Chiang Mai, Our 1st Week

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Our taxi picked us up from the hostel in Ao Nang and around thirty minutes later we were printing out our AirAsia boarding passes and waiting to board our domestic flight to Chiang Mai.   Mum, Dad and Son had been to Chiang Mai seven years before.  A short four day stay on-route to Australia when the little man wasn’t even two yet.   At the time we loved the city and looked forward to returning for a two week stay.   The first week would be in an AirBnB apartment just outside the old city moat.   The second week we would be staying inside the old city walls in a guesthouse with a pool.

Our daughter mentioned that she felt sick on the plane.  We had not had her be travel sick for a while though so it came as a surprise.  She managed to hold out for the entire flight but unfortunately needed the sick bag as we were disembarking the plane.  We took our time and had a coffee at the airport before getting a taxi to our apartment.   Our host, Nathan, was a Welsh ex-pat and he showed us around the ground floor apartment and gave suggestions on where to eat and what to do.  Shortly after Nathan left us our daughter threw up again.  Couldn’t be travel sickness as she usually perks up after being sick once.  She must have picked up a bug in Ao Nang where our son was ill.   While mopping up the sick with tissue paper, Dad managed to back up the toilet and had to spend a good hour sorting that out (using chopsticks!!).  Not the best job in the world!!

We had to tag team lunch with Mum and Son popping to Puan’s Restaurant a couple of doors down the street while Dad stayed with Daughter.   Roles were reversed on their return.  Puan, the owner of the restaurant, was an amazing one-woman workhorse.  She ran the little restaurant on her own and cooked to order.  If she was in the kitchen cooking, then newcomers would have to wait for her to pop back out to place an order.   With daughter sick again in the afternoon, most of the rest of the day was spent in the apartment. Dad and Son did pop out to the nearby Wat Pa Pao briefly.

The next morning was also spent mainly indoors.  Our daughter had been ill during the night again but was starting to show signs of recovery.  Puan got to meet all the family together at lunchtime before we took our first walk into Chiang Mai old town in the afternoon.   Chiang Mai is very scenic, especially within the old town walls.  There are lots of Wats (temples) scattered around and together with the markets, street stalls, guesthouses and shops which means even the shortest of walks results in seeing something nice!

That evening though the illness bug struck again.  This time it was Dad’s turn to be sick during the night and this lasted into the next day.  Feeling a bit stir-crazy from staying in the apartment with all the illness Mum took the kids on a Tuk Tuk to Nong Buak Haad park in the south west corner of the old town.   A great time was had playing in the park and watching the many pigeons fly around waiting for food before returning home to a poorly Dad.

Feeling a little better, but not 100%, Dad managed to get out with the family the next day.   We had heard about the Catmosphere Cat Café in Chiang Mai and thought that the kids would like to spend some time with the cats there.  We were right!  The kids loved it and you can read about our experience here.   We took a songthaew back to the apartment but by this stage both Mum and Dad were feeling a little rough!  Resting up we hoped that tomorrow we would all start to feel better so we could make the most of Chiang Mai.

Everyone felt well the next morning which was a step in the right direction.  However, it was pouring down with rain!   We took the opportunity to do some learning with the kids, they especially enjoyed us making use of the Mystery Science website to learn about weather!  As the rain cleared up after lunch we hailed a songthaew and negotiated a price to take us to the Elephant Poopoopaper Park.   This was somewhere else we had spotted while back in the UK and wanted to take the kids to learn about recycling.   A guide takes you around and explains each step of the process of making paper from elephant poo.  At the end you can purchase some material (pre-made) and do some arts and crafts.  The kids really loved this place!

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Sunday evenings in Chiang Mai can mean only one thing – the Sunday walking market.   Starting at Tha Phae Gate and stretching down the main street the road is lined with stalls selling various wares.   The kids were in awe at all the items for sale and we stopped off along the way to sample various street food.  It was a great way to end a full day.

The following morning was set aside for doing the ‘boring but necessary’ things during travel. There was a local street laundrette which we used for our washing and stocked up on groceries and necessities for the coming week.  

After lunch in the apartment we negotiated a price with a songthaew to take us to Wat Phra That Doi Suthep (or just Doi Suthep for short!).   We set off and immediately got stuck in Chiang Mai traffic.   After weaving through some side streets and back onto a main road we thought we were on our way.   However, the driver pulled over and came to the back of the songthaew.   He was very apologetic and explained that his wife had called and he needed to go home as a matter of urgency.   We thought we would have to find ourselves another songthaew driver but our driver had already rung ahead to a friend who would take us to Doi Suthep and back for the previously agreed price.   Swapping songthaews we continued up the winding road to the Wat.

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The temple, first built around 1383 and subsequently expanded, is set up the Doi Suthep mountain and offers great views over Chiang Mai.   The kids were impressed when we watched a plane take off from Chiang Mai airport from a higher vantage point!   We walked around the various pagodas and shrines on site before making our way back to the songthaew via the 309 stairs on the ‘dragon staircase’. Safely aboard the songtheaw we made our way back to the apartment.

Our last day of our weeks stay in the AirBnB apartment was spent chilling out.   After overcoming the illness at the start of the stay we felt we had done enough to have a rest day.  The kids spent time learning and playing while we prepared our bags for the move to the guesthouse the following day for our second week in Chiang Mai.

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