Phil, Jeff and I hopped on a short flight from Bangkok to Chiang Mai (northern Thailand), where Phil would stay with us for 5 more days before heading back to Chicago, and where Jeff and I would stay for almost 2 weeks. During the hour long flight, I ended up chatting with very nice Indian man from Cleveland. It really is a small world!
For the next 5 nights, we stayed in the Old City of Chiang Mai. The Old City area is about 2 km by 2km square with a ton of bars, restaurants and temples. We knew it would be touristy, but we were still surprised to see more Westerners than locals. Our first night in town, we ate dinner at a place recommended by our taxi driver from the airport and it was a small noodle shop, definitely more local than places like the U.N.Irish Pub that lined the street near our hotel.
Then we walked outside of the Old City walls and found the Night Bazaar. There were a lot of knick-nacks to buy, but we were more interested in all of the food stands...and the fish spa! We had some delicious ice cream fresh made for us from sweet and condensed milk and chosen toppings mixed on a cold stone, and then spread it out nice and thin, and served it all fancy and rolled up!
The next morning we didn’t do much since all the green curry had finally caught up with Phil’s stomach. He was a trooper, and after lounging by our hotel pool:
We went to dinner and to see a Muay Thai fight! Tickets were about $11 each for the cheap seats. It was a little sketchy when we first walked in. We were escorted by a man-lady to our seats, and in the ring duking it out were two 10 year old boys. After the children were done, there were about 5 more fights that night. There was one women’s fight, and the last fight was an international fight. Some American and a local Thai dude. We though the American won, but clearly, we didn’t know anything about Muay Thai rules.
We think that you get more points by kicking your opponent and using your feet. These guys are super flexible! Also, there are 5 rounds of fighting. Each round lasts about 3 minutes and 30 seconds (or seemingly, whenever someone decides to gong the bell.)
I think I got more into the fights than the guys did. Maybe it was the beer, but I was really enjoying watching these people kick the crap out of each other. My favorite part, besides the Thai commentary that I couldn’t understand, was the live music. There were three musicians who played the entire night, throughout each round, and only took a 5-minute break before the last fight.
The fights didn’t end until midnight, so we got a few hours of sleep and woke up early the next day and rented scooters. After my last moto experience, I wasn’t too keen on the idea of getting back on a bike. It was a good thing we got an early start to beat most of the tourists, and we headed outside of town, into the mountains!
We drove all the way up to Wat Phra That Doi Suthep. It is one of northern Thailand’s most sacred Buddhist temples. It was beautiful, and offered great views of the city below!
On the way back down the mountain we explored a little bit of Doi Suthep Pui National Park. We stopped at a few waterfalls and went on a hike in the jungle.
We got back into town, ate some Khao Soi, the local curry noodle soup, and later went to the Saturday night market. There seems to be a different market every night here in Thailand, and this market was packed!
PS. I’m naming the Chiang Mai blog posts after rounds in a Muay Thai fight....stay tuned to see if we make it through all 5 rounds!