This is TDH (whatever that means) subbing in for Katie as she has the death right now and cannot sit at a computer long enough to write about our wonderful (not so much) trek from Bangkok to Chiang Mai, as well as our first day in this excellent city ( I do mean that).
Well it all began at 6:45 am on 1/2/09 when we woke up to catch our bus to Chiang Mai. It seems early, but our clocks are completely screwed up anyway as we were up for 36 hours the two days before, and there is a 15 hour time difference between San Francisco and Thailand so it did not really matter what the time was, we were a bit tired. We had another yummy breakfast at our hotel, checked out and made our way to the bus...
We went where we were told to get a ride to the bus and we are driven to a little shop in town where after waiting for about 30 minutes the bus shows up and we board. It is about 8:45 am and we were told we were going to leave at 8:30 and arrive at 5 pm in Chiang Mai. So far everything seems great. The bus is huge (double decker), and fairly comfy. We pick a seat that has great window views so we can check out the scenery while we drive. This was our whole purpose to taking the bus (I was somewhat against it thinking it would take way too long), as Katie wanted to have a scenic tour. Well this is where it starts to go downhill. We pull up to the bus station in Bangkok and end up sitting there until 11 am waiting for everyone else who bought a ticket to get on board. Why the guy who booked our trip did not have us just show up at the bus station at 11 so we did not have to sit on a non-moving bus for three hours is beyond me. I start getting extremely irritated that we have even bought a bus ticket in the first place instead of taking the train like we had originally planned, and am now in a pretty pissed off mood and acting negative. But things get even better. It seems that everyone has assigned seats on the bus which of course we were not told, but as the bus became full we were forced to move to our assigned seats which, you guessed it...., has a bar running across the center of the window pretty much obstructing our entire view. Fantastic. And the beat goes on...so eventually the bus gets on the road and at this point we are thinking to ourselves that there is no way this bus is making it to Chiang Mai by 5 pm as every book we read says it is around a 10 bus ride. And of course we are right. The bus stops numerous times to pick up and drop other people off, as well as to stop to get food once, and sometimes for no reason at all. Luckily the bus was air conditioned and not completely uncomfortable, but it still was terrible to have to sit on the bus until 9 pm roughly 13 total hours.
So now we are finally off the bus, and are taxied to our hotel. I immediately sense by the way we are taken to our new hotel (in the back of some guys truck) that I am absolutely going to hate it. Bingo. It of course is nothing like what our lovely travel specialist, Moo-Moo, said it would be. We check in, are shown to our room and are finally alone. I am somewhat upset at Katie for convincing me to book things with this guy, but more at myself for actually going through with it as I have been here (Thailand) before and my instinct was against it. After checking out the room which was terrible, (never stay at BMP Guest House in Chaing Mai), and figuring out that it is a much longer walk into the main part of the city (30 minutes instead of the 10 we are told), I decide that there is no way that we are staying in this place for a week and immediately reasearch into places we can change to in the morning. I call a couple places, find one I like, and reserve a room for the next night until the time we are scheduled to leave. It is basically the same price, but hopefully much much better. We get ready for bed, lie down and of course cannot sleep, or at least I can't, ( I am a terrible sleeper), as there is a live band blaring outside, the room is warm and there is a lot of light coming in. Bummer for us, but we get through it and survive the night.
The next morning I call Moo-Moo in Bangkok and tell him that we need a refund on the room and the excursions we registered for as we are not happy with the hotel at all. Suprisingly, this was not an issue and I was able to get a refund for the remaining nights of the room. Phew, at least something went right, and then something goes wrong...sigh.....
We sit at BMP guesthouse to have our breakfast before we make our way to our new digs and this is when Katie informs me that she is not feeling well at all. We are not sure why yet, or what caused Katie's current sickness as we both had eaten the exact same thing, but for some reason Katie's stomach just is not up to par with the delicacies of native Thai food. She has had major stomach pain, amongst other side effects, and still does at this point. We are hoping it goes away soon as she is being tortued seeing all the wonderful food that I have been getting to eat.
We grab a tuk-tuk (50 baht, or $1.60) to our new hotel called the Sri-Pat Guest House. It is in an awesome spot in the heart of the city, and just walking into the lobby I know we are in the right place. It is spotless and the people are so so nice. I love it already. Katie is not feeling well at all at this point, but we cannot check into the room until 1 unfortunately (it was 11) so we leave our stuff and head out to find her some fix for her stomach. We walk around the city a bit but cannot find a pharmacy anywhere. This was suprising to me as we ran into them everywhere in Bangkok, but Chiang Mai is smaller, and less touristy, so that is probably why. We do not get far and Katie says she cannot walk much farther so I take her back to the hotel and set out to find her some medicine. I go the other direction this time and lo and behold, right around the corner, a pharmacy. The owner is very nice and gets me a great medicine for stomach ailments. I bring it to Katie and we wait in the lobby until we can check into our room.
Entrance to the Sri-Pat Hotel
This is our room at the hotel. The picture does not do it justice. The room is spotless, the bathroom is nice, it is wonderfully air-conditioned, and it has the cutest balcony. There also is Katie, in her misery, lying on the bed. We rest for a bit until Katie decides she is feeling a little better since taking the medicine and would like to go out and look for some anti-biotics to kill this stomach problem fast. We head out and go to the same pharmacy, and the woman is great again at finding exactly what we need.
We try to salvage a day out of our moving from place to place by seeing all the major Wat's in the city. A Wat is a holy place where the Thai people go to give their thanks, say there prayers to Buddah and receive guidance from the monks. Below is the most visited Wat in the city. They are all extremley beautiful. Crafted with such delicacy and inlaid with beautiful decorations both inside and out. The pictures just do not do it justice.
After much walking, Katie is not feeling that well again, and I am rather hungry so we check out some of the food on the streets. Katie is in heaven, (and has been this whole trip), at all the different foods that she has seen. The only problem is of course that she can't eat any of them because they will not stay down. But luckily for me, that is not an issue so I do what I can to eat for the both of us and have been trying everything and anything. I have not tried the eggs in the picture below yet, but they are partridge eggs and will try them soon enough. Katie cannot wait too either.
Here I am eating what I think is called "maa-maa" and coconut milk(40 baht total = < $1). The dish is incredible and I love every bite of eat as you can see by my tounge leaking out of my mouth. It was so great that I had to ask the name of the dish so that I can look for it all over the city. It was extremely spicy though.
We make it back to the hotel and relax for a few hours while Katie recovers from her stomach pains. I check my email downstairs, do some reading on our balcony and just relax. It was nice. Eventually Katie feels up to par again so we head out to check our email, write our first blog (or Katie did), and get some dinner. I of course stupidly locked our key in our room, and cannot get someone to open it until 10 pm so we have to stay out until at least that time, which really turned out not to be a problem thankfully. We end up eating at a restaurant right around the corner that is actually three restaurants in one. We get an appetizer that was fried goat cheese dipped in honey (not very good), Katie gets sticky rice and bbq pork, and I get a curry. Mine and Katie's dishes were amazing. We can't wait to go back to the place to get pictures as the presentation was delicious and we forgot the camera (I locked it in the room). We also got a banana split which was totally delicious. We then went back to our room and called it a night with the hopes that Katie feels better in the morning. She has a food art class scheduled so we can only hope that she is feeling well enough for that.
To sum up, Thailand is amazing. The people are the best you will meet anywhere in the world and Chiang Mai is a magical place. The food is delicious, the scenery is beautiful, and you can get by on a very little amount of money each day. If you ever get a chance to come to this magnificent country, please do, you won't regret it. Thanks for listening. My posts are not as interesting as Katie's, but you are stuck with me until she won't hurl on the keyboard while typing this. This is TDH signing off. Goodnight from Chiang Mai; or good morning to most of you over there actually. :-)