Chiang Mai

Trip Start Jan 28, 2006
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Trip End Feb 20, 2007


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Flag of Thailand  ,
Sunday, October 1, 2006

I took the 14 hour sleeper train from Bangkok to Chiang Mai. My options were to either take the bus for 450 Baht, or the comfortable sleeper train for 508 Baht. The choice was easy. On the sleeper train there's a pub on board to sit and drink at, a place to sit and watch the view from the giant windows, or just go to bed in a your own enclosed space.

Chiang Mai is meant to be a tourist friendly city in Thailand, or so I assumed. The moment I arrived at my guest house I met a few people who invited me to the Doi Suthep Temple just outside the city. So, I rented a motorbike, spent ten minutes learning how to ride, and went on my way. For two days I drove up and through the mountains driving well over 300 kms. I stopped in secluded areas for a view of the tropical mountainous scenery, watched as locals passed by on elephants going from A to B, and stopped at every temple along the way. Towards the end of the night I parked my bike just outside an Internet cafe to find it missing when I returned. Someone stole my bike! Thankfully I took out insurance on the bike, so I only had to pay 22,500 THB to replace it. If I didn't take out the insurance I would have had to pay double. I went to the local police, who sent me to the tourist police, who didn't believe me that I had my bike stolen. The tourist police drove me around looking for my bike in all sorts of spots I knew I wasn't gonna be. I was getting incredibly frustrated dealing with the police. The tourist police then sent me back to the local police who refused to write a report or do anything about my problem. I spent the entire day at the police station trying to convince them that my bike was stolen, and trying to get a basic police report to give to my insurance company. I soon came to the realization that the police here are useless, and don't give a damn about tourists. 10 hours into the second day I finally got the police to write a police report. The police insisted that I pay them 500 baht for their time and effort. The worst thing of it all is that the likely culprit who stole the bike is the bike rental company. In Thailand is common for motorbike rental places to rent a bike out to a tourist, and steal the bike whenever possible. So, I got the police and the rental company to put it in writing that the bike is now my property if it so happens to turn up. I took all the copies of the receipts and went on my way... with the bike ignition key of course. I will return to Chiang Mai in a few weeks and keep a close eye on the bike shop. If I see my bike sitting there I have every right to take it. And I will.

After the ordeal with my bike I went on a tour of the jungle north of Chiang Mai. We rode elephants through the dense jungle, visited Hill Tribe peoples and cruised the river on traditional bamboo rafts. It was an adventurous day, but my yellow fever vaccination that I got it Bangkok was starting to make me feel ill. The doctor told me if would for the first seven to ten days.

The nightlife was something to remember as well. Every pub in the city has extraordinary local bands playing every night. It's quite funny watching a group of young Thia people get up on stage. I wrongfully assumed that they would be average at best, seeing as how english is not spoken well here. I was astonished at how amazing these guys were. They tore the place up, hit every note, and got the crown out of their seats.

Chiang Mai is an extremely relaxed city. It has so much to offer, and plenty to do every night. I was down that my bike was taken, but it's not the end of the world. I wanted to stay for a few more days, but had to make it down to Koh Pan Ngan for the monthly Full Moon Party.

Next stop, Koh Pan Ngan Island.
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