Friday 18 August, showers, humid, 27°
Had a sleep in this morning so didn't get up until 8am, went down for some breakfast ( just the usual fare of cornflakes, toast, noodles and coffee ). We had grabbed a whole lot of Elephant sanctuary pamphlets last night to look through and had narrowed our choice down to a couple. So after breakfast we headed off to Tha Phae Road and found the office for the "Elephant Jungle Sanctuary" and arranged to go on a full day Elephant excursion tomorrow ( B2400 ea ( NZ$100 )). We also got some prices for the trip to Luang Prabang, in Laos, by bus then slow boat on the Mekong. We briefly stopped by the hotel to drop off a couple of things then out again.
We walked through the back alleys ( Soi ) around our hotel ( nice and quiet ) and back came out at Tha Phae Gate ( one of the gates through the wall around the Old Town, most of the wall has been removed now, except for the corners and the gate walls, and to be honest the gate sections look like they have been rebuilt ). We carried on through the gates and into the old town, walking along Rachadamnoen Road until we reached Wat Than Tao ( a Wat is a temple ) which is old teak temple and we went in for a look. Then it started to rain so we stayed inside a little longer...
Once that shower had passed we went to the neighbouring Wat Chedi Luang which is a big complex with many temples ( "Sim" ) around a large old stone stupa which has partly collapsed. Once we went inside the main Sim the heavy rain started again so we spent our time in the complex dodging from one building to the next to avoid getting too wet. The temples are just stunning in their detail.
We left at 11:30am and headed across the road for a cold drink and a waffle ( B375 ) ( and to avoid some more rain ). Then back to Rachadamnoen Road and walked further west to the end of the road at Wat Phra Singh, another large complex of temples. B40 to get into this one. The main temple had a service taking place where blessings were being read out from letters and postcards, and people were getting blessed by the monks. We had a walk around the complex.
After we left Wat Phra Singh we walked south back to the moat / old city walls and then walked east back to Los Kroh Road and back to the hotel at 1:30pm. Rest time again. I was hoping that after 2 weeks in the heat and humidity that we would have become a little bit used to it, but we haven't.
We headed out again at 2:30pm to Los Kroh Road for a coffee and then walked around the area where the night bazaar is held every night. They were just starting to set up so we thought we would come back to this area for dinner another night.
We headed back to the hotel again and decided that we needed to book our onward travel from Chang Mai into Laos and to Luang Prabang, so we went back to the travel agent where we booked the Elephant trip and paid for a package to Luang Prabang.
The package consists of
- a 'bus' ( actually a minivan ) trip from Chiang Mai to Chiang Khong on the Thai / Laos border
- a nights accommodation there ( including meals )
- a taxi to the border crossing on the Thai side
- a ticket for the bus across the Friendship Bridge ( which spans the Mekong River between Thailand and Laos )
- a taxi to the dock in Huay Xai, in Laos
- passage on the slow boat to Luang Prabang with a nights accommodation in Pak Beng on the way
This cost us B2500 each ( NZ$110 ) and we leave on Monday 21st August so that gives us a few days in Chiang Mai to explore.
We really like Chiang Mai, it has a nice feel of being big enough to have everything you need, but not too big. And it has a nice mix of modern and historic areas. And an added bonus is that for a SE Asian city, it is quite clean.
We finished the day by shooting some photos down at the moat then walking to "The Teak" restaurant in Los Kroh Road for tea, and watching another heavy shower wash the streets. Got back to the hotel at 8:15.
I don't know if Liz is going to sleep tonight thinking about seeing elephants tomorrow.