Where to start? Haha! Well let's say that Chiang Mai eventually grew on me... I decided this today, the day before we leave the city. We have spent just over a week here, and there has been very little flow to this part of the trip. Actually, it's been a bit of a messy ride in Thailand in general. I really don't know why. Anyway, our Chiang Mai adventure started with nearly missing our flight here (we neglected to factor in Bangkok traffic)...(oh and on the way into the terminal Abbey was knocked flat by the ever-faulty subway exit gates when a guard waved her through and they slammed shut in front of her.) Of course then, because we were late, the bags did not make it onto the plane. When they didn't roll through on the baggage carousel in Chiang Mai, we learned they were due to arrive on the evening flight, 7 hrs later. Ok fine, roll with it. Amazingly, our charming old hotel host arranged for his driver to go back to the airport and pick them up for us. This was good. Of course, when we returned after dinner, they were not there. Bless him. He'd put them in the wrong room. Then there was the time I forgot to take out the night key and locked myself out and had to ask two prostitutes to call the front desk. Or the countless times that Abbey refused to take another step in the heat. Or the countless times I stubbed my toe. Or the time I just missed the Sunday walking street market. Or when Mike got a fever and thought it was dengue but it wasn't (yay!) but he still couldn't move and stayed in bed for two days. Or when we moved hotels because the first had a bed as hard as rock and was far out of the action, only to find we'd moved into another one also far out of the action. Or when the heavy bedroom screen fell on Abbey's head (she's fine).
Alright so there's that stuff. But then there's the stuff we did see and do that was pretty great. We went to Chiang Mai zoo and oggled at the endlessly adorable pandas. We taxied up to the gorgeous mountain temple of Doi Suthep and breathed in it's awesome glowiness (or the time my vocabulary completely deteriorated). We devoured cuisine from countless excellent vegetarian restaurants. We had massages from ex-cons. Abbey and I had a girl's day getting our nails painted in the spa while Mike ziplined through the jungle. She and I also rode more elephants, visited hilltribes, trekked to a waterfall, and went bamboo rafting (while Mike sweated off his illness in the hotel room). Our first hotel had overly helpful hosts. Our second, was super hip and homey, with a huge room, fab cafe, and amazing owner. We didn't have time to do everything we wanted to do: take a cooking class or visit the Elephant hospital, or cool off in the higher mountain villages. But we didn't do so badly :) I would have really liked to explore the sprawling impressive ruins of Sukhothai five hours drive south of here, but we weighed the options and opted for the ruins of Ayutthaya closer to Bangkok. It's interesting, I think I have felt a lot more pressure to see and do things in Thailand - not only because we crossed the half way mark in our trip - but because I read a lot more about it before we arrived, meaning I have had more expectations and desires to see places. I didn't really do that with Indonesia or Malaysia. I was happier to take it as it came. Mike, having been to Thailand before, had not so much of a need to fit things in. So the unchanging need to compromise that has followed us throughout the trip has been especially tested here in Thailand. All the more chance to practice the zen of letting go :) Tomorrow - a flight back to Bangkok and then on to Ayuttaya!