Chiang Mai - Day 1

Chiang Mai Travel Blog

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A Harley it isn't, but it got us around Chiang Mai

Woke up this morning on the train to the sun rising over the trees lining the train track.  It was pretty, but I decided it was too early to be up so I closed the curtains and went back to sleep.  A couple hours later, I woke up again, this time for good, and let the train attendent convert my bunk back into a seat with a table so that John and I could have breakfast.  The breakfast was ... edible.  It consisted of a fried egg, toast, tea, a sausage patty, and a sliced meat (ham maybe?).  After breakfast, we packed up so that we would be ready to go when the train arrived in Chiang Mat around 10am. 

We are planning this trip on the fly so we didn't have a place to stay arranged in Chiang Mai, so after we exited the train station, we walked for a little bit (to get away from the taxi's that cater to tourists, and thus charge more) and hopped into one of the many red songthaews for the trip into the old town.

Ready to enjoy some Khao Soy, its messy so they give you aprons
  Songthaews are basically pick-up trucks, with a covered truch bed and bench seats in the back for passengers and along with the Tuk-Tuks (large motorized tricyles with room for two passengers) they pretty much dominate public transportation in Chiang Mai.

Once in the old city we walked around for a little while to find a guesthouse.  Eventually we decided upon C.M. Blue House, which John was pretty sure he had read good things about on the internet.  The price was right (300 Baht/night for the fan cooled room, or about $5 each/night), so it didn't matter to me.  We checked in, dropped our bags in the room, and then decided to talk to the lady in the office about day treks for tomorrow.  We booked one that looked good, and then walked out to the main street to decide what to do today.

Grounds of Wat Umong

We decided to see some of Chiang Mai, and the best way to do that seemed to have easy transportation.  On the main street there were plenty of places renting moped/motorbikes so we rented a couple for the day (150 Baht) and off we went.

By now it was about lunch time, so we learned to ride our mopeds on the way to a restaurant we had heard about that served a Northern Specialty called Khao Soy.  The restaurant was appropriatly called "Just Khao Soy."  I'll right a review later, but suffice it to say that the food was delicious! 

After Lunch, we took our mopeds and drove to a temple on the outskirts of town in the foothills around Chiang Mai called Wat Umong.  Wat Umong was different from every other temple I have visited in Thailand.  While it has a large Chedi, like most other temples, it is located in a heavily forested area and fits into its serene surroundings perfectly.

Buddha at Wat Umong
  Also, hanging from the trees around the grounds are hundreds of wooden signs with Buddhist proverbs on them (in English and Thai) such as "Physical charms attract the eyes, but goodness attracts the mind." and "Time unused is the longest time."  Stupidly, I forgot to take any pictures of the signs.  We walked around the immense grounds, stumbling across various buddha statues and monks and basically enjoying the peacefulness of the area.  After walking for a while we sat down on an island in the middle of a carp pond to decide what we wanted to do next and enjoy the scenery. 

Next we drove to Wat Suan Dok, whose golden Chedi I had seen from the road while we were on our way to Wat Umong.  The Chedi was made even more impressive by the city of white Reliquaries occupying the space infront of the central Golden Chedi.

Chedi and Bell at Wat Umong
  Each white-washed reliquary holds the remains of one of the former rulers of Chiang Mai.  The Wat also had a l 

After it was clear that the storm was on a track away from the city, we headed back into the old town and relaxed for a bit at a bar/restaurant called The Wall, which was named in honor of Pink Floyd.  We stayed there until we were hungry for dinner, and then rode to the river front to eat at the Riverside.

The Riverside was a perfect choice.  We were seated right next to the river with perfect views of the lit up bridge that we had crossed to get to the restaurant.  Again, I will review the restaurant later, but it was quite good.

After dinner, we headed back to return the motorbikes since we were going to be on trek all day tomorrow and wouldn't have time to return them then.

Wat Suan Dok
  We had a minor hitch, when mine didn't want to start or stay running at first, but eventually I got it running and made it all the way back to the rental office, albeit sputtering the entire way.  I'm sure the problem was that it was practically out of gas, since John and I had decided not fill the mopeds up after we rented them, even though they were on Empty, but hey, we made it back and didn't have to spring for any gas the entire day.

It was too early to head to bed, so we went to the UN Irish Pub to have a couple beers, and some garlic bread and watch some rugby on TV.  The match was Wales vs. England, and it was a rout as Wales failed  to even score in the first half.

After that we headed back to the gues house and went to bed.

View of bridge from our table
  Actually first we grabbed some late night food at Mike’s Hamburger and Hot Dog stand – Chili Cheese fries and chili dogs.  Delicious.

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A Harley it isnt, but it got us a…
A Harley it isn't, but it got us …
Ready to enjoy some Khao Soy, its …
Ready to enjoy some Khao Soy, its…
Grounds of Wat Umong
Grounds of Wat Umong
Buddha at Wat Umong
Buddha at Wat Umong
Chedi and Bell at Wat Umong
Chedi and Bell at Wat Umong
Wat Suan Dok
Wat Suan Dok
View of bridge from our table
View of bridge from our table
Served on an artists palate
Served on an artists palate
Grounds of Wat Umong
Grounds of Wat Umong
Chedi at Wat Umong
Chedi at Wat Umong
Monk walking around the Chedi
Monk walking around the Chedi
Island mediation area at Wat Umong
Island mediation area at Wat Umong
Wat Suan Dok
Wat Suan Dok
The Riverside Restaurant
The Riverside Restaurant
Chiang Mai Restaurants, Cafes & Food review
For dinner we ate at the Riverside Bar and Restaurant located on the west bank of the river Ping. It's a Chiang Mai icon, having been serving up food… read entire review
Chiang Mai Restaurants, Cafes & Food review
Just Khao Soy is a restaurant in Chiang Mai which, as the name suggests, serves Khao Soy and not much else. Khao Soy is a Northern specialty original… read entire review
Chiang Mai
photo by: Stevie_Wes