Chiang Mai: Arriving at the train station
The train arrived at the train station at 9 AM and a driver for my Guest House was waiting there to give me a ride back to the hotel. There were actually several of us and we piled into the back of a pickup truck with benches which was owned by the guest house. After driving through the streets of Chiang Mai we arrive at my guest house. I am staying at the Holiday Garden View Guest House. I also have booked a two day one night hill tribe trek through the guest house. This was all arranged by the travel agent in Bangkok. Looks like a pretty nice place.
Chiang Mai: Riding in the back of a pickup truck.
The reception area sits next to the restaurant where you can sit down and look out at the street for a meal or hang out with friends. There is also a travel agent desk right next to the reception desk where they can answer any questions you might have or make any travel arrangements you might need. I go up to my room on the third floor and settle in a little bit. The room is nothing special. Fairly small with a window looking out at a Wat and a small bathroom/shower combo.
After a short break I head out to go explore town a little bit. My guide book suggests that Wat Phra Singh is the one Wat you should see in Chiang Mai so I figure that is a good place to start. My guest house is situated right next to a Wat so I go check that out.
Chiang Mai: A Buddhist temple next door to my Guest House.
It is pretty nice. Nothing huge but it has impressive architecture. It seems strange that there are so many beautiful temples like this around but I guess it is just the way it is. To the Thais I guess it is just another part of their environment. I head into the walled city and try to follow my map to Wat Phra Singh. The map is not the best but I eventually get there. Unfortunately the main temple building has scaffolding in front of it so the view from the front is blocked. But there are plenty of other impressive things to see still. There is a big white conical Chedi, a couple of temples to worship in and some beautifuly manicured grounds. It is interesting to experience these things that are so strange to us but are commonplace to the Thai people.
Chiang Mai: Wat Mueng Mang.
From Wat Phra Sing I wander back around town exploring as I go back towards my guest house. Today is Sunday so it is market day. Sunday Market day occurs in the evening but in the main area by the Phae Gate the market is already set up. I wander through and find some Phad Tai for lunch at a vendor. For more lunch I get a basil sausage from another street vendor.
Back at my room I take a nap to catch up on some sleep. No use keeping up the hectic pace. This is vacation. Later we have an informational meeting for my trek to learn what to expect and what to bring and not bring. We are instructed to pack light as we will be carrying everything in a day pack. After the meeting I head over to the Sunday Market and explore that.
Chiang Mai: Wat Mueng Mang.
They have some nice handicrafts here. I then head over to the standard night market which occurs daily. I explore the one main street that has a lot of vendors and figure I can come back another day to see the rest. I get a meal in the food court area of the night market. There are really not all that many street food vendors near the market so the food court is the best place to go. You have to buy coupons to buy your food and drinks. This seemed to be the case in Bangkok at the food court in the shopping mall too. The coupons are basically pieces of paper you use as money to buy your meal. I get a nice meal at the food court. There are no Burger Kings or Mcdonalds here just locals making local food and it all looks good.
Chiang Mai: Wat Phra Sing. Said to be the nicest temple to visit in Chiang Mai.
I head back to my guest house from the night market. On the way I pass by a vendor that is selling fried grasshoppers and beetles. I have always wanted to try insects but I just had a nice meal and don't feel the need for any more food. The grasshoppers look the best. They are green and look fried. I hope to see this vendor here at another time when I am more in the mood but he is never there again. Darn and they looked so good.
Back at my room I make my selections for things in my day pack for my trek. The rest of it gets stored in the storage room back at the guest house. It doesn't look like much but we really don't need that much. Just some extra layers in case it gets cold, some swimwear and my camera. It's time to get some sleep for the trek tomorrow.
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