Camilla and I left hot and sticky Bangkok for what is possibly hotter and stickier Chiang Mai a couple days ago. Chiang Mai has been on my list of places for a very long time though in fairness it's not the most charming place in SE Asia. It is supposed to be fun, easy to understand, full of people from all over and friendlier than Bangkok. So far all of that is true. Just coming in on our Bangkok Airways flight we met a lovely local, who owns a shop with some beautiful textiles, who gave us a bit of a crash course on the place and everyone we've met has been beyond friendly and nice. (Trust me we met a lot of people today while asking for directions).
We are spending a full 4 days here. Originally that was going to involve a lot of Wats (temples) and elephants. Both have been nixed. Frankly you've seen one Wat and that's a pretty good indication of the others, and we decided scooters were more fun than elephants.
Our first day was a pretty low key one - it was tremendously hot and the most I managed was the very confusing Chiang Mai Historical and Cultural Museum (basically non-thai people lived here first for a long time, then the Burmese invaded, then the Thai took it all back - or something like that. Unfortunately most of it was only in Thai). The only thing my heat addled brain could do after that was go check out the textile store, which turned out to be rather fantastic (Neema Studio) and full of great thai silk and thai designs (a nice alternative to the large amount of hemp and hippie-wear on sale here) and then go sit in aircon and eat a Thai style roti and drink lemon iced tea.
Camilla persuaded me that rather than go home and shower an evening of cooking would be more fun. She was of course right, though I spent a lot of it trying not to lift my arms to high. Then music and meeting people (at a great jazz bar!- North Gate bar), and a tuk tuk ride home, rounded out the day rather wonderfully. Today we decided to get out of town, and after rather useless negotiations with a taxi driver (big ring, big watch, big price) we settled on scooters. Shooting around Chiang Mai for these first time scooter riders was a thrill, but things got really exciting about 50 km out of town. I'll spare you the details, but everyone, and both scooters, made it home safe and sound and in one piece, but just remember to take it slow around steep wet corners. We are not discouraged though, one more day of scootering tomorrow!