Elephant City

Chiang Mai Travel Blog

 › entry 36 of 43 › view all entries
At the airport, my taxi driver made a big deal about taking my backpack off my hands. I told him I was fine. I really was used to it by then. When we got to his car, I let him take my backpack and he said, "Oh! Heavy!" Driving through Chiang Mai, it seemed like such a big city. But like I said in a previous entry, it's all a matter of perspective. If I was coming from Bangkok, I would've have thought Chiang Mai seemed incredibly laid back.

We pulled up to a guest house near the night market and I booked my room and settled in. I left the guest house and walked towards a main street. I could see that they were beginning to set up for the night market. As I was walking through town, locals would stop to talk to me and everyone seemed very friendly and outgoing.
Elephants on lamp posts


I found an internet cafe. When I was done, the owner started a conversation. He introduced me to some of his family members who were sitting at the restaurant next door that I think they also owned. I thought the people of Chiang Mai were wonderful.

I wanted to arrange the next day's activites so I walked into one of the tourism offices. Without much thought, I signed up for a day tour. I knew it included elephant riding and rafting so I thought it was all good. I walked around town and tried to get a feel for it. There are elephants everywhere in Chiang Mai in the form of sculptures and other types of public art. There were also a lot of mosquitoes, unfortunately they were real.

I walked back towards the night market and I saw that what was being sold was a combination of everything I'd seen in South East Asia up to that point, plus a few different items.
I saw a woman setting up a stand of unique earrings. I bargained with her for a lower price for two pairs. She was tough for awhile and then smiled and said, "Okay, you my first customer, I give you special price!"

I saw those adorable hugging salt and pepper shakers. I had to get some. Once again, I did the two for a lower price bargaining thing and a couple from Europe tried to do the same thing. The saleswoman gave me a lower price but would not budge with the Europeans. They gave me an incredulous look and I shrugged. In Ghana, markets are run by women and prices are always debatable. I think bargaining is in my blood and I think women of other countries might sense this side of me.
Sunset over the river


The night market was becoming crowded with tourists and I wanted to get off of the cluttered sidewalks. While there were plenty of tourists in Laos, it never felt overrun. There were also plenty of older Western men with Thai women who were significantly younger than them. You see this all over Southeast Asia, but in some cities more than others. I looked at one man with curiosity and he must have thought I was judging him because he immediately let go of his girlfriend's hand when we made eye contact.

I found a place to eat dinner. After spending a few days with some amazing travelers, I could clearly see the downside of solo travel- the inevitable day when you find yourself alone again. I think the goodbyes are harder than meeting people. But I had an amazing dinner of curry noodle soup with prawns.
Definitely one of my best meals on the trip.

After eating, I checked out a free "traditional" song and dance show nearby. There was a little girl dancing to Western pop music like a mini version of Britney Spears. Her face was coated with makeup and she wore a gold jacket that she eventually took off as part of her routine. I think all of the tourists had their mouths hanging open at her performance, not sure whether to laugh or cry. I watched a few more groups perform and then headed back to my guest house to get some rest.
trixieSpot914 says:

hi.. i have been reading your blogs from the beginning & at this point i would like to ask if i could please know how much you think you spent for these travels.. i am asking bcoz i would like to try doing this myself.. thank you
Posted on: Aug 28, 2008
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Elephants on lamp posts
Elephants on lamp posts
Sunset over the river
Sunset over the river
Kayaking on the river
Kayaking on the river
Huge leaves
Huge leaves
Strutting with her gold jacker
Strutting with her gold jacker
Tossing the jacket aside
Tossing the jacket aside
Traditional dance performance
Traditional dance performance
Chiang Mai
photo by: Stevie_Wes