Today was our last day in Chiang Mai. We were still not excited about temple viewing and the city has a lot else to offer but it mostly comes in the form of tours. Not wanting go over our budget, we opted for a semi-free day that would start after we tackled some more business. Being that we have most of Australia booked and some of New Zealand, we spent our morning doing research on how we would tour South America. And frankly, we were quite disappointed. First our scheme of getting an airline credit card and using the miles for the majority of our transportation isn’t going to work out as well as expected because American Airlines will not allow us to use our miles on any of their partners or their own flights! ::insert swear word:: And second, Argentina has a reciprocity fee of $160 per person which gives U.S. citizens the ability to enter the country over a 10 year period. That is not an insignificant amount of money for us. Gah! You will not take us down, South America!
Around 11 a.m. we had had enough disappointment and headed out of the hostel for a 2 hour, 6 mile walk, which would ultimately end at a waterfall on the base of Doi Suthep Pui National Park, at least according to some directions on Wikitravel. To start we headed north to the old city walls. About 15 min in, Lynn chose to stop and double-check the directiosn. While she was taking care of that Doug turned around and noticed that there was a print shop right behind us. How convenient! We had spoken this morning of the need to print our pre-purchased Cambodian visas before our trip tomorrow and lo and behold we had a place to do it. After some brief confusion attempting to use a Thai keyboard which we never figured out, we each had two copies of our visas. Satisfied that we had completed one random side task, we continued on.
Reaching the city walls we crossed the busy road and headed left. There ahead of us was another opportunity to take care of a task we had discussed during our time in Phuket. Before us stood an electronics store and we went in on a mission to buy an HDMI cable. “Why,” you ask? Good question! In many of our hostel/guesthouse/hotel rooms we have had TVs and on our 10″ display computer is The Americans. We would prefer that our show be on a larger screen if possible and an HDMI cable would allow us to do just that. We quickly found one, paid the quoted price, and left then realizing that it was the same price it would have been in the U.S. Oh well.
At this point we were only 2 miles in, so we continued on our way up the main road that leads from the old city to the national park. We passed a number of motorbike rental, 7/11, and pharmacy storefronts but didn’t come across any restaurants that seemed to be open for business. We kept walking (and sweating) until about the 5 mile marker when we approached a restaurant that seemed quite busy. The name of it was “Boat Chiang Mai.” Did they serve seafood? No, they served Thai food and advertised fried chicken. Did they have ocean ambiance? Not if you count 50s doo-wop as such. No, the closet thing we could figure was that the small sailboat they had painted next to the restaurant’s name gave it the ability to the called “Boat.” Doug ordered two pieces of fried chicken and some corn soup while Lynn had a fried chicken salad. Overall, it wasn’t too shabby for a $6.50 USD lunch.
We continued on our way following the Wikitravel directions, passing the Chiang Mai Zoo, heading up a hill until reaching a Buddhist shrine. We then turned left into a market that ran alongside the shrine following signs that had now appeared stating “Waterfall.” We walked through the market of mostly food stalls but also offer stands selling lotus flowers and marigolds before reaching the base of Doi Suthep Pui National Park. A very brief walk into the park and over some boulders we were already at the waterfall which had a few local families splashing in it. At this point our walk felt a bit anticlimactic so we decided to keep following the nearby trail to see where it led. Up and up we went, pausing 2 or 3 times to catch our breath. It seems we need to climb more hills. The trail lead alongside the waterfall and brought us deeper into the rainforest until reaching a lookout point over the city. Nearby a small stream was feeding the waterfall. We quickly took in the view then chose to sit down, take off our shoes, and soak our feet in the cool water. While doing so we played a variation of Pooh Sticks where we would drop dried bamboo leaves in different parts of the current to see which would proceed down the stream or get stuck in the nearby eddy. We tend to be fascinated by the smallest things.
It had taken us 2 hours to reach this point and was coming up on 1:30 p.m. Doug had a haircut and shave he had scheduled for 4 p.m., so it was time to head back to the city. We walked down the path we came from, passed some very young Buddhist monks, took only one wrong turn, and were back at the market. On the trip back to the city, Lynn had suggested that they walk through Chiang Mai University whose campus ran alongside the road we had traveled in on for some change in scenery. We walked down the hill, passed the Chiang Mai Zoo once again, and entered the university gates. Upon approaching we both squinted a bit to read a sign nearby the guard inspecting the vehicles entering. From our brief scan, it seemed as if you needed to pay 60 baht to get into campus if you were a tourist. We didn’t get a chance to discuss it before the guard approached and said “No Chinese? No problem.” and waved us on. Yeah, we don’t know what he meant by that either., but we still had 120 baht in our pockets.
The campus was quite nice and tropical. It featured a number of palm trees and sculpted elephant shrubs, though some looked a little bit worse for wear. Other than stopping at the 7/11 in the middle of campus for some ice cream and commenting on every engineering/science related building nothing eventful happened on the 7 mile walk back to town. Though, by the time we arrived, we were in some desperate need for sugar and both agreed that fruit juice would do the trick. We headed up a road near Doug’s haircut and wormed our way into a cluster of small school children to order one watermelon and one dragon fruit juice. Thinking we could use the rest we took our juices to nearby shady steps and killed some time people watching. During this time we were approached by a very nice man who said he was the headmaster of the school whose steps we were sitting on. His wife is currently in the U.S. at Yale training to be a surgeon and he would be going there for 3 years shortly. Small world.
When it was almost time for Doug’s haircut we took advantage of the 0.59 mile (according to Google) to calibrate our step trackers. Recently they had been a bit off from one another so we wanted to see whose was more accurate. We followed the exact route and almost took the exact steps to learn that Doug’s is more accurate. So take all of our last posts for 2-3 weeks and add 1-2 miles.
We reached The Cutler and sat down to wait Doug’s turn. Doug was a little nervous because the place had very good reviews but all of the pictures from the website had “the white man hipster haircut” (see example here). Doug had no interest in having shaved sides nor needing to put product in his hair so when it was his turn he promptly told the barber he wanted it natural. The barber nodded in understanding and quickly got to work with his razor and scissors. He was very, very precise going over his work multiple times and used a mirror on the wall behind Doug to ensure that it all looked symmetrical. And, according to Doug, “it looks like every other haircut I’ve had, but I appreciated his attention to detail.” So, its a win. Next was what Doug had been excited about, though. His very own straight razor shave. During the process you could see the excitement in Doug’s eyes, but there was some slight tension because boy that razor was close to his neck. Highlights included the warm and cold towels as well as the head and shoulder massages that were included. All in all, the barber did a pretty good job but Doug thinks he does a better job (at least on the face), even if it concluded with dabs of various things from aftershave to lotion and even hair product!
At this point it was 5:30 p.m. and we had a flight at 9 p.m. so we thought it would be best to grab our bags from the guesthouse and make our way to the airport on foot, hoping to find food on the way. Similar to earlier in the day, we passed a number of restaurants that were not yet open but midway through the walk happened upon a restaurant that featured griddles, a logo of a pink pig in a pot, and an encouraging foreigner who informed us that we “chose the right place.” We quickly realized that the table featured two griddles, one for boiling broth and one for buttered stir fry, like hot pot and hibachi all in one. We ordered two rounds of raw components featuring bacon, beef, chicken, various mushrooms, and other vegetables with the assistance from our waiter since we could not mark the sheet that was entirely in Thai. Not wanting to fill up too much because we knew we’d be in the Bangkok Airways lounge later, we minimized our ordering and were back on the street 45 minutes later.
From here was had a quick 20 minute walk to the airport. That is until we had a little accident. OK, a somewhat major accident. Doug had been walking ahead of Lynn on the sidewalk navigating through motorbikes, trashcans, dogs, and street signs before one of the street signs retaliated. Ok, not really, Doug was walking, checking something on his phone when he walked his head straight into the sharp corner of one of the very short street signs. Screaming expletives, he grabbed for his head while Lynn rushed for him to see how bad it was. When she pulled his hand away, there was blood, and a lot of it. We pulled off to the side, sat Doug down and handed him tissue after tissue hoping that the blood would slow down which it, luckily, did. Over 20 minutes, we did some checks to ensure that the blood was actually stopping and that he did not have a concussion. We also painfully dressed the wound with a shot of hand sanitizer and plied him with some Aleve before taking it slow the rest of the way to the airport. To make sure the bleeding had stopped we used Doug’s hat to keep a tissue on the wound while we walked.
We reached the airport without any further issue, other than a severe headache and some remaining blood for Doug. Walking into the airport we had to run our bags through a scanner then proceed through an x-ray machine ourselves. In doing so, the airport personnel asked Doug to remove his hat which he did forgetting that the tissue was there and the bloody tissue promptly fell to the floor (and the nice lady helped him pick it up). We got Doug to a bathroom to clean up and properly Neosporin the wound with clean hands. We checked into our Bangkok Airways flight and proceeded through security as quickly as we could so that we could get Doug seated somewhere. Past security we searched for the Bangkok Airways lounge, sad to learn that in Chiang Mai it is actually outside security so we sat Doug down in a seat and got him some sugar in the form of Coke. The two of us spent the time leading up to our flight reading about head injuries to ensure that we did not need to go to a hospital. Could he flight on a plane? Yes. Does he have a concussion? No. Thank goodness.
We had an uneventful hour long flight then half-hour taxi right to our hostel in Bangkok where we gave Doug some more Aleve, set our alarms for our bus the next day, and went to bed.
Daily Walking Mileage: 13.7
- Head wounds bleed a lot.