Saturday, March 3, 2012

Chiang Mai, Northern Thailand

The final stop on a 3 1/2 week tour was the second largest city in Thailand, Chiang Mai.  This turned out to be my city of preference for all it offers and the cooler temps at about 1,000 ft. elevation.  The Ping river allows nicely situated restaurants on the water and the university of CM offers arts and music venues.   My guesthouse, the DM, charged the equivalent of $10 a night including 60 channel TV and hot water shower. Hot water showers were nice for getting the message oil off my body.

As I read travel articles about travel in Thailand I realize I am flying way under the radar in terms of accommodation and food preferences and prices.  Those writers are saying what a bargain Thailand is and then recommending hotels in the price range of $100 or more! This morning I read a travel article that mentioned a stop for lunch at a nice place and only cost $15.   Outrageous!  The noodle house around the corner from my guesthouse served great noodles with chicken and vegetables in a nice broth for less than a buck.  The bonus of my meal is that I was dining with a hundred other Thais and not a place full of westerners.  I'm not an upscale traveler and I never see articles written for the backpacker style with prices to match.  I guess there is not a big enough market for us.

Chiang Mai city center established in the1620's is about a square mile and is completely surrounded by a moat.  Each corner has a preserved section of the old city wall seen here.  The moat has been outfitted with fountains and decorative spray sculptures giving extra visual intrigue to the unique feature.

My visit coincided with Chinese New Year which the Thai culture celebrates with a particular fervor. Often while out on my moto exploring there would be road closures for parades or roads not closed, but parades coming down the street anyway.  Nobody seems annoyed at the mix of traffic and parade.

These little cages contain 5 or 6 very small sparrow-like live birds that one can buy and release for good luck and new beginnings of the new year.  It's fun to just hang out and watch people buy and release these birds that seem so pleased to be free again.

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