Thursday, February 25, 2016

Chelsea in Pai/Chiang Mai

So far, we’ve had very little unplanned time in our trip. It’s been great to have a plan to make use of our time, but at the same time it leaves little opportunity for spontaneity or random exploring. Today, though, I got to have some of that, quite unexpectedly! But let me start from the beginning…

Today was a travel day. We had originally planned to use the morning to practice our cooking skills but we decided not to do that, since we had yet to really sleep in. So, waking up around 7:45am was quite welcome; our average is around 6:00am or so, sometimes on purpose, sometimes just thanks to my body being used to waking early and not sleeping super well. I woke up just before my alarm to the sound of a door slamming shut, repeatedly. Our hotel, while nice in many ways, definitely lacked in other areas. Our room was right next to the cleaning supply closet, so I think the slamming came from that. Additionally, the ceiling over the toilet had developed a slow leak drip. Thankfully that only lasted a day; I suspect they came into the room to clean and noticed it and patched it up. I digress…

Anyway, I went to pick up my laundry and the weather outside was absolutely gorgeous. Seriously, the temperature and humidity at night and early morning are so wonderful – around mid-60s or so. Perfect! I came back to the room and got Jessica and we went to have breakfast at a restaurant that had a patio and WiFi. I finally got Monday’s blog post written (you’re welcome) and by then it was time to start getting ready to check out of the hotel. We got ready and headed out around noon.

Our bus was scheduled to depart at 2pm, but since we had some extra time, we went to see if we could maybe get on an earlier bus. Alas, the earliest bus with available seats was at 2pm, so we kept our tickets. We were happy enough, as that meant we had time to get lunch. We went to the Witching Well first, as I’d read good things about it. It had mostly western food, and I wasn’t too hungry so I didn’t really have anything. It was getting so hot, so I suggested we check out a bakery I’d seen on the main road. We walked over, luggage in tow, and walked into the wonderfully air-conditioned building. As I approached the counter, I realized that this was the bakery that had made the scone I fell in love with at the night market! I was so excited to have finally found the source of such deliciousness, and not a moment too soon.

I ordered a puff pastry (spinach and cheese) for lunch (by now I was hungry), and decided to get some baked goods to go later on. After being heated, the pastry was delivered to my table. A few bites in and I knew I didn’t want to finish it. I decided to scrap it and get something else – it was about $2.50 anyway. I ordered yellow curry, but it took forever to come out. Once I got it, it was also pretty terrible. One bite was all it took for that one; I was NOT going to eat that. TOO BAD since this place made such awesome baked goods! I cut my losses and just got a couple of scones to take with me on the way to Chiang Mai.

We waited out the rest of the time until we needed to head to the bus station in the bakery, enjoying the WiFi and comforts. Around 1:40, we trekked down the street to the bus station. We loaded up in our bus, with our bags on top. We were one of the first ones in the bus, and the rest of the seats filled up. There were about 5 REALLY tall guys on our van; I felt so bad for them. The back row, 4 seats across, was crammed with some Germans, all tall. Phew, this was going to be a FUN ride back! My seat was next to the window, but not in the front. I was a single seat with an aisle next to me, which was good, but there was too much luggage so there was a big backpack in the space next to me. I tried to just breathe and think positive thoughts!

We took off for Chiang Mai, and I was very thankful for the window. It was bad… really bad. The road was literally never straight. After about an hour, we made a pit stop at the same spot as on the way up, and I bought some motion sickness medicine. I don’t know why I didn’t do that in the first place!

Anyway, after we piled back into the van, I was starting to feel a bit better, and the curves eased up a bit! I tried to think about other things, and it helped somewhat. Once we got out of the mountains, the driver floored it and we sped along to Chiang Mai. I had hoped that once we got off the curving mountain road, I would feel better. In fact, though, it got much worse. I eyed the plastic bag conveniently located for anyone who got sick, but tried to ignore it. The poor shocks on the van coupled with the sudden increasing/decreasing speed, and weaving in and out of traffic.

Three excruciating hours after leaving Pai, we arrived at Chiang Mai Bus Terminal. We avoided the red truck bus/taxis in favor of a real taxi, despite having to agree to a price (instead of using a meter). We got to the hotel after sitting in a moderate amount of traffic (it was around 5pm), and got checked in. The hotel was the most hotel-like place we’ve stayed so far. We decided to go to a nearby café that we’d seen from the taxi on the way to the hotel. It was only about a 5 minute walk away.

The café, called Fahtara Coffee, was adorable!! This whole trip, Jessica has teased me that she is waiting for me to have that INCREDIBLE meal, the kind that you savour every bite and just can’t get enough of. The massaman curry with beef that I had at Fahtara was exactly that! We ate outside in the back patio, which had the cutest water feature and big trees that provided shade. It was fantastic!! And I absolutely loved my curry.

Jessica wanted to have a chill night in, so after dinner I dropped her at the hotel and went for a walk. Like I said at the start, it can be incredibly eye-opening to get kind of lost in a new place. I walked down the road and stumbled upon some amazing sites! I didn’t have my camera with me, so after having a look around, I walked back and grabbed my camera from the hotel and made a beeline back.

The first place I found was called Three Kings Monument.

Then, there were some super cute boutiques along Prapokkloa Road, so I browsed around.

Finally, I came across Wat Chedi Luang Worawihan. The first building I saw was all gold and very grand! As you walk around the side, you start to get a sight of the main Wat, which was built in the 14th century. I absolutely love the photos I got! 

There was this crystal reclining Buddha statue, and since there were so few people there, I was able to slip off my shoes and get close for a photo. 

As I walked back to the hotel, I stopped into one last boutique. All of the dresses I’d seen thus far were way too small, particularly in the chest area. However, I saw one dress that had a tied halter neck, so I decided to try it on. The shop owner was super sweet and helped me tie the neck. I absolutely loved it! I’ve bought a few shirts on my trip (all quite cheap), and I loved the idea of getting just one good piece of clothing that I could wear back home. This was it!! I took it to the register, but realized I didn’t have enough cash on me. I told the shop owner I’d be right back, ran back to the hotel (again) and grabbed more. The dress was 1,180TBH, or around $35. I am so excited to wear it, maybe on date night with Danny when I get home!

Anyway, tonight was the first time I really felt like I was getting to know Thailand. I also realized that I really liked Chiang Mai; it had the perks of a big city without the craziness of Bangkok. I felt safe enough to walk around at night, and there was a lot within walking distance. If I come back to Thailand, I think I will come to Chiang Mai for a good portion of the time.

Next up: Elephant Day!!

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for taking the time to write! I can tell you are so busy, but reading about your time there is wonderful!


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