06.02.2017 34 °C
For the last five days we have been in Chiangmai, Thailand's northern capital nestled in the mountains 680km north of Bangkok. Chiang Mai was founded in the 13th century and was once the capital of the Lanna Kingdom. The old city wall with its four main gates is still pretty intact and it is easy to see what the city once looked like. The old city is beautiful, vibrant and bohemian, bars, restaurants and street food, day and night markets shimmering with colour, smells and noise, an utterly stimulating experience on all the senses.
The markets are vast, the daytime market is a real eye opener. You enter into a dark maze of shanty town like stalls, there's are pervading fishy smell with wafts of the sweet smell of mango and sticky rice and banana pancakes. There are mountains of dried fish, fish innards and shrimps, durian fruit and dried bamboo worms. The night market is an altogether more glitzy farang affair, clothes including genuine fake Hugo Boss and Ralph Lauren, carved elephants, scarves and bags. A huge food hall full of street food vendors has been our evening haunt for the past few nights.
The annual flower festival took place over the weekend, carnival type floats covered in flowers passed through the city, downtown streets coloured with flowers and parks full of flower tunnels, displays and walls of flowers. It was a sight to behold and the smell of the flowers just beautiful. There are some pics on the gallery but they don't do it justice!
Yesterday we hiked up to a beautiful but underrated Buddhist temple (Wat) nestled in the mountainside with a stunning outlook over the city. We used the monks trail, a little challenging especially in 34 degrees of heat but enchanting all the same. The monks marked the trail through the forest with orange cloth from their robes tied around the trees. The temple is built on sloping rocks shaded by the tree canopy with a waterfall cascading down the mountainside, there are no tourist stands, cafes or in fact many tourists and for me it was one of the most peaceful places I have ever visited. Dragons, elephants and mystic creatures adorn the temple grounds immaculately kept by the monks, there is an other worldly feel here, true peace.
We have one more night here and then we are off down south for our last few days in Thailand before flying to Singapore. We will be staying in Krabi and day tripping to some of the islands. No major disasters, nothing more stolen although my clothes came back from the laundry covered in blue splotches. A couple of rot daang rides (trucks with two benches in the back) have gone awry and we have ended up in the wrong places, we prefer the Tuk Tuks if you can stand the pace! The mossie bites have eased off a bit as we have found some strong local spray which is like coating yourself in an oil slick and it smells but it works! Both looking brown now, no more red patches, we have also learnt a couple of Thai words although they giggle at us when we say them! We are just like the locals now!
Love Steph & Si