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Hotel Suggestions

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

By | History & Culture | 2 Comments

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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Goodbye Phuket, Hello Bangkok – Day 21 & 22 (June 16 & 17)

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Saturday Day 21 June 16 

I woke up around 7ish since I was meeting Vincent and Paolo Miranda at the Phuket airport for a 10:50am flight to Bangkok.  I made another stop by Kru Oh but his housemate said he was still sleeping…looks like I’ll have to email him to get my questions answered.  Then I said my my goodbyes to the Fern House family and got in a cab to the airport (600 or 700 baht and about 45 min).

Leaving Phuket was a bit sad for me.  When planning my trip to Thailand months ago (in February / March), my initial plan was to do the a whole month there…but then I started reading about other parts of Thailand and various Muay Thai camps…so decided on only 2 weeks in Phuket.  After meeting everyone the first week there, I felt really comfortable and happy to be with such amazing and interesting people…which is why I ultimately decided on extending my stay to 3 weeks in total.  The friendships I made and the memories we had were something special to me.  I could definitely picture myself living in Phuket long-term 😉  The “sabai, sabai” (relax, relax) attitude and laidback beach vibe is contagious.

When I got to the waiting lounge at Phuket airport, I saw two guys with sunglasses on, passed out on the seats….turned out, it was the Miranda brothers, lol.  After arriving to Bangkok airport, I picked up my luggage but Paolo and Vincent didn’t see theirs.  We spoke to the attendant and it seems that since they came from Koh Samui, they were supposed to pick up their luggage in Phuket and check it in before Bangkok…of course the attendant in Koh Samui told Vincent the opposite which lead to this mix-up.

After an hour or two, we got the luggage and were on our way to the hotel (Da Vinci)  It’s about a 45 – 60 min ride and traffic in Bangkok is bad, like NYC bad.  We try to check in at the hotel, but they now tell us that they are booked and have to move us to a different hotel…This is after I used http://agoda.com online booking.  So it takes another 20 – 30min to get to Seasons Boutique Hotel.  The place is in a good location (BTS airtrain Nana station), new and the rooms are modern and clean..atleast we didn’t get screwed.  It’s about 3 or 4pm so decide to grab a bite next door at this burger joint…the food was delicious.  A bit pricey but worth it.

Later we took a cab to Lumpinee stadium to do some shopping for Muay Thai gear.  It started to down-pour heavily.  After, we cabbed it to MBK mall for more shopping.  It’s a 5- floor megamall that sells everything, from clothes, electronics, souvenirs, etc.  However, a lot of the stores sell bootlegs…as in knock-offs.  There was an “high-end luxury” store with D&G, Armani Exchange, Montclair and even G-star (one of my fav’s)…they looked real but were all fakes.  I’m used to the NYC Chinatown bootlegers, but the Thai’s bring it to a whole new level with the store decor and presentation (ie. mannequins, lol).  I ended up getting a Diesel belt for my cargo shorts and some kewl V-neck t-shirts for about 150 baht each.

The last stop was Kaoh San Road…the infamous touristy area in Bangkok.  It’s a loud, pumping, vibrant area with souvenir shops, massage parlors, bars, food carts and clubs.  I picked up some more gifts for people back at home (tank-tops and small statues)…we also got a foot massage and tried the pedicure where the fish eat your dead skin cells, haha.

The Miranda’s were scheduled to leave the hotel around 5-6 AM Sunday morning to fly back home to Australia…we said our good-byes then went to bed.

Sunday Day 22 – June 17

I was scheduled to leave Bangkok Sunday to start my training in Chiang Mai.  But since Saturday was a lost day wasted on traveling, I decided to “sabai, sabai” and take in another day and night.  Usually I’d be all stressed out about my travel plans getting messed up, but living in Thailand so far has taught me to just go with the flow…things work out.

One of the guys I ended up hanging out with in Phuket was Michael Galvin, the owner of the awesome Muay Thai website: http://www.muaythaitrainingcamps.com/

His site has loads of helpful information regarding Thailand…actually I used a lot his articles to plan my trip.  Two things he mentioned to do in Bangkok were:

1 – Shop at Action Zone for cheap Muay Thai gear

http://www.muaythaitrainingcamps.com/guide-to-actionzone-muay-thai-shop/

2 – Get a haircut at Never Say Cutz

http://www.muaythaitrainingcamps.com/shout-out-neversay-cutz-bangkok/

So I walked to the closest BTS (AirTrain) station Nana.  Tip: The BTS AirTrain is cheap, super easy to use and fastest way to get around…yeah cabs are cheap (unlike NYC) but the traffic makes it soooo slow to get around.  Time = $$$ people!  To get a ticket, go upto the window that has a worker and tell her the station name…if you jack up the pronunciation like I did, just point to the station on a card / map (I wonder what Thai’s think of me…I look Thai, but can’t pronounce any of the words, lol).  She’ll quote you some number in baht, so just give her that in bills.  She’ll give you back the same amount back, but in coins.  Now walk over to the ticket machine and follow the directions.  Swipe the card using the arrows pointed outward.  Before going up the escalator/ stairs, make sure you either ask someone or look at the map.  There’s a map everywhere so you can confirm you’re going in the right direction.  My dumbass gets lost in NYC all the time and I’ve worked there for 7 yrs, lol.

To get to Action Zone, take the BTS to Siam station.  Then walk across the platform to transfer to the other line…take that to the National Stadium stop.  When you leave the station, you have to swipe your card.  Walk out and go towards the National Stadium.  Keep walking another 10 minutes…you’ll pass a Tesco Lotus on your left and cross a crazy intersection. Keep walking some more until you see Action Zone (see pic).

Since it was Sunday, the store was closed.  I decided to just explore the area some more and stumbled upon a suit tailor next door.  Getting a suit was something I was planning on doing in Bangkok since you can get custom made ones for cheaper than what it costs in the States…plus I have my cousin’s wedding the week after I get back and wanted to look pimp for it, haha.

When I walked in, the store looked very professional and well kept.  Other ones I saw in Bangkok didn’t look as nice.  Jeff was the employee who helped me out. First topic we talked about was price…there’s 3 levels based on the fabric of the suit…the cheap one was about 4,000 baht, the middle was 6-7,000 baht and the most expensive was 8,500 baht.  I decided on the latter option since 8,500 baht is about $283 US which is a bargain.  In my closet I have a few Hugo Boss suits, but my last one was from Zara…it costs around $300 but then had to get it tailored.  A few months ago, the seam on my butt split, cheap workmanship Zara!  Also, the pricier material was a lighter, cashmere fabric which was good for me since it’ll be summer when wearing it.   Next he gave me a catalog of suit designs for me to look at.  I spotted a nice 2-button slim cut suit with narrow peak lapels, in a dark charcoal gray…I was sold!

He took my measurements and I gave him a 4,500 baht deposit.   I would come back tomorrow for an initial suit fitting, then again in 2 weeks for a final fitting.  Jeff was great as he spoke very good English (he’s from Nepal I think) and even travels to NYC every few months for business.  He also seemed knowledgeable and fair.   I feel in Bangkok, everyone’s always trying to hustle you, just like NYC.  The store has been around for quite a while too.  On the back of my deposit slip/ business card, it said “Thailand’s Golden Shield Award Winning Tailor for 2008 – 2009”  http://thaisquarecenter.com/

Next I took the BTS to Thong Lo station to get a haircut at Never Say Cutz, located off Soi 50 I think.  It has a barber stripey thing outside.  Just looking at the shop from outside, you could tell the place is legit and has character.  When you step inside, you hear them playing American Hip-Hop…they either got digital satellite or a mixtape playing through the speakers.  There’s a huge portrait of Biggie Smalls on the far wall and one of the Empire State building on the near wall.  The place def has a kewl, NYC vibe to it.  Mike recommended “Jack” so ask for him.

I wait about 10 minutes then it’s my turn.  I told him a fade with clipper #0 and just a little off the top.  He finishes off my cut with an old skewl razor blade on my neck and sides.  About 25 minutes later, he turned me into the most handsome man, lol.  No joke, his haircut is better than my NYC barber.  And it only costs 250 baht…about $7.50 US…but I hit my man with a 140 baht tip because it’s still a bargain and he really did a sick job.  I’ll be back to Bangkok in 2 weeks before my final flight to NYC, so told Jack I’ll stop by again.

It wasn’t too late so decided to walk around Thong Lo a bit…one place that caught my eye  was this bar called Wood Bar…it had kewl signage outside with aliens protruding from it.  They also had a flyer up for some tattoo shop, “Tattoo OD”…it looked professional, but also well designed/ trendy.  It was a few doors down so went and checked it out.  I still had fresh ink on me so wasn’t looking to get anything done, but was contemplating getting another tattoo on my shin maybe in the future.  I asked to see some of their work and they let me flip through the pics on their laptop, then book, then ipad (excellent use of technology btw).  It’s a needle gun shop, not bamboo style.  During this time, I was speaking to the manager of the shop, Petch I think.  He spoke very good English and lived in LA for a bit to go to college (art, design or fashion).  Before I left I grabbed their business card.

Their FB page is: http://www.facebook.com/tattoo.odstudio

Foursquare: https://foursquare.com/v/tattoo-od-studio/4dd059dfd22deadedd81b6fe

Afterwards, I jumped on the BTS back to my hotel.  I stopped off for an hour foot massage at this place called Foot Joy.  The lady was really good and it costs 250 baht plus 100 baht tip.  But it was well worth it.  My foot arch was still in pain from training.

If you’re brave, one of the fun things in Bangkok are the numerous food carts that line the streets and alleys.  I grabbed dinner at one of these before heading to the hotel.  A few hours later, I was hungry again and got pan fried/ Pad Thai noodles with chicken.  My mouth is watering again as I write this, haha.

Quick review of Seasons Boutique Hotel

I was put into this hotel by accident…however, I would def stay here again and recommend this place to other people (in fact, I told them please reserve a room for me in 2 weeks).  Their website for bookings is  http://seasonsboutiquehotel.com/

  • Cheap rates, about 1300 baht per night (they had a sign outside for a special rate of 1200 since they’re new)…this is about $40 US.
  • Good location, as they are in the Suhkumvit area of Bangkok and the BTS Nana station is within walking distance.  The other sites, ie. shopping malls and food carts / restaurants are close as well.
  • Great customer service.  The managers and concierge were very helpful and spoke good English.  When I told them my AC in my room wasn’t working because the remote control was missing, they gladly moved me to the next room over, which was a larger corner room with window view.
  • The hotel is new and rooms are clean and modern.
  • Wireless internet is good. It did go down for a little bit, but they called me when it was back up.
  • The only con I might say is the rooms aren’t small, but aren’t big either.  I guess average…but the corner room was def a bit bigger.  However, you aren’t spending much time except to sleep & shower. 
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