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Rose(s) and Flower Festivals in Chiang Mai

And so it was on to Thailand. We couldn’t face the 18 hour bus journey through the mountains, so opted for the 1 hour flight instead. It was my first time in a plane with propellers but Lao Airlines did the job and we touched down in Chiang Mai, the largest town in Northern Thailand, without too much bother!

Thailand immediately seemed more developed than Laos – there were taxis picking people up from the airport instead of tuk-tuks for a start, one of we which we took to our hotel. Rose (Gem’s mum for anyone who doesn’t know her!) was joining us for a couple of weeks the following day so our standard of accommodation was a slight improvement on the usual to say the least! We arrived quite late so there was just time for a quick swim in the pool and a surprisingly cheap curry by the river.

The next morning we picked Rose up from the airport, and since she was quite jetlagged that gave us a good excuse to lounge around the pool in the sun all day, which we happily did, before belatedly celebrating our engagement with some champagne and another riverside dinner!

We thought we should be a bit more productive the next day, so that morning we headed up into the mountains that surround the town, to the top of Doi Suthep. First we visited the Phu Phing palace, a winter residence for the revered Thai royal family, which had some very colourful gardens and some small summer houses. Next it was on to Wat Phra That, a huge Buddhist temple looking out from the mountains over the city. It was crammed with visitors, but the shrines and the huge gold stupa were spectacular none the less. After a tiring morning in the heat we had a few hours by the pool then headed into town to explore the night market, resisting the temptation to fill up Rose’s suitcase with things to take home!

The following day we were up very early (by our standards at least) to explore some of the old temples in the town before breakfast. The hotel had bikes you could borrow, so we thought it would be a good way to travel before the heat of the day set in. As we were setting off, Rose mentioned that she hadn’t ridden a bike for at least 15 years, which didn’t bode well, and the rush hour traffic soon put this to the test! Despite a few hairy moments we made it into the old town, and had enough time to explore a couple of the more spectacular temples, including one with a school where dozens of young monks were eating their breakfast, before heading back to the hotel, this time riding through slightly quieter roads!

After more cooling by the pool we were picked up from the hotel for a Thai cooking course. We all had good fun cooking the usual Thai favourites and some northern specialities. We managed not to burn the place down and our food was edible, some would even say tasty! The hotel had suggested we bring it all back with us to eat there – this turned out to be a terrible idea as the staff had to bag everything up for us and we didn’t end up eating until 10pm. We did at least get to have a nice bottle of wine with it!

While we were in Chiang Mai, the annual flower festival was taking place, and on the Saturday was a parade into town. Some of floats were very ornate, all decorated with flower obviously and showed different scenes from the local area, and usually had a glamorously dressed woman sat on top of it all. There were also marching bands in slightly bizarre costume, and various other groups from the surrounding countryside, marching along with some extremely hot people and a few looking very bored with the whole thing!

The next morning it was back to the airport for the short flight down south for a bit of time on the beach!

1 Comment:
  1. Al 17 Feb, 2011

    Well done for looking after Mum! I’m looking forward to trying the Thai cooking when you get home.

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