Wat I Did in Chiang Mai

After checking in at Mojito Gardens I headed back to Villa Duang Champa again for a small beer and to catch up on blogging and photo editing. Here I was treated to an amazing traditional Thai dance by two dancers, first with just hands, then an umbrella, then fire and then back to just hands again. The dress they wore was extremely well crafted.

Thai girl doing a traditional Thai dance in Villa Duang Champa, Chiang Mai

Thai girl doing a traditional Thai dance in Villa Duang Champa, Chiang Mai

Thai girl doing a traditional Thai dance in Villa Duang Champa, Chiang Mai

Thai girl doing a traditional Thai dance in Villa Duang Champa, Chiang Mai

Thai girl doing a traditional Thai dance in Villa Duang Champa, Chiang Mai

Thai girl doing a traditional Thai dance in Villa Duang Champa, Chiang Mai

Thai girl doing a traditional Thai dance in Villa Duang Champa, Chiang Mai

Thai girl doing a traditional Thai dance in Villa Duang Champa, Chiang Mai

Typo in the title you say? Nah, wat means “Temple” in Thai.. just before you go accusing me.

I’d spent a couple of days in Chiang Mai, and done relatively little, ate, drank, slept, most of my days were on the bike as well driving out of Chiang Mai on one of my many jaunts.

Well, as my last day on the bike came to a close, I used the day to see the local wats, Chiang Mai has over 200 of them, in and around the city, rivalling Bangkok on sheer volume.

I was still stuck in HDR mode too.. so they’re all in HDR. Absolutely amazing places, and no wonder that backpackers and tourists alike want to meander round them.

HDR Chiang Mai wat

HDR Chiang Mai wat

HDR Chiang Mai wat

HDR Chiang Mai wat

HDR Chiang Mai wat

HDR Chiang Mai wat

HDR Chiang Mai wat

HDR Chiang Mai wat

HDR Chiang Mai wat

HDR Chiang Mai wat

HDR Chiang Mai wat

HDR Chiang Mai wat

HDR Chiang Mai wat

HDR Chiang Mai wat

HDR of a wat in Chiang Mai's grounds

HDR of a wat in Chiang Mai’s grounds

After taking my fill of the beautiful structures I knew I had to go and take my bike back – hoping to get the full, and needed deposit back – before 6pm. Luckily, through gabbing to the guy who rented it to me, I got away without an inspection, maybe because I went to the care of photographing it before I left, and also being friendly to the guy on return. 3000 Baht back in my possession and my last few days in Thailand sorted. I’d asked about staying the night again at Mojito Gardens but they were full, so I also went back to the Green Oasis to book a room for the night, dumped my bag and went back to Mojito Gardens

After showering and refreshing I heard three British accents, Northerners in the dais/gazebo in the centre of the garden. Always loving to hear the accent whilst abroad I asked if I could join them. This is where I met Karl, from Stoke, and Ian and Nick from Leeds.

Of course having lived in Leeds I was able to talk with them about their local areas and all three of them were easy to talk to anyway. The beers came and went, conversation flowed, then before long Jade came to join us – also a Brit, who I chatted to earlier in the day about photography.

Nick playing Jenga outside Mojito Gardens

Nick playing Jenga outside Mojito Gardens

Karl from Stoke, outside at Mojito Gardens

Karl from Stoke, outside at Mojito Gardens

Ian outside Mojito Gardens in Chiang Mai

Ian outside Mojito Gardens in Chiang Mai

Things got a bit messy from here and we stayed up quite late, getting “shh”‘s from the locals and the owners before moving into Nick and Ian’s room for a few final drinks.

Everyone was a bit rough the following day, Jade didn’t surface until late in the afternoon. I woke up and went and sat in the gazebo area, Nick, Ian and Karl joined in brief succession. Karl had found a good place to get breakfast and then decided to go and get a prison massage (if not the best, certainly the most popular in Chiang Mai – me, Nick and Ian sat and had a couple of hairs of the dog, Ian was behaving as they’d booked on an elephant tour the next day.

I’d seen a couple of girls playing Yahtzee nearby, so I went over and tried my hand. Ronja and Lajla from Germany, and it’s called ‘Super’ not Yahtzee in Germany. After working out what the German scoring types were, I lost the subsequent three hands, and suggested they come and join us on the gazebo.

Jade had arisen, and Vicky, her friend from Surrey also joined, and by this time Karl had come back too, so we had a nice little gathering before deciding to head out to Zoe’s a local gathering place with music and drinks.

Jade and Vicky at Zoe's in Chiang Mai

Jade and Vicky at Zoe’s in Chiang Mai

Nick and Me at Zoe's in Chiang Mai

Nick and Me at Zoe’s in Chiang Mai

Ronja and Lajla at Zoe's in Chiang Mai

Ronja and Lajla at Zoe’s in Chiang Mai

We didn’t have a very late night, as most had booked on tours the next day, and were getting bothered by one hawker who I bought a bracelet from earlier in the evening.

One of the jewellery sellers at Zoes in Chiang Mai

One of the jewellery sellers at Zoes in Chiang Mai

So we all headed to a few bars playing live music (quite well I might add, the Thai rendition of ‘Killing in the Name of‘ certainly had me up and moshing) but ended up in the end meandering our respective ways home. Considering my new guest house was only a 6 minute walk… to spend 1 and a half hours trying to find it was a bit curious.. I ended up in the open air guest house lobby, on a chair, with my bags, four foot from the bed I’d booked, and slept like a baby until morning (apparently ignoring the owners shaking trying to wake me up and the mosquitoes feasting on me all night). Not the best start to my last day in Chiang Mai before heading back to Bangkok.

Rooftop Bar View – Stunning

A really short minivan ride back to Bangkok, 2 and a half hours long, 120km speeds, this guy was more maniacal than the one down, but thankfully arrived back to Victory Monument in one piece!

A short BTS ride to Surasak and from there it was a short 5 minute walk to the really clean, centrally located, and modern Saphai Pae Hostel. After dumping my stuff and showering, I headed down for a shake in the outside bar.. The really great thing about backpacking/travelling, is that you say hello to someone, they say hello back, and that friendship could last for a day, a minute, or a lifetime. A couple of Aussies turned up – I happen to like Aussies that aren’t too up themselves – so we got to chatting. Nick and Chris had just come back from what sounds like a hedonistic and amazing Cambodia-by-Motorbike trip. There was also a girl who was chatting called Manon, from the Netherlands, and she was wearing short shorts – remember that because it’s important later on!

Manon, from The Netherlands

Manon, from The Netherlands

Chris from Australia

Chris from Australia

Nick from Australia

Nick from Australia

I’d already contacted STA travel to organise the trip back, aware that each day that passed my money was running out, and making it difficult to sustain myself. I took to Twitter at one point to complain about the level of service and within a short amount of time the customer service advisor got back to me, and had pointed out to the team who would sort this out to get back in touch with me sharpish.. I’d ranted and they reacted, in a professional way, so thanks STA travel, you’ve redeemed yourselves, and now I have a fixed date of the 21st to return and sort home life out.

Anyway, back to Nick and Chris, cause this is quite funny, their only horror story of 3 weeks of motorbike travel was running out of petrol in the middle of nowhere, having to get a pick up to… well… pick them up, and drop them off for a small fee and refuel. Anyway, they were both leaving the next day around 5pm flight, and this was getting late, they’d ad a few already and some others had turned up.. They were waiting for their friend who they met in Cambodia to turn up and head out to some club. Already tired I declined the opportunity to join them.

So this guy turns up, clearly drunk already at midnight, but we sat until 1 chatting and laughing. This guy’s flight was at 10am – now you have to factor in getting up, checking out (fair enough it’s 24 hours) and getting to the airport for rush hour. But, they all went out and I was left to my own devices.. i.e. sleeping.

Crazy Brummie Guy, already drunk at 11pm

Crazy Brummie Guy, already drunk at 11pm

Woke up quite early (for me) and had a shake and some breakfast, did my laundry and sat on the internet to work out what I was going to do. This guy turns up, already late for his flight by one hour.. He looks red eyed, slurry, and explains his story:

They went out to a club, around 3pm changed to another.. ANYWAY.. turns out this guy wanded off around 5pm, woke up in a park, no passport, wallet, or phone.. he’d come back to the hostel where Nick and Chris had his bag at 9:55 – 5 minutes to his flight. Harrassed reception to wake them up, and he completely missed his flight. So, word of warning there folks – I’ve seen this happen twice now. I saw him wandering around the hostel and visiting the cop shop which is pretty close by, to report and arrange a replacement passport at the embassy. And this is me saying this now, so remember it.. Don’t get stupid the night before a big event, because chances are you’ll cock up.

I was still in the midst of the STA travel debacle so I spent the whole day online trying to sort it out. Meanwhile Manon had come down and had – at first count – 53 bites on one leg alone.. not including any other – equally bitten – parts of her body.. Imagine falling into stinging nettles naked, then rolling around!

Manon's bitten leg

Manon’s bitten leg

Nick and Chris came down bleary eyed too, but with a more sensibly timed flight to catch – exchanged goodbyes and they left to go home. Me and Manon sat chatting and a friend she’s met, Joe, came and joined – he’s teaching TEFL at a Bangkok school and having a great time, he’s also coincidentally from Mum’s side of town, Newcastle, and – rarely – a thoroughly nice English chap! Coincidentally Joe (Burton) if you’re reading this he had an accent like yours! Trés strange..

They both wandered off and I took to browsing ThaiVisa.com this is a forum for ex-pats and travellers alike, sharing advice, asking questions, and offering up tales of woe from the guys thinking they’d scored a beautiful, often younger Thai girl, and they fleece them for all their worth before – sometimes – offing them via a hired hit man and claiming insurance.

I shared a few drinks with some guys, Nina from Germany, Julia from Spain, Ugo from Rio and David from Hong Kong, we played Jenga until the early hours. STA travel eventually confirmed the return flight FoC on the 21st, so I could finally relax, and carry on the Jenga.

David playing Jenga in the Saphae Pai Hostel

David playing Jenga in the Saphae Pai Hostel

I’d planned to leave that day, but because of the STA travel stuff and the train to Chiang Mai taking me overnight and at prime UK internet hours, I decided I’d go up the next day.. This coincided with Julia and Nina also heading up there so we said we’d go together. They’re a pretty nice bunch of folks, each with their own story of course.

Nina, Ugo, Julia and Anja at Saphai Pae Hostel

Nina, Ugo, Julia and Anja at Saphai Pae Hostel

We decided to head up to the Roof Bar at Lebua at State Tower – wow, what a view, 360 panoramic of the whole of Bangkok, but very busy.. very busy, I heard the best time to go up was sunset, but we were leaving the next day before having the chance to see it twice.

View from the rooftop bar at Lebua at State Tower

View from the rooftop bar at Lebua at State Tower

View from the rooftop bar at Lebua at State Tower

View from the rooftop bar at Lebua at State Tower

View from the rooftop bar at Lebua at State Tower

View from the rooftop bar at Lebua at State Tower

Once was enough.. Even though Ugo didn’t get let in on dress code, me, Anja, Julia and Nina went up to take in Bangkok.. Julia went off with three rather tall German guys to go clubbing, so after a huge amount of photos I went down with Anja and Nina back to the hostel.. halfway back Ugo shouted our names and he was outside an Irish pub.. so cutting our losses we joined him and took a massive 500ml of Hooegarden before nearly staggering home!

500ml of Hooegarden in the Irish pub

500ml of Hooegarden in the Irish pub – iPhone used as frame of reference

Woke up with a cold thanks to the air-con.. con alright! Keeps you cool in hot temperatures and gives you sniffles, a cough and a cold! Fans from now on! Spent nigh on all day editing the photos from the rooftop bar and drank my own bodyweight in shakes, before we three set off for the 7:35 to Chiang Mai!