Around the World 6 Bangkok to Chiang Mai

A photo of Sacre Coeur which sits atop Montmartre overlooking Paris. This photo was taken in the summer. If I had taken it today, the skies would have been gray.

Bangkok to Chiang Mai

We flew Thai Asia Air while in Thailand which is rather like the Southwest Airlines of this country, cheaper, lots of flights and packed with people carrying hand luggage. After paying for over-weight luggage each time, we understood why. Sometimes we were charged full price for over weight bags, sometimes part, once nothing. It just depended on the people checking us in.
While waiting for our flight-which would only take an hour-I jotted down some opinions about Bangkok.
It is almost impossible to get a taxi driver to turn on the meter. Even the one from the airport wouldn’t do it, he just gave us a flat fee. By the time we realized it wasn’t on we were out of the airport. The airport is supposed to be the one place the taxi will use the meter. The driver just laughed, gave us his fee and kept going. It wasn’t alot of money, just irritating. We couldn’t get the driver to turn on the meter on the way back to the airport either. I think part of it was lack of understanding of our English. We also had to pay a small fee to use the toll road which saves at least an hour of travel time.
Many people approached us, as warned, that a temple was closed when, in fact, it wasn’t. They wanted to take us to another temple or entry, for a fee. We also passed the many hawkers when getting on the river boat selling boat tours, making you think you had to buy tickets from them but, thanks to Trip Advisor, we walked right past them down to the boat and paid there.
Hint: Wear shoes easily removed and put back on as you will have to remove them anytime you enter a temple. My socks, btw, became filthy this way. I also had to remove my hat along with the men.
Not many people spoke English except in hotels or restaurants.
There are turkish toilets in public areas, usually without any toilet paper.
There were many american places to eat such as, McDonald’s, Burger King, Subway, Dairy Queen, 7-11 and more.
Our hotel, the Chiang Mai Plaze, had that “wow!” factor when you walked in the front door into the enormous lobby with a long rug leading up to the front desk, marble everywehre, silk covered couches and chairs and Tahi archetecture everywhere. Our room was fairly large and clean with a regular bathroom. The people working there were very nice and helpful.
Maurice made an interesting remark comparing the Chinese language that we saw and heard in Hong Kong with that in Thailand. The Chinese language sounds much harsher and the writing is sharp and angular while the Thai language sounded softer and rounder and their alphabet reflected this. The hard part is that the alphabet isn’t based on Latin so there was no way to guess what a word was as I can with French.
After lunch at the hotel we walked to the old walled city section of Chiang Mai. It was much larger than I expected. There are as many Wats here as there are in the much larger Bangkok. Chiang Mai is 700 years old and they know not only the day and year it was founded by a former ruler but the time of day. There were many huge photos around of the King looking age 30, not his real age of 76. The photos often had offerings of flowers and food in front of them. Chiang Mai semmed to be the “Austin” of Thailand, very funky with a college town feel. One million people live here and it seemed like everyone of them was on the roads roaring by on motorbikes, car or in the tuktuks, small 3 wheeled open vehicles. There were internet cafes everywhere and with very low rates. In Bangkok we couldn’t get into an internet cafe at night as they were all taken by young men playing computer video type games. We enjoyed walking around the city and then by night, the famous night market was open full of any type of item you could think of. It is huge and packed with people. It turned out to have the best buys of any place we would visit in the weeks to come-wish I had known that before.

Here is Maurice entering one of the gates into the old city of Chiang Mai.

A dragon guarding one of the stairways into a temple. I imagine it is similar to gargoyles on churches, keeping out evil spirits.

The King of Thailand.

A tuktuk. There were fun to ride in and very reasonable but I wouldn’t want to be stuck in traffic in one in the heavy afternoon heat. We only took one once in the cooler morning.