Chiang Mai was a nice change. It is smaller than Bangkok, but there are still plenty of opportunities and services in here. When I arrived, I was sad about the pollution, I was expecting that it is going to be better. Other days were fine though. It is quite easy to orientate yourself in Chiang Mai. Old town is bordered by a rectangle made by water canals. My first days, I was thinking that most of the town is around the old town. My knowledge about this city changed after renting a scooter and just randomly exploring. It is still one of the largest cities in Thailand.  It is quite strange that there is that huge jump from 388 000 in Samut Prakan, the second biggest city, to 5.1 mil. people in Bangkok. Chiang Mai is 200 000 people city and in combination with milder weather, it is a place to look for if you are an expat. Expats help each other and there is a big probability that you will have a plenty of friends after first month. It is quite easy to walk around and use English. It can be sometimes combined with proper gesticulation 🙂 I enjoyed buying fruits from the market and then making fruit shakes for myself and people in the hostel. After that, I was knows as “Ah, the smoothie guy!”.

Fruits in Chiang Mai
Fruits in Chiang Mai

So take a look at the photo. Mangoes – greener, but still very nice, especially in the smoothie – 20 THB (0.6 USD), bananas 20 THB (0.6 USD), papaya 15 THB (0.4 USD) and also cherries 10 THB (0.3 USD). The owner of my first hostel in Chiang Mai has a blender and I just asked him if I can use it and he was fine with it.

I wanted to have a scooter. I wanted to explore. The first day I saw a hill with some lights on the top of it. I wanted to know what is out there, it looked like a temple. The next day, I borrowed a scooter – I was asked for my passport. I didn’t like the idea of someone else having my passport, but in the same time I was thinking that keeping it with someone else in safe is actually safer than keeping it in the hostel or with me all the time. After riding 200 m, there was a police road block. Their way of stopping people was very selective. Looks like Thai – ok, let him go; Looks like opportunity – get the money from him. They stopped me 4 times in 15 minutes. After the second road block, I just left my international driving license in the bike just to show them while slowly riding around 🙂 I also met some people without the license. They thought that their current license will allow them to ride in Thailand. No, it doesn’t work like that in here. In one moment I felt like I am in Thailand and being like a moneybag to some people.

Speedy Gonzales
Speedy Gonzales

I was riding up a hill and it continued further and further. I thought that the scooter might not be able to make it. But this little guy just revved to the top of the hill. My sister always names her vehicles. She encouraged me to name mine as well and so I present you the mighty Speedy Gonzales! I enjoyed riding this scooter so much. Thailand has beautiful roads, nature a plenty of curves 😀  This hill was a representation of all of it. On the top of the hill I found a small road in the forest. I went further. Energy of the place was changing in a fast pace.

Found this in the jungle
Found this in the jungle

I was enjoying sitting there for a while but it looked like mosquitos didn’t have their feast for a while and every single one of them just wanted to seize this opportunity. I had to leave.

In the jungle close to Chiang Mai
In the jungle close to Chiang Mai
Trees can find its place anywhere
Trees can find its place anywhere

I went further and in there I found a trail to even higher mountaintop. I two thirds of the trail, I realized that I left my international driving license in the bike and that I wasn’t checking it all the way up the hill. I didn’t want to go back, but if I would loose it would be very expensive for me to bribe the police all the time in Thailand. I started running and it felt quite different to run in this kind of humidity. When I reached the top, I was expecting some view. It was just mist everywhere.

Doi Pui Peak - 1685 m
Doi Pui Peak – 1685 m

After taking a photo of my achievement :), I was running back to the bike. My head was filled with thoughts about not riding a motorbike in Thailand, so I was quite fast. It was there! Uff.

Inside of the temple
Inside of the temple

I found a village behind the hill and I found a temple there. I removed my shoes and just relaxed inside for a while. The temple was simple. I was not like the other golden ones. I liked this one much better.

Chiang Mai University outpost
Chiang Mai University outpost

On my way back, I took a different road and I found an outpost of the Chiang Mai university. I would like to study there because of seeing this. A little bit further, there was a village full of small kids and some strange motorbikes.

Honda Wave offroad custom
Honda Wave offroad custom

I already knew where the light I’ve seen the first day was coming from. It was Doi Suthep temple. I’ve seen it on my way to the top of the hill. I just didn’t want to go there. I wanted to see, but I knew that I won’t be able to quietly experience this place. There were plenty of tourist buses and taxis all around.

Doi Suthep entrance
Doi Suthep entrance

You can take elevator, you can buy food, clothes, take photos with “tribe” kids and if you are a foreigner, you have to pay for the entry. Everything in gold and shiny. This temple is filled with talking people. No, thank you.

Tourist monks
Tourist monks
Doi Suthep
Doi Suthep
Buddha meditating below a tree
Buddha meditating below a tree

I was waiting for a moment to take a photo of aa amazing tree I’ve seen there. I was waiting for a moment to get a photo without people on it. In the end, I was able to have just this much.

Bougainvillea tree at Doi Suthep
Bougainvillea tree at Doi Suthep

On my way back to Chiang Mai, I found a small white temple. In there I felt much better. It was quit and simple. Maybe I just don’t understand this obsession with gold.

A shrine close to Chiang Mai
A shrine close to Chiang Mai

I stayed in Chiang Mai for 10 days. I was working on my server. I finally prepared hosting solution that is superfast, reliable and secure. I was also working on my website and one Java application.

I missed parks a lot. There is only one public park in the centre of Chiang Mai. It was a place where people went to exercise in the evenings. Nice and quit place that was originally build so that Japanese minister can plant a tree in there. This kind of relationship building should be seen more 🙂 I also bought a guitar. I was looking for it since the first day in Thailand. This one was for 1290 THB (38 USD). In the beginning, it was not all that great, but I knew that I could make a very nice guitar from it. I changed the strings for low tension 90/10 fosfor ones, changed the neck tension and the sound was there!

My Thai guitar
My Thai guitar

I was staying right next to the Wat Lok Molee (article picture), one of most beautiful temples in Chiang Mai. Once, I was just sitting there watching small monks to learn about Dharma.

Young monks being taught
Young monks being taught

My need for my own motorbike strenghtened every day. Especially after seeing this.

I want to ride this
I want to ride this

It was very convenient to have a motorbike here. Traffic was a little bit crazy, but it was doable. There are plenty of amazing places around Chiang Mai where you can go with a small backpack on the motorbike.

I wanted to stay at some more quiet place than Chiang Mai though. I’ve heard so much praise about Pai and one day, I just packed all my stuff and I went there.

Next time about a crazy ride to Pai, offroad scooter riding, police roadblocks  and the nightlife in Pai.