Once more unto the breach. Back to Chiang Mai, this time with new friends and no set plans. The night train sucked the 2nd time around as the AC blasted me in the face for the 13 hour duration, and I was confident the train was going to derail. But, I made it back up.
To be honest, the crew was due for some relaxation time and we found just that in Chiang Mai (sort of). We spent a few days walking through the old city and lounging in the sun outside our hostel. At night, we explored some of the local watering holes to sample the finer hooch. By that I actually mean we put down buckets (literal) of Thai redbull and low grade vodka. My friend Martin and I went to another Muay Thai fight near the city gate. The fights were much better, but once again it was weird to see such young kids fight. I felt even worse when i lost a 200 baht bet on a 14 year old who proceeded to get knocked out via a kick to the head. That will go down as a lower point of my gambling career.
On Sunday night, we were able to experience the famous night market along the main walking street. It was the biggest street market I’ve ever seen. About 1 full mile of road is packed with vendors selling food and goods. They’re shouting prices, haggling, wheeling and dealing from 4pm until midnight. The people pack the streets. The air is filled with music, yelling, laughing, and the smell of delicious food. Options are essentially endless: local sausage, gyoza, chicken and beef on scewers, octopus, fried fish, mangos, dragonfruit, pad thai, khao soi, and much more! If you would prefer to sample the fried crickets or maggots, that’s also an option. For desert there are cakes and ice cream and cookies alongside mountains of fruit. In the stalls the merchants who have come from surrounding villages are selling their goods. Whether its clothing, bags, toys, soaps, or accessories you can find whatever it is you need at one of the stalls. It’s borderline overwhelming, but one of the best things I’ve seen yet in Thailand.
After we had eaten our fill and done some shopping, some friends and I checked out a cultural thai dance show. What that means is that we went to the famous Lady Boy Cabaret of Chiang Mai. It was actually hilarious. It’s essentially what the name describes it as. A group of ‘ladyboys’ puts on a very funny performance while decked out in extravagant outfits. They had us laughing and cheering the whole night. I also may or may not have been pulled onto the stage with a friend, made to wear a wig and a dress, to perform a dance number or 2. I don’t think any pictures exist to prove anything.
All in all, Chiang Mai was great the 2nd time around. It was fun to get involved with the night life and experience the market. I’ll be down once again before heading to Cambodia but first…. we’re headed into the mountains in the north to a small town called Pai!