Sunday, December 13, 2009

Street walking

Flew out first thing in the morning to Chiang Mai (CMX). Checked in at the Away Suansawan, Maerim. As the name suggests, the resort hotel is far, far away from downtown CMX. Nice hotel with very friendly, accommodating staff and plush, comfortable rooms, but the distance from town led to... consequences for us later. It's a great place if you want to get away from it all and not bother with the outside world, but if you're an urbanite needing the buzz of city life and shopping, better choose accommodation closer to the city centre.

Downtown CMX: Walking Street, a gigantic pasar malam only open on Sunday nights. From the many street food vendors, we finally pluck up the courage to sample... a mango salad! Spicy and sour, but despite our apprehensions (we live in too clean a city) it didn't kill us.

When the sun goes down, Walking Street erupts into a frenzy of activity. Vendors selling art and handicrafts or cheap souvenirs, itinerant buskers (disabled or otherwise), street food featuring things on sticks all on offer to an ever-growing mob of tourists and locals looking for the best deals.

The distance from our hotel led to consequences, like I said. We (actually, there was only one possible suspect) lost the directions back to Away, so we stopped to make inquiries at Chiang Mai Five Star Tours, a local tour office that said "Tourist Information" on the frontage. Uncle "Map" provided such friendly and helpful information that we purchased a few of his tours around CMX and the surrounding locales. Reasonably priced, too -- better than the tours offered at the BKK Domestic terminal, anyway. Good consequences.

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