Chiang Mai is intense.
Our journey to get here was 14 hours of ghettoness. Since we changed our Thailand plans too last minute, only 2nd class non-air conditioned seats were available for the 10pm “express” train. Note the quote marks around express, since our hot ghetto train with rickety rotating fans definitely moved at the speed of light. It also loved to stop randomly in the middle of jungles, vast farmland dotted with oxen, or tunnels. People walked alongside the train on certain stretches of railroad track, while middle aged ladies hopped into the train to sell food on their large round plates.
45 minutes afternoon, we finally made it to the Chiang Mai railway station with sore backs and necks feeling twisted in at least three places. Little did we know, that was just the beginning.
We were bombarded by tuk tuks, songthraews, and “tourist information” hustlers. We crossed
the street to 7-11, dismayed to find we were in the middle of nowhere. We got approached by a few more tuk tuks, until a songthraew pulled up in front of us. We agreed on a set price, but the evil scammer and accomplice wife drove us to an even MORE remote area and pulled over on the side. The man got off and asked me for the sheet with my hotel’s number. He then “called the hotel” and some lady in English had the gall to inform me that I should pay 400 baht for the drive since it was “too far”. I hung up immediately. I checked the number and dialed the correct one, only to hear a spew of Thai. The man bared his fangs and said 400! We bared ours back and insisted on the original price. Then we jumped off the car. I don’t deal with shady people.
We found ourselves on a remote street with limited traffic. Under the sweltering sun, clutching our belongings and sweating profusely, we were not happy campers. Thankfully, 15 minutes later another songthraew pulled over for us, and we agreed on 300 baht since we were faaaar. Unfortunately he tried to pull the same sh*t on us, but I insisted dialing my own number. In the end, we settled on price and we were off.
Today was the ultimate showdown between heaven and hell. We finally arrived at Jasmine Hills Lodge, and were greeted with amazing service, a delicious chilled Thai drink, and our own private bungalow on top of the river. So…heavenly.
We unwinded and headed to the bamboo gazebo right down on the waterfront for Thai massages. At 5 30, we called up Rung, our trusty songthraew driver to pick us up and take us into the city.
For the next 5 hours, we explored Chiang Mai’s famous night bazaar. It was amazing. We pigged out on pad Thai & coconuts and picked up 1356732 souvenirs ranging from exotic elephant lamps to an artistic elephant painting. I love Chiang Mai’s night markets!!!
The night ended on quite the disturbing note…Rung the driver came sharply at 10 30 to pick us up in front of McD’s. We were whisked away in “style” just as it started pouring.
When we got back to our hotel, we paid Rung and asked him to take a picture with us. Perhaps I shouldn’t have put my arm lightly on his shoulder American style, because that hand of his started wandering…I jumped away and he got the hint, but I was already creeped out. To my luck, K messed up the shot and asked for a redo. Joy! He ended up looking like a creepy demon in all of the pics. *Shudder*.
Relaxing at my amazing bungalow now, writing this post and reflecting on today. I’m not sure about my take on CM locals after the scammer/creeper, but I’m absolutely in love with Jasmine Hill Lodge (the bungalow, staff, and service are superb) and what I’ve seen of Chiang Mai city. I’m excited for tomorrow!!