Hi! It’s me again
On the 9th of December, we arrived in Chiang Mai for the first time. We had booked an Airbnb in the old city of Chiang Rai and had to take a taxi from the bus station to get there. After arriving, we went for dinner at a place called Peppermaint Guesthouse, which had a nice vegetarian/vegan restaurant. After being on a pad thai diet for the past eight days, having to choose from a whole menu of vegetarian foods wasn’t easy 😄. After having a nice meal, we went to the Saturday night market for a bit, but it was very very crowded, so we left soon and went to sleep.
The next day, we started with a late breakfast and then spent the day walking around in the heat and exploring the temples of the old city, which there’s a lot of. After visiting the ones close by, we sat down for a cold drink before going on to Wat Sri Suphan, which was a bit further away. We were planning on walking to the temple, but it was extremely hot, and a tuk-tuk driver was waiting right in front of the cafe, so we asked him to take us instead. The temple is also known as the Silver Temple because it is completely covered in silver. There were even a lot of silversmiths working around the temple, and you could see the monks working on the silver. The details of the building were fantastic, and even though I couldn’t go inside (apparently there are too many important and expensive things in there to let women enter), I’ll have to believe Ken and say that the temple was beautiful inside out.
After walking around for a while, we decided to go to eat at the same place as last night and after that go to the Sunday night market. The Sunday market was in a different place than the one on Saturday, and it was my favourite market I’ve been to here so far. It was less crowded, and it spread out in every direction, including between some temples. We spent almost 6 hours at the market and bought a lot of stuff we definitely didn’t need. Including deep-fried sandwiches.
On Monday, we were picked up at 11:30 to go to the Elephant Jungle Sanctuary. We drove for over an hour until we got out of the city and into the forest. Once we got to the sanctuary, we were given traditional Karen clothing to change into, so the elephants wouldn’t be scared of us. Then it was time to meet the elephants. There were six elephants in the camp, and two of them were still babies. First, we got to feed them bananas and then we went for a swim together with the elephants. After the swim, we gave them a mud treatment which helps them cool down and keep the mosquitoes away. Before returning to the city, we also had a dinner at the camp and then drove back.
The next morning we were woken way too early because the students of a school next to us were practising the drums outside. We were supposed to take the 10:30 minivan to Pai, so we packed our things and went out for a coffee. Once we got to the bus station, we realised we had bought tickets for the wrong date, even though I swear I checked the date and time about a thousand times. We then had to pay a little extra to change the tickets and take the bus in two hours instead. Apparently, there are 762 curves on the road from Chiang Mai to Pai, so I was expecting a sickening four-hour drive in an uncomfortable minivan, but the trip was actually surprisingly pleasant. The bus was comfortable and coming from a completely flat Northern European country, the super curvy road surrounded by lush jungles was something very different and interesting.
Once we got to Pai, we checked in to the guesthouse we were staying at and then went back to the centre to rent a scooter and have some dinner. This time we paid 250 baht for the scooter, which definitely wasn’t the best deal, but we spent more just to have a cool looking pink one. After eating dinner at a restaurant, we found ourselves at the night market, which was once again very different from all the other markets we had been to. It was way calmer and had a nice chill vibe to it. Also, there was so much good street food, everything from brownies to lasagne, that we basically had another dinner at the market 😅.
The next morning we had brunch at a place called Charlie & Lek. We had their pad thai and vegetable fried rice and then went to get coffee at another cafe since they didn’t have any. We then got the idea to go to Cross Tattoo Studio just to ask about the price of a small tattoo. At first, neither of us had any intention of actually getting a tattoo, but while we were looking through the work they had done, we both got some great ideas. After discussing our thoughts with the tattoo artist, he told us to come back in a few hours so he could draw us a design. So, since we had some free time to spend, we thought we would drive around and visit the Mo Paeng waterfall and Wat Phra That Mae Yen, the Temple on the Hill. We had to climb a 300 step staircase to get up to the huge white Buddha, which wasn’t very fun in the heat, but the view from up there was great.
On our way back to the centre, we stopped by at a vegan restaurant called Earth Tone. The atmosphere of the place was nice, there was a small river running by the tables, and the food was delicious also. After that, it was time to go back to get our tattoos. We were both happy with the designs he had made and decided to get them done in a traditional bamboo style instead of a tattoo machine. Ken got his done first and it took about 1,5 hours of pain. Then we took a small break, got some avocado toast from the night market, and went back to get mine done too. I just got some flower designs added to a tattoo I already had on my back, so it didn’t take long, but it was definitely a lot more painful than with a regular tattoo machine.
When we woke up today, we packed our things and drove to Earth Tone again for breakfast. We had a smoothie bowl and a tempeh salad, which were both really good again.
From there, we went to see another waterfall, the Pam Bok Waterfall and from there we drove a bit further to the Buddha Bamboo Bridge. It was basically a long bridge going over rice fields and it seemed to go on forever. We never got to the end of the bridge, so I’m not sure if it actually leads anywhere, but it was a nice little walk.
Then we went back to the centre, grabbed some food, took our bags, returned the scooter and caught the bus back to Chiang Mai. We are just spending the night here today to move on to Sukhothai tomorrow. The bus ride is supposed to take 5-6 hours (😒), but I couldn’t find a place to buy the tickets online, so we’ll just have to go to the bus station in the morning and hope for the best.