Chiang Mai has been my favorite city since I had visited in 2008, and absolutely nothing has changed 8 years later. The overnight train ride from Bangkok to Chiang Mai was less than ideal, having only arriving at the station a couple minutes before the train left and finding out they only had 3rd class.
Third class, by the way, is a wooden seat.
Actually, half of one if you’re unlucky and someone else is booked right next to you.
Fortunately, I was lucky and had a whole bench to myself! As lucky as I may have been, a berth would have been a bit more comfortable. About half of my body fit onto the seat, so I ended up sleeping in a very contorted, strange position- that is, of course, when I even got sleep. My chair was broken, so every time the train hit a large bump (which it did often), my seat would fall to the ground.
Even with the discomfort, I felt so elated waking up to the view of foggy hills. There’s something about traveling and roughing it and knowing you could only get an experience where you are in that moment that makes even the not so great times absolutely amazing.
We arrived in Chiang Mai at around 12:30, and upon arriving, I asked two guys, Henri and Paul) if I could share a tuk tuk into the city with them. They said yes, thank goodness, because they turned out to be my buddies for my time here! We took the tuk tuk to their hostel (Henri’s first tuk tuk ride!), I put my stuff in their lobby, and then we started exploring. We went to a temple (I forgot the name), then stopped for lunch, where we met Kyle. The three of us then decided to meet up later that day for more temple-ing.
We went to two temples, the first being a beautiful big one with gorgeous paintings and a huge golden spire. Once we had finished up there, we took a tuk tuk to another temple and made it just in time to watch a bunch of monks recite their mantras. It was so peaceful and lovely and I again just felt so elated. We then went to a bar called Zoe in Yellow for a beer (or two for the guys and a beer and cocktail for me), then hit up a nearby jazz bar. It was only about 10 pm when I decided to go home as the lack of sleep on the train was catching up to me.
We decided to all meet again the next day to scout out some nearby waterfalls. The guys all rented motorbikes and I rode on the back of Henri’s because well, you know how clumsy I am (and yes mum and dad, I wore a helmet). It was dry season, so water was going to be scarce, but we were hopeful and we came across a waterfall that a bunch of young monks were jumping into and sliding down. Amazing. The guys decided to join in (minus Paul because he wasn’t feeling so good), but I didn’t because I wasn’t sure if it would be acceptable for a woman to swim alongside monks. I don’t know, just a respect thing. It was incredible (but what in Chiang Mai isn’t?). We also walked 200 something stairs up to a gorgeous temple and cruised around the mountainous area. When it was really hot, we decided to return to the monk swimming waterfall thing to cool off. They weren’t there so I hopped in too (actually I slid on my butt into the water), and it was refreshing and lovely and a great way to end our waterfall trip. After motorbiking home and washing up and such, we all met up again for food. After eating, we went to Zoe in Yellow AGAIN, this time opting for a very strong cocktail called the “Lost in Chiang Mai” (sorry mum). Once that bucket was finished between the three of us (Paul was still feeling eh), we tuk tuked out to the Muay Thai fight, which was fun to experience (minus the fact that I lost all my bets to Kyle). That finished at around 11:30 and we decided to get some late night massages, then we went home. It was an amazing day that perfectly embodied what backpacking is all about.
Once again, we all met up and took some motorbikes out to a waterfall. This waterfall, Sticky Waterfall, was about 50 kilometers away. It’s called sticky waterfall because you can literally climb up the waterfall through the water and everything. It was amazing amazing fun, but we didn’t spend ages there because we had a bit of a late start and it was getting darkish. Also a sidenote, my phone ran out of space and I was too lazy to get my camera out/I didn’t want it to get wet, so photos of the waterfall are scarce aka there is 1 photo.
The squad and I met up to eat food and go to the night bazaar and say our goodbyes, as they’re heading down to southern Thailand whilst I continue my trip up north. I might see them separately again, but tonight was our last night all together 😥 Thats the thing about travel, though. You meet wonderful people who pass through and make your trip something special. These 3 have made Chiang Mai a place to remember and I am so so blessed to have met them.
Ugh I love Chiang Mai.