Live the adventures of Dan Walker's travels through reading his travel journal. The travel journals are listed below in descending order of date. To search the travel journals, use the keyword search at the bottom of the page.
|Tuesday, February 20, 2018 21:07:49|
China, Thailand to Singapore 2018: 5 Chiang Mai, Thailand
Sunday, February 18, 2018
Something we have found convenient is that most wall plugs accept standard two prong North American plugs.
As always, we were picked up on time for our drive to Chiang Mai. After a stop at 7 Eleven, which are all over Thailand, we hit the road. We had no official program, but Roon came through with some interesting things she thought we should see. The first was the White Temple, a Buddhist temple complex build by a painter who became wealthy from the sale of his paintings. It consists of a number of large buildings, but the main temple and pagoda are amazing for the detail of the filigree type ornamentation. We spent some time there looking at the massive structures from various sides.
We went to the site of the international hot air balloon meet, but unfortunately they left early in the morning. We next stopped at the Maekajan hot springs, where geysers shot into the air in the parking area and in two other parking lots across the street. I made the mistake of putting my hand into one of the pools and got a scalding for my trouble – they are at the boiling point.
Chiang Mai means "new city", from when it took over from Chiang Rai as capital of Kingdom of Lan Na in 1296. It was taken over by Burmese for 200 year, became a state of Siam and finally part of Thailand. It has a population of about 180,000 in the city proper.
For the next three nights we are at the delightful Baby Grand Boutique Hotel. It is located in a quiet area and done in the style of the old grand hotels. The service is impeccable, and the rooms very comfortable. While Khiri Travel has done a brilliant job of arranging things, the one place they failed is in letting hotels with no elevator know that I have difficulty with stairs. In our last two we were able to change rooms, however this one has two flights of stairs to our room and it is fully booked for tonight. They moved us the next day.
Our friend Han Iluk came by the hotel, and took us for a walk through a series of narrow lanes to the river, where old mansions have been converted into art galleries, studios and trendy restaurants. We stopped at a specialty tea restaurant on the bank of the river. There was a large menu of teas, high tea and sandwiches. Dinner was at Woo Restaurant on the other side of the road, where we sampled more new superb flavours. A rice salad was prepared, with three types of rice and at least a dozen other ingredients, chopped into individual small bowls then added to the salad by the waiter. It was another great gastronomic experience.
With Han leading we walked across a pedestrian bridge to the night market where the flower sellers occupied about 3 city blocks. The colours and smells were lovely. A tuk tuk, called a Songtaew, got us back to the hotel
Monday, February 19, 2018
After a 9 PM pickup we went to the old walled city and its many temples. We visited three, The Wat Phra Singh temple and monastery is the oldest in Thailand, built in 1296. We also visited two other temples in the same compound, and went for a chat with some young monks. Their teacher, no longer a monk, did most of the talking, so the young people didn't get to say much – most were more interested in their cell phones.
A bicycle rickshaw ride got us to China town, where there were endless markets and shopping. I tried to spot a pub to wait in without success, so just borrowed a stool to sit on wherever a vendor had one empty. Marilynn ordered new prescription sun glasses that will be ready tomorrow. We all went back in one of the red trucks that serve as buses and taxis. They are flagged down as a cab would be, but they may have a route laid out if there are already other passengers. On the other hand, routes are flexible depending upon the logical order of stops. In our case there was only the 3 of us so it was straight back to the hotel
Han had invited us to participate in a monk chat session at the Wat Suan Dok temple at the Buddhist University, so we taxied there from the hotel. Han was waiting for us, and showed us a little of the temple before we went into the chat room. What a difference from the other chat session! Han was obviously highly respected by the novice monks, and soon had several at the table with us. The discussion was lively, and covered a large range of topics, including existential ones The couple of hours we spent with them went very quickly.
Dinner with Han was at another great choice, the Hongtauw Restaurant, a good sized family restaurant that has been in business for years. Although it was crowded they quickly found us a table, and we were again introduced to delicious new flavours. After dinner a very fast tuk tuk driver got us back to the hotel.
Tuesday, February 20, 2018
We were picked up half an hour before the appointed time, but fortunately were ready. It was not our regular driver or van, we will not see them again, or our guide. Our destination was the Old Elephant's Reserve, which had been set up for elephant's who could not longer work in logging or other work, as previously they were just released to fend for themselves, but did no know how to do so.
There were 14 elephants, but the males were up on a hill behind the reserve Most of the females were quite friendly, and quickly gobbled down baskets of bananas we were give to feed them. We had been issued pants, shirts and sandals to replace city clothes, which were placed in lockers. There was a lot of information available on elephants, including a compete skeleton. Our group of 6 made up a couple of types of food for the elephants, and then we worked our way along feeding each of them.
After a lunch ordered on arrival, they led "our" elephant, the one we spent most time with, down to the river. She first found a mud hole and covered herself in wet mud. Once at the river she waded into the water and the group threw buckets of water onto her. She then lay down and the mud was scrubbed off using brushes and river water. She was obviously enjoying the attention very much! It is about as close and personal as one could get with an elephant.
After we dressed our driver agreed to take us to Han's home, where he welcomed us with tea and snacks. Eventually left together and went to the Gallery Restaurant on the river bank near our hotel for another delicious meal ordered by Han. We all walked back to the hotel and had a final drink together before we said a very fond farewell to a good friend.
Tomorrow we fly back to Bankgkok, but not until 3:30 PM, so we can sleep in.