It was the realisation that I was walking on paved pedestrian walkways (oh how I have missed those) or maybe the sight of “Beware of scammers” posters replacing those that vividly say “Myanmar warmly welcomes tourists” which reminded me that I had cross the border to Chiang Mai, Thailand. Coming from Myanmar, Thailand was almost too tamed and easy. My immediate impression of Chiang Mai was that it was packed full of western travellers there for the quintessential ‘South East Asia’ experience, much like Bangkok.
Scenes of the noisy and loud backpacker crowds detracted the experience a bit, but with just one day there I’ve never had a chance with the city. Chiang Mai was a necessary transit to my eventual destination in Laos and Vietnam, suitably more exotic or interesting. But even with one day; compared to the crazy and rowdy Bangkok, I decided that I liked the classier Chiang Mai a lot more. My timing was superb- the streets of old city on every Sunday turned into an open extravaganza with indelible street Thai food, excellent shopping, and opportunity to people watch. During the day I walked around the old city exploring temples and relics, and when the heat gets too much, quick stops at one of the many chic cafes to replenish. Rather typical tourist stuff.
It was good chilling out, and it felt a bit like ‘returning to civilisation’ after the immensely surreal Myanmar. Some pictures: