Our Songkran madness continued in northern Thailand, in the city of Chiang Mai, with a HUGE, stinking hangover. The 70 baht cocktails seemed like a great idea at the time, especially drinking them until 3am when we had to be up early for a flight…
After spending almost three solid days soaking wet, we miraculously managed to get our taxi to Bangkok airport before everyone was out on the streets, so we got there warm and dry before realising the next challenge would be… getting into Chiang Mai without getting wet.
Challenge accepted, and achievement… achieved! (you CANNOT say the same for our taxi’s windscreen!!!)
We arrived and immediately wanted to nap, but instead got chatting to a girl in our room, who enthusiastically took us down to Thapae Gate to see what was going on. A stage was set up, water was everywhere, people were blasting streams of water from the stage, all the bars had staff outside soaking everyone. There were even trucks of people driving through with buckets of water flying everywhere.
Yup, Chiang Mai was going to be just as mad as Bangkok!!
That evening, we needed a break from it all. We went out for a meal at a British place; perhaps bad culturally but it was our first real break from Asian food in six weeks! And while I love a plate of noodles as much as the next person, it was nice to sit in a proper restaurant with something a bit more substantial.
The next day, our new-found friend Rhianne excitedly told us that she’d gone to the rock bar behind Zoe’s and was watching a great band who happened to include our hostel’s owner. They were playing again tonight, so that was our evening sorted – but first we needed to get through the final day of Songkran.
I’m not going to lie – it was starting to become a struggle. We just wanted to be DRY. We wanted to go out and DO THINGS instead of just WATER FIGHTS.
I was excited to see what Chiang Mai had to offer – after all, it’s renowned as one of the digital nomad capitals of the world, so it must be a pretty cool city, right? Plus it’s home to over 300 temples, and I wanted to see some of those at some point.
But actually, we had a really awesome day. We walked along some street food markets (no water allowed!) and had some delicious smoothies, got into a seriously epic water fight with a super cute kid – he kept disappearing when he was out of water and coming back with a different gun!! – and after some food, a parade appeared.
I had been gutted because I was really looking forward to the parade, and our friend said it had already happened on Monday, so we assumed we missed it. Oh no. This was still pretty huge.
So big, in fact, that we wanted to get back to Thapae Gate and had no other way to get there than by… joining the parade. A Thai guy even gave our friend some icy water to get some of the crowd with!
Unfortunately I got next to no photos, being that, well – there was water everywhere!! Makes a change!
It was a lot of fun though, and we finished it off later with one of the best nights out of our trip. After a couple of questionable bands in Pentatonic, our hostel owner’s band came on and started ticking off AC/DC, Guns N Roses and Nirvana. You can guess which songs.
They were good, but then they went into Chop Suey by System Of A Down and the ENTIRE PLACE WENT INSANE. From then on, they were FANTASTIC. Disturbed, Rage Against The Machine, more SOAD… this was the first night out we’d had where our taste in music was catered for!
We rocked out until gone 1am, the place was packed, there was a fire show right outside, we talked to the singer of another band because he & Ash were both wearing A Day To Remember t shirts, and had a really good time!
And then Chiang Mai died.
Not that I’m complaining; it was nice to walk around the temples with no one else there (even Chedi Luang, pictured below!), it was nice to walk through Thapae Gate without being totally soaked, and it was definitely nice to not have to push through the crowd outside Zoe’s the following night.
But it was really dead for the next couple of days. Eerily so.
The street markets were gone so we couldn’t have absurdly cheap lunches or smoothies (we had to pay a whole £1 instead!!), and although it was lovely having a drink at the camper van bar next to Zoe’s, there was no atmosphere. We found ourselves back in Pentatonic most nights even though our guys weren’t playing, and had some decent evenings but it wasn’t quite the same!
Saturday night brought everyone out again, particularly as a United game was on, so of course Ash dragged me to the nearest pub to watch! A pub that was also showing THE WALKING DEAD on the TVs upstairs! Weird, right?
It actually ended up being a really good, relaxing couple of days, which is exactly what we needed. We went to the Art In Paradise museum, recommended to us by our roomie, and took a LOT of stupid pictures. In fact, I’ve put together a photo post with some of our shenanigans.
Read more: Photo Post: Art In Paradise, Chiang Mai
On Sunday, we explored the walking market and did it the right way – we started at the end and made our way towards Thaphe Gate, which was PACKED because it’s everyone’s starting point. We had 20p (10 baht!!!) noodles, and some other delicious goodies, and I bought some really, really cute gifts like personalised wooden keyrings for super cheap! Ash got some t shirts for 100 baht each (£2).
People get templed out, as we had learned; people also get marketed out. We didn’t. We still LOVE markets, and this was our favourite market of all!
It was much better than the regular night market, too. We had ventured over one night and we were a little underwhelmed. Two streets were lined with stalls, but much of it was the same as the next; and the indoor market had virtually nothing in. The food market area was very overpriced and we ended up going for dinner somewhere else.
But the Sunday walking market is fabulous!! 10/10 recommend.
So that was part one of Chiang Mai, a new city to love.
I loved the cute cafés and restaurants dotted even in the quietest of areas. I loved that you could walk along a street and suddenly a temple would appear. And then another one. And another one would be right opposite. (Did I mention Chiang Mai has over 300 temples?!?)
I loved our hostel, which had been a total risk because everywhere was booked up over Songkran, so we had to book somewhere with zero reviews. It was actually above a coffee shop, and it wasn’t exactly the best hostel ever (it had no air con, for one thing!!) but it was perfect for us! The owner was so nice, the coffee shop was great (and also rock themed!), and being part of a coffee shop, it meant the hostel had the best wifi we’d had in the whole of Asia.
Plus – it was the CHEAPEST place we’d stayed in the whole of Asia!!
*drum roll please* £2.50 per night!!
And so it was time for our next adventure: a week volunteering at what I would confidently like to call one of the best and probably most important animal organisations in the world: Elephant Nature Park!!
But it wasn’t really goodbye as we’d be back in Chiang Mai, albeit very briefly, and we were very much looking forward to it!
I’ve got plenty more about our incredible Asia trip – here are some of my posts!
⭐ Loving Northern Vietnam – Hanoi, Halong Bay & Ninh Binh
⭐ Central Vietnam: Historic, Beautiful… And Very Touristy
⭐ Buses, Boats and Bikes in Saigon
⭐ Songkran in Bangkok: One of the Craziest Festivals in the World
⭐ One Of The Best Weeks Of Our Lives Volunteering At Elephant Nature Park
⭐ A Surprising Paradise on Koh Phangan and How Not to Survive the Full Moon Party
⭐ Koh Tao: Our Favourite Thai Island
⭐ And Then We Fell In Love With Koh Lanta
⭐ Krabi, Railay and the Most Beautiful Beach in the World, and Climbing 1200 Steps to a Temple
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