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The start of Chang Mai

Playing with fireworks- seems legit

sunny 28 °C

Yesterday we visited the floating markets. We had woken up at around 4 am and couldn't sleep, so we laid in bed watching catfish before getting up. It had been raining all nigh and did not show any sign of letting up so there I was, sat in my poncho and shorts with soaking wet hair at 7am waiting for our pickup. The driver took ages to get us to the other hostels, and kept disappearing for lengths of time for no apparent reason. At one point I saw him wandering across the street with a mcdonalds cup in one hand and a cigarette in the other! We people watched for a while to pass the time, and saw that the dustbin men have to pull out everything in the bin bags, and sort it into piles with their bare hands. I wouldn't want to be a bin man here. We eventually got going and arrived after a couple of hours at the markets. It was still pouring down as we took the middle seats on our boat which we rented (a seat each for 150 baht per person). The market itself doesn't run down one main strip, it is like a junction and each little side street had more to sell. Brad bought a big wooden hat which looked like a lampshade from one enthusiastic seller, so that he could keep the rain off his head and I think it's growing on him! I bought my parents a little souvenir- which since broke as the protective paper turned to mush and the airport staff manhandled my bag :(. We were rowed along by a lady at the back who stopped when we pointed at something we wanted to look at, and some sneaky shop owners actually hooked us in literally with a big hook on a stick! They dragged the boat to their stall and pointed to every item the sold individually! The boat ride lasted around 20 minutes and we rowed past lots of speedboats whose propellers frequently escaped the water right next to us. Some of these boats sold food such as barbecued bananas which I really wanted to try but it was the other side of the river. We took a walk around after that since we still had an hour, and i bought a rice noodle soup for lunch with vegetables. When we thought it was all over and we met at our designated meeting point, we were made to line up without explanation, and then shuffled onto a long, wet speedboat without the rest of our group. It wasn't bad- don't get me wrong but we had no idea it was coming and we got soaked as we tore through the water, and were taken past peoples houses. It's mad to think people live right on the water and even have dogs and cats just like a normal neighbourhood, except the doorstep is underwater! We got off the boat after 15 minutes feeling cold, wet and a bit confused with no sign of the rest of our group. They turned up next, and then we took the minibus back to Khao San Road, where we had a quick lunch then rushed back to the hotel for our airport transfer.
We arrived in Chang Mai yesterday evening. We had to fly because trains are not working from Bangkok to Chang Mai at the moment and Brad was worried about getting a bus. We regret that now since the flight was expensive, and then we had to pay an extra 900 baht each for out luggage at the airport. That had a huge impact on our budget. It cost 150 baht for us to take a taxi to our accommodation at Ben Guesthouse which was close by. I'll be honest- this was a cheap place and I didn't think it was going to be amazing but I was still a bit shocked when we went to our room and it was very dirty. The man on reception was lovely and very polite and helpful, and he explained that someone was going up to quickly clean the room before we could check in. This basically meant he used a shower to spray quickly over the toilet and bathroom. That's it. The toilet inside was black, the door looked like a land rover hand driven through the countryside and sprayed all over the side of it, and the sink was dirty too. So I got out my baby wipes and cleaned the sink, then had a shower and got into bed. We didn't trust the blanket provided as there was no top sheet, so I used my sarong from Rio as a sheet and Brad did the same. I felt a bit better once we had got washed and organised, despite sparks coming out of the plug socket and my hair dryer not working now due to the strange plugs.
I woke up at 4 am again today and tried to go back to sleep but couldn't, so I gave up and read a bit of my book and looked up what to do in the area. Once Brad was awake and ready to go, we went to get breakfast on the main road and shamefully walked into mcdonalds but only because nothing else was really open. Brad was pretty ill with a bad stomach so we went home to let him rest, he slept and I read and researched some accommodation for our next stops. Accommodation definitely isn't quite as cheap as advertised and being on a tight budget we are a bit worried now. Brad woke up at 5, so we went to get dinner near the old city, passing monks on the way. We stopped for a quick bite of watermelon from a street vendor who cut it quickly and put in in a bag with two sticks to eat with in under thirty seconds! The restaurant we went to was nice, decorated with colourful lights and was quite busy. Brad and I both had pad Thai but I was brave enough to put chilli on mine and it was so delicious with all the lime and tofu. It was a great dinner. From there we took a wander down to the night markets and night bazaar. These are two different places and if you don't walk both ends of the connecting road, you may not know they both exist. The bazaar is indoors, two floors and lots of art is inside including great wooden carvings and giant canvas paintings. Along with that you can buy clothes, massage, souvenirs, dead stuffed animals and even a photo of you dressed in Asian clothing! Brad worked his bartering skills and I got my elephant print purple trousers (so classy haha) to wear when we go elephant trekking so they will know I'm a fan :) then we walked to the night markets and saw some soaps carved into flowers which looked beautiful. The lady running one stall said it takes her eight minutes to carve one, then ten to paint. We saw some lady boys, someone getting a fish pedicure and a huge seafood selection on ice, alive. Brad asked if one crab was alive and this woman picked it up and poked it in the eye to show it was alive. I told her not to do that and to be honest I was really sickened by it all, as they were all piled on top of each other slowly freezing to death with some nut job market woman torturing them as a selling point.
On the way home we crossed the bridge by us and people were setting off fireworks and bangers which were flying all over the show and I was trying to run through them feeling really scared. There were a paper lanterns being lit and sparklers dancing around, loud bangs and flashes of light. We decided to go back to the guesthouse to grab a camera and then headed back. We bought a lantern for 25 baht and lot it, then set it free...into a powerline. We saw it heading the wrong way and tried to grab it back but it was too late. Luckily it brushed by and the panick was over. Until I realised that I was surrounded by mental health cases setting off rocket an all directions! One woman literally set of this rocket and was pointing it all around laughing like it was Harry Potters wand. Only Harry's wand doesn't shoot fire at pedestrians! There were people all over the bridge firing fireworks everywhere and anywhere, past peoples faces, across the water, into the bushes. Literally anything goes here. I have to admit it I was fearing for my life but it was a pretty big health and safety risk! So I ended up crouched behind my makeshift shield which was a road sign, covered by a car and underneath a tree. The path was no longer safe and I was behind enemy lines. I will add a video so you can see. Until then pray for us haha!

Posted by Kirstyonwroot 07:40 Archived in Thailand Tagged people night places thailand fireworks chang_mai

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