A Travellerspoint blog

Markets and cats and chicken skewers

Two days in Chiang Mai

So we have been in Chiang Mai two days now, and are loving the more chilled out atmosphere compared to Bangkok. The locals are friendly, there are cats everywhere and almost every person must have a moped! Just now I ate street food from a woman who had her kitchen setup on a motorbike and drove around selling chicken skewers amongst other random meats! it was delicious and i paid 25b for a big portion, around 52p.

There are loads of market stalls in Chiang Mai and you can buy pretty much anything, and the knock off clothes look cool and are so cheap its worth not bringing anything with you and buying it all here. We walked around the old city which is built in a square with a moat around it it was built to protect the city from Burma by King Mengrai. It was build to succeed Chiang Rai as the capital of the Lanna Kingdom, and means new City. All the history can be found online and has probably been written about countless times before so ill spare you!

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Last night we went on a bar crawl around Chiang Mai with two British guys we happened across whilst out looking for a bar. It was a great and crazy night and as one of the guys was celebrating his 24th birthday we went to a couple of great bars including a Jazz bar; North Gate Jazz Co-op opposite Chang Puak Gate and a reggae club called Roots Rock Reggae bar which were both great banter and served cheap beer and cocktails. There were loads of backpackers there which made for fun conversations about travel. We then headed out and ended up in two nightclubs before heading back to the hostel by tuk tuk.

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Today we walked around the city and took in the sights, checked out a couple of temples, most of which were closed as it was so late and i took some pictures of Chiang Mai's graffiti (graffiti being one of my favourite things to photograph, you can check out my photos here http://www.flickr.com/photos/eimearmck/) tomorrow we are planning to go to the Tiger Temple to see some tigers and who knows what else!

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Posted by eimearmck 13:21 Archived in Thailand Tagged parties night travel thailand mai asia chaing Comments (0)

Chillin in his Tuk Tuk

Local driver sleeping in his Tuk Tuk

30 °C

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Posted by eimearmck 12:03 Archived in Thailand Tagged people bus thailand adventure bangkok mai asia chaing Comments (0)

The journey to Chaing Mai

Bangkok to Chiang Mai on the government run bus!

sunny 30 °C

Last night in Bangkok, chilled in the Green Room which is definitely a great base in that area when you are finding your feet as the free wifi and great food, atmosphere and location it is hard to beat and ill be back on my next visit to Bangkok in November when two of my best friends will be flying in to start their SE Asia adventure!

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The day before we happened across a cool place called The gecko bar (on cnr Soi Chana Songkhram & Soi Rambutri) nice place you can sit outside and chill with restaurant set up meets street food prices, had a nice chicken Pad Thai and a Chang beer here.

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How not to start your day...

Wednesday morning i woke up after a hectic night on the Khao San (where else lol) and the combination of cocktail buckets, fried bugs and late night meant that around 15 minutes after id had breakfast (and with only an hour before we were due to check out) i was hit with the most awful nausea and so followed a horrendous hangover/food poisoning combination that with 5 minutes to go before check out found me in pieces in the communal bathroom weighing the necessity of drinking a mouthful of water against the absolute certainty that it would follow the rest of my prayers to the porcelain gods.

I eventually managed to pull it together enough to successfully check out and we began our journey to Chiang Mai in Northern Thailand. It rained down heavily, mirroring my general state of mind as we walked south along Samsen and onto Thanon Ratchadamnoen Klang and got as far as the intersection to Thanon Tanao before realising that food was needed and only western food would stay down so we headed to Burger King on Thanon Tano at the top of Khao San and had an expensive but satisfying lunch/breakfast, almost 1000b for a supersize meal but worth it if only for the fact i didn't feel like hell any more. We continued down along Thanon Ratchadamnoen Klang to the bus stop outside the 7-eleven that we were familiar with from the previous days trip to MBK shopping centre and sat down to wait for our bus (no. 3, 15 and all pass the national stadium where we were getting off to take the BTS Skytrain at Siam station to the last stop Mo Chit the location of the Northern territory bus service that would take us to Chiang Mai) as the traffic crawled along in front of us.

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After a few minutes and seeing as we weren't going anywhere fast we took a peek into a Stray New Zealand Laos (http://www.straytravel.asia/) office just after the 7-eleven to look at travel books only to get some fantastic advice from one of the staff on how instead of waiting around 2 hours to get to Siam station by bus due to the rush hour traffic jam we could walk East up Thanon Ratchadamnoen Klang once again towards the golden temple and take the canal boat to Siam. The traffic was a crazy soup of mopeds, cars buses and tuktuks as we waked to the Chao Phraya Express Boat at Khlong Saen Saeb (just after the roundabout on the right hand side of the road) and upon asking which pier we should get off at, were advised to follow a group of Asian tourists already aboard the boat, this turned out to be great advice as we pretty much saw those guys the whole way to Mo Chit!

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The canal boat speed along the narrow river bouncing all over the place on the choppy water and at one point ill admit i had an imaginary flash-forward to a news piece describing how a canal boat sank due to dangerous driving killing all aboard including Gareth and Eimear who were mental enough to get on the damn thing instead of take the nice safe bus into the city, but in saying that, the experience was one i would recommend for the craic! One piece of advice when getting off these things, don't do like i did and completely misjudge the height of the boat roof versus the height of my 65L backpack strapped to my back and look like a complete jackass trying and failing a couple of times to manovere my way out of the boat with Gareth laughing away at my effort.

Once off the boat we headed up the stairs and onto the main road taking a left at the top of the stairs and walking down to the Skytrain overbridge. The stairs felt like Everest with the weight of our bags as we climbed up to the platform and bought our tickets using the machine on the wall (you can get change from the lady at information opposite) and after watching some builders at work on a new high rise of some sort preform some interesting hopped onto our train to Mo Chit.

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At Mo Chit we headed out exit 3 and cut across Chatuchak park, through an outdoor gym and took a left to walk around Queen Sirikit park, the bus centre in around a five minute walk but you could easily get a tuk tuk or taxi!

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The bus terminal is pretty huge and services the northern regions of Thailand. We bought our tickets at booth 120 outside and chose first class with air conditioning which cost us 493 baht, we got to choose our seats on the little electronic display and picked two near the front of the bus top floor. The bus service we chose is run by the government (www.transport.co.th) and so is regulated and pretty safe to travel on with valuables, there are a lot of traveller stories about getting dodgy buses to areas of Thailand including one i was told recently where everyone on the bus fell asleep only to be woken at the end of their trip having ahd their valuable belongings stolen from their bags, it turned out that gas was being pumped through the air-conditioning system by the driver colluding with one of the local gangs..true or not its best to keep theses things in mind and choose your transport wisely!The bus terminal has shops food court with a KFC, a 7-eleven and some souvenir shops and we chilled for an hour and a half until our bus at 6.30pm, had some food and bought some snacks for the journey .

Our backpacks were checked into the undercarriage by one of the bus helpers and we were shown to our seats which turned out to be near the back of the bus not the front but as luck would have it we were beside the emergency exit door so lots of leg room! The bus was pretty empty so we stretched out and waited for departure, we were given a small snack box kit with a bread roll coffee sachet sugar and a sealed cup of water, also a nice comfy blanket, all bonuses as we had no idea what to expect from this bus service, my netbook is giving me so many problems that surfing the web for travel info was not an option before this trip to Chiang Mai!

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The journey took around 10 hours and there were a couple of stops at 7-eleven filling stations along the way, we were given a complimentary meal at the first stop in exchange for presenting our tickets, the food was pretty random and we ended up opting for the near by 7-eleven shop instead!

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The rest of the journey was mostly in darkness and the sky was filled with ultra bright stars as we climbed higher into the Thai countryside. The days sweaty journey to get here became pretty evident when we could smell ourselves and the prospect of a nice shower in the hostel we had booked the previous night via Hostelworld.com was all the more inviting. We arrived in darkness in Chiang mai around 4.30am and jumped in one of the red minibuses that service the bus depot. It was like a cross between a tuk tuk and a ford 4x4 you see on the discovery channel romping its way through the desert, and made our way to the All in 1 hostel on Moonmuang Road (http://www.hostelworld.com/hosteldetails.php/All-In-1-Guesthouse/Chiang-Mai/18936) where we were checked in and went for a well deserved sleep before the day began.

Its worth mentioning that overnight trains to Chiang Mai are a really popular option for travellers and locals alike ( http://www.1stopchiangmai.com/getting_here/train/ )however they are more expensive than the government run buses, take longer and there is always the risk that your stuff can be stolen if you don't keep it close at hand in your shared compartment (unless you've paid a small fortune for first class!). I do hear that the views in the morning from the train are pretty nice and the experience is something that draws travellers to this option so check it out and take your pick!

Posted by eimearmck 02:50 Archived in Thailand Tagged people travel bus thailand adventure bangkok mai asia skytrain chaing Comments (0)

Tuk Tuk Tastic!

sunny 30 °C

So today began with a really late start as we were out pretty late again on the Khao San Road partying and meeting a lot of very cool people from all over the world. We headed into Bangkok city today to the MBK shopping centre so i could find a replacement for my lost camera, the directions are as follows (and make sure you stop for some cheap street food on the way, MBK is a lot more expensive for everything):

Walk east to the end of Khaosan Road and turn right onto Thanon Tanao. Walk down until you get to a set if traffic lights and turn left onto Thanon Ratchadamnoen Klang. Walk down the street until you see the 7-Eleven. The bus stop should be outside.

Flag down the red number 15 bus by holding your arm out with you palm facing down. The bus was stuck in traffic so we walked down to it to board but others waited until it got to the stop.

Take your seat on the bus and a person with a long metal tube will come and take the fare off you. The fare is a flat 7 baht and they do give change.

With traffic the trip took around 20 minutes. Just before you get to the MBK shopping centre you will pass a large Tesco/Lotus supermarket on your left and the National Stadium on your right. The stop is under the Skytrain station. Push one of the red buttons on the bus to get let off.

Use the overbridge walkway to cross the road and get into the shopping centre on the third floor. Then shop shop shop!

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MBK is a huge mall, (http://www.mbk-center.co.th/th/) where more you can buy pretty much anything, prices are higher here than you will pay anywhere else outside of the city and electronics are priced pretty much the same as at home.

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I eventually decided on a nice Lumix digital camera for 3450 baht (around £80 )and we headed back out to the taxi rank to grab a Tuk Tuk back to our hostel on the San Sem Road, the journey back was fast packed and you have to hold on to your stuff (and yourself) for dear life as the tuk tuk drivers don't follow normal road rules, crazy fun though and i would definitely recommend it as a very fun (if a bit expensive 170 baht) alternative to waiting for buses (we waited almost 40 minutes for ours)- the cheapest option at 7baht, or the slightly more expensive taxis Bangkok city to san sem was 60 baht on our first night.P1000064.jpg

We chilled in the hostel for a bit before heading out to grab some street food Pad thai on Rumbuttri Road followed by snacks at the 7 eleven around the corner. I got some seaweed crisps, they were great!:D

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Posted by eimearmck 14:32 Archived in Thailand Tagged me beaches people parties thailand adventure asia Comments (0)

The adventure begins!

rain 33 °C

We arrived in Bangkok lastnight after 14 hours travelling and a pitstop in Dubai, which if their airport is anything to go by is one hell of a country in terms of wealth and beauty, its on my list of places to visit properly!

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Bangkok airport is huge, as was the queue at the passport security area, great for people watching though and the mix of western and Asian cultures and people was a patchwork of modern vs traditional clothing options, the western influence most definitely taking the lead!

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Having got some advice from a girl at the tourist booth on how to get to the Khao San Road, party central and located near to our hostel on the Sam Sen road we got the Air train (http://bangkok.sawadee.com/airport/airport_link.htm) to Makkasan Station and so began an hour of getting lost and hunting for bus stops for the number 511 (which we found had stopped at 9.30pm....half an hour before!) getting conflicting directions from random people before eventually getting back on the train to the last stop and got a taxi to Soi Rambuttri and eventually found our hostel with the help of an english speaking passer by who we both could have hugged at that stage!

After a bite to eat at the Green room cafe on San Rambuttri (http://greenhousebangkok.khaosanroad.com/) we hit the music and alcohol infused street of Khao San and partied the night away! i lost my digital camera with all of my trip photos so far, but ill get another, the camera was so old it needed updating anyway! the photos were the one thing i was annoyed about luckily Gareth took some that i can use here !! Home at around 6am and woke at 4pm this afternoon..i blame jetlag:P!

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Sitting in the Green room cafe on the free wifi right now drinking some apple juice after an amazing meal of Pad Thai 89 Baht (around £2) which isn't bad for restaurant prices but street food is a lot cheaper, and its just started to pour down!!

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Till next time!

Posted by eimearmck 18:27 Archived in Thailand Tagged people parties night planes adventure asia Comments (0)

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