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Bangkok to Bangkok to Chiang Mai to Pai

I stayed a good few days in Bangkok. I went to MBK and brought the exact same model of camera I had lost on the beach in Phi Phi, I attempted to visit the princes residence with JM and SH but thanks to yet another clueless tuktuk pilot we ended up at an exhibition for artwork created for the Queen. The grounds and building were strangely walt disney but the building was impressive, huge painted domed ceilings and gold everything. The fact I was wearing shorts meant wrapping up and no cameras were allowed. The art works ranged from some quite totally amazing 20 square foot wooden carvings telling complete stories to dresses. Literally dresses. Maybe the thrill of dresses was lost on me but the carvings were quite amazing. Looking at the information on each thing though identified that all the pieces were sub 5 years old which made it like a weird cross between a museum and art exhibition, its not my thing if I am honest but it was something to do.

We also walked around the complex a bit – there are tons of ornate buildings mostly entitled mansion x, mansion y – we got to another which featured a small moat and the other two went in but I decided to just sit outside on the bridge, there’s only so many glass cases you can look in.

JM and SH shot off to catch the night train north to Chiang Mai and I remained in BKK. That night me and LM went in search of the “moon bar” supposedly a more down to earth (but high up) equivalent of the skybar (Lonely planet oh yes) and while we failed miserably at finding it it did let us catch a bit more of Bangkok. That night featured a good indian meal on the second floor of a shop on Khao San with a random mango shake and samsung combo…classic. Locust eating, Cricket eating

The next few days saw visits to Starbucks, rooftop pools and then random walkabouts by myself through Bangkok. I originally had set out to find Tesco Lotus in the hope of acquiring a thai mobile but had literally headed out the wrong end of Khao san and so ended up aimlessly walking pretty much the entire outer edge of Bangkok central, through chinatown, business districts and at that point very close to tesco lotus, without realising it.

The whole time I had been walking through the red shirt protest which was at this point completly peaceful and placid. Roadblocks indeed did slow down taxi’s and tuktuks but in fact it didn’t impair tourists who walked at all. If anything the protesters were in high spirits. Based on this I never expected to see a few days after I left BKK the trouble that had gone down thereafter. Glad I missed it though!

Successfully reaching the tesco’s later on that day I managed to buy a Thai mobile – which makes so much sense by the way if your in Thailand longer than a week. It cost about 670 Baht (£13) and you can top it up at any 7 eleven. JP later joined me in BKK followed in short by several cocktails and beers and then finally JM and SH. As it was our last evening in BKK a torrent of activity ensued. Mulligans Irish bar on Khao San had a good pool table and JP enjoyed the strawberry dackerys (haha) although the Caipirinha’s were a bit sugary.

From Khao San the four of us ended up at a show of pingpong nature which was extreme. An hour later we returned to Khao San, had a gross cheap cocktail and entered what seemed to be the only club club on the road – entitled “the club”. Think uk club but a weird shape, half the people and all the people that were there were the usual khao san mix. Leaving “the club” at 3.50 there was 30 minutes of foot massage and Khao San observation.

The following day I flew out to Chiang Mai from BKK. An easy quick flight (55 minutes rather than 13 hours on night train) that cost £29 or similar. In Chiang Mai I stayed in a nice small family run guesthouse called ThaPae Garden – suggested to me by JM and SH. Outside of the walled town itself it stood about 1 minutes walk between the East gate and the night bazaar. If you ever stay in Chiang Mai I would recommend it. The first day I pretty much spent all the time in temples taking pictures and thinking etc.

While in Chiang Mai I did a days trek which included time riding/feeding an elephant, trekking (well walking really – 35 mins) to a nice waterfall, white water rafting and bamboo rafting (I am a bad bamboo rafting captain..haha.) It also stopped at a butterfly farm but to be honest there was far more butterflies by the waterfall. The next day I did a 35km mountain bike ride. I had chosen “3c” based on the advice of the landlady at Thapae garden, on arrival I was told it was the “excersize and downhill one”. eek. It was probably the most full on bike ride I have ever done – although afterwards it felt like an achievement it was ridiculously fast, rough and full on. Think 40mph off road ducking under lychee trees interspersed with sheer rough downhills, forest cross country, streams, dust tracks and 30% uphills. Granted the rice fields, villages and fruit tree’s were picturesque but in reality at 40 mph you don’t take much of that in. Fell off a few times, bruised some ribs, my neck and scraped a load of my arm up, still pretty amazing. Eating lunch at 2.30 in a bamboo raised room in front of a swimming lake in the middle of the mountains though was a great conclusion to the days riding.

The night bazaar in Chiang Mai is quite good – although selling a lot of the same stuff if you have been round the south and stayed in Bangkok for a few days. The food court is a good way to eat dinner with some random coupon operation and about 50 types of food – although I heard from a fellow biker that if you choose the wrong type the food can be not so nice. They have a Pantip Plaza in Chiang Mai too which is where I brought this laptop – should have brought one the whole time probably.

The next day I got up and booked the minivan to Pai – it cost me 200 baht (50baht of that is a commission for the landlady that booked it.) About 3 and half hours after getting in it it got into Pai – the journey is up through the mountains and takes curving roads to a whole new level. I think there was about 4 straits in the whole journey. We stopped halfway at the “halfway house” which I guarantee is more like the 2/3rds house in reality – but either way a nice cocao-banana shake was only 20 baht.

Pai is a sleepy town, the smallest I have visited while in TL but it has its own charms. Lots of specific little restaurants harbour a huge number of tourists. I have so far had a great Mexican meal and also a good humous/chicken meal. In Pai I have been staying in one of the more expensive central hotels, as I am now resigned to admitting I am more of a flashpacker than a backpacker. LiLU is good value because its technically off season and has alright wifi and decent rooms. The lady at the bus company advised me “Lilu…thats really expensive…but I hear they have good bathrooms..” – that didn’t sell it to me but the hotel fits.

Incidentally it is now Thai new year in Thailand which means Pai’s streets (and probably most places) are speckled with groups of kids and people with barrells of water and buckets, ready to soak every person in sight, regardless. I had managed to avoid the water festival like a grumpy old man but in the end its tough not to join in. Everywhere you go there are these outposts of people ready to throw water on you and people sitting on the back of mopeds with super soaker’s. You have to admire the fun element to this national holiday. We need more things like this in the UK.

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