Bah, humbug.

Chiang Mai Travel Blog

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I arrived in Chiang Mai at seven o'clock in the morning with no idea where I was. The bus dropped us the middle of nowhere; songthaew were on hand to pick us up and take us to the city centre. i got on one of them. When they dropped us, I still had no idea where I was. Tagged along with a couple who'd been in the same bit of the bus as me. The guy was from Madrid and he'd been in the away end at the Villa-Atletico match which remains the best game of football I've ever seen at Villa Park. Small world.

They already had accommodation booked and they were buggering off trekking tomorrow. Christmas in a jungle didn't appeal to me and their guest house was full anyway. So I set off walking, and I couldn't find anywhere else. No guest houses, just signs for them. And I had no idea where I was. It took me a while to place myself, and longer to find a room, in a strange hotel that seemed to cater entirely to domestic tourists. The walls of its first-floor landing were covered in Coca-Cola adverts and calendars and newspaper front pages, all in Thai. It was like a Siamese version of a Route 66 roadhouse, and I quite liked it.

But that was all I liked about Chiang Mai. Other than that I thought it was a hole. Cancel Christmas! Big and loud and alienating. Seemingly designed only to separate me and my money, the atmosphere in all the bars and restaurants was either Khao San Road or dead. Everywhere was playing the sort of Christmas music that you buy on cassettes in service stations for £1.49. Some days in Thailand I'd meet people, and some days I wouldn't; on Christmas Eve I didn't, and on Christmas Day I didn't either.

I went out to the night market, Chiang Mai's biggest sight, on the night of the twenty-fifth. Just for something to do. I went into McDonald's - not to buy anything, just because I couldn't find any toilets and I needed a slash. The place was full of western families eating Big Mac meals. If I ever sink so low as to eat at McDonald's on Christmas Day, it's time to put me out of my misery. I went to the zoo on the 26th. It was shit. The koalas were quite cool but no cooler than David Attenborough in front of the gorillas. You had to pay extra for the pandas and I refused. It was shit. A shit Christmas all round.
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Chiang Mai
photo by: Stevie_Wes