We headed north from Bangkok to Chiang Mai on the train early Monday morning. We decided to take the train so we could see the countryside. Besides, it cost about $25 each so we had nothing to lose. We left the station right on time at 8:30 and went through a number of poor neighborhoods before we reached the wide open spaces. The number of towns that we stopped in became less and less as we headed further north. It is interesting to note that as in Canada we have churches in every town, here they have Buddhist temples and statues of Buddhas – some large and some very large. As with most things, we finally stopped gaping at them all and settled in to watch the rest of the scenery.
For the first few hours we saw miles and miles of rice fields in different stages of cultivation. Some were still full of water while others had been drained and were now being harvested with what appeared to be a small, straight combine. As we started to climb into the hills, rice fields gave way to the lush vegetation of the jungle which eventually became urbanscape once again.
After 11 hours, we reached Chiang Mai. Considering the price, we thought the trip was fairly decent – seats were padded, there was air conditioning and we were given a couple of snacks, soft drinks as well as a packaged meal of pickled mackerel and some packaged chicken that looked like Tender Vittles. Suffice to say, I did not eat any of these things. With some foresight we had packed some Pringles, peanuts and lots of water which kept us going throughout.
Though we didn’t know what to expect, we were pleasantly surprised by the city and our accommodations. So much so, in fact, that we have decided to stay put here for a couple of weeks of R&R and regrouping. We still have a few flights to book that will take us through until Christmas and we would like to start researching Europe which we will be heading to early 2019.
Even though our host in Bangkok was very helpful and showed us some very authentic sights, the accommodation itself was very basic and unfortunately, not very clean. In contrast, our flat here in Chiang Mai is very modern, ultra clean, and private with a gym and a swimming pool. We had originally thought that we might spend some time in the south of Thailand at one of the beach resorts there but after seeing the exorbitant prices as well as the amount of people crowding the beaches, we thought that we might just as well stay here.
So far, we have not done much of anything other than relax by the pool, do some reading, and wander around the neighborhood in search of some street food. Different from our area in Bangkok, we are in a more touristy spot so street food and markets here are pricier and much tamer than what we have experienced thus far. However, over the next couple of weeks, I am sure that we will wander farther and wider, take in a few tours, see some temples and eat some funky food. In the meantime, I hear my book calling me on the balcony.
Stay cool, my friends!
We wandered around the local night market on Tuesday night to see what it was like. As Col said it is a bit tamer than the ones in Bangkok and caters more to the tourists than the local Thai population. All in all though there are some good deals to be had and some good food if you look for it. I had some amazing noodle soup while Col really went out on the limb and had some chicken wings. One of the venues had some live music so we stopped in for a pitcher of beer and sat down to enjoy some authentic Thai Music.