Sunday, February 21, 2010

Temples and Markets

After spending five days and nights here in Chiang Mai, this turns out to be our longest stay in one place since WWOOFing in New Zealand. We've wondered around, visiting all the temples inside the city, and last night we went to the Night Market, an area of town that becomes a huge outdoor shopping pavilion from 5PM onwards. There's a Sunday Night Market that we plan on visiting tonight, although since we're not really in the market for t-shirts, fake Tiffany jewelery, fake Rolexes, jade elephants, wooden bowls, etc. we don't plan on buying anything. It's fun to look around though.

Today we took a little side-trip out to Wat Doi Suthep, about 10 miles outside Chiang Mai, which was more of an adventure getting there than actually seeing the temple.

We went to the meeting place where taxis take people out to the temple. As we approached the line of waiting songthaews (pickups with benches in the back) we were beckoned towards a group of tourists waiting nearby. Apparently the songthaew drivers like to get around 500 Baht ($15 USD) per trip, and the trucks hold about 10 people so if it's full it costs 50 Baht each. The driver doesn't care if it's full - he just wants his 500 Baht, so when we approach the group (a Polish couple, a Korean man, and a mother/daughter from France) the driver is negotiating prices for the trip. He's also trying to sell side-trips to other temples, palaces and the like, some of which the Polish couple wanted, but the French lady did not. Being that we spoke the best English amongst the group we became lead negotiators. We brokered a deal to leave immediately for 60 Baht each for those that wanted just the temple, and 80 for the Polish couple to go to both the temple and the palace. This seemed like a fair deal, and we were ready to go when the Polish couple said no, they wanted 50 for the temple and the palace. The driver walked away disgusted. Luckily, four Chinese walked up and we all agreed to just go to the temple only for 50 each and let the Polish negotiate their palace tour separately.

The temple was quite pretty, but extremely touristy (should have expected that I suppose). It was also under going some renovations:
We walked around the grounds, had some pineapple and fried bananas, and came back to town.

Tomorrow we leave for Laos. We plan on taking a bus to the border town, spending the night on the Thai side, then crossing over in the morning where we hope to take a two-day boat ride down the Mekong river to the town of Luang Prabang. At least that's our plan...

Update: We added some more pictures, including some of our visit to the excellent Sunday Night Market.


  1. Hi Asa and Jaimee. We also are headed for the border and the boat but I heard that low water levels might scuttle the plan. Maybe we'll see you on a bus between there and LP instead? Keep us updated on where you are and maybe we can meet again...Cheers,Gillian and Jason

  2. Gillian,

    You are correct. We just got to Chiang Khang and it's true the slow boats have been canceled since last Thursday. They're blaming it on the Chinese; they think the Chinese diverted some water somewhere causing the river to drop about two meters in two weeks. No word on whether it will rise back.

    We'll update the blog when we decide what we're doing. There is a over night bus to LP which leaves everyday at 5PM...

  3. I love what you great people are doing. I'm glad you posted the link to your blog on Facebook the other day, otherwise I would be incomplete. I'll spend the next few days living vicariously through your journal entries.

    Be free, love, and be loved.


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