Off to the North
Trip Start Nov 08, 2006
260Trip End Ongoing
The logistics of the trip: Mini bus to Tak, immediate AC bus to Chiang Mai. It was quick and painless. We arrived in Chiang Mai just before sunset and the scenery was beautiful. It's in the mountains, and part of the reason people love it so much is that while Bangkok is hot and humid, Chiang Mai is cool and relatively dry. It's an old walled city and has what they call a moat (dirty river) surrounding the main tourist area. But my first impression of Chiang Mai was not lovely mountains or nice weather, it was, "Holy Shit! Look at all these white people!"
Apparently, everyone reads the same guidebooks and talks to the same travelers. Every Westerner in Thailand has heeded the ubiquitous travel advice and headed to Chiang Mai. They're everywhere. And after being the only Westerners in Um Phang, it was quite a shock to be around this many tourists. We immediately heard English everywhere. Signs were in English. Fast food and Western restaurants abounded. The tuk-tuk driver spoke better English than most the people who graduate from Del Valle or Bel Air. There were internet cafes every 15 feet. It was not what I expected. But I wasn't exactly disappointed either. The city is what it is. And it's a trade-off. The city is accessible, has great food, great accommodation and prices because of the tourists. So you take the good with the bad.
We're here for a few days, and we have (surprise) no specific plans. We're just going to wander around.