The internet here has gone into overload. The hotel is full and it seems everyone is busy downloading stuff so no photos no music just some prose today.
Tomorrow we leave Chiang Mai after 8 days here and drive North West up to the Burma border.
From my point of view I am glad that we didn’t, as we planned, spend a month here . We have done the temples of real interest and have walked the old city. We have eaten in many of the more mentioned tourist restaurants and eaten and drank in the Thai local places as well.
Last Friday we ventured up past Tesco to try what turned out to be only Thai bars and restaurants. The first we hit was a barn of a place with tables everywhere. we sat at a table for four and ordered 2 large beers by sign language. However a guy with an earpiece in his ear like a secret service man bought them to the table. Are you waiting for friends he asked in perfect English . No I replied . Well would you mind moving over there to that table for two. I looked around this huge bar at all the empty tables and chairs and almost laughed. Why was he being so difficult did he not want us there. We moved and drank our beers. As we did motorbike after motorbike turned up and the riders came in. By 8 p.m. the place was jumping and there was not a seat to be had in the place . There must have been 150 people in the bar drinking.
We moved on to another bar and our seats were pounced upon by a mob. The next place was smaller and quieter and proved to sell the cheapest beer we have had outside of a supermarket price off the shelf 60 Baht a large one. Not only that the beers were carefully placed on a small table alongside us and after a few sips one of the staff would race over to top it up. Now my local bar in Puglia could learn a thing or two from this place !
Eating on the strip proved problematical as no menu was in English and no one spoke it. We managed by pointing to get things but had no idea what we had ordered and what in fact it really was.
For me Chiang Mai is really a 3/4 day visit to see the key bits and away. But I am very much a beach person and without sand between my toes I am not really a happy bunny. Culture is okay in small doses but I shy away from the other tourist stuff much on offer up here.
Tiger shows with the poor farm bred beasts jumping through hoops do nothing for me at all. There are about 250 tigers left in the wild in Thailand and civilisation is slowly killing them off as their habitat is encroached on. But I would prefer to see them in the wild or not at all.
I’m afraid I also cringe at visits to hill tribes and the like and there are plenty of those on offer up here. I’m sorry but to me it is like Disneyland and I always feel that once the bus pulls away everyone in the village breathes a sigh of relief and puts on old Levi jeans and UK football jerseys and goes about their normal business until the next bus is sighted. You can almost hear some of them saying if I have to drink another cup of that awful goats milk I’ll throw up.
One time in the Masa Mara we had visited a village on a tour and then a few days later following a leopard looking for it’s young we found ourselves going very close to it again. sure enough the villagers we could see were all in jeans.
Elephant training camps also do nothing for me. If you come across a logging area with elephant working or on a road construction site where they use them it is fascinating to stop and watch these huge guys lifting stuff but to sit in a river while they spray you with water because the mahout prods them, well again just not me.
So three quarters of the tourist attractions in Chiang Mai aren’t for me and I miss the beach as well.
Hopefully a few jungle walks and a safari into the wild will be good though the hill tribes will have to do without my company up there as they did down here.
One word of advice for anyone planning a trip here and that is to stay nearer the old city, unless you can drive a scooter or motorbike. Being out here especially at this Opium Hotel is murder to get around if you want a tuk tuk as they have to come from town so you pay a penalty and of course if they drop you say at Tesco there is no way to find one to get you back. From that point of view The Grand Napat is a better bet as it closer to things.
Bangkok as you ail be reading over the last few days is a scene of much protest. The government voted in on some populist measures such as no tax for a first car purchase and the huge rice subsidy that is costing billions of dollars a year is no longer popular and so it seemingly must go. In 2008 during similar protests they seized the airport for a time so lets hope they aren’t allowed to repeat those tactics.