Chiang Mai is a city that is not hard to fall in love with. The lack of ladyboys, touts and noise streets is a plus but the friendly Thai and the chill out atmosphere is what makes this city of the north of Thailand and great place to visit.
Our exploratory visit started by getting some wheels. As the city's main attractions are quite spread out we decided that a scooter would be ideal as there is some big slopes that will take a lot of effort.
The first stop was the famous temple on top of the hill called Doi Suthep. I think this is a must-see temple. It is very nice inside with lots of people praying at the different Buddhas. We actually stopped at one of this rooms where a monk was doing some blessings. I did like the locals and got on my knees in front of him with my arm extended. He sprayed some "holy" water on me followed by some prayers and continued to tie a white bracelet on my wrist. I didn't understand what he said but he probably converted me into a rare combination of Buddhist-Jew.
With the scooter we also visit the ancient city of Wang Kun Kan, believed to be the foundation of Chiang Mai. We also went to the town of Bo Sang, a handicraft area where they do wood carving and umbrella making.
A Thailand visit would not be complete if we didn't take a cooking class. We selected the Siam Rice Cooking School. We got to visit a local market and cooked seven different dishes of our choice. Yep, I got to prove myself that I am not a lost case in the kitchen!
We felt adventurous so we signed up for a two day trek. The trek consisted of hiking through the jungle to get to some isolated hill tribes, elephant riding, bamboo rafting and water rafting. The only part of the tour that I was not thrilled about is when we went to visit the Karen "long neck" tribe. These people were waiting for us in a market style huts. They all wanted us to buy stuff from them. It sort of felt like a human zoo. We thought it would be more like them showing us their lifestyle but it was nothing like that.
Our tour concluded on Halloween so what better way to finish our night than getting dressed up and making fools of ourselves. All the guys from our tour group dressed up as ladyboys and we made cat calls to all those cute guys passing by.
It seems to happen a lot that we arrive in a town not knowing of the upcoming festivities. In this case we got to Chiang Mai for the Loi Krathong Festival. Here people lunch their lanterns in a hot balloon fashion. The sky is filled with these lanterns for 3 nights! It is quite the party.