It was an early morning wake up call for us to head out of Railey- which, to be honest, I was ok with because that meant capturing the sunrise while making our journey back to the mainland area and over to the Krabi airport. In order to get back to the mainland, we were loaded onto a tractor pulled by a trailer (yes, you heard that right), driven out over the low tide to a long tail boat. The long tail boat took us to the closest dock, about minute journey, and then a taxi took us to the airport where we took off to Chiang Mai. Goodbye beach vibes, help city surrounding by luscious jungle covered mountains.
We were greeted in Chiang Mai by our gracious Airbnb host- Airbnb hosts in Thailand really go above and beyond we have discovered! Killing time before check in found us in the “old city” of Chiang Mai, which is the central part of the city and surrounded by a crumbling brick wall and moat that used to surround and protect the city at one point in time. We found a very random little restaurant featuring Chiang Mai’s best known dish: Khao Soi, which was a creamy spicy yellow noodle soup topped with more crunchy noodles. Dessert was mango sticky rice- absolutely delicious.
A solid nap in an air conditioned room does the body good, and we had some extra energy to get up and explore the Sunday Night Market. We were a little overwhelmed at the size and popularity of this pop up market- it was really neat to see. Of course I was convinced into some hand carved wooden elephant whistles for my children by a very convincing Thai salesman “oh please, my uncle hand carve these!” I of course regretted my decision almost immediately!
We actually hadn’t had much street food since we had arrived in Thailand, so the market was the perfect place to try it out. Kellen picked up a few marinated chicken satay sticks, marinated in what tasted like a teriyaki sauce, as well as a rice type egg roll thing (these are obviously the proper names, can’t you tell?) while I snagged a corn on the cob and some chicken satay as well. Once we get overwhelmed with the crowds, we escaped to a bar called MoonPie overlooking the crowds and drank some iced cold fin and tonics while we watched the hustle and bustle of the market continue late into the night.
The next day we found a place for breakfast and coffee very easily, which we discovered come very often in Chiang Mai, which is why I told Kellen it reminded me a bit of the “Portland of Thailand.” Hip, cool, and filled with coffee shops, it was the perfect place to explore. We ended up renting a scooter nearby our condo and got really lost. When we looked at the map, we navigated to be beside the river, which we figured could only take us to good things. That route brought us out onto the highway and heading to Mae Rim, which we were excited to start seeing signs about waterfalls, so began to just follow those. About halfway through our journey we encountered a police roadblock and was flagged over. He asked for our license in very broken English, kellen handed him his Washington license (haha) and the cop pointed to a paper that said “500 baht” and made a motion to pay him. It was a very rough and consuming conversation where we tried to ask about proper licensing and permits and ended with us handing him the cash, him shaking our hand, and whispering “go go go!” Wait- did we just unintentionally bribe a cop not thailand? After lots more research and conversation with other travelers, we came to found out this is not at all uncommon and we most likely had been taken advantage of a bit. Oh well, since 500 baht was the equivalent of $15 US dollars and we weren’t too disappointed since it made for a pretty funny experience and story,
Later that evening when we made it back to the city, we got picked up by a local photographer who drove us around looking for photo locations- this seems possibly not so significant but honestly was such a fun experience for us. He was a local to Chiang Mai and spoke really great English, so we finally had a chance to ask all sorts of questions to a local who could share with us. My first question was an important one: why are the beds so hard here?!? Apparently Thai people like firm beds, haha. He joked that he had become our tour guide that evening, and it really felt like it, since we learned some of the most useful and interesting facts from him about living life in Thailand.