It rained last night, and was still raining when we woke up this morning. After breakfast (which was delicious, as usual) I got on the computer in the lobby to look at the weather report and also to try to find a cigar store in Chiang Mai.
The weather report was not heartening. It was supposed to rain all day. We decided to go out anyway, since it was out first full day in the city. We waited until it slacked off a bit, then headed out. We didn't bring any rain gear, because it is not supposed to rain at this time of year in Thailand. Anyway, it really didn't matter; even had I brought my rain gear, it was too warm to wear it. I would rather be a little wet than hot and wet. I had my adventure hat, anyway, so no worries.
Anyway, we decided to walk to the old city, which is defined at the area inside the old moat. Our hotel is not even on the map that I just linked to, but, if you look at the scale, it is not huge. The area inside the moat is about a square mile, so it's really not that far from out hotel. It would normally be about a half an hour walk, but, when you have to stop and look in every other store, it sometimes takes a little longer....
We walked and shopped our way there. Once we were there, it started to rain harder, so we took refuge in an Irish pub called the UN Irish Pub. I had some very mediocre Hungarian Goulash, and some excellent chicken fried rice, and L had some pretty good fish and chips. And of course I also had a Singha. Singha is a Thai beer, and pretty much the most popular one, although there is also Chang and Leo, neither of which is as good, IMO. Chang has a higher alcohol content, at 6.4%, as opposed to 5% for Singha. It's just not as good, though. Singha is a lager (like most standard American beers) but has more hops and more flavor than your typical American brew. It was an OK, but not great, meal (I know, what do you expect at an Irish pub in Thailand?) What can I say, it was raining and this place was close.
After trying off at the hotel we decided to try the famous Night Bazaar. This is not a single building, I found out, but several. I saw at least three separate buildings on the map, and they are all huge. This is in addition to the stalls lining every side of every street. There is so much to see here it is staggering. I didn't take many pictures that day, but this should give you an idea.
This one is not actually the night baazar, technically, it is Waorat Market, which is right over the pedestrian bridge from our hotel.
We had lunch at the food court at the Night Bazzar. It was one of those places where you buy tickets, which you exchange for the food. When you're done you turn your tickets back it for a refund. We had red curry, pineapple fried rice (always a good choice here), some veggie samosas, a soda, and a beer (Chang this time, they seem to have a monopoly at the food court). It was all really, really good, and the total cost was 270 baht, or about $8.50.
Afterwards we shopped some more. I actually bought something, a little alien warrior guy made out of aluminum wire, who is now proudly guarding my TV in my game room. I paid a lot for him, 450 baht, or almost $15, and I forgot to haggle, but it's ok. He is very cool. From the same lady L bought a very nice embroidered purse which she loves.
We had dinner at The Riverside, which, as you might guess from the name, is right on the river. It also has the large advantage of being on our side of the river, and about a 5-10 minute walk down the road from the hotel. It has a fantastic terrace overlooking the river. The food was good, but nothing spectacular. The good news is there are three other fairly famous restaurants in the same area almost next to each other, so we'll try them next.
Here's some random pictures of Chiang Mai.
The Ping River from the pedestrian bridge.
The Ping River at night.The flower market at night.
The Tha Phae gate. The picture is not great because I couldn't get a head on picture, because there was a huge poster of and memorial for the King's recently departed sister.
One of the streets that runs along the moat. This is where the walls used to be, but they are gone now except for at the corners and at some of the gates.
A better shot of the moat.
I wish KC had a moat. City walls, too, for that matter. You never know when St. Louis will decide to attack. Can't be too careful.
One of the remaining corners from the inside. Unreconstructed, obviously.
Tomorrow, the Chiang Mai Flower Festival parade.