Thailand – Changmai

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Bangkok’s new airport, named Suvarnabhumi – try telling a taxi driver that. Heavy on the tensile fabrics, but quite impressive in scale.

Last week was Lunar New Year, so along with much of the foreign contingent in Taiwan, jetted off to warmer climes. Sadly, one of the things I seemed to bring back was an violent aversion to eating, and I have spent the last day wrapped up with a belly that feels like it is on a spin cycle.

No matter. The holiday was fantastic. I plumped for a trip up to the north Thai city of Chang Mai, for no reason except to provide some symmetry to my trip to the south of Thailand a couple of years ago – was it really that long ago?


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I only had about five days to play with this time around, so I opted to divide it up a bit between doing sweet eff-eh, seeing the touristy sights, and getting into the hills for some hikin’ and biking’ action. It’s always a tough balance, but I think I managed it, as I hope you can judge from the piccies below. Enjoy! I did.


None of the fans were running in the temples, indicating that the weather was, unlike Taipei, bang-on PERFECT. Cool – but sunny.


Views


Renovation work


Adopt a tile


A rather gorgeous effigy coated in gold leaf and looking luxurious in the sunlight.


The awesome night markets – where I happened to bump into some of the senior guys from 3 and Orange cell phones in London. Ate on a curb, brainstorming interactions over street beer and kebabs. As it should be.


The food was superb. Mum & Dad – some here!


In the heart of the market – and continuously in peoples’ way!


Words fail to describe how deliciously unhealthy a Roti (kind of a double fried pancake in butter) with Banana can taste after a night out on the tiles / bean bags.


Visiting a Teak carver (but not buying anything, for fear of chopping down more Burmese rainforests), I watched a plaque take shape – apparently, a 100x50cm piece could take 60 days to complete!


The silk factory was my favourite – I have never seen silk worms ‘in action’ and it was pretty amazing to see the stages of development, and then how they actually extract the thread – or rather, just unravel the cocoon… the pupae inside left afterwards was kind of horrid, though.


Seconds out…


I went and did the obligatory Muay Thai boxing, which starts with wee nippers, before progressing onto the heavier, cooler categories.


There were knock-outs, but the most blood thirsty people in the audience proved to be a row of very innocent looking foreign girls – quite surreal to watch with a sound track of “kill ‘im! … yeahhhh! … phwoarrr!”


K.O. !!!


Ring side


Expectation


Commentating


And the house band.


Flight of the moth.


The route home – racing in a ‘Tuk Tuk’ (motorised rickshaw)


Zoom zoom


Tuk Tuk heroics

And into the hills the intrepid traveler climbed…


Got my shot of mountain biking, which was three hours of pretty fab downhilling, but on a rig that I would barely want to ride down the shops on.


My ride for the day – it didn’t matter too much though, as descending along singletrack bamboo forest was pretty spectacular … although it all could have gone horribly wrong – I had a puncture and the well organised mechanical team did not have a working pump between them.


And the next day, just to prove how healthy I am, a 7 hour hike through some pretty stunning scenery.


Hill tribe kids playing


A real life bat cave! – what you cannot appreciate in the movies is how much they stink of bat pooh.


Nice footrub after the hiking … and then up to the rooftop bar for some beer

2 Comments

  1. Posted 2008/02/18 at 16:35 | Permalink

    Sweet pics, looks like a great time. I’ve been in Taiwan for almost 4 years and still haven’t managed to get over to Thailand.
    Congrats on the Italy article too!

  2. Posted 2008/02/27 at 11:36 | Permalink

    thanks for the nice comment – definitely try to make it to Thailand – pretty cool place.

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