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15 December, 2009 TuesdaySongthaews and Other Transport in Chiangmai
We came across the unusual Songthaews in Chiangmai. Unusual because we had to get used to the idea that they were kind of like shared taxis, where the driver would transport a bunch of passengers who were all roughly heading in the same direction.
As you might imagine, this suits passengers who may want a cheaper ride at the cost of a longer journey, as the driver cruises the streets a little to pick up as many fares as he can.
Read more...14 December, 2009 MondayFight Night at the Thaphae Muay Thai Stadium
We'd already seen the Thaphae Muay Thai Stadium during the day when it was deserted and we bought tickets to come back for an evening of Muay Thai action. I thought a whole night of fights might end up repetitive, but eventually found it to be surprisingly fun!
There were seven fights throughout the night which varied in weight divisions and an addition fight involving a pretty funny, blindfolded four man match up. The initial fights were probably the least interesting, consisting of the lower weight divisions and low impact action from young teenagers.
However, time and money was short for us, and so we settled for a simple half hour elephant ride at the fairly nearby (to Chiangmai) Maesa Elephant Camp. The camp was our last stop on a half day's worth of being driven around, where we also saw tiger cubs, snakes and shot some guns.
Read more...13 December, 2009 SundayKing Cobra Chiangmai Show - Not for the Snake Shy
The King Cobra show was obviously not for the faint-hearted ophiophobic (fear of snakes) but for us, turned out surprisingly to be a barrel of laughs! The show was basically a half hour narrated introduction to several breeds of snakes as they were taken out of their boxes by various snake handlers in turn and paraded in the centre ring.
There weren't many people in the audience - just us, a pair of English tourists (one of whom had ophiophobia) and a small Japanese family of three.
Read more...13 December, 2009 SundayGuns in Chiangmai at the Maerim Shooting Range
For our day of tigers, snakes and elephants, we had a hired driver take us from one facility to another and along the way, he suggested going to a shooting range (in his broken English). We'd read about how these drivers try to get their tourist fares to other places in order to collect commission on any thing they buy, so we were a little wary but I wanted to have a look.
To be honest, I'm not a gun fanatic and I've never shot one but I was curious about it and thought that Chiangmai would be as cheap a place as any other I could think of, to give it a go.
We stayed long enough to see some singing and this trio of women dancing and twirling their hands whilst holding a pair of candlesticks upright. You can see in the photo above that the flames aren't exactly tiny, and standing close to the stage, I could see wax leaking off them freely. Ouch. Check them out below.
13 December, 2009 SundayRatchdamnoen Walking Night Market
The Ratchdamnoen Walking Night Market in Chiangmai is famous - well, we realised it was once we began to look into where to go in the city. It takes place every Sunday night along the road of the same name which runs about two thirds the width of the walled old city. That's pretty long, more so than the Wualai Road Night Market which we visited the previous night.
Because the Wualai and Ratchdamnoen markets happened on consecutive days, having our five days in Chiangmai including the weekend conveniently allowed us to visit both. This was good on the one hand since we could see what both "events" were like, as well as do some shopping and have a place for dinner each night.
Read more...12 December, 2009 SaturdayChiangmai Leather
To me, leather is almost synonymous with Thailand and all kinds of leather goods could be found in all the markets we visited in Bangkok and Chiangmai. However, in Chiangmai's Chang Moi Road (say that several times quickly), we came across a shop that sold finished leather products as well as all kinds of leather pieces, scraps, decorations, finishings and accessories.
No doubt this shop would only be of interest to those who are a little crafty and like to make their own leather stuff. However, I found a whole box full of rejected Traveler's Notebook covers.
Read more...12 December, 2009 SaturdayLoikroh Muay Thai Stadium by Day
In Chiangmai, we were told about two places to watch Muay Thai fights and the Loikroh Muay Thai Stadium on Loikroh Road was one of them. We didn't see any fights here in the end (preferring to go to the Thaphae Muay Thai Stadium instead) but were able wander in to have a look during the day.
The Loikroh Muay Thai Stadium was smaller than I imagined consisting of a fight ring and enough space around it to line up several rows of chairs. This area was flanked on all sides with bars (closed at the time) so that fight nights were clearly meant to be paired with an evening of drinking.