Monday, April 10, 2017

Travel Planning in Chiang Mai

April 10, 2017
Chiang Mai, Thailand

The moat and wall that wrap all the way around Chiang Mai
We passed a pleasant and relatively uneventful week in Chiang Mai after returning from our road trip to the Golden Triangle in northern Thailand.  Much of our mental energy this week was spent planning.  We had our Myanmar trip to think about, our time in Thailand after our return from Myanmar, and a quick visit to see the Sajans, our friends in Shanghai, to coordinate.

Some of the things we booked during the week:
  • Flight from Yangon to Bagan
  • Flight from Bagan to Kalaw (via Heho airport – the bus system still apparently shut down for the Thingyan New Year holiday)
  • Bus from Inle Lake to Mandalay
  • Flight from Mandalay back to Chiang Mai
  • Flight from Chiang Mai to Shanghai
  • Flight from Shanghai to Osaka/Kyoto
  • Flight from Osaka/Kyoto to Chiang Mai
  • Hotel transfers in Bagan and Kalaw
  • Five different hotels in Myanmar
  • A trip to the Elephant Nature Park outside of Chiang Mai for when we return from Myanmar
Done and done.

In between all of the planning, we continued to explore the Old City of Chiang Mai, finally popping into Wat Chedi Luang Worawihan, the famous large temple right in the center.

Ruins of Wat Chedi Luang Worawihan
Elephants decorate Wat Chedi Luang Worawihan
Shrine in Wat Phan Tao
Scott poses with a friend
In addition to temple hopping, Caroline managed to find some time for a foot spa...

1 hour and 45 minutes of foot pampering
...and we also entertained ourselves with a muay Thai event in the Old City.

The main event! Visiting fighter from Isle of Man got beat up. He left the ring with a broken nose.
Between fights, we were "entertained" first by sword fighters, then by a blind-folded last-man-standing event - definitely comedic, as intended (we think).
Caroline poses with a couple of the lightweights, who took part in the blindfolded spectacle
One of the best parts of that crazy muay Thai event was getting to chat with a couple of young (19 & 20 years old) men from Berlin with excellent English.  It made us realize how little we'd conversed with anyone besides each other.  We also had a strategic laundry session shortly prior to our departure, as we wanted to land in Myanmar with as many clean clothes as we could.

It’s our last night before departing for Yangon, and we finally went to eat at the food stand of the famous “Cowboy Hat Lady,” near the north gate just outside the Old City.  Apparently she started wearing a cowboy hat to keep the light hanging in her food stall out of her eyes, and it stuck as a good piece of marketing recognition.  CHL braises pork all day to feed her blend of devoted customers and tourists (after becoming somewhat ‘famous’ after her appearance on one of those Anthony Bourdain travel/food shows).  Definitely worth the long walk from our condo, which is 20 minutes south of the Old City – we’ll be back.

If you see a lady in a cowboy hat wielding a meat cleaver in the dark, do approach
Mmmm... Scott's "that's so succulent" face
After our quick meal at Cowboy Hat Lady, we wandered over to the Northgate Jazz Club – Chiang Mai’s hottest music club. Literally. It was like a sauna, especially upstairs where we were able to find seats by the railing looking out over the tiny main stage below.  Despite the heat, it was a ball watching the local band perform for the enthusiastic and diverse crowd packed in to see the show.  They even had a guest performer, who we think was a singer from Korea, performing a unique rendition of “Just the Two of Us”.  A great night out, and I’m guessing we’ll try to hit the club again when we’re back in town.

Just the two of us.... in a night club in Chiang Maaaai, just the two of us... you and I
The New Year’s festivities are about to start in both Thailand (Songkran) and Myanmar (Thingyan), and you can definitely feel the excitement in the air all over Chiang Mai.  Interested to experience this phenomenon - we–leave for Yangon tomorrow!

More photos from the week:

Flowers blooming in one of the more picturesque areas of the moat, which separates the Old City form the rest of Chiang Mai

Dining at the "Hanging Feet" restaurant (not our feet)

A treat for Caroline - lunch at the mall at Sizzler, complete with Jell-O dessert!

Faithful cat in the Old City, prostrate by the shrine

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