Chiang Mai – A Trip Unexpected In Many Ways

Went on a spontaneous Chiang Mai trip with 2 girlfriends 2 weeks back and still reeling from the surprises I’ve experienced there. Decided on Chiang Mai cos none of us had been there before and well, relatively cheaper as well. The friends voted to stay at airbnb and so Astra Condo was home for the next 3 days. The apartment was a short ride away from the airport which was good, though the location of the apartment was well, far from ideal. There wasn’t much things to do around the condo and the nearest shopping mall (with supermarket) was a 10 minutes walk away. I would say this condo feels a little strange. Half the apartments in there were probably for airbnb rental yet there were signs in the condo that warned tourists this is not a hotel and rooms were not for rent. #confusedmuch And the incredible thing was you collect your keys from the tour office which was located at the back. So if you happen to arrive during lunch hours and they are out on break, then you just have to wait at the lobby for goodness how long

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Though the lobby does look pretty nice but security was basically none

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The apartment actually looks pretty decent but I felt like the owner/s could have done better – like there were no extra toilet rolls in the house (we literally combed the entire place). How are 2 rolls even enough for 3 pax for 3 nights? So the friend messaged the owners to tell them but they insisted it was enough. I decided we should just buy our own toilet rolls since either this convo is going nowhere or they are living in denial

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To our surprise, when we came back from the supermarket we found 3 toilet rolls waiting for us. We were like… did someone enter our apartment? or did the toilet rolls just popped out from nowhere or were we imagining things?! To be clear, the owners live 2 hours away from this apartment so I’m not sure how they could pop by here while we were just away for half an hour. IN ANY CASE, I decided we should close this convo and just move on

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So moving on, we went for a Khantoke dinner and cultural show which we booked through Klook. And wow, it was packed

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By right, you can choose whether you prefer to sit on the floor or the tables (for people are not used to sitting on the floor). By left, we didn’t have the option to choose. Not that we minded since I guess we would have a more authentic experience

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Basically it was dinner served on tray with small dishes, like chap chye peng style. To be honest, the food wasn’t fantastic so don’t expect much

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And the show was a variation of dances from the different tribes

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There were ladies in traditional costumes that go around taking photos with each table and of course trying to sell you the photo souvenir later. Clearly we didn’t get it cos the lighting was horrible and they just took the photo while we were still eating. So oh wells, a photo of our own instead! Would I say this show/dinner was worth it. Well.. I think it’s an option to consider if you have nothing to do in Chiang Mai at night :/

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The next day we went a day trip to visit the Dog Inthanon National Park which the friends booked through Klook as well

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So starting with a visit to Wat Phrathatsrijomtong, one of the oldest temple in Northern Thailand. We also learnt that there are temples that represent a different zodiac in North Thailand and this is the temple of the rat!

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The big rat and tiny rats

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And a visit to the Wachirathan Waterfall

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This waterfall was no joke. 3 seconds here and I felt like I just stepped out of the shower. The impact was incredibly strong

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You can’t tell how wet we were but we were super wet

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And trying the purple corn cos we don’t see it often. Well, it wasn’t sweet and neither was it tasty. No loss here

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And finally at the National Park which was very chilly. So bring a jacket cos you will need it

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Very misty and dream-like

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Venturing the Angkha Nature Trail which was a trail of lush forest scenery

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Heh okay we had some fun there

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And continuing on to see the King and Queen’s chedis which was nothing like those in the pictures cos the weather was so bad. Half the time we were running and hiding from the wind cos it was so cold

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Can’t even see the other chedi! Helloooo? Where are you?!

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So we went to the garden behind and tried to take some photos which were more visible

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‘Try’ was the keyword

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Okay lah, we really tried!

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Last stop of the day before lunch was a visit to Hmong village market which was a small local market with 20 shops selling the same things. Didn’t buy anything here though many were buying oranges, dried mango slices and nuts. At this time we were famished so thankfully lunch stop was 1 minute drive away

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And lunch for the day

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was a variation of simple dishes just to keep you full. Lunch was really late, like close to 2pm. I felt like it was too late to be honest. Thankfully we had the hindsight to bring chips onboard so we had something to munch along the way

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And last item on the itinerary was a visit to the plantations of the Royal Agricultural Station Inthanon

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which the tour guide claimed they served the best coffee ever. I thought the coffee was decent but ‘best’ might be a little subjective

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And for those who don’t drink coffee, the thai milk tea was recommended as well

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It was a park filled with beautiful flowers so you can have lots of photos here

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When I was still feeling better and alive

And we were dropped off in the city at 5pm which we thought was too early for dinner so we decided to visit the Sunday night market. We actually didn’t have high hopes for the market since our tour members told us the saturday night market was boring with 20 stalls selling the same things

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The Sunday night market was actually not that bad. The entire route from one end to another took about 1 hour or slightly more. And yes we walked back and forth

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From buskers

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to massages to everything else

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And it poured on us halfway. Thankfully we were armed with umbrella and poncho

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Dinner was at The House of Ginger. The main area was full so we were seated at cafe area which was slightly brighter but with the same menu

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which was a very nice place in fact

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The friends weren’t very hungry so they had actually wanted to order 2 dishes instead of 3. But I insisted in going for 3 cos me being me wanted to try the dishes even though we might not finish them. I’m glad I insisted cos this was probably the best meal we had, and we finished everything!

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Deep Fried Sea Bass with Ginger, Tamarind, Sweet Pepper & Cashew Nuts ฿490

Love the fish. It was delicious!

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Khao Soi – Northern Style Noodle Curry with Crispy Noodles (Chicken) ฿160

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Stir Fried Thai Milkweed Flower with Squid and Glass Noodles ฿220

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Honestly, the food here was pretty good. But the Khao Soi was a little similar to curry mee pok. I might not reorder that given a choice but since this was Chiang Mai’s iconic dish, we thought we should just give it a try

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Went cafe hopping the next day and we settled on Ristr8to since they originated from there

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Cafe Mocha

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Satan Coffee

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And a selection of cakes and scones for breakfast

I was very sick that day, so sick that I was running a high fever. I think I probably looked like I was about to faint. So the friends went to shop while I went back to the apartment to rest and meet them for massage thereafter

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And massage was at VeraLee massage which was just opposite One Nimman mall

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The place was clean but since we were just doing shoulder + foot massage, I don’t know how the rooms look like

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Had a very early dinner at Tong Tem Toh which was known for serving one of the best Northern Thai cuisine

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I think we were there at 3 plus pm and there was quite a crowd. I’m surprised at the number of people that eat at odd hours like us

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Grilled Blade Shoulder (Pork) ฿72

We really like the grilled pork shoulders. It has a nice fragrance and the pork was cooked nicely

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Fried Sweet Leaves with Eggs ฿83

I wouldn’t say the same for the eggs cos the sweet leaves were a little too pokey

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Northern Style Soup with Vegetables

We had asked for a non spicy version but it turned out to be still spicy. So we were all amused if this was their level of non-spicy, how spicy is their spicy version then?

I thought the food here was decent but it was a pity I was sick else we could have tried more dishes. The friends were hungry but refrained from ordering more since they were more worried about not able to finish the food

We rushed back to our apartment and I took a quick shower before we got ready for our night temple tour. Please be reminded to wear long pants, bring mosquito repellant and mosquito patch if you are going for the Doi Suthep and Wat Umong night tour

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Because the Wat Umong was basically a feast for a jungle of mosquitos

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We didn’t manage to go inside the tunnel cos we were not informed we need to wear long pants.. oh wells

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45 minutes later, we arrived at the Doi Suthep temple

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which was really beautiful at night

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And the night view of Chiang Mai

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The friends got supper from downstairs cos they were famished so we had a quick bite before going to bed!

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We had our last meal at Nakara Jardin on the last day before we depart

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It’s actually quite a nice place serving French cuisine

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But it would be a better sight if the river wasn’t brown. And it was so funny the staffs repeatedly asked us if we didn’t want to sit next to the river. We had chose the inner seats for the fear of mosquitos

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Tiger Prawn Bisque ฿240

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Linguine Tiger Prawn Tomato ฿340

I thought the pasta tasted better than the bisque, but the pastries were even better

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We got the afternoon set to share. This set for 2 is priced at ฿1150 and consist of a variety of items

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Ham & Cheese sandwich, Chicken Caesar Wrap, Mushroom Puff Pastry, Ham Roll, Smoked Salmon Quiche

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Raisin Scones with Cream & Raspberry Preserve

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Lemon Tartlette, Chocolate Tartlette, Creme Brûlée, Carrot Cake, Mousse Cake, Macarons

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And an extra portion of Mango Mousse Cake to go along

We were clearly very hungry. The desserts were good. I especially love their scones which had the right texture and the right bake

If you were getting sick of Thai food, you can check this place out for a change of palate

And it was this point of time I started feeling the itch. I didn’t think much of it until much later when I realised I had so many small bites on my legs in lines and clusters

So over the next few days more bites started appearing on my hands and legs. We came to the conclusion we had beg bug bites and I was so traumatised over it. Today, my bites are better but the first week was just painful and seriously itchy. I seriously regretted my decision over not insisting to stay in hotel. To people who think cheap is good, please think again. The experience is seriously not worth it. And for those who want to know which floor of Astra Condo we had stayed it, it was level 10

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Would I still visit Chiang Mai again? Well, it’s still a nice place to eat, chill and massage 🙂