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JBR - 12 days in November 2013

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Brisbane, Australia
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JBR - 12 days in November 2013

Hi everyone! Have now returned from 3 wonderful weeks in Thailand. Following is my JBR for the Chiang Mai leg of my holiday.

Day 1

Arrive Chiang Mai, checked into Baan Orapin (late afternoon). Wonderful, wonderful place to stay. Just loved it. We were booked into The Riverside Dinner Cruise for that night. Hadn't done our research, asked a songthaew to take us there, discovered it was a 100 or so metres up the road. Duh. He he Restaurant was very crowded and we were ushered through to the boat where we gave drinks orders. Drinks and food were very slow coming and it wasn't really made clear to us that drinks would not be available while the boat was in progress. Nevertheless, all this was sorted with minimal hassle and we were underway. Was a lovely cruise and wonderful to see everything at night.

Day 2

We had nothing planned as it was the weekend of Loy Krathong, and kept the weekend free to see what was going on with the festival. We ended up shopping up and down the street that Baan Orapin was on. Oh my goodness. Such lovely, lovely art and culture shops. Spent quite a bit of money in this area. That night, we ventured towards the Tha Pae Gate area to see the Loy Krathong procession. The parade was amazing but long-winded. Being a westerner, I'm really not used to the custom of people stopping the parade so they could have their photo taken with the participants. Ha ha. Certainly a culture shock for me so the parade seemed to go on forever. The floats were amazing and downright beautiful though. We also got to see the 55,000 lanterns in the sky as they were released from Mae Jo on this night (from the Tha Pae area, we did not attend the local Sansai event).

Day 3 - Day of Loy Krathong Festival (17th)

Feet and shoulder massages. Oh yeah! Then into a songtaew to Elephant Parade House. Again, I spent a fair bit of money here (which I intended to). I bought 4 elephants and 2 artboxes and a coffee mug. Very pleased with this place. Walked around that area but found we seemed to be in a business area, and nothing was opened. We decided to just go back to the hotel and plan our attack for that night. Baan Orapin were holding a private Loy Krathong event at 6pm which I was keen to attend. Around 6.45pm we took off to Deck 1 for dinner and to watch the Loy Krathong proceedings on the river. Dinner at Deck 1 was overpriced (compared to elsewhere in Thailand), but I thoroughly enjoyed my experience there. We went down to the little decking area they had and launched our own krathongs and lanterns. Was amazing to sit there and watch the complete and utter mayhem along the river. Awesome. We then decided to leave and go down to the river bank itself and sit with everyone else. It was a beautiful experience to be there for a few hours amongst the Thai people as they launched their krathongs and khom lois. Such a festive event. Unfortunately, by about 11pm, it seemed to start to feel a bit dangerous (fireworks-wise), so we decided we had seen enough and started the walk back to the hotel.

Day 4

Attended a silversmithing class at Nova Design. Was quite a relaxing day, actually, especially after the full on weekend. The instructor was certainly very accomplished at what he does and I made a beautiful silver ring that I'm quite proud of. From memory, that night, I think we just found somewhere (I think it was Spoon de Best) for dinner and were in bed rather early. Even after the weekend, this was the night (Monday) that the fireworks bothered us the most!

Day 5

We moved from Baan Orapin into the Old City to Baan Klang Wiang, a lovely little hotel, but with a bit of a mozzie problem. On this day we were to be picked up at 8.30 by Paul from Best Tuk Tuk Tours. Unfortunately, due to taxi problems, we arrived at 8.35. Paul wasn't there so we waited until after 9am. At this time asked the hotel to call him. He said he had been there and that the hotel had not known who we were. So he came back to get us. We went to Baan Tong Luang (a government sponsored Hill Tribe cultural preservation village). I found it quite interesting, but a bit tedious in all "shops" were selling the same products. I always find that difficult and never really know where to show my support. Also, we were allowed to observe the children in the kindergarden, which I don't really "approve" of. Next, we were to visit a limestone waterfall, which Paul told us had been closed on that day due to the festival two days ago, and that no one had been given time to clean the area. I have no way of confirming that, but I actually doubt that it was closed. We were to walk through the jungle to view the pool that feeds those falls, which we didn't do either. Next, we visited the village where Paul grew up. This was really interesting to see, but a little uncomfortable as we "met" his adopted grandfather and nanny, who couldn't speak English. It might have just been how I feel, but I felt uncomfortable by this. We were in the village (one "street") for about 20 minutes. Then onto lunch which I thought was quite impressive. Paul was quite knowledgeable about the food we were eating and Northern Thai food, in general. Afterwards, we went to Doi Suthep. Unfortunately, I wasn't given a choice to climb the steps, which is something I would have liked to do. Paul showed us some of the artwork on the walls and explained them to us, which was pretty cool, then left us to wander around the buildings. We walked down the stairs. A waterfall we were to see on the way down, was not mentioned, and we didn't get to see it.

Day 6

This was another day we were to spend with Paul. Unfortunately, my sister was rather unwell, and my mum was coming down with it also, so we had to cancel the day and get them some treatment. I asked the hotel to call as early as I could, and I ended up speaking with Paul's mum, who was rather rude and didn't really listen to what I was saying (that I was more than prepared to pay for the bus that would have been rented for the day). Fortunately for Paul, we had already paid in full for the day in good faith. Subsequently, I received a couple of emails from Paul that contained information that was untrue. When I "called" him on it in a return email, he chose to ignore the untruths he had sent to me. In saying this, it was too much trouble to bother with him anymore. especially whilst I was on holidays. Finally, I would not recommend Paul Collins from Best Tuk Tuk Tours to anyone ever.

Day 7

I devised what I liked to call a "Wat Walk". ha ha Based on the Nancy Chandler map, I went for a walk through the Old City and saw a lot of the Wats. My particular favourite is Wat Chedi Luang. I also discovered the Blind Association for conserving thai massage and booked myself in for a foot massage by a blind masseuse. I discovered lots and lots of nooks and crannies along the way. Lots of really wonderful shops and cafes, etc. Loved this day!

That afternoon, we went to Chiang Mai Zoo. Had a great time feeding giraffes. We didn't spend a real lot of time here, just saw the animals we wanted to see. (We're Australian - koalas and kangaroos really aren't of interest to us LOL)

Day 8

Elephant Nature Park - just wonderful. Would recommend this to anyone, anytime. I got to meet Lek and chat to her for a little while. She is just wonderful.

Day 9 - Yee Peng Lanna International Event

Early start. I booked Joy as a driver. I had researched (and subsequently gotten wrong) that the monks started chanting at Wat Umong at 6am. We were there at 6am and found they chanted at 5am so we missed it. Oh well. It was AWESOME being in this underground temple at night, with no one else there. So spooky!! The bats flying around added to the atmosphere and we even thought we heard an electrical current a few times that we had NO IDEA where it was coming from. he he he Freaked us out a bit, but in a very fun way. Afterwards, we along to Baan Tawai. Had a great time shopping here, but was a little disappointed in that I was lead to believe it was predominantly handmade timber artifacts. A lot of it was factory made. It was a lot of fun though.

Then it was onto the Yee Peng Lanna International event. I know a lot of people on this forum poo-pooed this event, but I positively LOVED it. It was awe inspiring and just so, so special. The lantern release itself truly would have been the highlight of my holiday. Yes, 55,000 lanterns the weekend before at the local festival would have been awesome, but no, I wouldn't have coped with 55,000 people in one place at one time. I don't have that sort of patience. On holidays or not. I truly feel blessed to have been at this event.

Day 10

Tiger Kingdom. I love this place and it still hasn't lost it's charm from the last time I was there a couple of years ago. I chose to see the smallest, small and big tigers, took in a professional photographer, had a few iced lattes, and left to go back to town. That afternoon I went along to Mengwai Kilns and bought a lot of pottery. Then off to the Sunday walking market that night. Spent a lot of money again. :)

Day 11

I chose this day to go back to the Riverside area. There were a few shops there I wanted to check a few things out to see if I still wanted to buy certain items, or night. That night, we went along to a Khum Khantoke dinner. A few hiccups with transfers resulted in us getting there late and missing half the show. Was still fun and relaxing last night though.

Day 12

Packed up, back to airport, to BKK, then onto Australia.

Had a fabulous time in Thailand, of course I expected to. Will JBR my time in BKK and kanchanaburi at some stage shortly. :)

Melbourne, Australia
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1. Re: JBR - 12 days in November 2013

Hi, what a great time you had. Will certainly look into the Riverside Dinner Cruise in April. Thank for such a imformative JBR. Wel also loved the Elephant Nature Park and the Tiger Kingdom.

cheers

Viv

Perth, Australia
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2. Re: JBR - 12 days in November 2013

Wow you had a very busy holiday :) we are going to be there in April and were looking at booking Joy. Sounds like he was ok :)

Italy
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3. Re: JBR - 12 days in November 2013

Sounds like you had a great holiday, shame about the problems with Paul but at least you didn't let it spoil your trip, thanks for sharing.

Sunderland
Destination Expert
for Koh Tao
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4. Re: JBR - 12 days in November 2013

Hi

Thanks for sharing, sounds like a great trip. I'm really pleased to hear you enjoyed ENP. I've got 10 days to wait before I get back to CM, after reading this it can't go quick enough!!!

Adelaide, Australia
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5. Re: JBR - 12 days in November 2013

Very helpful JBR - thanks for writing it. Did you make your own way to Tiger Kingdom? And is it easy to do so? I am trying to work out when we should hire drivers and when I can work things out myself.

Thanksa

Brisbane, Australia
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for Chiang Mai
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6. Re: JBR - 12 days in November 2013

I really enjoyed your JBR - sounds like you had a wonderful time (apart from a few hiccups).

Great idea to split the time between the riverside and the old city.

Feeding the giraffes is one of my very favorite things as well and I would go to the zoo again just to do that.

You can start dreaming about the next trip now.

Caroline.

Brisbane, Australia
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7. Re: JBR - 12 days in November 2013

@pughugger - we actually hooked ourselves up with a lovely songtaew driver. (Actually, I think she was stalking us, she seemed to be there whenever we walked out of the hotel! LOL) We would just let her know the next time we needed her and she would be there for us. For Tiger Kingdom, this was the last day that we had her, so we asked her to drive us there and wait for us and drive us back to the hotel. We paid 800 baht (there were four of us), and she waited for us for about 3 hours. We also took her to lunch on the way home. She really was good to us. Unfortunately, I don't have contact details for her, she just seemed to be there when we wanted her, and we would just let her know we wanted her on this day at this time, etc...

Feeding the giraffes. YES! It was one of the things I was determined to do at the zoo. They weren't feeding them when we got there early in the morning and I was incredibly disappointed. I decided to have one last look as we left and BINGO! Lots of sloppy-tongued giraffe feeding. I loved it!

Penarth, United...
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8. Re: JBR - 12 days in November 2013

We booked a yellow taxi which parks in Changklan Road during the daytime with the prices to various locations clearly marked. He charges 100 baht for a trip to Tiger Kingdom and waits for as long as you need. Tiger Kingdom (as well as the handicraft villages) give the drivers a commission for everyone they take and this driver actually takes this into account with his fares. So, 4 passengers - 25 baht each! I just can't believe some songtaews have the gall to charge 800 baht.

The car we used was number 69. If anyone wants his phone number, please PM me. He's a really careful driver too - highly recommended.

Brisbane, Australia
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9. Re: JBR - 12 days in November 2013

Our driver also took us out to the new shopping centre and a few other places. We had her most of the day. If we agreed to the price, then I see no problem with it whatsoever.

country victoria
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10. Re: JBR - 12 days in November 2013

Thanks Poppyisblonde for a great report. We too, negotiated to go to tiger kingdom and had our driver wait, cost 300 baht, but I am of the same opinion as you if you are happy with the price negotiated, what's the problem?

I am sorry you had problems with your local tour guide, no one can help being sick and seems you got a rather rough deal.

So glad you loved your trip, CM is a wonderful place

CVS