Hi everyone! We just got to Laos today and have a jungle trek/zip-lining/tree house adventure planned starting tomorrow and will be MIA for the next couple of days, meaning no WI-FI what-so-ever. So I wanted to go ahead and tell you about the rest of our time in Thailand before we get disconnected from the world for a little bit ;). I will lay this post out in the same way I did my previous Thailand post and tell you a little about each city we visited.
We have been riding buses to get from city to city. It is super cheap, but does take a lot longer and some buses are more comfortable than others. The buses do take restroom and food breaks, but we try to be prepared and also bring water and snacks since you never know when they are going to stop and what the rest area is going to look like (some are nicer while others can be pretty disgusting). The bus from Sukhothai to Chiang Mai was an older bus so the seats were narrower and the A/C was not the best. It was also supposed to be a 4 hour ride, but ended up taking more than 5 hours. Needless to say, by the time we got to Chiang Mai, we were ready to get off that bus!
The Hoch and I both agree that Chiang Mai is our favorite city in Thailand so far. It is a larger city, but has a small city feel. We stayed in the old city which is surrounded by a wall and consists of several small streets with restaurants, cafes, and bars that you could just walk and get lost in. There are several wats (temples), but Hoch and I did not see visit any of them. Instead we took it easy and signed up to do a couple of items on our bucket list.
One day we were able to visit an elephant sanctuary and feed and bathe 5 female Asian Elephants! We also did an hour hike nearby that ended at a small waterfall and went whitewater rafting for a little bit. It was all included in a packaged deal. Luckily for us, it was the full moon party weekend and a lot of people had traveled down south for it. So there were only 4 of us total for the day! Me, Hoch, and a South African couple. It was nice because we really got to feed and bathe the elephants a lot more than if the usual 20 people were there.
I do not have any pictures of the white water rafting, but it was only a 30 minute thing max. It had rained the night before and the water was a bit high so we were not able to raft the entire course either. The guide had us get out of the water half-way through, they loaded the raft in the back of a pick-up truck and then they asked us to get into the raft in the back of the pick-up. We were all like excuse me? Then we got in the raft and the truck drove us downstream past the dangerous rapids until we could safely get back in the water. Definitely not the safest thing, but when in Thailand I suppose. I was cracking up the entire time. I wish I had a picture of this part of the “white water rafting”!
In my last Thailand post, I did not mention a lot about the food, but Thai food is pretty delicious. I think the food tastes better in the north, but maybe that is my preference for Chiang Mai talking. We tried all the classic dishes including Pad Thai, Som Tum (spicy papaya salad), Khao Soi (curry soup), pineapple fried rice, regular fried rice, mango sticky rice, fruit smoothies and so many other excellent dishes. We also took a Thai cooking class and attempted to make some of these dishes! I learned a lot about the spices and preparation that goes into the different dishes and am looking forward to attempting to cook them when we get home!
We left Chiang Mai and headed to Pai (pronounced Pie) via 15 person mini-van. There are only a few ways to get to Pai, which is located in a valley. You can fly or take the very curvy route (762 curves) through the mountains from Chiang Mai. The drive is very scenic and took less than 3 hours. It should take more like 3 hours, but our driver was a speed demon and scared me a bit the way he flew around some of those curves. If you get motion or car sickness easily, then you may not like the drive, but it wasn’t too bad for me and we sat in the back row of the mini-van.
Pai is a small, mountain, hipster town. Several people rent motor bikes to get around, but we stuck with walking since we weren’t too far out of town. We pretty much wandered around town, drank Thai iced coffee or tea (I had the best bubble tea as well!) walked through their night market, and tried a Muay Thai class while in town.
Pai is a well-known destination for Muay Thai training. Several people come and stay for weeks or even months to train here. We thought about training for a full day (2 sessions), but after our morning session we opted to stick with one session only haha. The class killed us! In a good way of course, but I am still sore as I type this post 2 days later. I really enjoyed the one on one time in which you are actually punching and kicking one of the teachers (he has pads of course) and he talks you through form and gives you a damn good workout too.
Of course there are more things to do in Pai and outside of town in the mountains, but after trying the Muay Thai class, we decided to relax and recover instead.
After a mini-van ride back to Chiang Mai, and then a 3 hour bus ride we finally made it to Chiang Rai which is on the eastern side of the country close to the Laos border. It is a smaller city, but still is famous for a couple of wats. It is not as nice as Chiang Mai, but definitely has potential. We only stopped here since it was on our way to Laos. We figured we would make a night out of it, see a new city and then make our way to Laos.
We wondered around the city that evening and saw an underwhelming clocktower light show and their night market. I really liked their night market, it was not as packed as the one in Chiang Mai, but a little more lively than the one in Pai. They also had a “food court” area in which a stage was set up with a music show. There were a couple of different dishes to choose from, but the popular option was hot pot. Some of you may remember how I talked about my first time trying hot pot (also known as shabu shabu, a Japanese dish in which you cook your own stew in a metal pot at your table) after a Mets game in Queens in this post! It was freezing outside and the hot pot hit the spot! Well since it was the popular option here, we figured we had to try it. Even though it was the opposite of freezing outside! It was delicious, but I was definitely sweating while eating it. It seems they also have a fight heat with heat mentality (similar to Koreans). If it’s hot out, you eat hot (temp wise or spicy wise) to build a tolerance to the heat. Well it’s not working for me yet, but I will keep trying for now!
So as I mentioned earlier, we are now in Laos. We are planning to come back to Thailand to visit some of the beaches in the south of the country, but are saving it for after we do a loop of southeast Asia. We will need to come back to fly out of Bangkok anyways (most cost effective) and figured a beautiful beach and Thai massage will be just what we need before we head off to the next region of the world ;).
Here is a map of Thailand with pins of all the places we’ve visited so far:
Also, if you want to see more pictures than what I’ve posted in the blog, then check out this album:
Until next time!
-Spot the elephant poopoo in one of the pictures.
-The minivan drivers to Pai were a bit risky at times but sometimes you just have to believe they had done this dozens if not hundreds of times before. In any case, the Thai buddhist concept of reincarnation was something I thought about during these rides.
-Muay Thai kicked the shit out of me. I am in so much pain. I’d love to try and find a gym back in the States.
-Food has been excellent for the most part, and I usually try to indulge and be adventurous on trips. However, bad fried chicken, which was delicious, kind of has doused my passion for questionable street foods. Let’s just say I started with 10 poo pills and now have 8.