Tuesday, November 6, 2018
I started Tuesday morning in Bangkok, from where I had a 9am flight to Chiang Mai. The flight itself was only about an hour, and inexpensive ($50) on Air Asia. The lines at the Bangkok DMK airport were fairly short (so hard to predict), and I made it to Chiang Mai’s relatively small airport soon enough. The taxi ride to my hotel, Mhonsa, near the center took about 10 minutes and cost $4. I checked in, and as it was nearly 11am, I started the 4-5 hour walking tour of the historical center within the moats, as suggested by the guidebook.
Tour of the Center
My first stop was the famous Wat Phra Singh temple, one of the historical highlights. The architecture is really fascinating, lots of these grand towers.
On the way to the next site, I had a really tasty green curry. Pictured next to it is the Panang curry that I had for dinner. This is one thing that I love about Thailand, it’s really easy to find great food everywhere.
From there, I wandered around to some more of the historical temples, with their interesting architecture, including Wat Phan Tao and Wat Chedi Luang:
It was starting to get hotter, though still less so than Bangkok, since Chiang Mai is in a relatively mountainous region. Fortunately, nearby was a set of three museums, which have exhibits about the history and people of the region.
After the museums, I saw some other historical sites, including Wat Chiang Man:
After those, I had reached the moat on the other side of the city. From there, since it was after 3pm, I took a tuk-tuk around the moats surrounding the city back to my hotel for some rest.
In the evening, I took a walk to get some dinner and to see the city at night. The Night Bazaar was very large and definitely recommended to see. The city is very pretty after dark, and lots of people are about.
Wednesday, November 7, 2018
I’ve enjoyed my breakfasts on this trip. One of the photos is of my hot breakfast from this morning, the other from the following (one is chicken with noodles, the other fresh fish):
One thing that people do in Chiang Mai is to go to an elephant reserve. Since this trip had been planned less than 2 weeks in advance, the availability for the less sketchy elephant places (the ones where they don’t treat them like circus animals) seemed to be lower. That said, I still wanted to see some elephants, so I decided to go to the Chiang Mai Zoo.
I didn’t spend super long at the zoo, but I’m glad that I went. They had an aquarium on site as well. It’s somewhat spread out, so you should selectively take the tram. My overall favorite were the hippos, which you could buy potatoes and grass to feed them.
Nimmanhaemin Area, Warorot Market
At that point, it was a little before noon, so, I took a taxi to the Nimmanhaemin District, still on the west side of the city. I found a nice food court where I had a lovely Papaya Salad for lunch. The salad was somewhat spicier than I expected.
My plan for the evening was to take a cooking class that I’d signed up for. But since it was 1:30 or so after wandering around Nimmanhaemin, I decided to take a taxi to see the Warorot market area. It was interesting, but in retrospect, I probably should have focused on one of the two areas.
Evening Cooking Class
I got back to my hotel to rest for a few minutes, before the Thai cooking class picked me up at 4pm. There seemed to be several different cooking schools to sign up for online. The class was really neat, and something that I’d recommend – and I’m not really good at cooking.
This particular class was held just outside of town, on a slightly bigger property with some herbs and vegetables growing. It started with a pre-visit to the local market, where they showed us various vegetables, some of which seemed to be very uniquely Thai. Each participant then picked off a menu a few dishes to prepare – namely a curry, a soup, and another main dish. Then they got us ingredients and showed us the technique for preparing the ones we’d chosen. Making curry paste is quite intense! In any case, this was an interesting experience. At the end, they gave us a book with the recipes.
Thursday, November 8, 2018
For Thursday, I had decided to do a mountain biking excursion through Doi Suthep National Park. This was something that I booked directly with Mountain Biking Chiang Mai, the morning before. I signed up for the beginner route, which was appropriate, since this was my first time doing real mountain biking.
This was quite a bit of fun as well – definitely recommended. It was a bumpy ride up the mountain, but after that, really nice. Our group had about 8 participants with 3 guides. They gave us some instruction at the top, and then we seemed to ride down large hills of dirt and rocks with the brakes held half-engaged much of the time.
We stopped at a coffee plantation partway down the hill as a rest stop, and then made our way through the 25 km route. The route required lots of concentration to keep the bike positioned, but it wasn’t overly physically strenuous, since it was 90% downhill.
Towards the bottom of the mountain, it got warmer. But we could also see where we had been (see the top of the mountain on the left below).
After the ride, they gave us lunch by a lake, while they packed the bikes away, and then we drove back and got to the hotels around 5pm.
In the evening, it felt like the trip was almost over too soon! But, that said, I’d had a great first taste of Thailand. For dinner, I sampled various street food, which was great! Some of the sticks of meat for 30-60 cents were super delicious. This is one thing that impressed me about Thailand – there’s lots of great food everywhere, at every price point.
Friday, November 9, 2018
My flight home left at 11am. So I had just enough time to get breakfast and pack up before going to the airport. The Chiang Mai airport isn’t too big, but it took longer than one might expect to get through the lines. From there, I flew to Hong Kong, and then back to California. The plane wasn’t too full – in fact, on the long flight, I had a group of 3 seats to myself.
I think this short trip to Thailand was a great intro to this beautiful country, and I’d like to go again someday with Jennifer and the boys. Many people naturally go to the beaches like Phuket or Ko Samui, but I needed to be back home, and I think the beaches would be great to visit with the rest of the family.