Chiang Mai

Dec. 27th, 2017

We arrived in Chiang Mai Bus Terminal 3 at around 8:30am. We grabbed our bags and went in search of a ride to our hostel. It wasn’t long before a tuk tuk driver came to us offering to take us for 150 THB (around $5 USD). According to Google Maps it was only supposed to take about 20 minutes so I tried to haggle it down to 100 THB (around $3 USD). He didn’t bite and we just wanted to get going so we agreed to 150 THB and hopped in the tuk tuk.

We arrived at The Monkey Toe Guesthouse and our first impressions were good. The first floor had plenty of lounging space with a kitchen tucked into the back left corner. The 2nd floor was just tables and cushions where you could read a book or sit on your computer or whatever. The 3rd floor is where our room was and this was the first time we were sharing with more than potentially 6 other people. I think there were a total of 12 beds in our room. You never really know how many people are there at any given moment, but it made us feel even more like backpackers sharing our living space with so many other people.

Since we were so early we were not able to check in yet, so we just put our bags in the hostel storage space and decided to use the morning to extend our Thailand tourist visa. Firstly though, as usual, we were hungry after our long bus journey. The hostel receptionist pointed us around the corner to a vegan/vegetarian place called J Station. It was really good inexpensive vegan food. We got a big helping of rice and two different other dishes all for just 35 THB (around $1 USD). I can’t remember the last time I got full for less than $1.50, ever. With our bellies full we were ready to tackle the Thailand immigration department.

After a little bit of research I found out it is relatively easy and straightforward to extend a tourist visa for an extra 30 days. We arrived in Thailand on Dec. 15th, 2017, so we only had until Jan 15th, 2018 until our visa ran out and we had to leave the country. We still had so much we want to see and do before then and we didn’t want to feel rushed. Therefore, we wanted to extend our visa for another 30 days to allow us the flexibility to roam around Thailand for a little bit longer doing and seeing whatever caught our fancy. All we did was follow one bloggers helpful guide on the matter and we were all done in about 3 hours, now able to stay until Feb. 15th, 2018.

The place where we went to extend our visas was the Promenade mall, and it was one of the deadest malls I have ever been to. It felt like the only people there were people like us, waiting for their visas to be processed. Not sure if it because it is new or lack of popularity, but there were hardly any shops and the ones that were there weren’t much to our liking.

It was about 2:30pm when we got back to our hostel and we were able to check in and settle into our dorm room. We freshened up and took a nap which lasted until about 4:30pm. Then we went out for a walk to explore what was nearby and to walk into the old city and find somewhere to eat. We followed some signs to another vegan/vegetarian place that had some good options and were happy with what we had for dinner. Not quite as cheap as the place we had breakfast at, but still under $10 USD for both of us to eat a good healthy meal at a restaurant is a win in my books.

After dinner we walked up to a place we remembered being a good grocery store near where we stayed last time we were in Chiang Mai, to get Sophie a big salad-bar salad for her lunch tomorrow when she would be at Spa Mantra doing a Pregnancy Massage course. We also picked up some almond milk and some bread for breakfast, as we hadn’t found a hostel yet that had anything else other than cow’s milk and bread that either had milk or eggs in.

Dec. 28th, 2017

Today Sophie started her Pregnancy Massage course at Spa Mantra. We each had a breakfast of a banana, toast with jam, and a coffee at our hostel. Then we headed out towards Spa Mantra which was about a 15 minute walk away. After I dropped Sophie off I went to a nearby gym called Fitness Thailand, where I spent about an hour pumping some iron for the drop-in rate of 200 THB (around $7 USD).

After that I went to J Station again for an early lunch before heading to CentralFestival mall where I was planning to watch the latest Star Wars at an IMAX theater. It took about an hour to walk there, and when I went to buy a movie ticket I was informed the next English showing was not until 2:30pm. It was only 11:20am so I had 3 hours to kill! Luckily I had brought my laptop with me so I hunkered down at Starbucks and proceeded to surf the web, update the blog, scroll my news feed on facebook, research upcoming travel plans, etc.

The movie was pretty awesome and I’m not a die-hard fan of Star Wars or anything, but I appreciate that some movies are just better to watch on the biggest screen you can find. If you have an IMAX screen nearby I highly recommend seeing movies with lots of special effects there over a regular movie screen. I think because it was an afternoon it was cheaper because the ticket was only 230 THB (around $8 USD). Online I had seen them as high as 400 THB (around $13 USD).

After the film I thought walking back to the hostel would be straightforward since I had walked from there earlier, but I took a wrong turn and it took me quite a while to find my way back.

Dec. 29th, 2017

I walked Sophie to her class again today and then headed back to the hostel and chilled until about 11 am when I went to the gym. On my way I stopped by a place called Cheeva Spa and booked Sophie and I in for a couples hot-stone massage the next day at 11 am.

After the gym I went back to the hostel, packed up all of our stuff and moved everything over to our new hostel called Thai Time, which was on the south side of the old town near the Chiang Mai Gate.

When Sophie got back from the course, we went for some food at a restaurant called Reform Kafe which was rated very highly on Happy Cow.  The food was really good but we couldn’t forgive the fact that it took an hour for all our food to be served from the time it was ordered.

Dec. 30th, 2017

We excitedly made our way to Cheeva Spa for our 11am couple massage appointment.  The last time we were in Chiang Mai 3 years ago we each had a four-hand massage, which was the best ever.  This time we weren’t going quite as crazy and having aromatherapy massages.  The whole experience was just as amazing this time around.  The little things like having our feet washed before the treatment, to the tea and mango and sticky rice after the treatment, made it extra special.

At around 4:30 pm we walked down the street to check out a temple we had heard about called Wat Sri Suphan. It was famous for being the only silver temple in Thailand. We found out it had only been completed in 2014, which is why we hadn’t heard about it last time we were in Chiang Mai in 2014.

The silver temple

A market had been set up all along the Wua Lai Rd where our hostel was and it eventually got so packed with people in some places that it was difficult to walk. It took about 20 minutes to move 30 meters down the road!

Pop-up market road

Dec. 31st, 2017

Sophie saw a brochure for a bike tour and we decided it was a good way to see out 2017. We started at 10:00 am for what was a 6 hour bike tour. Our guide Aei was really friendly and nice. She took us past a university and a large convention center before we stopped for some coffee at a cafe in a beautiful location.

We continued biking through some foresty areas until we got to a large man-made lake. We biked all the way around taking pictures along the way. There was a nice shrine with a large buddha statue at one point along the path, as well as a wide open area with several straw bungalows which were so cute and idyllic.

Cycling through the forest
Huay Tung Tao Reservoir
Biking around the lake

After we made it all the way around the lake we sat down for a nice lunch of different dishes.  Everything was very tasty and they were nice enough to make a nice selection of vegan dishes.

After lunch we biked back towards the Chiang Mai old town, but took a different route back to pass by a flower market and a fruit and vegetable market.

Flower Market vendor

After we got back from the bike ride, we had some time before we wanted to go out and take part in the New Year’s Eve festivities, so we had a nap.  When we went out at around 9pm, we were surprised to see that people had already started releasing flaming lanterns into the sky.  We released one of our own at around 10pm after Sophie wrote a few New Year’s wishes on it.  We had some drinks at a couple of different places to pass the time, but after a while we decide to spend the countdown alone together on the roof of our hostel with a bottle of champagne.  From there we could watch fireworks going off around the city.


Jan 1st, 2018

We had a chilled day starting with breakfast at our favourite restaurant in the whole world Vegan Heaven. Then we went to a yoga class. After that we went to see the movie The Greatest Showman at the CentralFestival mall.

We had an early dinner at Reform Kafe. The food was amazing again, but the service was still very sluggish. Afterwards we walked all the way to Vegan Heaven because I just had to have that warm chocolate brownie again!

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