Sunday, 16 September 2007

New Town

Joining up with the two Isralei guys from the Gibbon Experience, we managed to blag a minivan all to ourselves and left the border town of Chiang Kong - a nice enough place - and arrived into pretty cosmopolitan Chiang Mai, the norths major city. The towns definitely changed a bit since I was here before - right in the heart at Tha Pae gate is a big Starbucks and theres another branch of Seattle's evil empire in the middle of the night market, flanked by a Burger King, McDonalds and Subway. Shocking. I still really like the place though.
The guys were keen to visit the temple on the mountain at Doi Suthep so we rented a jeep for the day which was good fun - my first time driving a four wheeled vehicle in Asia. Having missed a close encounter with the Gibbons we took the chance to see some up close at a local "monkey school", one of a number of similar "attractions" sprouting up around town. It was nice to see the Gibbons (not sure why they were in a "monkey" school though..., but the rest of the show was all a bit sad really - monkeys peddling rickshaws around, etc.
I spent an hour on one of the new additions around the night market - a rock climbing wall called the peak, which was good fun though a bit overpriced. In Laos I had met Clare from Falkirk and agreed, after a few too many BeerLaos, to meet in Chiang Mai to do some rock climbing trips out to a local site called crazy horse. After my unimpressive attempts on the wall, I'm not so sure I want to embarrass myself further now.

After a couple of days replacing various lost items with new ones from the night market, and tasting Chiang Mais fine cooking, I rented a motorbike and headed off to Pai, The place in northern Thailand that everyone seems to be raving about.
The trip there was really cool - almost a constant series of (hairpin) bends which required Valentino Rossi like skill to negotiate. At one stage I stopped to put on a raincoat but was a bit careless in parking and the bike slipped off the road and down the side a few meters. Oops. As invariable seems to happen in South East Asia, within a minute a group of Army guys passed and, seeing my predicament, pulled in and hauled the bike up with me. It was fine apart from a bit of a funny rattling noise I chose to ignore (and to not mention after I returned it).

Pai itself is a nice little town, with a few cute restaurants and bars. Though to be honest, I think people seem to be over hyping it a bit - its not an amazing setting or anything, and there are far too many of a certain type of traveler there to make me want to stay too long. Still I had a good couple of days and nights - the first spent mostly with a nice bunch of Thais from Chiang Mai/Bangkok who showed me all the spots to go, including a couple of places which were pretty Farang free, and the second with some Belgian girls I met in Na's Kitchen, a really good local resturant.
One of the late night pool bars - Fubar served up a Tom Yum Gai at 3am that was quite possibly the tastiest food I have ever eaten. Definitely beats a spice burger and chips.

Other than eating and drinking Pai has all kinds of new age nonsense that I stayed mostly well away from, and some cute villages that make a diverting afternoon drive. On my way back to Chiang Mai it started chucking it down so I stopped off at one of the little spa pools, and very nice indeed it was too.
Last night I decided to torture myself and watch another of Ireland's dismal performances at the Rugby world cup. The only place I could find open at 2am with a Tv screen was a pretty dodgy spot called Spicys, where I was the only one in the place passing up viewing nubile young Thai girls in favor of overpaid overrated Irish men. You have to get your priorities right. OK then, I'm off for a Frappacino and a 6 inch spicy Italian.


Mary said...

Just heard about plane crash in over there.Stick to the tuk tuks.
If you hang around C Mai till November you can experience the Loi Kratong (Yi Peng)
j and m and m

seanmullins said...

I think even with my new less/slower is better approach, November might be pushing it.
Yeeah heard about the crash alright, will stick to more carbon neutral forms of transport where possible

michael said...

Kerry won the all-ireland easily, ireland play france next friday, ed o'sullivan having diffcult time, rugby team playing very badly. Weather still beautiful but winter closing in, where r u off 2 next? Joey says hi

Triple D said...

We're loving the camp easy-rider look Mr Sean! :-)

mandy said...

AAh Mick,
That "easily" in your post re the All-Ireland hurt poor Eddie!!!
Winter closing in here too - no need for the air-con today or yesterday.
Ally has a talking cuddly puppy called Joey.
Sean - the couch, TV and fridge with beer are waiting for you.

pat said...

At least we have the Cork women on Sunday. They might bring home some silverware to the rebels.

Mary said...

forgot to say..hope you enjoyed the 6 inch italian (your words, not mine)RE:'haka' competition - so far, samoa in the lead...what do you think? Hey, you 3,Keep some of that beer for us..jmm