Lorna and Kev's slightly extended holiday
We stayed in Chiang Mai 7 days. You will be happy to hear i won't bore you with each day as to be honest we did very little other than eat and wander. Kev decided to vary it a little and have the deadly man flu this time which meant he had to stay in bed for 3 days. Laura's very lovely parents had come to visit her and bought them 3 nights in a gorgeous hotel... with a bath! i'm not at all jealous, honestly i sulked for no more than an hour, maybe it was 2, anyway, between these i got plenty of time to wander round the old town and even got Kev out of the room long enough to walk over the river and back. Highlights... my favourite shop was called Herb Basics, selling all manger of yummy smelling soaps, incense, and beauty products. Favourite cafe/restaurant has to be Dada's on soi 3, organic foods and the best smoothies in the world officially (closely followed by the cafe next door to our guesthouse, sorry we forgot the name, but if was owned by a French man and his very funny Thai wife and more importantly their gorgeous doggie who slept in the guesthouse lobby in one of the armchairs and came up to our room in the morning to wake kev up! anyway very yummy jacket potatoes and big mugs of tea). Just to mention Chiang Mai has the most ridiculous amount of restaurants, we only went to a few including a quiet Italian with gorgeous wine and a Mexican place with the best handmade nachos which were free! You could easily spend weeks trying them all, but this is Thailand so we have to mention the amazing street food. It was impossible to pick our favourite but at the top of our road outside the 7-11 was the one we went to most, their paprika covered pork in soup was heaven, never managed to just have one bowl. Favourite bar... well kev's anyway, was Immortal bar (named after his favourite band no less). Already slightly inebriated after too much Sang Som rum he made friends with the owner, many free shots later i was carrying him out while he confessed his love for... pretty much everything including the pork noodles at the end of our soi (another 2 bowls). Favourite part of Chiang Mai, following with the general consensus the old town is the most interesting place to stay. Although still busy the traffic is much less manic especially in the evening, which is actually the best time for a bit of temple viewing. Most of the tourist spots are all within walking distance and can be done in a day or so. Just for reference, East of the old town has all the big hotels and the night markets full of touristy things to spend your money on, not to mention within 100 yards is a Starbucks, McDonalds, Burgerking, PizzaHut and a Haagen daz cafe, a little ott but it suits some people. This is also the place to come if you are looking for a bit of company, definitely more discrete than Bangkok but the pretty girls touching up their makeup in a handful of the bars are unlikely to be there on a night out. However the best reason to come to this part of town is for the English pubs... why? for the holy grail... Sunday dinner, pork, lamb, chicken, homemade yorkshires, roast and mash potatoes... i'm drooling already. This is the one main sacrifice you make when travelling. No amount of yummy asian food can replace this English staple. In the nearly 3 months of travelling we have asked people 'what's the first thing you are going to do when you get home?' the number one answer so far is have a Sunday dinner. Sorry i seem to have gone off topic a little. You may or may not have noticed this entry has quite a lot about food, mostly this is due to how happy we are to have an option other than the 'western' section hidden at the back of the menu, twice the price with a possible dirty look if you order it, not that we often do. Thai's are very proud of their food and hate to do anything different, even a general Thai greeting ask's if you have eaten yet?! No wonder i love Thailand so much. Chiang Mai more than lives up to its reputation as a cosmopolitan city. Unlike Bangkok with its high rises and craziness Chiang Mai remains relaxed and unhurried, concentrating on being a place of learning and keeping it's historic temples and monuments along side the European and American influences in a happy balance. Speak to any tourist or Thai local that has been here and you will never hear a bad word against it. We love Chiang Mai, i think this has been the only place that i am genuinely sad to leave but have every intention of coming back sooner rather than later i hope.