After a couple days in Bangkok, we took the night train to Chiang Mai in northern Thailand. We bought the 2nd class Sleeper tickets and were a little nervous about what our situation would be like but it ended up being totally fine. We had two seats opposite each other and after about an hour or so one of the train workers came around and turned the seats into beds; one on the floor and one hanging down above it. After the 14 hour journey, we arrived in Chiang Mai around 9am.
Thankfully, we were able to check into our hostel right away, so we could drop our bags and head into the city. While Chiang Mai is the second biggest city in Thailand, it is pretty relaxed and way less hectic than Bangkok. We stayed right outside the Old City, the main center which is bordered by a 600 year old moat and surrounded by walls. Within this area there are over 300 or so temples. We ended up walking through a lot of the bigger ones, and they were all very cool to see.
Our first couple of days we wandered around through the Old City, looking for whatever cool place to eat or temple to walk through. We saw signs for Muay Thai fights almost everywhere we went, and we definitely wanted to go to one – so we headed to Thapae Stadium to see what they were all about. The ‘stadium’ was really just a large hall with plastic chairs and tables set up around the boxing ring. Some of the fights we could tell weren’t real; with fighters falling over at the slightest hit and all smiling to themselves, and there were also some more straightforward ‘joke’ fights, such as a few blindfolded guys flailing into each other. As the night progressed though, there were some real no holds-barred fights. The main fight was between a local Thai fighter and a contender who came in from South Korea. It was a close match, but in the end the South Korean won – luckily, since Cory bet 50 baht on him.
Every night of the week there is a market of some sorts in different areas of Chiang Mai. One of the biggest is the Sunday Market. Here, people from northern Thailand sell all sorts of goods, crafts, and food. It was really fun just wandering through and taking it all in. When looking for somewhere to eat (we settled on crocodile skewers) we also saw a stall selling all sorts of creepy bugs. We stood there looking, debating if we should actually spend money to try any or not. A Japanese mother and her daughter next to us were thinking the same thing themselves, but curiosity eventually overtook them and they ended up buying a cup of worms. They were kind enough to share some with us, so we all got to try them together. We’d be lying though if we said they tasted any good…
We spent our last few days in Chiang Mai checking out a couple more temples and really just relaxing. One of our favorites was Wat Chedi Luang temple, which was built sometime between 1385 and 1402, and actually used to be twice as tall as it is now. We explored the temple as the sun was setting which made it even more spectacular.
Overall, we really enjoyed Chiang Mai but now we’re ready to escape the concrete and head south to the beaches! Phuket is up next.