Chiang Mai Day Two

No one in and around the old city seemed to have any solid information about buses to Sukhothai so I decided to forego the night bus idea and just stay one more night in Chiang Mai. (Most agents I asked told me to go to the Arcade Bus Terminal to check or buy a ticket just before I leave, while there was one which quoted me 600 baht for a ticket which was more than double what I was expecting based on prior research. The Arcade Bus Terminal is not within walking distance from the old city so my decision was to go there early the next morning to catch a potential 6am bus.) So I managed to find a single room at Daret’s House for 170 baht. Located right outside the Tha Phae gate facing the moat and main road, the room had fan, free usable wifi, and private bathroom with hot water. Splendid.

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Today’s highlight was supposed to be Wat Phra That Doi Suthep, a temple on a mountain outside Chiang Mai city centre with a viewpoint overlooking the city. The view was lacklustre, but the transport to/fro the old city is a story in itself. At the Chang Pheuak gate is a designated point to take “public transport” to Doi Suthep, which indicates clearly with a signboard that says 50 baht a person each way to/from Wat Phra That Doi Suthep. Basically the red song taews wait there until enough people (8-10) fill it up before leaving. Which wasn’t much of a problem. The problem is in the return trip, because the 50 baht fare only applies if you take the very same song taew back to the city, otherwise the fare is 60 baht. Of course this system doesnt work quite well because no one actually sees this as a “tour” with fixed timings, but just take their own time short or long. To cut the story shorter, there was a point where there were 8 of us waiting in the song taew to go back to the city, which would have totalled 400 baht earnings, but the driver refused to go and wanted to wait for 1 more person. Tired of waiting, 2 of the tourists decided they would pay 60 baht each instead and jumped on another song taew which happened to be leaving and had just enough space for them, thereby exacerbating the problem for the remaining 6 of us because our driver would want to fill up their slots as well. In the end, in order to keep more from deserting, the driver agreed to leave immediately if each of us paid 60 baht, which totalled 360 baht. I didn’t have much of a choice but to agree, since taking another song taew would have been 60 baht as well. As a Thai tourist from Bangkok said, “It’s just 10 baht more, at least we can leave immediately,” but my point is the driver’s refusal to leave when there were 8 people already resulted in him earning less money, and us having to pay more than was expected. A lose-lose situation that I’m sure wasn’t the first time, and won’t be the last.

If that didn’t already leave an unpleasant taste in my mouth, then the Night Bazaar sure did. I thought the prices at the Sunday Walking Street were not that fantastic already, but the Night Bazaar prices were much worse! And the Galare Food Centre at the Night Bazaar turned out to be an overpriced food court. I guess when I travel I want to buy things and eat food where the locals do the same, and not feel like I’m being ripped off all the time. So if you feel the same about travelling, trust me and don’t waste any time on the Night Bazaar whatsoever.

As for food highlights, I sampled some Chiang Mai spicy pork sausage for free (it was selling at 350 baht/kg, with one standard-size sausage costing about 35 baht), and ate a banana and egg roti prata for 25 baht. I also ate some yummy dry noodles in the Talat Warorot market for 30 baht, which was kind of a cross between wanton mee and mee pok. It had thinly sliced char siew and a fistful of crispy thin crackers.

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