At the beginning of May my dad sent me a hectic sample itinerary for their time here that went something like this (don’t worry, I’ll simplify):
22 July: Mom/Dad/Ryan arrive BKK
23 July (evening): Take night train to Chiang Mai
24-28 July: Kick it in Chiang Mai (okay, those were my words, not Dad’s)
28 July: Night train to BKK
29 July (morning): Nate arrives BKK
30 July: Train to Chumphon
30 July (night): Night boat to Koh Tao
31 July-3 August: Kick it in Koh Tao
3 August (night): Night boat to Surat Thani
4 August (morning): Bus to Khao Sok National Park
4-5 August: Kick it in Khao Sok
5 August (evening): Head to Thung Song
6 August: Go to Nakhon Si Thammarat in time to fly to Bangkok in time for a 16:00 flight
He asked if I thought we were trying to do too much and, akin to that time when I was 10 and we were instructed to peruse the Disney World flyer and make an itinerary for our pending trip with the singular rule that We cannot do everything whilst Mom and Dad set off to determine if Titanic was an appropriate movie for their 10-year-old daughter to see in theaters (Ryan, Nate, and I were excited to inform them upon their return that we could indeed do everything, though our schedule not only assumed we’d be exempt from the 2 hour waits in line but also that we’d be able to teleport from location to location. Also their findings regarding the movie were negative.), I assured him it would be fine.
In the end we decided to scrap Khao Sok (and also to head to Chumphon the day Nate arrived rather than the next day), though it would have been a fine addition to the trip and I do hope to be able to make my way there before returning home this fall. Still, it ended up being a jam-packed trip nonetheless and the ball really got rolling with our first train to Chiang Mai. As much as I love Koh Tao I think Chiang Mai might have been the part of the trip I was most excited for. I’ve been in Thailand for almost a year-and-a-half now and had to hear time and again the wonderful tales of those who’d found themselves Chiang Mai. Also, when Wayne and I first started talking about coming to Thailand, we’d intended to live up north where we understood the culture and spirituality to be a bit stronger. Of course, I’m happy with the way things played out but I was still eager to get a taste of what life may have been like had we ended up there. At times I found it hard to believe I was finally going.
This train ride also went smoothly; it was sitting there waiting for us at 6 pm, as scheduled, but only left an hour later. Around 7:30 we made our way to the dining car where I introduced my family to Tom Yum Goong for the first time as well as some other traditional dishes (and of course a number of Leo beers). We allowed ourselves to be serenaded first by the Celine Dion concert DVD they had on repeat and then by a few Thai rock’n’roll tracks (about five, also on repeat), of which my rock’n’roll era father gave his surprised but whole-hearted approval. We hit the sack when the car closed a little after 11 and when I woke at 7 I found I was the only one un-breakfasted. The next few hours were spent taking in the rainy scenery until we finally arrived, a few hours off-schedule
The bulk of our time in Chiang Mai ended up going towards a 3-day trek that we were able to organize right from the Chiang Mai station for a price that was way less than we were expecting, but I’ll leave such details for my actual posts about the trek. On either side of the trek we had a day to chill out and/or explore Chiang Mai (specifically “Old Chiang Mai,” where our guesthouse was located and which we only left in order to ravage the fantastic Night Bazaar, about which I’d heard so much).
It’s a town of temples (“wat” in Thai); so much will be apparent in the photos, which are mostly taken from Mom’s and my walk around town the day after the trek. We were staying at SK Guesthouse, so walked north to begin our temple tour with Wat Chiang Man (what I understand to be the oldest temple in Chiang Mai). Unfortunately I don’t remember the identity of any of the other temples I photographed.
Where we stayed: SK Guesthouse, as booked through the train station information booth.
Recommended eateries: Jerusalem Falafel; the night market food court (surprisingly good Indian food!); the Indian restaurant adjacent to the Zoe in Yellow pubs
What to do: Check out the night market, visit a temple or two, get a cheap massage
Drawbacks: Way easier to find a dentist or botox clinic than a normal clinic at which to treat a pesky skin infection.