A Rough Start
Chiang Mai is so chilled out! Which is pretty surprising as the start of the trip was completely the opposite. I came the closest I’ve ever come to missing a flight. I was only saved by the superior driving skills of Chaiwat. Actually, I just mean Chaiwat’s brazen ability to cut in front of anyone and everyone.
We opted to fly from Don Muang, Bangkok’s 2nd airport, as the flights were dirt cheap. It seems everyone else in Bangkok had opted to do the same for the holiday weekend! I had made life even more complicated by going to work in Rayong for the day so I was behind before I started!
But I got there! And we ran all the way to the gate, with everyone in our path diving out of the way as if a herd of wildebeest was stampeding towards them. This was entirely unnecessary as when we arrived at the gate the flight hadn’t even started boarding. So we did that subtle transition from run to walk, like when you pretend you weren’t running for the bus. Actually, we had so much time that Chris even bought and drank a can of Leo.
Caught with Contraband!
Once on the flight, we had quite an amusing experience of Thai inability to deal with rule breakers. Chris had snuck two more cans of Leo onto the plane. I suspected that we probably wouldn’t be allowed to drink them but figured we’d just do it during take-off when nobody was looking.
As we were in the emergency exit seats, I was made to put my bag containing the illicit Leo in the overhead locker. So my take-off plan was foiled! As soon as the seatbelt sign was switched off, we cracked them open.
Enforcing the Rules
One of the stewardesses did quite quickly approach us and tell us it was illegal to drink alcohol whilst sat in an emergency exit seat. She said she was going to tell her supervisor. We dismissed this claim as nonsense but weren’t prepared to argue so waited for our drinks to be confiscated.
The stewardess then went back to her task of serving other passengers at the front of the plane. And then nothing happened for quite a while. The supervisor did eventually approach. She explained that we weren’t allowed to have the drinks but asked us to drink them quickly. We said it was fine for her to take them but she said she needed to get permission from the Captain which required filling in a form. Far too much effort!
Eventually, they stopped pussy-footing around us and did take them away, this time on the basis that they were having a Health & Safety audit.
If any of them had thought to refer to the in-flight magazine, it did quite clearly state that passengers could not consume alcohol they’d brought with them. So it took three members of staff to resolve this situation when we were quite happy to relinquish their contraband. I hate to think what would have happened if we had shown any resistance!
Day 1 – Light Trekking
We really are in the Instagram era! We arranged tours for both days and the main objective of both guides was to get the perfect photo of us! So instead of me attempting to describe the breathtaking scenery, I will let the photos do the talking.
Day 2 – The Grand Canyon & Pottery Village
Another day, another tour. This time we headed to what had been pitched as ‘the Grand Canyon of Chiang Mai’ although I’m not sure it was! I’ve tried to look it up since and there should be water and somewhere to swim. But never mind – we got many photos in front of rocks.
We also visited a pottery village. This literally was a real village where families live and use traditional methods to make pottery. We were even allowed to have a go at making a pot. But we were both useless so the lady had to take over so we ended up with something vaguely presentable.
We did also eat some delicious food at lunchtime. My absolute favourite is Kao Soi, the famous Chiang Mai curry with noodles and it didn’t disappoint. I also discovered that you’re supposed to eat sticky rice with your hands which will make my life much easier.
Day 3 – Temples
There are a lot of temples in Chiang Mai. There are so many, so close to each other you can easily achieve your annual quota. But beware! Chiang Mai can get deceptively hot, even in December and a morning walking around the temples can be exhausting.
But the most impressive in my opinion is Wat Chedi Luang. This is a big ruined Chedi right in the center of Chiang Mai. It’s huge! The base has been restored but the spire is missing as nobody knows what it looked like before. Anyway, it’s still pretty impressive.