"Sawadeejaaauuu!" Yes, you heard me right. That's the greeting used by the people in Chiang Mai instead of the more familiarly known "Sawadeekap" greeting in Thailand.
I was on a 4 days 3 nights company trip to Chiang Mai during the Malaysia Day weekend. [Before that, 1000 apologies to my dearest Bobo and Yennie because I chose to forego our pre-planned trip to Singapore for this trip. But in my defence, it's a trip at the company's full expense! It's silly not to go, right right?!]
The 1st day was a pain. We were instructed to gather at our office at 3.50 a.m. to catch our 7.00 a.m. flight to Chiang Mai. You could imagine my look early in the morning. Erm...on second thought, better not. After a 2 hours and 45 minutes journey of which I should have spent pretty much all the time asleep with mouth ajar, we were greeted by our Chiang Mai tour guide Miss Noi. Throughout the trip, she did humor us with this word that she enjoyed uttering - "Fuck". One was "Fuck soup" the pronunciation of which meant pumpkin soup and another scenario was when her client exclaimed to her over the phone "Please fuck me your details" when he actually meant "Please fax me your details". Okay, this is supposed to be a joke if you are not laughing. Anyway, we have to give her credit for her effort in entertaining us.
Chiang Mai, to me, is an interesting place to visit but it wouldn't be a place that would top the list of my places-to-visit-the-second-time though. I mean it's not like Bangkok where you wouldn't mind visiting over and over again because of its "shopping veli cheaaaap" reputation.
Once landed, instead of checking in our hotel (because it was still early - Chiang Mai is one hour slower than Malaysia) we were brought to the handicraft venues. (Oh Well, that's what you expect if you follow a tour)
|Handmade paper umbrellas|
|the traditional way of weaving silk|
If you are a religious person particularly in Buddhism, Chiang Mai might appeal to you. It has more than 2000 temples in Chiang Mai, no kiddin'! As provided in the itinerary, we visited 2 temples; the White Temple (which was built specially for tourism purposes i.e. you do not go there for prayers) and the Doi Suthep Temple. As absurd as it sounds, what I remembered about the White Temple was the Doi Tung coffee sold at the coffee shop next to it. I am a Christian so visits to temples doesn't give me much of a impact other than to "look look see see". The ice Doi Tung coffee was simply satisfying.
|The White Temple|
|Looks grand, no? Well, it's the toilet ;)|
|The temple definitely doesn't welcome monkeys like us, I'm sure|
The most valuable agenda would definitely be the visit to the Long Neck Hill Tribe at Chiang Rai. I bet not many would have really met them in person. I would be one of them. One of my dear friend told me that he got to watch this tribe only in the Discovery Channel! Haha Having said that, this group of people were actually brought out from their original habitat by the Thai Government. Again, I would say for the purposes of tourism. My colleauge, Irene, did opine that it was like a visit to the zoo where they were subject to human observation. The difference is just that they are humans and not animals and oh yeah, not caged. Ooookay... wellllll.. I wouldn't complain tho'. Hello, you'd think we would be able to visit this tribe and get to snap as much pictures as we want with them without being shooed away? No way!
|One members from the tribe weaving away|
|We don't really look like we belong to the tribe!|
|This one has the potential to join the tribe as a "SHE"|
|check out her cool earrings|
|A promising position. I think this is one of the routines for the tribe people. What else could they do in this Kampong other than weaving??|
|Ain't she a darling?|
|The Acha Tribe|
There's another tribe we met called the Acha Tribe. Apparently, they eat dogs to keep their hair black. Herrmmm...
The elephant rideeeeeee, me likeyyyyyyy. Yeah, I'm a 28 year old sounding like an 18 year old. This ride is what I called a "worth-it" ride. It's a ride like the Chinese saying "over mountain over sea" but instead of crossing mountains, we passed by fields and instead of sea, we crossed rivers. Do the elephants look like they were being tortured? Err..my guess is no, at least not to the extent of being tortured. We did buy loadsss of bananas and sugar canes to feed our ride! AND I tried my best not to put too much pressure of my feet on him :P Well, I tried.
|Bumpity bumpity bumper to bumper ride|
|Look at the giants|
|Compare their sizes|
|Our view during our ride|
A stop at the Golden Triangle is also a must. It's like going to Greenwich Meridian. Just that instead standing at the Longitude 0, we were standing at the spot where the borders of Thailand, Burma and Laos meet.
|The Mekong River - DO NOT attempt to swim/take a boat ride there. According to Noi, once you fell inside, you might not be found.|
|Notice the red roof straight ahead? That's the casino in Burma. Given that gambling is illegal in Thailand, we could probably consider swimming across to that casino..|
|The mandatory group photo|
A trip to anywhere in Thailand must definitely include visits to the night markets. We went for the Sunday Night Market, a variety of locally-made souvenirs to beam at. Nothing much appealed to me except the street where local artists displayed their artworks.
|The Sunday Night Market|
|Chiang Mai sausages everywhere, different flavours different sizes|
|cool postcards, me likey!|
|some artworks of the many talented artists|
|Thailand's dessert - mango sticky rice|
Apparently, a visit to Thailand must also include a trip to McDonald's (eyes-rolling). Yup, because you get to savour the pork burger, a chance which we will definitely not be able to get in Malaysia (no offence to my dear Muslim friends). And so, me, Irene and Jan made a stop at the McDonald's and ordered the Samurai Pork Burger. Frankly, I didn't really like it - sweet sauce is not my thang.