Sunday, January 10, 2010

Chiang Mai and the Sunday Walking Markets


So it turns out that I was exhausted from yesterday's epic travels and as such spent most of today asleep. I did get up for some breakfast and a look around where we were staying. The Secret Garden is just as charming by daylight as it is by twilight.

In the afternoon, we headed in to explore Chiang Mai. We spent some of our time with a retired British couple, who showed us to a nice, foreigner friendly restaurant where we had some delicious thai food. Our meals only cost 50-80 Baht each, which is actually on the expensive side for Chiang Mai, apparently. Still, I wasn't complaining...

One thing that I have noticed about Chiang Mai is their main method of public transportation. It is essentially a ute, except the tray has a shelter over it with sideways-facing benches. The passengers sit on these benches, and you hurtle along at speeds of up to 140km/h. Not the safest method of transport, but it is quite effective.

Late in the day we went to Chiang Mai's famous Sunday Walking Markets. This was an experience. The market at first didn't seem all that big- about the size of the southbank markets. After browsing around that area, we realized that that was only the ENTRANCE to the rest of the markets. The whole of the market stretched for about three kilometers long, and at some points it was up to three streets wide.

The markets stocked goods of all shapes and sizes, from random sticks of mystery meat (affectionately referred to in my friend circle as "stickmeat") to assorted skirts and fishermen's pants. There were also whole barbecued squids on skewers. I wasn't game enough to try one.

For dessert, I had a banana wrapped in a pancake smothered in chocolate sauce. It was tasty, but very western. Emma had something a bit more adventurous and definitely more hazardous to her health. It was called a "roti", which is essentially a fried pancake rolled in palm sugar, condensed milk and chocolate sauce... Then DEEP FRIED (yes, it was fried twice). They were only 10 Baht each, but I'm guessing that the hospital bills for consuming more than one of these would be far, far greater.

After that, we headed home. I spent some time speaking to another British gentleman who used to work as one of the top electrical engineers for Disney. His musings over the entertainment industry were very insightful and I very much enjoyed talking to him.

So far, I am enjoying Chiang Mai much more than Bangkok. The pace of the city is far less hectic, there doesn't seem to be nearly as many people out to steal your money, and, above all, the weather is much more enjoyable. So far the temperatures have averaged around 25 degrees with nary a bit of humidity to be felt - comparable to a pleasant autumn day in Brisbane.

And now I'm going to bed. Tomorrow we get to visit all of the temples around Chiang Mai. Photos will come soon, I promise!

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