Thailand Part II
I had to break this entry into two parts. To recap Beth and I had left Koh Tao and were headed north.
First we stopped in a town called Surat Thani, known more for its farming and other industries rather than tourism. After some pool days in our Wangtai Hotel, dinner at my favorite place Don Chuy near BanDon pier, and a walk/riverboat ride through a Thai market we boarded a flight to explore Chang Mai.
Chang Mai to me has a big city sprawl with a small town vibe. I always enjoy a visit to this lovely metropolis. Situated among the highest mountains in Thailand and along the Ping River make it and the surrounding areas very picturesque. The culture and history provide so many things to explore and study. I think I will have to visit a dozen more times in order to see and do everything.
This trip we spent one day visiting the hill tribes and purchased many of their arts and crafts. If you have ever seen photographs of the ladies with the gold rings around their necks, the longneck tribe, this is where they, amongst others, reside. The countryside was amazing and a stop at the Tiger Kingdom did not disappoint. One tiger, in particular, was playing and jumping in the pool while we took pictures. A couple others you could touch while they chewed on a piece of bamboo basically ignoring you altogether. A few photos later and we were happy.
Our next day was spent on the move to Chang Rai in a private taxi. We visited the White Temple, or Wat Rong Kuhn, which is a privately owned contemporary art exhibit fashioned in the style of a Buddhist temple. This temple represents past, present, and future. The time and detail that have gone into this place are astounding. I took some remarkable photos, but the moments I put the camera down and really appreciated the scenery were the best.
The night bazaar in Chang Mai was a huge hit and we spent many nights there. The night bazaar presides predominately on Chang Klahn Street. There are many things to buy, foods to eat, and cleaner fish tanks to stick your dirty feet into. I made Beth do the latter; she talked about doing it the whole trip I couldn't let her get away without trying. Several live bands played throughout the week, which made the bazaar lively and fun. Another great market to check out is every Sunday inside the old city walls of Chang Mai. It attracts many tourists but the vendors charge fair prices. Food, entertainment and tons of things to bring home fill most of the space within the walls. It is quite a sight to behold. Unfortunately we were in Chang Mai during the weekdays and couldn’t wait until Sunday. Beth’s time to leave was rapidly approaching so we boarded a flight back to Bangkok.
Upon our return, Beth and I were welcomed home at The Grand President and spent our last day reflecting on our amazing trip. I put Beth on a flight late that night.
The next day I spent time at the Thailand Dive Expo meeting vendors and seeing old friends. The people in the dive industry are some of the most fun, crazy and adventurous I know.
I had to leave the next day to arrive back in Koh Tao to meet with other divers. The last two dives I did on this whole tour were my most memorable. I was able to film and spend time with three serene Whale sharks, my favorite! After another relaxing week on Koh Tao being with my close friends, I was headed back to Bangkok and then to the U.S.