Monday, 16 June 2014

hello chiang mai

It seems like a long time ago that I made my way solo to meet friends in Chiang Mai. It was Golden Week, a short period of national holidays grouped together at the turn of April and May, and we took the opportunity take a break from Japan. I took a taxi, train, shinkansen, subway, two planes and another taxi and finally met Annica, Sinead and Jeremy in our hostel near the centre of town.  

After collapsing into bed, our first full day in Thailand was dawned hot and fragrant. We explored Jeremy's ridiculously cheap penthouse terrance (complete with its own mini shrine ^^) and set out to find breakfast. 

We soon found the best way to get around was in these pick-up truck style taxis, following extensive haggling (we left this to Annica who was a natural!)

We decided to head up into the hills for some sightseeing and a good view of the city.

Our first Thai temple was Wat Phra That Doi Suthep, which must be reached by climbing the 309 steps to englightenment.  

And some serious gong bashing.

I love Japanese shrines, but the contrast was a breath of fresh air - as with so many things on the trip. The sounds of wind chimes and tropical birds and the scent of incense and orange blossoms drifted around the temples. 

Annica with the first of many coconuts. 

At the advice of our sweet taxi driver, we decided to amble around the wonderfully named Phu Ping Palace grounds, also on the hillside. 

Despite the expensive modesty restrictions, it's a beautiful garden to take a gander around - especially if you look as magnificent in matching jackets as we do. 

We spent the rest of the afternoon in a leisurely meal of cocktails, pad thai and coconut chicken soup, then headed to a spa round the corner for some rather painful massages. 

I loved these lanterns in the trees outside

Our evening wanderings took us to twilit temple and a night market near the centre of town. These blog posts are going to be awfully vague - it was the first trip in a while where I wasn't the main activity organiser and it was bliss! It was so relaxing to let the other girls take the lead and to go with the flow without a guidebook or smart phone. It made me realise how much energy I use in Japan trying to blend in and be self sufficient, and it was actually a lovely break to act like the clueless tourist I am! 

It only took me a few hours to fall in love with Chiang Mai and its relaxed people, delicious food, and crumbling or glitzy temples round every corner. 

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