March 15 (Part 2) – Bangkok to Chiang Mai
It was up and at ‘em at 5:30 this morning so that we would have time to shower, dress, check out and have a last wonderful buffet breakfast before taking a Peninsula boat across the river to meet our guide and driver who took us to the airport for our flight to Chiang Mai. Thai Airways has comfortable seating, wonderful service, and both flights so far have left either on the minute or a few minutes early. What more can you wish for?
Upon arriving in Chiang Mai, we were met by Jet, our new guide, who escorted us into the old city and to the Tamarind Village, our new hotel. I believe that this hotel can be described as the anti-Peninsula. While its rooms are air-conditioned, they are much smaller and do not have the upscale amenities we’ve had for the last three nights. Our room is in the Lanna style, characteristic of northern Thailand. Having said that, the Tamarind Village has its own charm, and it reminds me of the old Breakers Hotel in Honolulu, with wooden-walled and shingled units around a lovely pool.
We had two hours before our afternoon tour, so we had a leisurely time by the pool, sharing a club sandwich. I took full advantage of the welcome head, neck and back massage for 10 minutes, and we were then ready to head off to parts unknown. Chiang Mai is less humid than Bangkok, so it feels cooler, but we were to make it even better by driving 3,200 feet up the mountain to Wat Doi Suthep, a royal temple which we had to walk up 290 steps to access. The center of the temple complex is the Chedi, or tall, golden pagoda, which we were told has some ashes of Buddha.
We headed back into the old town to visit two more temples, and then returned to our hotel, where one of us headed for the pool and the other for her pillow. After a lovely nap and a shower, we headed to the hotel’s restaurant to enjoy northern Thai specialties like chicken curry, absolutely enormous prawns, and pork ribs. Delicious!
An after-dinner walk took us to the walls of the old city and, surprisingly, a Starbucks.
We then headed back to the hotel and an early night, since we’ll be leaving at 7:00 tomorrow morning for Chiang Rai and the Golden Triangle, where Thailand, Burma, and Laos meet.
John and Diane