We hopped on a bus from Bangkok towards Chiang Mai with a two-day stop over in Sukhothai. Our first land travel experience was an easy one with a first class ride equipped with a/c, toilet and a pretty baby blue and orange outfitted bus attendant feeding us biscuits and instant coffee.
Sukhothai was a great pit stop on route with its historical park containing ancient Khmer ruins (my first temples sighting!), a bustling night market (although still no durian in sight), slightly scary back-to-front tuk-tuk rides and a family-run guesthouse set amidst the dense forest inhabited by what seemed like hundreds of howling stray dogs and off-key roosters. I can definitely feel far from home now and it feels amazing! We stayed here 2 nights before setting off for Chiang Mai.
Having possibly forgotten to keep my mouth shut in the shower, we arrived in Chiang Mai with me feeling not quite 100% (lesson learned!) and had an easy first day settling into our guesthouse and walking around the Saturday walking street. There, low and behold, before my upset stomach, laid packages after packages of durian fruit, at the worse possible moment of my digestive life. Despite Richard’s warning that there would be plenty other opportunities and that I should probably just settle on some plain rice for the day, I just couldn’t resist and went for it anyway. And it was totally worth it. Creamy and delicious, and costing more than a four hour journey to Tha Ton for a single pod. This will unfortunately have to be an occasional indulgence…
We stayed in Chiang Mai 5 nights and it was perfect. From scooter rides up and down Doi Suthep National Park, temple spotting in the old city, vegan dinners and massage evenings, Thai cooking class (possibly the highlight of the trip! We went to this one and really had a blast! They were very accommodating of our diet and offered great vegan alternatives to shrimp paste and fish and oyster sauce) and the numerous markets we visited, everything about Chiang Mai was fantastically healthy and beautiful. Muang Mai market was hands down my favourite of the lot we visited, catering more for the locals and offering bountiful rows after rows of fresh produce and cheap eats. Obviously I had to settle for the most expensive item on offer. You would have guessed it, durian. Richard the ever frugal on the other hand had himself a big portion of stir fried vegetables and rice for under $1.
Favourite things consumed so far (let’s exclude durian here): passion fruit juice, passion fruit and beet juice, orange juice, any fruit blended with ice into an all natural slushie, jackfruit, mango, sticky rice, mango sticky rice, the green curry I made in cooking class, lemongrass and chili peanuts and olieng coffee.
Conclusion: there has been a few fish sauce incidents. One thing I potentially hate more than consuming animals is to be an unpleasant guest. I can live better with the former.
Next we are heading to the northernmost region of Thailand, where we will be visiting towns bordering with Burma and Laos before making our way back down towards Bangkok where we will be crossing into Cambodia in a few weeks.
ps. I can safely report that the quality of bus service has exponentially deteriorated the further north we are headed and the more scenic the view is getting. Exhibit a. This seat is for 3 people.
pps. I caved in and bought a pair of them silly low crutch harem pants. Yolo.