We arrived in Chang Mai after a grueling train ride on the “Night Train” from Ayuthaya. The 13 hour overnight journey started the evening before and included “first class” accommodations in a tiny room that accommodated two passengers sharing bunk beds and one tiny sink. There was barely room for the luggage. The air conditioning started out strong, but was greatly diminished overnight to our chagrin. We also discovered a short time into our ride that most rooms had stowaway critters, specifically some friendly Thailand bugs. The promised shower on the train (in the communal bathroom area) turned out to be little more than a hose and so we did without showers that evening.
Upon our arrival from our luxury train trip, we were happily whisked to the Chiang Mai Plaza Hotel. It was a truly beautiful hotel with clean, spacious, well air-conditioned rooms and pristine showers. We all scrubbed up and had a good breakfast before heading off to the Arts and Cultural Center to learn more about the history of Chiang Mai. After our history lesson, we had a Burmese buffet lunch that was excellent. The first half of the afternoon was filled with shopping at the World’s Largest Jewelry and Gem Store and then a Thai silk factory. Our group definitely gave a boost to the Thai economy with these last two stops. We then enjoyed tea time at the private residence of author and ceramics collector John Shaw and his wife. John gave us a brief explanation of his extensive collection of Thai pottery, most pieces many hundreds of years old. We said our good byes to our gracious hosts and headed to the summit of Doi Suthep mountain and the 600 year old temple of Wat Phra Doi Suthep. Although we had already seen several temples, we were in awe of the beauty of this one. Perhaps this temple affected us so because the monks were praying and chanting together creating a moving, pious experience.
After our jam packed day, we enjoyed dinner and a variety of traditional Thai dancing. In fact, our group and many of the other restaurant patrons took part in the final dance of the evening. The audience participation number was a success except for a few over served seasoned European tourists. We ended our evening perusing various Thai wares at the Night Market in Chiang Mai.
Jeff & Christina.