A good start to the holiday in contrast to our last trip everything went smooth, brilliant valet car service, quick check in, good flights, private transfer to the hotel. We were in desperate need of sleep though by this point and working out how to request early check in since we arrived before 10am. No need, room is already waiting for us and what a lovely hotel the Shangri-La is. Its just the little things that please me after no sleep for 20 hours like robes, slippers, fresh fruit bowl and an extremely comfy bed for two hours sleep before the first trip.
We start with an afternoon tour of a local village tribe and the doi suthep temple and as luck would have it we were the only people on the trip. Its a long drive up the mountain, 4000m high and we have to change from our air conditioned mini bus to an open truck which is an experience in itself. As it was a Sunday the kids were not in school but the one school has classes from ages 3 to 12. After that they either work on the farms with their parents or have to leave the village and go to school in the city. We were probably only there about 30 minutes and there was no one around apart from a few children running about who didn't seem the least bit interested in us. They had power and satellite TV so quite different from the tribes we had visited in Africa. Men here may have more than one wife and they will all live in the house together. We saw a few old ladies sat under a tree sewing then it was back on the truck for the ride to the temple. Perhaps the tour is better on a week day when there are people around to talk to but its not something I would recommend for the effort it took to get here.
Next stop up the 306 stairs to the temple, the stairs themselves were beautiful guarded by two seven headed serpents.
This is marked as one of the best temples in Chiang Mai for its colour and the pagoda was certainly blinding with the sun shining on it.
We went into one of the rooms and got blessed by a monk who whilst saying prayers to us shuck sticks covered in water over us then tied a white bracelet to our wrist which we should keep on for seven days to bring us luck. We rang the huge bells to send our prayers up to heaven and got a lovely view of the city from the top. Before heading back home we stopped at a jade factory, turns out that stuff is rather expensive £2k for an unimpressive looking ring, decided we'd save our cash for the markets.
Rather exhausted now only having had a few hours sleep in over 24 hours but we battle through and walk down to the Sunday walking market. They close off an entire street and sell a huge variety of handmade items plus all sorts of food. This is our first experience of how cheap everything is, 100 baht (£1.20) gets us our first souvenir, a patchwork elephant. We decide that rather than sit down for food we will just pick things up at stalls and eat as we browse. First was pork belly, don't know how it was cooked but it was beautiful and tender, then we tried some dough like balls which may have been rice and coconut. We shared some noodles then Al had buttered corn followed by a mega cheese croquette and I had pork and rice in a sweet sauce. The fresh juices are amazing too. For dessert Al had a traditional strawberry Thai ice cream and I had lime ice cream mochi, yum. We probably spent 170 baht on food and drink, so the 7 course tasting menu I’ve booked in Ko Samui for £60 each better be something spectacular now. Saw some amazing handicrafts and fantastic pieces of art, just a shame we are starting to run out of space in our house with all the artwork we get from each holiday but we will find space somewhere.
After a couple of hours of walking we decided to take a quick break with a foot massage. 70 baht for 30 mins, I was a little apprehensive since I don't like my feet being touched but had to be done. Al was in heaven, after a while I settled into it after a few initial giggles. They also worked a lot on my calves which as a runner was very nice. The masseurs didn't speak English and since we don't speak Thai I don't know what she was saying about my legs but she kept pointing at them to the man doing Al's who seemed to suggest she rub some balm into my left knee. She kept looking, comparing my left and right legs and shaking her head so I have no idea what freaky ailment I may have now.
Walking back down the street I couldn't resist a few more purchases and bought some MC hammer style trousers and a small purse. Rather than walk back we decided to travel by tuk tuk, we were warned they were tourist traps and very expensive compared to the trucks but at 100 baht we weren't going to complain and it was a great experience.
Walking back into the hotel lobby I was so happy to be staying in such a lush hotel, can't wait to climb into the ever so comfy bed.