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Mythology Thai creature lantern Chiang Mai Loi Krathong decorations

Thailand 2010: First day in Chiang Mai for Loi Krathong; driving up Doi Suthep

Date: 19th November 2010

I arrived in Chiang Mai bus station at around 7am and took a taxi to get to Rux Thai Guesthouse which cost ฿80 (Rs. 118/$2.6/€1.8). Rux Thai is a place I stayed last year as well. It’s located just off Loi Kroh road, which is essentially Chiang Mai’s tourist-filled area with the Thapae Gate at one-end and Ping River at the other.

Since I was going to be spending 3 to 4 nights, they gave me a room I requested on the ground floor (because they don’t have a lift) for ฿450 as supposed to the rack rate of ฿490 (Rs. 700/$16/€11) — which includes Wi-Fi. No breakfast included, but they have a restaurant on the ground floor which offers a decent menu at reasonable prices.

Rux Thai restaurant American breakfast Chiang Mai
American breakfast costs ฿90 (Rs.133/$3/€2)

After a hot shower, I took a nap as I barely got any sleep in the bus (as is the norm for me in any bus journey). I got up as it neared lunch time, unpacked and took out all the camera equipment I had bought.

Camera equipment Sirui tripod Canon lens
Credit card abuse for 2010

Though I did test out the Canon 70-200mm f2.8 lens and the tripod before I purchased them, I didn’t get to play around with them as much as I wanted.

Canon 7d 70-200 lens Sirui tripod ballhead test
The tripod & ball head can easily handle the weight of the Canon 7D and the lens
Rux Thai hotel lamp Chiang Mai
My first shot with the Canon 70-200

I loaded the equipment into my backpack and left the room at around 2pm.

Thai Kitchen Cookery Centre Vipa house Chiang Mai
This is Loikroh Lane 1 Road

Other budget hotels on this lane are Centerplace Guesthouse, where you get single rooms starting from 200 baht onwards. Vipa House (the one with yellow board pictured above) is right next to Centerplace and is priced about the same as Rux Thai. (Maybe I should check out Vipa next time).

Though there was a cookery class near Rux Thai, I had already booked myself into another cooking class (which was one of the things I would be doing in Chiang Mai).

I crossed Loi Kroh road and walked pointlessly through the alleyways on the other side.

Thapae Guesthouse Finlay's Cottage Chiang Mai

Chiang Mai bicycles for rent dog
Lazing in the afternoon
Chiang Mai Wat Saen Fang temple Thapae gate
Wat Saen Fang (‘wat’ is Thai for ‘temple’)

Wat Saen Fang road Chiang Mai ThailandInn house Inter bar Chiang Mai ThailandChiang Mai Thapae gate junction bikes

Dirt bike rentals Chiang Mai Thapae road
You can rent these
Kawasaki superbike for rent Chiang Mai
But the more sexy the bike looks, the more expensive they are to rent
Thapae gate road fountain Chiang Mai
I walked all the way around and got to Kotchasarn Road

I chose to eat lunch at the same cosy small eatery I ate at last year.

Chiang Mai Food & Drink restaurant Thapae road
Run by a mother and daughter duo
Chiang Mai small eatery cheap food
It’s inexpensive and the food is good
Chiang Mai rice seafood dry meal Thailand
Spicy prawns and calamari with rice, ฿40  (Rs. 60/$1.3/€1)

After lunch, I rented a moped from the travel agent in front of Vipa House and decided to go on a drive around Chiang Mai.

Chiang Mai Marijuana store Thailand
I highly doubt it
Chiang Mai canal Thapae gate road
I parked on the other side to click a few photos

Moon Mueang road canal Chiang Mai cityChiang Mai pigeon feeding

Yi Peng festival announcement Billboard Chiang Mai
The poster (I’m guessing) was confirming that Loy Krathong celebrations were definitely November 20th to 22nd this year

Though, I did ask around to find out when exactly the release of the hundreds of lanterns at once was going to be. From research online, I did learn that the event was something that is held at some University grounds at a place called Mae Jo, but when I asked the people at Rux Thai, they weren’t sure about anything. (Communication is a bit of an issue in Thailand, despite how touristy this country is)

Chiang Mai gate Thailand
Chiang Mai gate

Chiang Mai gate tourists

Chiang Mai Thapae gate floats
They had floats in the canals which children were riding and jumping off of

Thapae gate canal floats Loy Krathong afternoon lightsChiang Mai Thapae gate fountains

Chiang Mai city canal fountains
I got back on my bike and moved on

Chiang Mai gate gardenI planned to ride up Doi Suthep on the outskirts of the city, which wasn’t too far away. The route is quite simple really, plus I had done last year. Chiang Mai city isn’t as complex as say, Bangkok. As I got towards the road leading up to Doi Suthep hill, I stopped again to take photographs.

Mahachulalongkornrajavidyalaya parking Chiang Mai

Mahachulalongkornrajavidyalaya University Chiang Mai campus
The name of this place? Mahachulalongkornrajavidyalaya University (try saying that fast)

Mahachulalongkornrajavidyalaya Wat Chiang MaiHuey Kaew fitness park Chiang Mai panoramaChiang Mai way to Doi Suthep hillI wanted to drive up the hill as I loved the ride last year. I wasn’t planning to drive all the way up to the temple, just up until the last view point before the temple.

Doi Suthep hill national park temple
Stopped at a small temple on the way

Doi Suthep national park temple flower shops

Chiang Mai Doi Suthep national park observation deck
There’s a small waterfall up here

Doi Suthep hill mini waterfall panorama

Doi Suthep hill pro-cycling Chiang Mai
Doi Suthep is very popular among speed cyclists
Doi Suthep hill bike riders Chiang Mai
Bikers, cars, superbikes… you’ll see everybody enjoying the ride
Honda Icon moped scooter rental Chiang Mai Thailand
This was my ride (฿200 for 24 hours)
Chiang Mai Doi Suthep cyclists
It was starting to get dark
Doi Suthep hill road corner turning panorama
Panorama comprised of 10 shots

It was at this hairpin bend that the viewpoint was located.

Chiang Mai Doi Suthep viewing point

Doi Suthep hill view Chiang Mai sunset
You can’t actually see the sun set from this side

I set up the tripod because I knew I would be pitch dark soon.

Chiang Mai Doi Suthep full moon vertical panorama
It was a full moon
Chiang Mai full moon Thailand
Shot at 200mm & cropped

Chiang Mai city at night panoramaChiang Mai Doi Suthep observation deck at nightAs it neared 7pm, I packed up and left the viewpoint. I drove back down and this time, I took my jacket with me… because last year, I froze! 🙂

Once back in the city, I parked on the side when I saw some beautiful decorations in front of Saun Dok Gate .

Saun Dok gate Chiang Mai garden lanterns

Chiang Mai Thapae gate lanterns localsMythology Thai creature lantern Chiang Mai Loi Krathong decorationsChiang Mai Thapae gate traditional lanternsMythical creatures lanterns decorations Chiang Mai Loy KrathongSaun Dok Gate Chiang Mai Yi Ping festivalMythical bird lantern Thapae gate Chiang MaiYee Peng lantern festival Thais Chiang Mai ThapaeI headed back to Loi Kroh road.

After parking the bike in front of the hotel, I stepped out again, this time choosing to go by foot.

Chiang Mai Loi Kroh road Thailand
Walked down Loi Kroh road
Le Meridien Loi kroh road Chiang Mai Thailand
If you want your 5-star fix, there is Le Meridien
Changklan road restaurants Chiang Mai Thailand
At the end of Loi Kroh is Changklan road
Changklan road traffic Chiang Mai Thailand
Plenty of restaurants, hotels and stores here

CM night bazaar hotel Chiang Mai Thailand

Night bazaar clothes Chiang Mai
I walked to Chiang Mai’s night bazaar
Anusarn market Chiang Mai seafood restaurant
Plenty of good seafood restaurants here

Anusarn grilled seafood Chiang Mai

Chiang Mai night market panorama
The night market sells the usual gamut of clothing, accessories and home decor

Chiang Mai night market light decorated treeChiang Mai night market light decorations storeI wasn’t hungry and wanted to know where all the major Yi Peng celebrations in Chiang Mai would be. I was told that the major gathering point would be along Ping River.

Chiang Mai night street lamp
I walked away from the bustling crowds near the night market
Chiang Mai full moon night sky lanterns
I could already see lanterns in the sky
Chiang Mai cathedral at night
I ended up taking a turn back to a main road
Chiang Mai night empty streets
To be frank, after 15 minutes of walking, I didn’t know where I was
Ping Nakara boutique hotel spa Chiang Mai
Ping Nakara Boutique Hotel & spa
Wat Chaimongkol temple entrance Chiang Mai night
Walked towards this big temple
Wat Chaimongkol temple entrance Chiang Mai night
I was bored of walking, so I went in

Wat Chaimongkol Ping river Chiang Mai

Wat Chaimongkol Thai devotees Loi krathong Chiang Mai
Devotees were slowly trickling in to the temple to float Krathongs

Wat Chaimongkol boat Ping river Chiang Mai nightWat Chaimongkol devotees Loy Krathong Chiang MaiWat Chaimongkol temple building Chiang MaiWat Chaimongkol temple Thai goddess Chiang Mai nightWat Chaimongkol inside Chiang Mai nightAs I walked out, I saw a ‘roti’ vendor on the way out and decided to eat something as it was getting late.

Wat Chaimongkol roti vendor Chiang Mai
‘Roti’ in Thailand is commonly referred to sweet pancake batter filled with banana and other fillings

As I walked back, I realized I took a much longer route as the temple itself was not to far from the night market.

Chiang Mai food garden Anusarn market
I just needed to walk through the food court and come out the other end

Chiang Mai night alley grafitti

Chiang Mai night bridge light decorations
I walked to the bridges over Ping River

Chiang Mai Ping river University girl

Chiang Mai Loi Krathongs ping river bridge Thai boys
Loi Krathong celebrations had already begun… for some
Chiang Mai Loy Krathong firecracker Thai students
Firecrackers are very much a part of the celebrations
Chiang Mai Loi Krathong ping river bridge crowds
I went from one bridge to another
Chiang Mai Loy Krathong Ping river bridge lights
There are several bridges all along Ping River

Chiang Mai Lam Phun roadChiang Mai bridge lighting decorations Yi Peng festival
Chiang Mai Loy Krathong ping river fireworks

Chiang Mai Loi Krathong Thai youngsters
Chiang Mai’s youth were all out to enjoy the festivities
Chiang Mai Thais lining streets Loi Krathong
Lined all along the streets snacking, singing and having a few beers with their friends

Chiang Mai Yi Peng festival ping river treesChiang Mai Loi Krathong Yi Peng river bridge lit upChiang Mai Loy Krathong Ping river Thai girls celebrationsChiang Mai Loy Krathong floats designsChiang Mai Loi Krathong float designs

Chiang Mai Loy Krathong people firecrackers
The banks of Ping river saw its share of revelers too
Chiang Mai Ping river pedestrian bridge night
Moved to another bridge

Chiang Mai Loy Krathong lit up bridge touristsChiang Mai Loi Krathong Ping river bank Thais firecrackersChiang Mai Loy Krathong revelers pedestrian overbridgeChiang Mai Yi Peng festival lights decorationsChiang Mai Loy Krathong overbridge

Chiang Mai Loy Krathong ping river bridge matchbox
No surprises there

Chiang Mai Yi Peng river fireworks celebrationsChiang Mai Loy Krathong ping river bridge fireworksChiang Mai Loy Krathong ping bridge Thai couple lantern

Chiang Mai market Loi Krathong flowers on sale
Flowers, lots of flowers
Chiang Mai market Loi Krathong ping river bank
The markets were still bustling at this time
Chiang Mai market snacks for sale
Had to get down to ground level for a closer look
Chiang Mai market Lord Ganesha poster
Switched to the Tamron 28-75 f2.8 lens for the next few shots

Chiang Mai market lotus buds

Chiang Mai krathongs for sale Thailand
These are ‘krathongs’
Chiang Mai market Krathongs for sale
The base is made using a thick slice of banana plant stem

Chiang Mai market Loi Krathong flower garlandsChiang Mai market Loi Krathong flower shopsThe Frenchman in the above photo and I got talking, though I don’t remember how the conversation got started. Maybe I was wearing my ‘It’s Football, Not Soccer‘ t-shirt which has my website’s logo at the back and so he gave me his blog’s domain as well.

Chiang Mai meat market Yi Peng festival rush
That is a *lot* of slain pigs

Chiang Mai market flower shop designsChiang Mai market flower vendors Thailand

Chiang Mai paper lanterns for sale
Paper lanterns on sale (prices ranges from ฿20 to ฿60 depending on size)

Chiang Mai market Yi Peng festival flower shop ladyChiang Mai market Loi Krathong flower shopChiang Mai market flower bouquetsChiang Mai market Loi Krathong paper wrapped flowersI called it a night after this and headed back to my room.

Chiang Mai Loi Krathong Yi Peng city decorations
Can’t wait to see what the city has in store the next three days

Chiang Mai city night traffic

I had my dinner from a rather nice joint on the same lane as Rux Thai. Lovely pork spring rolls and a can of beer (came to ฿200). I hit the sack early because I needed more sleep. Tomorrow was going to be any early morning, for I had to get ready to learn how to make Thai curry!

Next posts in this series:

Thailand 2010: Chiang Mai cooking class; Loi Krathong celebrations in Mae Jo, Sansai

Thailand 2010: Chiang Mai Loi Krathong celebrations; first Grand Parade

Thailand 2010: Chiang Mai Zoo (Day 4, Part 1)

Thailand 2010: Last day of Loi Krathong; Sunday Grand Parade (Day 4, Part 2)

Thailand 2010: Heading to Chiang Rai by bus, Wat Jedyod and Golden Clock Tower

Thailand 2010: Golden Triangle in Mae Sai; Chiang Rai’s White Temple (Wat Rong Khun)

Thailand 2010: Pattaya — Beach road, Viewpoint, Jomtien Beach, Walking Street

Thailand 2010: Back to Bangkok — Chinatown, Patpong, Platinum Mall and Chatuchak Market

Thailand 2010: Gurdwara Siri Guru Singh Sabha, Sampeng Market, JJ market (again)

Previous post in this series:

Thailand 2010: Arriving in Bangkok and preparing for Loi Krathong in Chiang Mai

The bus I took to Chiang Mai from Mo Chit, Bangkok

Taking the bus to Chiang Mai from Bangkok

Date: Dec 14th, 2009

The bus ride from Kanchanaburi back to Bangkok took much longer because of evening traffic. Also, this bus wasn’t going to the Southern Bus terminal. Instead, it was headed for the Eastern Bus Terminal, also known as Ekamai. Once I got there by around 5pm, I was approached by many bike taxis (mostly mopeds) asking me where I wanted to go. The buses that go to Chiang Mai leave from Mo Chit Bus Terminal, the Northern Bus Terminal. I turned down the bike taxis because the rates they were charging were close to what the taxis were charging.  Also, with luggage, it wasn’t the safest option in Bangkok city.

Instead, I took a van taxi. Basically mini-buses that leave once full of passengers. A bit of a time waster if you are among the first ones in but at 35 baht, an economical choice. Once we left, it took an hour to get to Mo Chit. Bangkok traffic is pretty bad — but I’ll write about that in detail later.

Once I got to Mo Chit, I asked around as to where the buses to Chiang Mai were. I was directed to the platform where several private buses were stationed and I got a ticket for a double-decker A/C bus with a toilet. It cost 605 baht (Rs. 846) and the distance to cover was approximately 750kms. The bus was… nice!

The bus I took to Chiang Mai from Mo Chit, Bangkok
Inside the bus (Taken on my Nokia E72)

Now I’ve travelled by private long-distance buses in (South) India a lot. I often take the bus when going home to Kerala. I don’t know of any bus service that offers this level of service for around Rs. 800, that too for distance of over 700kms. But that was not all.

They have bus attendants too, all dressed up in their uniforms akin to what you see in airliners. Each seat has a pillow and a blanket and when the bus left Mo Chit, the attendant gave the usual talk (using the on-board microphone) about how long the journey would take, about the service one can expect, etc. She spoke only in Thai but I got the gist of it. Either that or she was making fun of the only Indian on board and I didn’t get it. Soon after, she started serving us food.

Left: The bus 'stewardess' Right: The welcome snacks
Left: The bus ‘stewardess’ Right: The food

I wasn’t expecting dinner as part of the ticket fare. She handed us a box consisting of a deep-fried chicken leg, a sausage roll (not sure what meat but who cares, I eat it all) and a cupcake. Plus juice/cola/water. After that, she gave biscuits and other sweets. Since I was famished, I gobbled it all.

Feeling quite full, I thought to myself how good value this seemed compared to what I was used to back in India. In-flight bus entertainment was mostly Thai karaoke music videos followed by a high-octane Thai action movie — with sporadic audio. But who cares, I fell asleep.

I woke up at around 11pm when the bus had stopped… somewhere. We had, apparently stopped for what was actually dinner at some restaurant.  The ticket includes a token which you hand over at the counter and it’s essentially a simple buffet of rice gruel, some steamed vegetables and boiled egg. The egg yolk was bright orange in colour and tasted very sour. I didn’t have much of the rice gruel either, I was already full. My only concern was that I had run out of credit on my mobile phone and because of that, I couldn’t inform my father and brothers where I was.

Fortunately, my father called me later and told him I would be able to re-charge only in the morning from Chiang Mai. I tried to sleep but by 5am, we had already arrived at Chiang Mai. (By the way, in the morning they also serve coffee or juice). I collected my luggage and took a Tuk Tuk (cost 100 baht/Rs. 130) to the tourist heavy Loi Kroh road which is where I decided to base myself. Loi Kroh has plenty of hotels and restaurants but I also chose it because it was close to the Night Market and a few temples I planned on seeing.

I first went to a Ramming Lodge which I found to be good on the internet but then the Tuk Tuk driver said it was expensive (it was over a 1000 baht a night, which I knew) and he told me he knew cheaper places. He took me to a hotel called Rux Thai Guesthouse, just a few metres off Loi Kroh road. It was only 490 baht (Rs. 680) per night and I could check out the next morning. Plus there was free WiFi.

I told the receptionist where all I planned to go in Chiang Mai and when I brought up Huay Pu Keng, he told me that to go there would mean an overnight stay. Instead, he offered me a packaged deal for 1300 baht (Rs. 1,800) which would take me around some places and includes a visit to a Kayan village.

So I thought, what the heck, and paid for it.

Other posts in this series:

Getting ready for my trip

The day I left for Thailand

Day 1 – Suvarnabhumi, Pantip Plaza, Fotofile & MBK

Day 2 – Bridge over the River Kwai and Tiger Temple (Wat Pa Luangta Bua) in Kanchanaburi

Taking the bus to Chiang Mai from Bangkok

Day 3 – Maesa elephant camp, ‘long-neck’ tribe village near Chiang Mai

Day 3 (Part 2) – Chiang Mai Night Market

Day 4 – Doi Suthep, Chiang Mai… and back in town

Day 5 – Leaving Chiang Mai for Phuket

Day 5 (Part 2) – One night in Phuket

Day 6 – Leaving Phuket for Ao Nang by bus (via Phang Nga)

Day 7 – Touring Koh Phi Phi (Maya Bay, Monkey Island & Bamboo Island)

Day 7 (Part 2) – Exploring Railay, Krabi

Day 8 – Flying from Phuket to Bangkok

Day 8 (Part 2) – Chatuchak Weekend Market, Bangkok

Day 9 – MBK, Siam Paragon… and ‘little Arabia’?

Day 10 – Wat Pho (the Temple of the Reclining Buddha) and finally leaving Thailand

Figures, lessons learned, and things I couldn’t do

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