November 26, 2016
When you travel to large cities, you can sometimes feel lost. Does it really feel like that exotic country that we were excited to visit for years? Bangkok was awesome, but with the tall sky scrapers, malls, designer stores and constant construction, it felt like the west. Chiang Mai is still a bustling city, but we felt like we were in Thailand. Temples, old walls, sweet little old ladies and their food carts and tuk tuks. Since we had just gotten back from our trek, that helped ground us.
When deciding on where to stay in Chiang Mai, we highly suggest being in the old city centre or square. You will be able to walk to almost everything and have food and shopping out your front door. We stayed at The 3 Sis and thought for the price and location it was well worth the stay. We enjoyed the east side of old city as we felt like there was more on that side.
We planned two nights and one day in Chiang Mai. We were here for a day before the trek, a day now and then we were still planning on an elephant sanctuary in the area, so we would have a day after. There are a lot of temples within old city. You have choices, but after awhile, a temple is a temple and we wanted something different. Even though it was cheap to get into most temples, around 50 baht, I wasn’t going to go in there just to shoot a picture and walk out. I wasn’t able to appreciate them as much as I should have after awhile. It wasn’t a temple being shuffled around, it was just a building to look at and take a picture. I wasn’t enjoying the moment and I am sure the people that were there to pray did not either. We had seen the big ones in Bangkok, so we thought maybe one would be good in Chiang Mai. Then after that if you have a full day what is there to do? Walk, just walk and explore and see and learn. We find that you don’t always need to be at the site or temple or attraction. Just grabbing a drink and watching the people go about their lives can teach you a lot about a culture.
So the temple we decided to go to was Wat Phra Singh, yet another beautiful temple. It’s on the west side of old city, but a very easy walk. They were preparing for Saturday service when we arrived. We didn’t realize it, but some businesses are closed on Saturdays as it’s their day of prayer. We watched locals come here to pray, eavesdropped on two monks having a conversation with foreigners and experienced some of the service. There was also a school there and novice monks everywhere.
Close by was a Buat Nong Head Park that was suggested by some to get a cold drink (it was really fricking hot and the cheapest drinks yet), people watch and stroll around the fountains. We hung out there for a couple hours and it was nice and peaceful, even though it was in the middle of the city.
After all that walking we got a foot massage at Friend Foot Massage right up the street from Coconut Shell. It was hands down my best foot massage of the trip and it was $5.50 for an hour. I still couldn’t believe the prices. In some ways it felt wrong, just like the Karen village tours. Am I exploiting these people? Is that really a fair wage? We would try and tip and some places and they would not take it. They seemed so grateful that we had come in and that is all they wanted. Friend Foot Massage is worth trying to find. If you go to Coconut Shell and you are facing it walk to your left to the corner and then turn left and it will be on your right. Small brown building and it says Friend Foot Massage on it. They also do Thai massages and manicures. During the massage we ended up setting up lunch with friends from the trek. We wanted to go to Coconut Shell, but they were closed. We found out as we walked up and were ready for something cold to drink and something tasty to eat. Disappointed! The great thing is there are so many places to try, so we just walked up the street to Kat Kitchen. Delicious and cheap! It was odd being in a foreign place and having familiar faces.Even though we had just spent three days with our new friends we sat for almost 3 hours chatting!
That evening we met up with another fellow traveler who we met through another instagram friend. It was so random that they were there the same time as us since they are on a year long travel around the world! There are so many bars and areas to meet. He found a fun little rooftop bar called Oasis Rooftop Bar (north east corner). We learned that Jess was sick, but at least we got to hang out with him and hear about his travels so far. We then walked up the street and it was food stall and bars and a lively night scene. Another drink? Yes please!
We love all the people that we are meeting. We haven’t ever been this social and meeting people with so many things in common is great. After Chase had to get back, we walked the streets a little more and decided on a random food stall for dinner and just like that the day was over and we were headed to bed to get to the elephant sanctuary in the morning!
Things we missed in Chiang Mai:
The Big Buddah
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