Friday, 17 April 2009

Wat Wat Wat Wat Wat

There are various ways to get from Ayutthaya to Chiang Mai. I could have flown or gone by bus but I chose to let the train take the strain. Going by train meant breaking 2 of my “golden rules” of travelling

Never travel overnight
Never travel for more than 9 hours

Before I came to Thailand I thought it was the monsoon season here. It’s not; it’s the “hot” season so the temperature is nudging 40!!!!
I was in the classiest carriage the train had on offer, it was a sleeper with fan, and thankfully the large windows went down all the way. Sadly my berth was an upper and not a lower so I had a noisy and inefficient fan to cool me as I tried in vain to sleep, whilst the train travelled deep into the night. On the Brightside, like Indian trains you can smoke in the usual manner!

Arriving at the city of Chiang Mai (13.5 hours after leaving Ayutthaya) at 05:30 in the morning, with no sleep I felt tired but wired. The 20 minute walk into the centre of town woke me up mentally and stretched my legs. After looking at a couple of places I ended up staying at the MD House hostel. For 500 baht (or about a tenner) I have a room that is ensuite, has free wifi (which is a big selling point in the 21st century) and most importantly aircon!!!!

With the a/c turned to the max I took a long and quite frankly well needed shower before checking out the mattress for a few hours.

About Chiang Mai:

The old city is about 1 square kilometre in size, surrounded by a moat. Vestiges of the defensive city wall can still be seen as can each of the four gates that once controlled access into the city. This place has about 300 Wats as the Thai’s call their temples which is nearly as many as Bangkok.

Waking up later in the morning I was slightly chilly (damn was that a/c unit good) but that soon changed as I went outside…within 30 minutes of walking the hot and mean streets of Chiang Mai I was inside a coffee shop rapidly cooling down with an iced coffee, followed by another one! I think cold coffee somehow makes the uptake of sweet sweet caffeine a slower affair.
By mid afternoon I was a Watted out. Honestly they all pretty much look the same and after seeing four of them the slight differences were no longer interesting enough for me. So back to the hotel and the a/c unit. I forgot to mention that the hotel has a swimming pool, just like I forgot to bring my swimming trunks.

This city is a good place to many things

zip lining
Bungee jumping
Mountain biking
Go karting
Tiger petting….why?????
Elephant riding

But you know what…I just couldn’t be arsed! I much preferred waking up late, bimberling for a few hours followed by a couple of cold beers in the afternoon before having a little siesta. I think my travelling Mojo needs a good kick up the proverbially arse.

The next day was Saturday….Arsenal v Chelsea in the FA cup semi final, kick off 23:15. I found an English pub (surprised?) called the Old Bell and they sold cheeses!! Pork pies!!! Cider!!!! So for the first time in over a year I had a pork pie (180 baht) and a bottle of cider (195 baht). My wallet was screaming but my taste buds weren’t listening.
The next day was Sunday, obviously, so F1 from china in the afternoon followed by more football in the evening. Manchester United lost…happy days!!!!

Monday was my last full day and I walked to the bus station to get a ticket for the following morning. There are two bus stations in Chiang Mai and I went to the wrong one. Cue more walking! Eventually the ticket was brought and I headed back into the city. Weirdly I passed the Old Bell…mmm cider and a 6 month old copy of private eye. Sometimes it just all comes together!

So I spent my weekend in the pub watching sport on the television

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