Monday, August 27, 2012

Charming Chiang Mai

Flying in or out of Chiang Mai, you notice lots of rice paddies. You also see lush, green mountains and the clear, blue water.
This city is a mix of old and new. Around every corner, you find another wat, or temple (over 300 total!). There are remnants of the wall that once surrounded the city, along with the moat. But you also find some American staples (like Starbucks!) and several bars and clubs. There are several nice restaurants along the river. My pictures are lost, but the ones Zack took with his iPad might give you an idea of some of what we saw.

The most impressive wat is actually located a bit outside of the city up in the hills, and it's called Doi Suthep. Here's a picture of me taking a picture (that was later lost), and below are a few other ones Zack captured.

And here's a video Zack got of the main area of Doi Suthep...

While in Chiang Mai, we didn't just visit temples. Of course we had our day with the elephants, and we visited the huge night market, tried different restaurants, got lots of cheap massages, and hung out at bars and watched fire shows in the evening.

We also took an evening cooking class with Thai Cookery School. It was so much fun (I wish I had the pictures!). After a stop at a local market, we made fried rice, a few types of curry, fried bananas, and more. I'm not sure I actually learned anything about cooking, but I did get some useful information about Thai ingredients. We definitely didn't go home hungry, but we did go home with a recipe book so we can recreate some Thai deliciousness in Melbourne!

One evening, we went to a muay Thai boxing match. There were actually several bouts, including ones with little kids, girls, and one where a Swedish guy went against a Thai guy (the Swede won, but we think it was rigged). Some of the matches were pretty hardcore; Thai people were calling out bets and cheering for their fighters who delivered some pretty swift kicks and punches. Other matches were just for fun, including one where they blindfolded a bunch of guys and set them loose in the ring (hilarious!). I'm so sorry the pictures are lost!

A funny sign outside our hotel.
Anyway, I would definitely put Chiang Mai on my must-do list when visiting Thailand. It's a completely different experience than life on the beaches near Phuket, but it's amazing in its own unique way. The temples are varied and incredible, the elephant day was something I'll never forget, the cooking class and muay Thai boxing match were much more fun than expected, and the price of massages, food, drinks, and souvenirs is unbelievably cheap. There's something for everyone, and we loved our three days in Chiang Mai!

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