Our journey to Bangkok started on 15.02.07 from Frankfurt/Main via Abu Dhabi (UAE). On some sheik's plane we got pampered with deluxe food & entertainment, quite different from Aerlingus or Ryanair which I was used to. While crossing the time zones, we prepared to fight the jetlag, but it really wasn't that difficult. We are now 7 hrs ahead of CET.
At the airport the warnings about the Thai taxi drivers proved to be true. They try to squeeze out as much as they can, but we insisted to use the taximeter. Tuk tuk drivers are even worse, but the next day after a good bargain we enjoyed a flying race through the streets.
Our hotel room was nice and clean; we had a huge breakfast buffet (incl. european breakfast, thai food and fresh fruit). On the first evening we discovered a wat just around the corner. There were a lot of people around selling things, cooking or eating (we could have tried crispy insects...), praying or enjoying the Thai theatre.
The next day we went shopping - unsuccessful because we only found the same expensive chain stores that are everywhere, and the prices seem to be just as high everywhere. We then followed a good advice and went to a local tailor (Cindy tested my paitience here but I proved to have a cool heart as the Thais say).
On our way to a restaurant we discovered the famous frangipani flowers - i was very happy to find them. We had dinner at "Cabbages and Condoms". The restaurant"s owner found a creative way to spread the awareness of the topic. We ate outside in a most enchanting atmosphere under trees with fairy lights and lampions, there were waterfalls and a beautiful Thai girl played traditional music.
On Sunday, 18.02.07, we found out that THE place to go for shopping is the Chatuchak weekend market. We nearly got lost in this huge maze of stalls. They really sell everything you can imagine and most of it is high quality and creative handicraft. Not having seen enough yet, we decided to join the crowds in Chinatown for the celebration of the Chinese New Year. I got in touch there with a different way to use the toilet... Surving this unharmed, we went straight for the next culture shock and ate dinner at a food stall on the street (which was really yummy!). Again nothing happened, so everything is alright so far.
Next stop Chiang Mai - we took the night train from Bangkok (12 hrs). This is better than taking the plane, as you get to see more of the landscape and meet lots of people (our neighbors were a Thai farmer and a teacher from Australia). That night i didnt get much sleep thanks to the air-con and the lamps though my upper bed was comfortable.
Chiang Mai is quite big but has a rural character, everything is more easy going. The old town is surrounded by a canal and the last bits of the ancient city walls. This area is like a maze and you can discover a lot on foot. You find a lot of temples (wats) - they are just everywhere. We had an interesting chat with monks in one of them. The biggest and most impressive Wat Doi Suthep is on a mountain top in a national park just outside Chiang Mai. I'm sure you already saw a picture of it somewhere. It is jawdroppingly beautiful! We also got a monk's blessing there and a white wristband for good luck. Just so you know you need not worry...
This town is also a famous gateway to the djungle. Curious as we are, and feeling well protected with our lucky band, we went on a 2-day-trip to the djungle. I can only recommend this to everybody, it was a very nice experience. We were a small international group (2 girls from Japan, 2 other Germans, 1 Australian and a Dutch couple plus our Thai guides). We walked a lot (sometimes difficult tracks), saw waterfalls, snakes, rice fields and buffalos and stayed the night in a Karen village. We got even in the djungle homemade Thai food (did i mention the delicious Thai food before???) and spent the evening sitting around a fire singing songs. I think i never saw sooo many stars in my whole life as that night out there.