Chiang Mai Travel Blog

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Thailand has some things which I find strange and amazing. Their sleeper trains are one.

We went to sleep in noisy, smelly Bangkok, and ten hours and one prison-car like sleeper train later, woke up in (relatively) clean Chiang Mai.

There are a lot of things to do in Chiang Mai, which is known as New Switzerland to the Thais. I find this appellation slightly misleading, as none of the many treks we have been offered have included skiing or otherwise cold sports. In fact, Chiang Mai is probably hotter than everywhere else in Thailand, which is fine because I'm getting to love the heat, but even still we had no time for any kind of treks. We really only wanted to go to the famous Night Bazaar.

The night bazaar is now mainly a tourist attraction, selling lots of same same stuff. But it grew out of Chiang Mai's border-closeness; traditionally, it was a waystation for traders from Burma, Laos and other recently-renamed countries. It is still possible to find genuinely unique things (a lot of the markets in Thailand tend to be like small wholesalers) and did we ever find them! The market runs from 6pm to midnight and by 11 (especially after the poshest meal we've ever had) we had had enough, and dragged our stuff home. We moaned about how much we'd spent, when in reality it was probably about £20.

We've become experts at bargaining. At first it's scary - you pay full price, and that's it. But you soon develop a second sense to know who's hiked their prices up, by how much, and what the relative worth of the item is. I can't bear to argue with genuine craftsmen, but for t shirts I will fake my way through a sale with the greatest of glee. It really bothers me to see other farang being rude to traders - telling them, flat out, no - that's too much - watch me, I'm walking away. Sellers will always always give better discounts and often genuine bargains if you are funny and friendly and good-humoured about the whole thing. And plus, it's fun!

I am so used to being the only white girl (well, apart from Emma, I mean), that I find it weird to see other Westerners. Their behaviour really bothers me sometimes - either they're trying to recreate their home countries in expat bars, or they're patronising Thai culture by visiting temples and making only token efforts to obey the really quite strict rules regarding what you wear and what you photograph.

Anyway, Chiang Mai was full of farang. We didn't trek, but we did have the first hot shower since we've been away. Water has never been such a blessing, such a benediction.
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Chiang Mai
photo by: Stevie_Wes