|Wat Pra Singh (taken by Quentin)|
Although I had only the vaguest of directions, I managed to find my hostel without a problem. After checking in, chilling for a bit, and finding a new French travel buddy, I was off to explore Chiang Mai!
|Bunchun Art and Hostel; the art explosion lounge on the ground floor was a great space for hanging out.|
|Pad thai at a local restaurant. Mmm, peanut powder!|
We got lunch at a local restaurant with absolutely no English on any of its menus. I simply had to point to something that looked like pad thai, and fortunately it was! It was also delicious. I wish I knew what the restaurant was called, but I can't read Thai. I just remember that it was near the art museum and had no walls and excellent decor.
After lunch, we walked from Bunchun, which is located next to the Marché de Nuit/Night Bazaar, into the Vielle Ville/Old City (about twenty minutes). The only thing I knew about Chiang Mai going in was that it is famous for having many temples. Well, this is very true. There was about one temple on every block. They were as ubiquitous as convenience stores. Quentin and I wandered around a few but then made a beeline for the largest and most famous, Wat Pra Singh. It is located on the far western end of the Old City, so it took us a while to get there. Without any real schedule, though, the leisurely walk was very nice.
|Quentin and me outside the walls of Chiang Mai's Vielle Ville.|
|Headless Buddha. They're not supposed to exist if broken...|
We then walked across the city to the Chiang Mai Women's Prison, because there is a famous rehabilitation program for the inmates in which they learn how to give traditional Thai massages and make a decent living out of it before returning to society. Unfortunately, the prison massage center was full when we arrived, and reservations are not possible. Instead, Quentin and I headed across the city again (lots of walking today) for Buak Hat Park in the southwestern corner.
|Suan Buak Hat in Chiang Mai.|
|Thai Dr. Seuss hands me a $1 ice cream sundae.|
I had such a nice time walking around the park and taking photos; I was really taken in by how beautiful the park -- and by extension Chiang Mai, and all of northern Thailand that I had seen so far -- was, and I felt like I could easily while away hours and hours here. Give me ice cream from the bizarrely-dressed ice cream man or a one-dollar mango smoothie and a book, and I'm good for the whole afternoon.
Later on, a group of older Thai men began playing hoop takraw, drawing a big crowd of specators (mostly foreigners). Quentin, who used to play basketball, was really curious about how to play; he'd imagined that it was kind of like basketball in a circle. As it turns out, the game is more like hackey sack. You can use your head, shoulder, elbow, or feet to hit the ball, and the goal is to get it into one of three hoops hanging thirty feet above the ground. This is very difficult to do. However, it is fun to watch. I kept egging Quentin on to join them in the game, but he said he was no good at soccer. I wonder if Park Ji Sung would be good at takraw.
|Hoop takraw at the park in Chiang Mai. It's harder than it looks... and it actually looks hard!|
|Chiang Mai Night Bazaar. It's pretty, but kind of blah... a night blahzaar. (Taken by Quentin, who is tall.)|
|Left to right: me, Cameron, Quentin, and Jet at the Chiang Mai Night Bazaar.|
Chiang Mai food rec: There is a tiny shake shack found at the back corner of the Chiang Mai Night Bazaar, next to the large stage where people dance sometimes. The shack is run by a smiling, friendly woman who makes the most delicious and cheap fruit shakes ever. The fruit smoothies are only 20 baht, and the mixed shakes are 30 baht (90 cents in USD). And she has avocadoes! The "Sweetsunrise" shake is a whole mango, a whole banana, and a whole freaking avocado mixed with syrup and condensed milk for 90 freaking cents! What?! The shake portion is so large that you have to take a sip of it first (the "taste test") before she can fill it up and put the cap on. So this pretty much blows my mind. I don't know how she makes a profit, but take me back to this shake shack and I will buy ten freaking fruit smoothies from her. Every day. They were that amazing.
|The one-woman shake shack in Chiang Mai. LOOK AVOCADOES!|
|DRINK THIS. IT IS DELICIOUS AND IT COSTS 90 CENTS. SCREW YOU, JAMBA JUICE.|
And... here are some SNAKES.