We were panicking a bit at Mor Chit bus station at a tour operator waiting for the night bus to Chiang Mai - we didn't know what to expect. Luckily a few other people came to wait for the bus including a German couple who had the same fears as us and helped Erin out with some stomach settlers. I remember Dan from the hostel in Bangkok who was from the Isle of Wight saying expect the worst and you can only be surprised. Luckily Dan was correct the overnight buys was actually ok, we got a blanket and a cute pack of goodies (Orange, Thai Oreo biscuits and a class of Cola) + even a lunch voucher which we could use at the service station - we both had a nice Red Thai curry playing it more safe just because of the journey.
Richard Hawley's new album also eased the journey as we dipped in and out of sleep - memories and faces of Bangkok buzzing around our heads. We arrived in the northern Thai city of Chiang Mai at 6am with a Tuk Tuk ride to the hotel we were too early to check in. Luckily we met the security guard who was very nice we even practiced our Thai speech with him, he laughed at some of our pronunciations but we pulled off Thank You and Hello (Sa-wat-dee kraup if greeting a man) and (Sa-wat-dee Kah when saying hello to a lady).
We wondered around the Old Town walls for a bit, sat in the hospital because it was cooler for some part and eventually went back to check in. The first 2 days in Chiang Mai were probably 2 of the best days we have ever had anywhere. Chiang Mai is more laid back much nicer food and people. Though for these 2 days it was still the Songkran festival (Thai New Year) it is celebrated more in Chiang Mai. There were bands playing (Tattoo Colour is a Thai fave band) and there was much more water. We ended up hiding behind an advertising hording for a bit until we decided to join in - luckily we met a Thai couple who gave us a bucket each and we spent the next 3 hours throwing buckets of water over people.
The Sunday night market was awesome it went on for miles, situated in the Old Town in Chiang Mai we managed to look around all the great older temples + the market. We also had a lovely evening with Bindee and her family who were from Australia - Bindee's brother Dan lived in Chiang Mai with his partner and we were well treated at their guesthouse with lovely food and beer + we also met Mike an American who had lived in Chiang Mai for a number of years. Mike had recommended us to go up to visit Soi Duthep - a Buddhist temple in the hills of Chiang Mai - we took one of the weird red taxi's up to the summit, feeling a little altitude sickness and travel sickness we sat down for a while before climbing the steps to the top.
Soi Duthep turned out to be one of the best experiences ever. It was wonderful to see all the Buddhist statues and see the working monks - we sat in on a monk giving a speech and he also blessed us with water - Chris even got to speak to him and gave Chris a white bracelet and wished him prosperity and health for the year (fingers crossed). There was also a great view of the city from up there.
It was interesting to see how Chiang Mai had started to change - people were becoming more influenced by western society which was a little sad e.g. obsessed with technology and people went to the big mall quite a lot to have Starbucks and KFC. Still though within the mall there was traditional food we kept eating Pork Blood Soup by accident. However the Mango and sticky rice became a favourite as did ginger chicken and rice. Kao Soi is the traditional Chiang Mai dish and was simply amazing. The fruit again was out of this world - Chris still had his obsession with Mango but also now Pineapple and other delights again some came with the chili sugar to dip in.
We were due to go see the Elephants and Tigers but after meeting some Americans who lived in Chiang Mai we decided against it. There was a great Elephant hospital where you could go help out but it stretched our budget a little so instead we sent Erin on a Thai cookery course whilst I took advantage of the other hotels gym and swimming pool.
I am currently writing this as I await the return of Erin with food that she cooked. At the weekend we go on 2 over night bus journey's - one to Bangkok again and then down to the Island of Koh Samui via bus and ferry. I am looking forward to visiting the island even though I have heard it is touristy, it will be nice to finish reading Life of Pi and relaxing on the beach before making our way down into Malaysia.