Chiang Mai - Round One

Chiang Mai Travel Blog

 › entry 9 of 13 › view all entries
Our first guesthouse in Chiang Mai; basic room but oohhh the food!!!!

Getting out of Bangkok is always good news no matter where you're heading but Chiang Mai was a welcome relief for us veggies. There are so many excellent food options here and arriving at the station off the overnight sleeper we decided to abuse the generosity of one of the many touts and took a free ride to a guesthouse near several others we were interested in. We had a cursory look around the tout's place before excusing ourselves and going in search of a decent place. For once our Lonely Planet let us down with the map's positioning of our number one choice, which turned out to be for the best as a very friendly English girl named Claire got chatting to us and recommended the place she was staying called 'Grace Guesthouse'; which also operates a vegetarian restaurant downstairs and had been marked down as one of our must do eateries.

Our favourite veggie restaurant: AUM

The room was basic to say the least but for 250 baht you have no right to complain and the restaurant is awesome. The most amazing selection of veggie and vegan delicacies to choose from. Better still there is another place associated with them just down the road called Blue Diamond which has an even more extensive menu. This was just the begining of a relative veggie paradise in Chiang Mai. We also found a great place called Aum which doubles up as a second hand bookstore so it's good for the body and mind, you could add soul too as we often saw buddhist monks wolfing down their hearty plates of veggie excellence. Not only that, there is a branch of a Bangkok veggie institution called May Kaidees' here too. We can almost feel our bodies making preparations for the extra pounds.

Steph and our moped for the day

Our original intention for Chiang Mai was to stay about six days as we need to obtain a visa from the Indian consulate, so our first full day we moved to a bit nicer room at a place called 'Awana House' which has really lovely rooms, balconies (small) and a very chilly pool; we then hired a moped and set off to find the consulate. Not as easy as it sounds as they have moved several times in recent years and every map has them located in a different place. Strangely we decided to trust the guidebook and headed for the location that it pinpointed and wasted our petrol and time driving by the address which has now been turned into a nursery school, luckily one of our drive bys alerted us to the presence of the tourist police station and figuring they would have to know the correct location we stopped in.

Stylish close-up
What a friendly bunch! There were several western volunteers as well as very efficient Thai policemen who were not only helpful and friendly but up to date with their info and guided us to the 'newest' of the new Indian consulate locations! It was lucky they did as it was not in any of the locations our four different maps showed!!! At the consulate we discovered that rather than the four day wait we had been led to believe, it was actually a nine day or five full working days, excluding the day of application!! Bit of a spanner in the works really as our Thai visa is running out and as great as Chiang Mai is, nine days is too long.

Our plans in disarray we decided to head back to the hotel and change tack by splitting our time here in two with a visit to Pai.

Adam on our moped for the day
Our hotel was very accommodating and still gave us the discount we had negotiated despite us messing them around. That's the beauty of it being low season we suppose.

While we still had the bike we decided to stock up the fridge in our room and headed off to the Thai "Tesco Lotus" for the novelty factor. All through our travels we have loved visiting local supermarkets as they give a real insight into the way people live in any given country. Seeing aisle after aisle of strange and wonderous items always involves at least a couple of hours worth of a visit in the larger stores. We might be a little jaded with our religious temples but we never tire of these modern temples to food, globalisation and consumerism. The emphasis on fresh produce is obviously much greater than back in the UK but we were surprised by the three huge aisles devoted to snacks and chocolate.

Stylish close-up
 We have noticed more portly Thai people among the population here than in most other Asian countries, now we have our explanation. The other major weirdness is the Thai law regarding selling booze! Figuring we had three sunsets to enjoy on our balcony we wanted to by 12 bottles of beer (no singing please) we strolled up to the checkout and the blushing check out girl refused to serve us. Our joy at being supposed too young to buy alcohol soon faded as it turns out that you can't by cases of beer between 2pm and 5pm. With all our wanderings and product perusing it was by this time 2.08!!! Gutted we walked away to pack our stuff and noticed the woman behind us being served several cases of beer!! Indignant, we asked for the supervisor to explain, which consisted of pointing at a sign mostly written in Thai but not explaing anything to us other than the 2 to 5 break.
The Night Bazaar
Feeling that if the law can be broken for one it can be broken for all we asked for the manager who came over and with almost embarassment explained that under Thai law you can buy individual bottles all day or you can buy in excess of 10 litres all day. What you can't do is buy anything between an individual bottle or less than 10 litres. Clearly the most annoying law ever. You need to be a raving drunk or live very close to a booze selling shop. Moderate drinking is out. Still they probably saved us from certain death trying to get a case of beer home on our moped!!!

Another attraction of Chiang Mai is the night bazaar. A mass of stalls around an area of streets near the river selling pretty much anything and everything but with a special emphasis on the usual touristy rubbish that involves haggling over prices half the night.

The Night Bazaar
We strolled around but didn't do much buying as the prices the stallholders were starting out at were ridiculous. Often way more than an item would be in the UK. What made it worse is the total lack of grace from some stallholders when we responded with a more sensible and realistic figure. Some actually got quite abusive in particular one who had a rather amusing line of anti Bush t-shirts which were quite funny. The irony of an intellectually challenged, ultra aggressive, capitalist stallholder selling anti Bush t-shirts was not lost on us.

We got one other chore out the way, posting home. We've posted parcels from Hong Kong, China, three from Vietnam and one from Malaysia and Thailand is by far the most expensive. A 3.5kg parcel cost us 1000 baht which comes out at about GBP17.

A new friend
50. The staff weren't particularly communicative either, which in truth seems to be the story in post offices the world over. So far our parcels keep on arriving and Thailand is supposed to be very reliable so lets wait and see.  

Virginiagoodings says:
Yes, you both look very fetching indeed!
Love
Mum /Virginia xxoo
Posted on: Mar 13, 2008
barrieandann says:
Who are the two speed cops in their helmets.

Love Dad (Barrie) xxxx
Posted on: Mar 13, 2008
Join TravBuddy to leave comments, meet new friends and share travel tips!
Our first guesthouse in Chiang Mai…
Our first guesthouse in Chiang Ma…
Our favourite veggie restaurant: A…
Our favourite veggie restaurant: …
Steph and our moped for the day
Steph and our moped for the day
Stylish close-up
Stylish close-up
Adam on our moped for the day
Adam on our moped for the day
Stylish close-up
Stylish close-up
The Night Bazaar
The Night Bazaar
The Night Bazaar
The Night Bazaar
A new friend
A new friend
Babylon, one of the bars all lit u…
Babylon, one of the bars all lit …
Babylon
Babylon
Adam at Babylon
Adam at Babylon
Adam taking a shot on our roof ter…
Adam taking a shot on our roof te…
Steph taking a shot on our roof te…
Steph taking a shot on our roof t…
Wat Phan An (as seen from our roof…
Wat Phan An (as seen from our roo…
Wat Phan An (as seen from our roof…
Wat Phan An (as seen from our roo…
Wat Lam Chang
Wat Lam Chang
Chiang Mai
photo by: Stevie_Wes