19th – 23rd October.
Our arrival into Chiang Mai was painless, we travelled in a second class carriage and our improved bartering skills meant we caught a taxi to our hotel with ease.
Upon arrival the hotel seemed pleasant, although very different from the pictures. We were handed a key that didn’t just unlock our room, but also our worst nightmare. At a quick glance the room seemed acceptable, but after unpacking and settling down for the night we came to realise we were not alone.
On our stained sheets we saw movement.
It all seemed innocent at first, but the pile of squatted bugs soon began to grow. To the lizards outside of our room this would have been heaven, but for us it was quite the opposite. That night saw us move rooms twice, and each time a small army of bugs lay in wait nestled under our sheets. At this point, it was past midnight and neither of us had any intention to stay.
After complaining at the front desk, the manager – who spoke very little English – plodded after us back to the room. On inspection of the many bugs he simply chuckled and said repeatedly “NO BITE”. Although this news admittedly brought slight relief, the harsh reality of having no choice but to share our bed with non-biting bugs, resulted in us sleeping on top of the sheets cocooned in our sleeping bag liners, as modelled below.
We awoke, swiftly gathered our things and checked out early.
At this point our luck turned around. We found a perfectly located guest house priced at £4 each per night. This thankfully changed our initial opinion of Chiang Mai and allowed us to fall in love with its old urban charm. Our four days in the city were very action packed, and were spent as told below:
We explored the old town, ventured into many beautiful temples and even managed to get blessed by a monk!
For £30 each, we embarked on a nine-hour adventure and saw just some of the gems of Northen Thailand. Our first stop of the day was at Wachirathan waterfall near the base of Doi Inthanon, Thailands tallest mountain.
After climbing around the waterfall, we drove up to the peak of Doi Inthanon. We both assumed that being on top of the tallest mountain would guarantee amazing views – but it was cloudy. Despite this slight disappointment, we saw the burial ground of King Inthawichayanon – one of the last Kings of Chiang Mai, whom the mountain was named in honour of, and his daughter. The King, who was concerned about the forests in Northen Thailand and therefore spent his life trying to preserve them, asked to be buried at the mountains peak.
For lunch, we sampled some local Thai cuisine before exploring the two chedis and their surrounding botanical gardens.
Our final activity was a two-hour trek with a local guide through the jungle, which finished with tasting the coffee from the local plantation.
We went to an elephant sanctuary, that despite being open to tourists, fights against animal cruelty. This meant that the elephants did not perform and could not be ridden. Here we learnt about their behaviour and requirements, fed them sugar cane, trekked with them through the forest and bathed them- all in this attractive uniform.
The elephant on the left, Madam, became a bit too friendly and decided to ‘hoover’ Adam’s nipple- there’s nothing quite like a natural photo haha!
Our last day began with a delicious breakfast in our favourite cafe and the day consisted of exploring the city. We saw a pigeon fly up a child’s top, saw a man ride around in circles on a moped whilst playing the recorder, got lost in the humungous night market that over ten thousand people attend every week, and found ourselves eating dinner next door to Chiang Mai’s red light district!
Now to head off to the islands and find paradise.