ride around the rural area to see the ruins but for some reason bikes weren’t available that day. One of those travel adventures to look back and have a good laugh at.

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A temple at the starting point of the ruins.  Obviously this one is a little more current.

A temple at the starting point of the ruins. Obviously this one is a little more current.

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Golden dragons everywhere!

Golden dragons everywhere!

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I love the light coming in on this picture.

I love the light coming in on this picture.

Looking down the side of a temple near the ruins.  One of my very favorite pictures from our trip to Thailand.

Looking down the side of a temple near the ruins. One of my very favorite pictures from our trip to Thailand.

Just some guys with a playing a drum set of buckets.  It was pretty legit.

Just some guys with a playing a drum set of buckets. It was pretty legit.

Fresh summer rolls complete with one of my favorite Thai sauces.  I wish I remembered what it was called...Has a sweet, spicy, cilantro flavor.

Fresh summer rolls complete with one of my favorite Thai sauces. I wish I remembered what it was called…Has a sweet, spicy, cilantro flavor.

Exploring one of the bigger temples in Chiang Mai, Wat Pra Singh, which is where the rest of the temple pictures were taken.

Exploring one of the bigger temples in Chiang Mai, Wat Pra Singh, which is where the rest of these temple pictures were taken.

Buddha kitty.  There was a group of cats playing around the temples.

Buddha kitty. There was a group of cats playing around the temples.

Buddha kitty.

Buddha kitty.

I love this shot.  It was taken looking through some of the trees from a patio at one of the main temples.

I love this shot. It was taken looking through some of the trees from a patio at one of the main temples.

Beautiful.

Beautiful.

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Around the temple grounds there were various plaques like this with words of wisdom.  I probably took a hundred picture sod them all but I had to choose some of my favorites and narrow them down for this post!

Around the temple grounds there were various plaques like this with words of wisdom. I probably took a hundred picture sod them all but I had to choose some of my favorites and narrow them down for this post!

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Roof of a temple.  Everything was so beautiful! I could have taken pictures all day.

Roof of a temple. Everything was so beautiful! I could have taken pictures all day.

I'm hoping it's not too disrespectful to have captured this picture, but I wanted some photos of the inside of the temple and this monk happened to be there.

I’m hoping it’s not too disrespectful to have captured this picture, but I wanted some photos of the inside of the temple and this monk happened to be there.

Lanterns blowing in the wind.

Lanterns blowing in the wind.

A tuktuk driver waiting for his next customer.

A tuktuk driver waiting for his next customer.

A stray dog sitting under some flags on a sidewalk outside of Wat Pra Singh.  Thailand has many stray dogs out and about.

A stray dog sitting under some flags on a sidewalk outside of Wat Pra Singh. Thailand has many stray dogs out and about.

Our rock climbing excursion in Chiang Mai!  Got a ride out to the area along with lunch provided from Chiang Mai Rock Climbing.

Our rock climbing excursion in Chiang Mai! Got a ride out to the area along with lunch provided from Chiang Mai Rock Climbing.

A little chill area for yours truly while Josh does his thing!

A little chill area for yours truly while Josh does his thing!

Someone in our group had these.  Cigarette companies here have to put pictures on the wrapper of what smoking does to you.  Ick!

Someone in our group had these. Cigarette companies here have to put pictures on the wrapper of what smoking does to you. Ick!

In his element :)

In his element 🙂

Bamboo...bamboo everywhere.

Bamboo…bamboo everywhere.

 

Next this week I’ll post the second half of our trip in Tonsai and after that, our Philippines pictures!  Just to warn  you though, we don’t have as many of those places as we do of Chiang Mai.  When you are visiting the beach and going on lots of beach and kayaking adventures, it’s hard to justify toting the camera everywhere!  But we do have a few good ones.  I hope you’ve enjoyed what I posted so far.  Nothing but good memories looking at these pictures!

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