The curtain came down on our 2013 (and indeed 2014 began) in the lively mountain city of Chiang Mai in northern Thailand. Our time in the city coincided with the Winter Fair around the Tha Phae Gate area, where we were staying, which was great as it meant there was an abundance of northern Thai food being sold and we spent two nights there sampling all sorts of things with each one only costing around a $1 each. I was keen to try Thai sausage (oo-er!) which was way spicier than I expected.
During our time in Chiang Mai the sky was full of specially lit lanterns (above) every night, particularly New Years Eve, which many people were setting off whilst making a wish for the new year. This was actually something I had never seen and it was quite a spectacle to watch.
On New Years Day we did a walking tour of the town loosely based on yet another Lonely Planet walking tour; my third time on this trip to follow in the footsteps of the travel guidebook giants! First up was Wat Chedi Leung which proved to be an interesting start and not just for the appearance of the place. As much as the elephant sculptures (a mix of original and restored) were impressive the highlight was a young Thai girl who ran up to me saying “photo”. I just assumed she wanted me to take a picture of her and her friend but she wanted a picture with me! At the time I was wearing both my hat and glasses which I nearly always take off for photos but I decided to keep them both on as that was how she had spotted me and I didn’t want to risk her changing her mind once I’d removed them! Its not often I get called “cool” or “handsome” but this girl said so which made my day and my girlfriend was happy too as she was relieved to know she wasn’t the only one!
Wat Phan Tao was pretty much next door and quite an interesting little temple in appearance with all its outside features like the little red umbrellas seen below.
Continuing on down Ratchadamnoen Road via a lunch-stop we arrived at Wat Phra Singh which would be our final temple for the day. I think three Wat’s is enough for anyone in one day! This one was much busier and with the buddhist chanting being piped through speakers dotted around the place it wasn’t exactly a peaceful and tranquil place so we left.
One of the quirkiest things to do in the city is visit Chiang Mai Womens Prison to receive a massage from a prisoner. Strange but true. However, the place was full when we got there so we sadly never had the chance to rub shoulders, or indeed have our shoulders and the rest of our body rubbed by a criminal.
Anusawari Sam Kasat (Three Kings Monument) was pretty much next door and is a bit of a power spot for locals who could be seen leaving flower offerings at their bronze feet in the hope that they get blessed in some way by the three kings.
After a fair bit of walking we treated ourselves to yet another ‘Dr Fish’ fish-spa as part of a package which also included a very nice foot massage.
Before returning to Bangkok we checked off a few more Thai delicacies and walked around the night bazaar, just off Chang Klan Road, which was more of the same for me but I’m not a woman nor a shopping lover! In fact the majority of Thailand seems to just be one big open market!!
Next: Elephant Training In Chiang Mai. Click here.