Last couple of days in Chiang Mai - ups and downs
Trip Start Jun 15, 2011
84Trip End Jun 01, 2012
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Where I stayed
SK House Chiang Mai
Read my review - 4/5 stars
Read my review - 4/5 stars
On Thursday night we went hunting for the Chiang Mai night bazaar which we had heard was supposed to be a good market and a fun spot for spending the evening out. We decided to walk there so that we could go through Chinatown on the way and perhaps get dinner there. Chinatown was cool but mainly market stalls selling fruit, street food and clothes although some were even selling puppies and baby rabbits. I dragged Katy away from the puppies before she decided it would be a good idea to have a little friend for the trip and we carried on along the road to get to the river as that seemed to be a sensible route round to get to the night bazaar. The roads got quieter and darker as we walked along and we started to get the feeling we perhaps should have gone a different way
We carried on and found the night bazaar which was brilliant. It was well lit up with streets full of stores selling all sorts of souvenirs, sunglasses, clothes and food and was definitely the best market we've been to so far in Thailand. We had dinner there and Katy then went to get her feet eaten by those weird little foot therapy fish. She had to sit with her feet in the tank looking out at all the stalls thereby becoming one of the attractions with people coming over to take pictures of her feet (Perhaps her ankles aren't as offensive up north!). She said that the fish nibbling the bottom of her feet really tickled so there was no way I would ever have been convinced to go in.... I'd have killed the fish with kicking. The treatment seemed to have some affect anyway as Katy says her feet are much softer now, apparently I'm in dire need of it but that won't be happening I can assure you
The next day we got up early because we had to checkout and we wanted to go and see the Doi Suthep temple before it got too hot. We were told that hiring a scooter was the cheapest way, but we chickened out having seen the crazy roads. Chiang Mai doesn't really have too many normal taxi's so we caught a Tuk Tuk which was supposed to take us to the zoo as there's a shuttle bus up the hill to the temple from there. The Tuk Tuk ride was really fun, and the first one we've done because we avoided them in Bangkok due to the stories we had heard. He took us round the ring road and then stopped outside Chiang Mai University where there were some minibus/trucks that supposedly provide a shuttle bus service up the hill to the temple. They were offering a good price but with the agreement that they don't go until they have ten passengers. Well we waited there for more than 35 minutes and in that time the number of passengers went from 2 (us) to 3 when another women turned up. I was getting irritated because it was hot and it seemed we were going to be there all day so we just got up and walked away. This was a good move because they then changed their policy and took us up for an extra 20 Baht each, I genuinely don't know how long they would have waited before sending a van up. Don't get me wrong I can understand how this system could work but with no passengers it's pretty flawed and only suitable if you are someone who is happy to get to their destination at some point in time over the next couple of days
The temple was really impressive, sat at the top of a hill overlooking Chiang Mai. Again everything is made of Gold, unfortunately it was a bit foggy or you would have amazing views over the city. Whilst it was good, after an hour we had seen everything so we thought we'd go to the Zoo for the afternoon. If you don't want to hear someone moaning and complaining stop reading now because this was the worst zoo and one of the most frustrating places I have ever been. When you arrive you can catch a bus around the park for 20 baht each but we figured we'd see more if we walked (this was our first mistake) so we got a zoo map and headed for the first set of animals which were those very Asian animals.... kangaroos, Emu's and Cassowary's. Initially we felt quite optimistic and saw some mountain sheep , monkeys, lions and bears and decided to head to see the elephants next. Looking at the map it said elephants were straight up the road and then right. When we got to the end of the road there were 2 separate roads going right, neither of which looked like the roads on our map so we just had to guess, this was repeated throughout the afternoon. The signs point right, the map points left and the road only goes straight on. In the heat it was the most infuriating thing ever and we wandered around up and down hills in 35C heat seeing nothing! The best example was when we were trying to get to the pandas (the star of the show as they're the first pandas in Thailand, donated by China) from where the crocodiles were. Our map said we should go past the crocodiles down the hill (it was no entry), the street sign said go right so we turned right and started walking down this massive hill and came to a building site where they were building the monorail and no pedestrians were allowed. So we turned around and went back before coming across a sign which truly shows why it was so frustrating
To be fair there were a couple of redeeming features and on reflection we had a good day all in all. The Aquarium was really good and we saw the big river and sea fish being fed from within a very impressive underwater walkway. The zoo also had Asian elephants which you could feed and Katy fed a Jaguar which was really cool! So we can't recommend the zoo but definitely can recommend Chiang Mai as the zoo was the only blip on an otherwise brilliant time up north!
In the end we were quite glad we didn't hire scooters. Firstly because when we left the Aquarium there was a prolonged torrential downpour but also because of the experience an Australian couple who were staying at our guest house had. They hired scooters and on their way back got a puncture in one of their Tyre's, conveniently there was a shop which repairs scooter Tyre's right next to where their tyre went and they got shafted to get it fixed. Presumably that shop must put little traps in the road, or throw glass or something to ensure they get business.
For us it's the beaches next, Woop!