Chiang Mai, Northern Thailand

CNX to my homestay

Day 1: 4/14
Landed at the airport pretty late. Our plane was so empty coming over from Incheon I was able to lay across the seats and fall asleep. I was so prepared to watch a few movies, too. I didn’t even finish 1 before I was asleep. I made it through at least until food was served. I really hope I didn’t embarass myself- snoring or something. I’ve been here 2 days now and thus far I’ve managed to do something rather embarassing on both. After arriving and going through customs and grabbing my bag I was left to my own devices for money and a ride.
First, ATM. I withdrew 5,000 baht, about $155.00 and was charged $15 to use the machine. Next I walked back and forth to multiple doorways. I went to door 9 as my host instructed. He said I could catch a ‘red bus’, or songthaew from there. I would have to wait though, they’re not allowed to wait at the airport but I could catch one dropping off passengers. I waited awhile, feeling hopeless and tired I about gave up.. and then one came. Two americans ran behind a thai girl to catch it.
I asked if I could join and they said “sure” – obviously if the driver was ok with it. I showed the driver instructions from my host. The outside said 30 baht per person, he quoted me 100, I was happy with it- it’s like $3. I assume the 30 per person is for when everyone is going to the same place. I found out the americans were not together. Luckily, the one who stayed on with me had SERVICE, my stop was next and she showed me where to go when I got off. All checked-in and ready for bed- it’s 02:04 now.

Songkran in Chiang Mai

Day 2: 4/15
It’s the last day of Songkran- the water festival. Songkran is Thailand New Year it’s technically the 13th-15th. I knew it would be happening when I booked my ticket but that’s not why I came. I sure am happy I was able to be a part of it, though! It is about 99-104 degrees F at 44% humidity with an ‘extreme’ UV index. However, the water they throw and drench you with is freezing! They were kind to be careful not to get my camera and phone. I held it high in the air, as if I was surrendering. They were so happy to have tourist join in on the celebration. I would have definitely bought a water gun and played along had it not been the last day. It was so fun and refreshing for my 6 hour walk around Chiang Mai. I stayed within a 2 mile radius of my place but I wandered everywhere. Oh, and I had a 2 hour massage! I guess that means I only walked 4 hours.

corridor view from the second floor inside the One Nimman mall. Arches and store fronts on both sides with vedors set up in the middle of the open walkway.

I walked to Nimman rd. and was sucked into the stores across from MAYA mall- One Nimman; I never went to MAYA. I picked up essentials from the spa store and some dorian chips from the market.
I stopped for lunch before I’d find my massage parlor. Many of the massage places have been closed for the holiday but I found one by the Dog Cafe-that’s right, you can eat or have a drink and play with puppies here! It was Langerhand massage, it is in the alley by Box Box dog cafe.
The massage was great. I ended up doing 30 minutes on my feet and an hour of traditional thai. It was really good, I was timid after reading reviews. That about sums up my day. I walked back, became drenched again, went to my hostel, changed into dry clothes ready to go to the night market and laid down for a quick nap. That nap became bedtime.

Temples in Chiang Mai, Thailand

the head of a statue in rumble at Wat Umong

Day 3: 4/16
I woke up super refreshed before the sun was up. I needed to shower because I went to sleep covered in city water.. probably canal water, hopefully not… I think I was far enough away from the canal, it was most likely from a hose. I took a quick shower and walked not even a block away to the coffee place I’ve heard it’s a ‘must have’ coffee shop. I tried to go yesterday but the lady said they were closed when I walked in. Today there was a sign on the door- closed until the 18th. That’s ok, I’m not a huge coffee aficionado. It’s so close, literally across the street, I just figured I’d try it. Then I circled around to the donut shop- also closed. …Well then.
I planned to make it to two specific temples today- I hope they are not closed, too. They’re about an hour out of town. I figured I’d just rent a motorbike and wish for the best. My phone is roaming and not very reliable. I came back to get my camera and other things and ran into the housekeeper.
We talked for a little and I told her where I wanted to go. She said they’d be open but too far for my first time on a motorbike; especially since it’s at the top of the mountain and everything is opposite of America as well. Good point. She rattled off some options and I checked the Grab app (Uber for here) and then when she offered to take me for far less I obliged. She would stay and wait at both temples but we had to be done by 12. No problem, it was 08:15 now. I was ready to go. So I thought… about 15 mins later I realized I only had sunscreen on my face and forgot my sunglasses. Oh well, I’m on a time crunch!

Wat Umong Suan Phutthatham- Chiang Mai

First stop- Wat Umong Suan Phutthatham. This is the temple with tunnels. I spent about 1 hour here. There were so many dogs. I took a few pictures before I got too hot and then headed to the shade of the tunnels. Shade does not equal cool- still super hot. I wandered around aimlessly thereafter. I stumbled upon a monk gathering, I think they were in a class or perhaps a prayer. I didn’t mean to intrude, so I hurried along. After seeing everything here I made my way back to the car. She was happily waiting with an orange juice so I purchased one too (not actual oranges)- Sugar high!

poor visible view- showing the smoke pollution from burn season.

Pit stopsmoky view.
She stopped off at a viewing point. She told me to take 5 mins and go see the view. I can see the beauty in it all. However there’s still a lot of burn pollution. With that and no sunglasses it was hard to admire. I was literally about crying from the sensitivity. On the way out I purchased avocado milk.

Wat Phrathat Doi Suthep- Chiang Mai

me standing at a platform of Wat Phrathat Doi Sutherp- back to the camera. Colorful paper lanterns hang above me; I am looking over a mountain view but it's too smoky to see.

Last stop- Wat Phrathat Doi Suthep. This is the one on the top of the mountain. Here I was a bit confused as she dropped me off by an arch way but I didn’t see a temple, just a village and shops. Then I remembered this is the one off the road. I looked to my right and saw a bajillion stairs. Of course, this is the way. I made it up with only one break. Then I got to the top and paid my dues for a ticket predated for yesterday – not sure what that was about. Anyway, I spent 1.5 hours here wandering the premises, from the abandoned areas to the main attraction. I joined in on a prayer from a monk. Then I shook the kau chim fortune telling sticks.
Once I left I stopped by a stall for lunch- Papaya salad. I wanted to purchase a string of beautiful bells but I found out they’re sold individually. Whoops! They honestly were inexpensive but I didn’t need them…yet. I will wait. I did stop and pick up 2 handmade bracelets. One made of howlite and gold beads and the other is onyx with two tiger eyes. It’s almost 12:00, so I run down to meet my girl!! I wish I had her name.

Me in prayer position- I am in the shadows facing out to the main golden spire of Wat Phrathat Doi Suthep

Click here to skip to the part about me
breaking into the Silver Temple- Wat Srisuphan

Wandering in Chaing Mai Thailand

The heat out here is something else. It takes the energy out of me. I’m happy I didn’t rent a motorbike. We arrived back to the hostel and I had a quick shower and cleaned some clothes while I was there- underwear and socks. I wouldn’t have time for jeans or tops to dry. Now I am having dinner at Reform Kafé, it’s a vegetarian place- so good. I’m headed to the night bazaar from here. It’s about a 30 minute walk. I hope I make it in this heat!! I’ll have to catch a ride back to my place. I didn’t bring my camera and all the equipment that goes with it- my back needs a break.

a mint green colored van-like jeep kinda truck vehicle. parked infront of street art on a cement gate

Night Bazaar- Chiang Mai

I was really contemplating taking a Grab to the night bazaar. When I left the restaurant it was about 16:45- it was cool in comparison to what I’ve began to expect. About 90 degrees with less sun. I figured I could walk some until I couldn’t handle it. I ended up walking the entire thing- glad I did. I discovered some street art, the nice part of town, and a temple I want to check out- when my knees and shoulders are covered.
At the night market I purchased a bathing suit coverup/ or lace like cardigan, a colorful wrap skirt appropriate for temples, and made an order for custom leather sandals! I’ll be back Saturday. I also am contemplating a cashmere rug- they’re stunning! I was quoted 5000 baht, about $160. I need to figure it out because I’d need to ship it. I’ll see if I can barter with them. I’ll try for 4300, original asking was 5500. They’re meant to hang on the wall; I think I’d use mine on the floor- until I have a puppy. There were many missed photos lastnight and I rode back in a tuk tuk. This is by far my favorite mode of transportation here! I wish we had these in the states, so fun. I showered and began packing around 21:00 and I could not stay awake. I was preparing for my overnight stay in Chiang Rai. Instead I passed out.

Bus to Chiang Rai

Day 4: 4/17
I woke up around 04:00 today and got out of bed by 05:00. No use trying to go back to sleep. I packed everything and got ready for the day. I walked to Flip&Flip Donuts, still closed. I noticed Akha Ama Coffee was opening though! I got to try it. I had a iced drip coffee and an oatmeal cookie. Then I went home to grab my bags. I’m carrying about 80lbs total. Oh and I forgot to mention, yesterday after coming down the stairs of Wat Phrathat Doi Sutherp my legs were shaking. This morning my calves are tighter than ever. I need bananas! I’m now at the bus station- terminal 3, awaiting my 10:30 bus. My phone is at 63% and I’ve put it in airplane mode, dimmed, etc. I have a 3 hour ride. Don’t worry I sketched a map to my hostel in case it dies. Chiang Rai, here I come.

Click here to read about my overnight trip to:
Chiang Rai- White Temple, Blue Temple and Black House!

My first time in a shared room- hostel, international.

Day 5: 4/18- back in Chiang Mai,
I just arrived back to Chiang Mai and it’s 19:40 now. I’m in a Grab. I intended on getting another tuk tuk, I really like them. I went to the main area at terminal 3 and told them where I’d like to go. They said 150 baht. I decided on the bus- I wouldn’t pay more than 80 baht for a songthaew or tuk tuk. He said if I wait for more passengers it’ll be 50 baht. I sat for about 10 mins and looked at Grab and it was like 86 baht. I figured AC and a comfortable car for 20 mins sounds good. I need to shower ASAP. I smell rancid.
After showering and freshening up I met my hotel roommate. I never got his name but he’s 25 and from Miami, he is currently out of money so he’s looking for an english speaking job. He said he has a couple interviews set up and spent all his time on his computer. I, on the other hand, was most definitely a bad roommate. All of my bags have zippers and I needed to get ready for tomorrow.
I updated my itenerary for Chiang Rai, what I actually did, for my records. I also needed to figure out what I’d need for my next overnight stay. I was planning to drop off laundry and pick it up when I returned 2 days later. I found this great laundry place online… too bad I couldn’t found it in person. I walked to where it was on Google Maps and although it was only a 7 minute walk it was one I wouldn’t do again.
I was definitely in a bad part of town. The worst part had nothing to do with the people and more to do with the poorly lit bridge with squealing rats. “Ugghhh!” I shuttered and couldn’t do anything but try and survive. The bridge was long and narrow, I hoped they’d move. I tried to used my flashlight, too. I was worried there might be lots of them, or worse, something dead I could step in. I walked back and forth with none of my fears coming to fruition. I decided I’d get a bite to eat, it was about 23:00 now. I need to get back and rearrange my noisy bags.

Day 6: 4/19
I barely slept lastnight. I’d say this was my first true hostel experience- shared dorm outside of America. I swore I booked the female dorm but upon double checking I selected mixed. There were 3 guys and myself. I never met the other 2. The guy from Miami told me they were nice guys from Japan. I only heard them a few times. I woke up around 05:45 and could not get back to sleep so I just lay there resting. I was too excited for the day. I finally started quietly and slowly getting ready for the day, thank God. I hadn’t even had my shoes on, just carried all my luggage down, and a man was walking in asking for me. To the elephants we go!!

Click here to read my post about my overnight stay, alone with 2 elephants, at the Maeklang Elephant Sanctuary in the Mae Wang district

Last Day in Chiang Mai

Day 7: 4/20
I arrived back to Chiang Mai with spare time. I have a scheduled Sak Yant today with Monk Rung. It is for 16:30. I freaked out a bit when my updated itenerary from my Maeklang Sanctuary booking said my arrival to my Inn would be at 16:30. I originally thought I’d be back by 15:00, to have time to shower and walk the 15 minutes to see Monk Rung. I arrived by 14:00.
This is my last night in Chiang Mai. I’m staying at The Cozy Inn; absolutely love this place! I now have about 2 hours to get ready. Considering I have a private bathroom I decided to do laundry.
I have a very deep cement sink. So after showering I threw a weeks worth of clothing on the shower floor and ran the water to soak them. Then after all the clothes were soaked I’d grab about 5-8 items to wash in the sink. I used a ‘sanitary’ bag, they were next to my toilet paper roll, to clog the drain. The sanitary bag is to dispose of tampons or pads after use. Anyhow, I filled it with a little water and placed it in the drain pipe to act as a stopper- to keep water in the sink. Then I filled the sink half way up with mild bath soap. I would press and rotate the clothes in the soapy water as I assume an agitator does. I would pay close attention to the areas that touch either privates or sweaty places like armpits to make sure I’d get any residue off. Then I would individually ring out the item and hang it to dry.
It was very efficient and I cleaned so much. The inn offered services but charged per item. I tried to find a laundry drop off before the elephant sleepover and failed. This was great. I had clothes hanging all over the room. I started to worry if they’d be dry by checkout.

Sak Yant- Monk Rung in Chiang Mai

All of a sudden Chiang Mai had a huge downpour and storm- Finally! They’d gone 2 months without. I happily threw on a rain jacket and went out to my appointment. Ugh, this rain was something else. I grabbed a Songthaew and hopped in. Once I arrived to my appointment I was to pay an additional 1000 baht for donation to the monk. I hadn’t remembered where I hid my bigger bills and was directed to an ATM. Both ATMs were off because the power was out. I did some negotiating and we agreed upon a $20 USD and 400 baht. This is slightly more than 1000 baht- like 1026.
Then I was taken to Monk Rung. He was laughing but complaining of the heat. I was dripping in sweat- the AC wouldn’t work because of the power being out. It had stopped raining so my quick walk to the ATM was also very hot. We ended up having to move, mid-session, into the sunlight so he could see.
I am so happy with the work he did and the fact that I truly let him pick for me. I chose the location and, with the help of Pal, wrote him a letter in thai about myself. Monk Rung actually customized my sak yant and made it very personal to my life and what I told him in my letter. I’ve tried to Google ‘Sak yant’ and have been through multiple pages on Google and it honestly isn’t there. This makes me happy.
I originally wanted the 5 line one but I love mine so much more. I was given care instructions and rules as well as candles and incense. I am to go to a temple individually to pray and think of my future and my sak yant’s meaning while burning my offerings in front of budda. I had a hired translator who helped me communicate with the Monk and took notes on everything he said- including the meaning of each part of my Sak Yant.
This will have to wait until tomorrow, it’s getting late and I’m hungry. I thought I was going to dinner but instead I talked to my sister and niece for about 2 hours on video. I was also suppose to go to the night market for the sandals I requested but I’m exhausted. I’m going to have a cliff bar- my last, and go to bed. My clothes are still wet.

Wat Srisuphan- Silver Temple, Chiang Mai

A silver buddha statue infron of the silver temple.
Silver Ganesha statue under an umbrella decorated by bright marigold offerings at the Silver Temple

Day 8: 4/21
It’s officially my last day in Chiang Mai. I woke up for sunrise to make it to Wat SriSuphan or the Silver Temple for the opening. It is only 12 minutes from the Cozy Inn. I was awake entirely too early, but I had all my things to pack. Thankfully my clothes dried overnight!
I packed most of my things, showered and made my way toward the temple. It was already hot and I was wearing leggings and a light, loose long sleeve top over a sports bra. I’ve had to wear my Converse the past 2 days because I had blisters from my sandal straps. This only adds to the heat.
I made it to the temple and could hear the music. I saw a little red door opened and could see the front of the temple so I went in. I took many pictures and then realized there is a fee- I did not come in the proper entrance. I also found out women are not allowed here. I definitely ‘broke in’- whoops. There were women present, so I had no clue, they were thai. Fortunately it was mostly empty- maybe like 4 people, and all the monks were in a separate building. I excused myself when I realized I was in the wrong and went looking for another temple to make my offerings. I found ruins of a temple not far away. Not happy to make offerings at a temple where people no longer came I walked back to my inn. On the walk back I noticed many businesses were opening- lots of ‘Silversmiths’, tons of intricate silver pieces were being made in little garage-like, open air, shops.

My plan today was to leave my bags at reception and have lunch and then a massage; I would possibly get my nails done also if there was time. That plan ended with a dud. Oh I forgot to mention, I had this amazing banana mango smoothie and a fresh coconut on my way back to the inn. So I drank the coconut first then I poured my smoothie into the coconut. After I finished the smoothie I ate the pulp of the coconut. I definitely think I’m hydrated for the day!

I brought my bags to reception and was on the search for an indoor restaurant. I arrived to a small cafe but couldn’t find anything appealing on the menu so I ordered an iced green tea and used the Wi-Fi to find another place for food. Many places are closed today, I guess because its Sunday? I’m really not sure.
I found a place nearby and then looked up train tickets to see if they were selling out. Umm, 2 websites showed the trains were sold out today and tomorrow to Bangkok. I’d have to take a taxi or a plane. Buses were sold out, too. I figured I would head to the railway station and see if I could purchase a ticket in person, go on standby or when the earliest available train would be and I’d stay nearby in a hostel.
This was not a part of my plan. I didn’t get to do any of those aforementioned things I had planned. I didn’t get to the other 2 temples to complete my Sak Yant either. I just hired a Grab and made my way here. I’m currently sitting near a fan, that’s not doing a good job, waiting for the train I originally wanted. I’m grateful there were still tickets. I already paid for my hostel in Bangkok and don’t have many days there.
I will be taking the 18:00 sleepertrain #10. This had the best reviews online and would combine both a transportation cost and an overnight stay cost. At a little less than $33 USD it’s really a no brainer. I have another 3 hours before the train should arrive. I also have nothing more to say about today.. so not sure what I’ll do now. Haha. 

Kaitlin

A traveler who has allowed the World to show her that extreme posing beliefs are necessary to find the sweet spot that is revolutionary. Because life is too complex; it’s a balance of black and white; we need to blend the two so we can live in the grey space of an Open Mind. Currently finding a balance in exploring the World and being sustainable everyday.

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