We arrived at a very civilised 9.20am in Chang Mai having caught the sleeper train from Ayuthaya the previous evening. I was particulalry excited as I had never been on a train like that before and couldn't resist waking up early so as to watch the sun rise as the train steamed ever notheward. Just as the sun had risen I was rewarded by the sight of about a dozen farm workers in their conical hats walkign in line, tending he ricefields with a slight mist above thir heads and the sunlight breaking through in a haze. Magical!
So it was quite a step travelling the better part of the length of the country. We plan to retrace our steps and go to Sukothai for the Loi Krathon festival from 3rd to 5th November and explore the "bits in between" then. We were also very excited about going to Chang Mai as we had a rad a lot about it and heard great things from Sam the Swiss guy we met in Ko Chang. He had given us the card of the guesthouse he sayed at so we had a rough idea as to what to expect but decided to chance it when we got to the station and take up the offer of a fre lift to a guesthouse nearby the town centre, thinking that at the very least it would save a taxi fare! Well, it was all very clean and sanitised and not at all the Bohemian atmosphere we were looking for so went off and found a dirt cheap room in a delightful part of town that felt like a village almost in atmosphere and contained any number of great little restaurants and bookshops and bars and cookery schools, etc. All within the main part of town and within walking distance of the more "farang" (thai:foreign) bars and western hotels and neon lights and busy traffic if we wnted it.
The first night we happened to stumble upon a newly opened restaurant which had lights twinkling in the star fruit tree and a lovely chap beckoning us in to try his food. His name was Top and we became very friendly with him and his neice Chip Chip over the next five days. They were real characters and fantastic fun to be around and loved Cheryl like the native Thai girl she has emerged to be over the past three to four weeks!
We explored the city and were taken by Top and Chip Chip to a very famous waterfall at Doi Suthep, just below the even more famous golden temple that can be seen at night in the city, twinkling mysteriously in the sky. The same day we had hired some bikes and increased the range of our exploring but all ended in tears when I was knocked off my bike by a bloody stupid woman who clipped me with her wing mirror. I only suffered a few cuts and buises and a bit of shock only to later slip on the rocks at the waterfall later on and slice my left leg to ribbons! If that weren't humiliating enough, I almost immediately decided to slip into the water and give myself a soaking as well!! Not a happy day...
The days flew by and we had such a marvellous time drifting along that it cam as some suprise that we had to actually leave to go to Pai which is a 3 hour bus ride through some alarming roads perched on the side of the mountains, which takes us to the next stage of the journey...