After spending some days in Bangkok I really needed to see something else. The intense vibe of Bangkok just exhausted me too much and I was craving for some nice beaches on the islands of Thailand. I planned to relax some days on Koh Phangan, join the full moon party and then recover from that on Koh Tao 😀 There still was a flood around Koh Tao, Koh Phangan and Koh Samui what didn’t demoralized me to go there anyways! But being so tired of Bangkok I just wanted to leave and take a closer look at the places in the northern part of Thailand before I go south. “Everyone’s somehow going to Chiang Mai” I thought. Let’s just do it! I booked my train ticket and took the night train to Chiang Mai (btw: the second class is more than enough and taking the train is probably the most comfortable way to get there). Arriving there, I checked in my Hostel and I was a bit disappoined. The people seemed to be not really nice, the staff at the hostel didn’t really care about arriving travelers and the vibe at the hostel it self was also kinda weird. But hey: Traveling is not always on the sunny side, right?
For my first day in Chiang Mai I decided to visit some temples as I’ve not seen so many at that time. There was especially one temple that caught my attention just because of the name: Wat Phra Singh. The temple was named after a lion statue that was brought there from India. At least that’s the legend because it’s still unsure where it came from.
Arrived at the temple I wandered around a bit and decided to join the ceremony in the temple it self.
Short note to everyone who’s visiting temples in Thailand: As I’ve seen tourists wearing shorts in the temples I’d warmly recommend to respect the holiness of the place for buddhist people and at least wear long pants… And don’t use flash lights during the ceremony…
I sat down next to a girl in my age and we started to talk (or whisper) a bit and she explained me what’s going to happen next. This was the time I met May the first time. After the ceremony (the monks were sitting in the front praying together) we left the hall, wandered around the temple area and talked a bit. Suddenly May invited me to join her and her two friends for the evening and I happily accepted the offer. She took me to the mall where her friend Mick works and we met her other friend Bank. After a bit of chat we drove to a really cool All-You-Can-Eat-Barbecue place which I’d love to share with you guys but I simply don’t remember where it was or how it’s called xD
So far so good! I met some cool people, had great food and nice conversations. Can it become better? It can!
So we went further to have some milkshakes as the three don’t really drink alcohol. And that was totally fine for me and a very welcome change not to have beer that night. After having our milkshakes we decided to have a group photo as that would be my last night in Chiang Mai (that was the plan at the moment because I still wanted to go to the islands -.-). Bank left to his car to “do something” what didn’t made me really suspicious but when he came back after a short time he presented me this and I was blown away:
How cool is that? I was speechless of this amazing gesture of my new friends in Thailand. What a special night!
The next day – after getting first hand information of the weather situation on the islands – I decided to stay a week in the north of Thailand, miss the full moon party ( 🙁 ) and maybe spend some time with my newly made friends. And that’s what we did! Mick picked me up from my hostel (on his only day off) and we went to have some lunch at the university as the price and quality are unbeaten. Nice tip, Mick! We then went to the temple Wat Phra That Doi which is located in the southeast of Chiang Mai in the hills with a pretty good view all over the city followed by a trip to the far more famous Wat Phra Doi Suthep with an even more beautiful panorama of the city.
I still have to admit that it’s really hard to enjoy a temple and it’s atmosphere with tons of tourists, behaving disrespectful by speaking way to loud and not caring about buddhist people who actually want to pray there. C’mon guys! It’s not a sight! It’s a temple!!! But anyways. I really enjoyed the company of Mick, the conversations we had and the food market he took me to afterwards. It feels like I tried every single dish on that market and it was totally worth it! Authentic thai food at it’s best 😀 Thanks for that memorable day, Mick!
The next day I woke up and was still not very happy with my hostel so I decided to contact Bank (who btw offers his place on couchsurfing) and asked him if it would be possible to stay at his place for a couple of days. Well, that was one of the best decisions ever! Bank agreed, he picked me up at the railway station because his workshop is not really far from there and he took me to the place of Joe and his Mom (two new amazing people I was allowed to meet) where Bank has his photo studio (Oh, did I mention, that Bank and Joe both are very into photography? No? Well they are 😀 ). I was shown my place to stay and then the magic of the next days continued:
- I ate Durian for the first time (smells not so bad as expected!)
- We went to the movies (The new Underworld is crap but the Cinema was great! Did you know that before the movie starts they will show the picture of the King and play the Royal Anthem and everybody has to stand up? Well, I didn’t know it as well and was not expecting that :D)
- We had so much great food together (The papaya salad with Joe and his Mum was simply delicious!)
- I had my first photo shoot in a studio (Weeeeeeeird standing in front of the camera! :P)
- I tried Thai-craft-beer
Just to mention some of the things those guys shared with me! I don’t have to say that living with local people gives a whole new experience and insight in their lives and I really appreciate how warmly I was welcomed.
At the end I just want to thank Bank, May, Mick, Joe and his Mum for giving me this unforgettable memory of Chiang Mai before I left to Pai. I really tried to find the right words to sum that all up in one single blogpost.