Heading to the Jewel of the North, Chiang Mai – Day 23 – 25 (June 18 – 20)

Day 23 Monday June 18

I decided today I would fly to Chiang Mai (which means “New City”) so bought a ticket online for a  5pm flight.  It only costs 2100 baht or $68 US via Bangkok Airways.  Today was also Fathers’ Day back in the US, so Skyped with my rents for a bit, then with my younger brother Andy.  I ate brunch then checked out of the hotel.  They got me a cab which would take me to the airport for 600 baht plus tolls.  However, we needed to make two stops.  The cabbie was fine with this.

First up was Action Zone since they’d be open today.  It’s the low-season so they lady/ owner said not much inventory. Everything was in boxes.  However, I did pick-up a red pair and a blue pair of Fairtex hand wraps for 200 baht each / $6 US.  I like them better compared to Twins because they’re kinda stretchy and make it easier to wrap your hands for Muay Thai.

Then I walked over to the tailor for an initial fitting.  I tried on both the jacket and pants.  I explained to them that they need to make the shoulders a little wider and the pants an inch looser.  This is because I’ve lost some weight due to training…and when I return back home, I’ll fill out again.

Finally, we drove off to the airport.  The airline told me the flight was delayed an hour but I could hang out at the lounge with free food and internet. Plus they gave me a food voucher.  I walked around a bit, then checked into the Bangkok Airways lounge…it was nice…food, drinks and free WiFi.  Then the lady told me the flight was no longer delayed.  So I rushed back to the food court to order a personal pizza with my free coupon.  I got it to go then raced to the gate…luckily I made it for the 6pm lift-off.  The pizza was like Pizza Hut’s…I eat pizza once a week back home and was starting to miss it, so this was “acceptable” haha.

I arrived to Chiang Mai around 7pm and took a quick 5-min cab to my hotel, Noble Place.  After unpacking and settling in, I walked down the road to grab a bite to eat.  There’s not much around but luckily a few carts were open still.  After I walk down the road to explore, but it was a bit boring…just gas station convenience stores…ehhhhh!

Day 24 Tues 6/19

I woke up, had breakfast at the hotel then walked over to the Central Plaza Mall.  It was pretty big and the food court had a lot of choices…ended up having two lunches, haha.

Since I still had a chest cold and my knee and foot were still injured, I decided to take the next couple of days off from training to get better.  This coupled with the fact that my hotel wasn’t in the city of Chiang Mai, lead me to feeling bored already and missing Phuket, along with my friends there.  So I decided to check out a scooter rental place do some sight-seeing.

Tony’s Rental Shop was recommended by TripAdvisor.com so went there…but they were out of scooters (however, they also do laundry so dropped off my dirty clothes…30 baht per kilo, cheap!).  Down the street I found another shop (“Pop Car & Rent”).  Some guys were in the process of paying for their bikes so I asked them about the place and which model they were getting.   They recommended this shop because the guy was honest…a few other places already ripped them off with “fake damages”.  The guys ended up being kewl and we grabbed a bite.  Two of the guys were from Holland, Ribas and Ty…the 3rd was Canadian, Gabriel.  They were finishing up their time in Chiang Mai and continuing their vaca to Phuket / Koh Sumui. Their flight left in a few hours so needed to kill some more time. We went to a massage place…I got a foot massage and they got a Thai massage.  I asked them which hotel they were staying at and they said Tapae Place hotel ( http://www.tapaeplacehotel.com/ ) which they recommended.  Before their cab to airport, they went to pickup their bags and the receptionist let me tour a room.  It was nice and big, and cheaper than my current hotel (650 baht).  So made a reservation for the next day.  Check out TripAdvisor’s review:

http://www.tripadvisor.com/Hotel_Review-g293917-d557936-Reviews-Tapae_Place_Hotel-Chiang_Mai.html

Day 25 Wed 6/20

Wednesday morning I packed my bags and moved to my new hotel.  Because I had a diesel suitcase, I had to hire a tuk-tuk driver for it, and I followed him on scooter.  The main reason I switched hotels is because I wanted to be in location closer to the heart of Chiang Mai.  Noble Place is a nice hotel, affordable and very close to Team Quest.  But since I wasn’t training, I wanted to do some sight-seeing and Tapae Hotel was in a better location for this.  Even if I decide to train, it’s only a 10-15 min ride over to Team Quest.

After checking in to my new hotel, I decided to take a ride up to the famous Doi Suthep mountain to check out Wat Prathat.  I had to change into jogging pants and a t-shirt because no shorts or tank-tops are allowed at temples. Also women need to be covered up.  It was about a 45 minute ride up to the mountain…very windy and foggy.  Once I got there, I stayed for about an hour just walking around the beautiful sacred area and taking pics.  At the entrance, there’s a sign that says foreigners need to go buy a ticket…since Chris look Thai, Chris no buy! 😛 I also got blessed by a monk (see the string around my wrist).  It started to pour as well.  Before I left, I picked up some souvenirs.

The trek down the mountain wasn’t too bad…I made a few stops at some waterfalls.  Here’s a video while riding my scooter: http://youtu.be/h63WcZFRkX0

For dinner, I had a chicken sandwich at some place called Mike’s “Converting vegetarians” was their motto.  It ended up being near a Muay Thai stadium (Loi Kroh)…there were numerous bars surrounding it.  It didn’t exactly seem like the place that offered high-quality, authentic fights…probably just for foreigners, haha.

Across the street was an ink shop, Naga Tattoo.  Like the one in Bangkok, it looked like it had character, as the front was very decorated and had two crazy dragons protruding out…so decided to go check out some artwork.  I spoke to the one of the workers for about 30 minutes and they were actually ranked #1 at some tattoo festival in Bangkok…2 trophies were at the desk.  The inside had lots of kewl paintings and artwork on the walls.  One of the guys who designed the “White Temple” in Chiang Rai had work hanging up.  I really liked Thai style dragons so was asking about their background. In some statues of Buddha, you’ll see 7 dragon heads behind him…that’s Naga.  So badass!  He’s there to protect him.  When guys get it, it’s “to be lucky with girls” lol.  In Thailand, I don’t think anyone needs that ha.  We also talked about the famous, big tattoo festival that’s held Wat Bang Phra and he showed me a picture album.

http://www.wat-bang-phra.com/

*IF* I was to get another tattoo, this would definitely be one of the places I’d go.  Here’s their website:

http://www.nagatattoo.com/

As usual, I went for a foot massage after dinner.  It was a really good place on Loi Kroh Road, across from the Ramming Lodge.  1 hour was only 120 baht, the cheapest yet.

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