"Failure is unimportant. It takes courage to make a fool of yourself." - Charlie Chaplin

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Eat eat eat, buy buy buy in Chiang Mai

Day 7

Chiang Mai was beautiful, the main city surrounded by a moat and old brick walls preserved from ancient times. As soon as we checked into our hotel, we went out to explore the place a little, and book our excursions for the next 2 days. We were deciding between a trekking day trip or a one-day Thai cooking course and decided on the trekking trip for the next day, followed by a half day trip to Doi Suthep temple the day after.

We found a little massage place nearby called Mandara Spa, one hour for 200 baht. Quite okay lah, and the place looked nice and clean, compared to a dodgier looking joint elsewhere at half the price. The hotel's Oasis Spa was charging 1700 baht for two hours, but that was too expensive.

After a good Thai massage followed by an hour of foot and leg massage (and boy, we needed that), we walked to the Night Bazaar. On the map it looked deceivingly nearby. It was quite a long walk, but we got there just on time as they were opening. After some shopping and then more walking, we had dinner at a local coffeeshop-like place opposite the Royal Princess hotel. Can't remember the name of the restaurant now, but the food was pretty good. I had the northen style seafood Tomyam... oh... heaven. And the waiters were really nice... one of them noticed LY's eczema rashes and offered to take her to the pharmacy for medicine or treatment at local prices. How sweet!

After dinner, we took a tuk-tuk back for an early night. They tried to charge 50 baht, but we bargained it down to 40 baht. Eh, 10 baht still money leh! Haha :)

Day 8

Today was the trekking trip to visit the Mong hill tribe, followed by lunch, a waterfall, an elephant ride and bamboo rafting.

The uphill trek was quite pleasant, although I was breathless through most of it, (so unfit lah). Every now and then, the tribe people, young and old would trek by us, hauling huge baskets of lychee on their backs, making me feel embarassed about my heaving and wheezing. When we finally reached the top, it was quite an anti-climax. Nothing but a lychee orchard and a stall selling tribal handicraft. But I must say the lychees were nice. Sweet, though not as sweet and juicy like lychees from China. I like them this way, though. Slightly tart, with a firmer bite.

On the way down, something unexpected happened. LY slipped and fell, twisting her ankle in a bad way. But she insisted on completing the excursion anyway, cos she really wanted to sit on an elephant and a bamboo raft. So we did all that, with her wincing in pain and hobbling about. After we got back to the hotel, we went to the hospital to get it checked. An X-ray didn't show any fractures, so the doctor wrapped it up and told her to give it some rest.

As if to add to the drama, it rained all night. So all plans to go anywhere were foiled and we ended up at Ratana's Kitchen for dinner. A lovely, cosy restaurant with fresh petunias or morning glory on every table. We had a lovely dinner, and coffee too, as we waited for the rain to stop.

Day 9

Of course, with one day left, she wasn't going to stay in bed with her foot raised on a pillow. We decided to cancel the Doi Suthep trip but there was no stopping her when it came to shopping. She soldiered on as we walked around Warorot Market, buying foodie goodies like deep fried pig crackling, bamboo worms, dried longan, pork floss and Thai sausages. Then we went for a massage, manicure and pedicure (my first ever). And we walked the Night Bazaar again, shopping in the cold, breezy, drizzly weather.

Goodies from a stall at Warorot Market

We had our last meal in Chiangmai with a Khantoke dinner at Baan Tapae. A Khantoke dinner is a traditional Chiangmai set dinner with small servings of northern Thai dishes, including curried pork with ginger, warm sour sausage salad, fried Thai sausage, spicy chicken soup, stir fried vegetables, served with blanched string beans, cabbage, deep fried pork crackling and an eggplant dip. It was good for such a cold day, and we realised we hadn't eaten anything since breakfast (which we had at a coffeeshop popular for their porridge).

Khantoke Set Dinner.

After dinner, the crazy woman decided to make the most of the cool weather (think Melbourne) and wanted to walk. So we walked-hobbled back to the hotel, stopping by at Ratana's Kitchen again for their lovely warm ginger tea. Then we walked-hobbled again but got distracted along the way. A shop selling beautiful silver accessories. Gawd. We should've kept walking.

It's called Angel Silver, and we went a little batty. Every piece was unique and beautifully handcrafted. And the prices were a steal, for the quality and designs they had to offer.

LY bought earrings and a pendant. I bought a pendant and a chunky bangle. The old man who was the silversmith proudly shared with us his prized pieces, some designed himself or by his brother-in-law. It was so interesting to have him tell us about his work, and from his enthusiasm, we could see the pride he takes in his work. When we had to leave, we could barely tear ourselves away from the display window. Just barely.

If you're ever in Chiangmai, look up Mr. Santi of Angel Silver at his shop on Tapae Road. Tell him two Malaysian girls recommended him, one of them with a twisted ankle.

Day 10

We had such a hard time packing everything we bought into our backpacks. Our check-in luggage included 2 huge backpacks, packed solid, while we carried our day bags with us, along with the foodstuff in plastic bags. ALOT of foodstuff.

Getting to our plane was no easy task for a limping girl. And it's unbelievable how 'kiasu' and inconsiderate people could be while queing up to enter the gates, getting on the transit bus to the plane and going up the steps. They were hovering around the bus doors, making it difficult for people to get inside (as if they'd miss the flight if they actually moved further into the bus). Of course, there was the queue cutting and elbow shoving. Even with a limping person, there was no giving way. So it was no more Miss Nice. I elbowed our way in with the pack.

In the end, we were going at such a slow pace, they overtook us anyway. They filled up the plane real quick, but fortunately, we got seats near the rear entrance, which made it easy for us to get off when we landed. But we had to walk quite a distance to the terminal from where the plane landed. I guess that's why Air Asia's a low cost carrier. But hey, when you're paying only RM750 for four one-way tickets, you can't really complain.

Overall, it was a great trip.
LY and I did what we did in Bali - motorbike rides in the moonlight (in Phnom Penh).

We also had unexpected adventure (a village wedding and her tumbling down the hill in Chiangmai).

We had a taste of history and culture.

We shopped and ate in interesting and nice places.

We were reminded again and again, that we were lousy bargain hunters.

We made some new friends.

And took enough photos to fill up a few memory cards.

*At time of writing, LY's been admitted to the hospital. Her foot was black and blue even before we got home, so she went for another x-ray. The doctor found a fracture not discovered in her Chiangmai x-ray, AND a torn ligament. Her ankle would be put in a cast for six weeks. Poor chaboh.

The shadow on her left foot is NOT a shadow but bruises from internal bleeding. Note the pretty pedicured toe nails.

I'm back at work, feeling post-holiday blues and having a dry cough. Work is piled high on my desk but I rather blog and look at my photos over and over again.

Sigh, I need another holiday.


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4 wandered by:

Blogger Mint Chutney said...

Welcome back!!

I'm so sorry to hear about LY. How's she doing now?

And where are the pictures lah?

9:17 pm  
Blogger Erin Hsieh said...

Gorgeous pictures! Especially like the one of you and LY on Angkor Wat's main temple...and the adorable lil' girl.

Anyhoo, hope LY gets better soon. It's a wonder how she managed to hobble around on a fractured foot!

Miss you!

7:36 pm  
Blogger Wandernut said...

Minty: Hey you! She just checked out of the hospital. Won't be going anywhere for awhile.

Some of the pictures are already up in this post and previous posts. I have almost 300pics. Too many to resize and flickr. The ones in the blog are highlights.

I sent you a Cambodian postcard from KL. Couldn't find a postoffice in Cambodia or Thailand. :P

Rin: LY will be fine, I'm sure. Hahaha... went all the way there sure want to do everything and see everything mah! :) One day you go also lah Cambodia. Very nice! And when you see the kind of life they lead over there, you'd be so grateful for yours. It's quite a different world over there.

7:24 pm  
Blogger snowdrop said...

just back from our holidays too... no time to read your lovely long posts right now, will keep that for later... just wanted to say, i love your photos!!

p/s: hope you got the postcard...

5:46 pm  

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