Heading North

After  6 days experiencing the hectic city of Bangkok, it was time to head north. First up, 4 days in Chiang Mai, followed by 5 in Chiang Rai.

After leaving buying overnight train tickets until the week before my intended trip to Chiang Mai, it would turn out that all trains were full. So I paid for a plane ticket, and after a 1 hour taxi ride,  1 hour flight delay, and a 1 hour flight, I had arrived.

I used Chiang Mai to recover from all the running around in Bangkok. I could walk to the main city sites from my hostel, and spent my first day simply exploring within the old city walls.

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Some gorgeous stairs in Wat Chedi Luang

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This stupa dates back to 1441

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Street art in Chiang Mai

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My second day was a half day tour of an elephant sanctuary, Elephant Dream Valley (see previous post for further details), followed by strolling the Saturday walking street

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Walking street style

I unfortuantely didn’t feel too hot (well…I did feel hot because humidity…ha) and made it a bit worse by walking 2+ hours in the sun to see the final two temples I was curious about. The silver temple of Wat Sri Suphan was by far the highlight of my time in Chiang Mai.

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Wat Suan Dok

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On my last full day, I wanted to get up to Wat Doi Suthep. After taking two songtheaws up a winding mountain road, I needed a few minutes for my body to settle. I was admittedly a little dissapointed with Doi Suthep. I wasn’t blown away, and even now I feel Wat Sri Suphan is a more unique temple. I spent about half an hour walking the temple grounds, if only to make the journey up the mountain worth it.

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The grounds of Wat Doi Suthep are decorated, but fake flowers seemed to take away charm rather than add to it

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Trash filled with old prayers

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I was told by a friend that Chiang Mai had become very commercialized. I completely see this. As wonderful as some of the temples in the old city were, the streets are lined with hostels, western-style cafes, and tour agencies.

Chiang Rai, though…I wish I had longer here. I had planned for a relaxing first day, but ended up getting convinced to join a full day tour that included the Blue Temple, a waterfall, the White Temple, and a tea plantation. I am so glad I joined as seeing these sites outside of the city with a local guide was phenomenal.

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Biking the tea plantations of Singha Park

After using my second day to relax and meeting a new friend in the hostel, we scootered out to the Black Museum the following day and explored a local rice field and café. I got a bit more burnt than I care to admit…

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The following day we both signed up for a Thai cooking class, and I actually was so full I felt sick. At the market, as we picked our ingredients, we sampled local tea, Thai donuts, longan, durian, and deep fried sweet potato and banana. When the time came to cook we prepared green papaya salad, hot and sour soup with prawns, and red curry with chicken. So, so good but so, so filling…

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Buddha statue behind the market

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Ingredients all ready to go

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If you find yourself tiring of Bangkok, I highly recommend heading north; and if I had to choose, Chiang Rai over Chiang Mai (also in Chiang Rai stay at “Sook Cafe and Hostel” it is the perfect location, has amazing staff, and I cannot recommend it enough).

I’m very thankful for the opportunity to have travelled to Thailand. It was never a country that had been super high on my “to-do” list, but these last three weeks have been filled with the most amazing sites (and foods).

Tomorrow I make the long journey back to Bangkok (first with a 3 hour bus to Chiang Mai, then a 5 hour wait, then the overnight train to Bangkok). I get 2 days rest, and then I’m on my way to Indonesia!

Until next time!

Next up, Bali!

When in Bangkok

-Be amazed/horrified at how nobody on the road seems to drive in the lanes

-Realize that instead of the “yield to other drivers” signs you follow back home, that’s the LAST thing you want here; everyone for themselves

-Get laughed at by Dutch people because they think you can’t ride a bike

-And, of course, see some temples and Eat some food (only some (kidding))

6 days in Bangkok (2 more to come before I fly to Bali) gave me quite a bit of time to see the city itself, see outside the city, and bike the city at night (I am surprisingly still alive).

I was so exhausted from my travel day Tuesday/Wednesday (6 hours to Dubai from Zürich, 5 hour layover, then 6.5 hours to Bangkok) that all I could muster the energy for during my first full day was some light walking (read: to get food) around where I was staying; about 40min from the city centre.

Friday required a bit more energy, as I met with a university friend to explore the Grand Palace, Wat Poh, and Wat Arun. My advice to anyone visiting Bangkok is to get to the Palace right when it opens. Even at 9:30am the body heat of all the tourists combined with the already humid air was not pleasant. We left around 10:45 and there was a massive line up to get in.


After the madness, the relative quietness of Wat Poh (home of the Reclining Buddha) was welcome. I could’ve easily spent another hour just wandering and taking pictures.

After lunch and wandering an air-conditioned mall, we finished off with the Temple of the Dawn, Wat Arun. In the early evening because why not. I would love to see it again once the renovations are complete.

The weekend was a time for markets. Morning markets, weekend markets, floating markets, all for fruit and food, gifts, souvenirs, and amazing flowy pants. At the floating market me and a friend took a 100 baht boat ride to a temple and orchard farm.

When we returned home I very last minute signed up for a day tour to Ayutthaya. I had originally been looking up ways to get there by public transport, but as I did more research I got increasingly stressed thinking about doing this on my own. The idea of having pick-up and drop-off organized for me filled me with a sense of ease, and for my mind and comfort’s sake I signed up for Asia-discover.com’s day trip from Bangkok (http://www.asia-discovery.com/travel/bangkok/daytour/ayutthaya-day-tours-from-bangkok-bkk-12n.htm). I don’t regret it at all. If it makes me more comfortable and less stressed, I will choose that option.

The trip was amazing. The history of Ayutthaya, the old capital of the Kingdom of Siam, is endless, and the temple grounds and ruins were exactly what I had wanted to see (I did no research prior, though, so this consisted of me excitedly whispering “oh, oh, I wanted to see this one too!” whenever we stopped at a temple whose picture I recalled.

I’m currently in Chiang Mai, and on Tuesday will head up even further north to Chiang Rai, before coming back down to Bangkok for 2 days and then flying to Bali. Lots and lots to write about!

Until next time!