Monday, September 14, 2009
Chiang Mai - Arrival
Well, we made it through the 14 hour train journey - a few hours of sleep and the worst breakfast ever made (didn't even attempt to ingest it). We were happy to finally be off the tracks and in Chiang Mai. A posse of drivers was waiting for the train to roll in. We chose one . . . well, he chose us . . . we hopped in the back of his pickup truck and went off towards our guesthouse.
Our first day in Chiang Mai was a little more laid-back than Bangkok but it wasn't without its adventures. Our main goal was to do some laundry (one backpack + 35oC + dusty tuk-tuks = really dirty clothes), set-up our trek, and sign up for cooking school. We were successful with the above tasks and saw much of downtown Chiang Mai in the process.
We visited a few temples along the way - took a lot of pictures but they're quite similar(on a smaller scale) to the ones in Bangkok so we've only included a few here.
This was amazing. We had to take a close look to determine if he was real or not . . . turns out he's just a life-size, extremely detailed statue of a famous Thai monk. We actually took a photo of a store we found in Bangkok that was full of these statues. See below.
We wandered some more and found another reclining Buddha! Not nearly as big as the one in Bangkok but impressive nonetheless.
Shawna found a Jackfruit - we originally thought it was a smelly Durian (hence the scrunchie nose).
After sorting out our Chiang Mai itinerary we were free to relax and enjoy the evening. We hit up a night market for dinner and some shopping.
We were lucky enough to see a show of traditional dance while we ate our curry and sipped our coconuts . . .
We still had a bit of energy left so we went in search of the Kawila Muay Thai stadium that we saw on a flyer earlier that day. I really wanted to see a Thai kickboxing match so, needless to say, I was more than excited when I saw the run down old stadium full to the brim with Thai people betting and yelling at the boxers. It was a really cool experience . . .
I was mainly focused on video footage of the match so the pictures are a little lacking (I keep promising some video - it will happen!). The boxers came out and did the traditional dance before the match. While they were fighting there was traditional drum and reed music played live by the ring. Adding to the excitement were the people screaming and cheering everytime a punch was thrown. Big money going down on these fights, I'm sure.
Well, it was late and I was happy so we hopped a tuk-tuk back to our guesthouse and got in some sleep before our big trek the next day - hiking, hill tribes, elephant riding, waterfalls, bamboo rafting . . .