Claes Johansson Asia 2010 travel blog

Me having a Leo beer in Tuk-Tuk Bar.

A “Red Skirt” rally in Chiang Mai.

A Post Office in Chiang Mai.

Food at the Sunday Market.

Souvenirs at the Sunday Market.

Thai candy.

A mobile coffee shop at the Sunday Market.

Top North Guesthouse – My new home in Chiang Mai.

Me and 9 months old Nemo, at the Tiger Kingdom.

Me and an other cat.

Snake show with two cobras.

Cobra snake again.

Snake handler and python snake in the pond.

The Elephant Camp.

Normally there are signs, saying, “Don’t feed the animals”. But here it...

Elephant bathing.

This reminds of a car wash.

Elephants show.

Elephants playing football. This one had a good left foot.

Elephants paintings.

And here is the final results. The prize is 2000 Bath each.

Me with two elephants.

A 3 months old elephant cub.

A Hmong souvenir shop.

Rise fields.

Long-neck Karen people.

More Long-necks.

A young Long-neck weaving girl.

The Doi Suthep temple.

The stairs up to Doi Suthep.

Here the bomb explode, while I was sitting only 100 metres down...

The Tiny Bar, with place for on two seating guests.

16 Mars.

At the noon, I departed from Luang Prabang with Laos Airlines and one hour later, I arrived to Chiang Mai. I felt very good to come back to Thailand again, even if my stay in Laos was rather good, but Thailand is better on every point. When I arrive to Chiang Mai International Airport could I not see any sign of increased security, depending on the political situation, it was just as usual. Because of my little bit to early arrival to Thailand, have I now a small visa problem. On this arrival, I only got 30 day’s and I need 37, so somewhere I have to go out again and receive some 15 more day’s. But that I can not do before the 6:th of April. From the airport, I took a taxi to the centre of Chiang Mai. I decided to go to the same guesthouse as before, Lai Thai Guesthouse. There was no problem to have a room at Lai Thai, so I checked-in there. Later in the evening, I went to the Night Bazaar and for short while it became some wild shopping and in the end my luggage became a couple kilos heavier.

17 Mars.

All the time since Luang Prabang, I have had some problem with my stomach and today, it is worse then before. So I go to pharmacy and got some medicine, which I immediately start to eat. On the way to pharmacy I saw a “Red Shirt” rally, just outside the Lai Thai GH. I guess it was about 100-200 cars and motorbikes parading and show there presence, but everything went very peacefully. After all, Chiang Mai is very much “Thaksin Shinawatra-land”. So much more I didn’t do on this day.

18 Mars.

On this day, my stomach does not show any improve and I continue to eat medicine. So for this day it is not much to write about. In the evening a thundershower comes in over Chiang Mai, some raining but very much thunder.

19 Mars.

Friday morning and my stomach is still very upset. I condemn my self for not remember the name of the medicine that I bought in Sukhothai, which I know doing wonders of my stomach. But this is my lucky day, after a deep dive in my luggage, I finally find some leftover pills from the Sukhothai medicine. I immediately start to eat this and later in the afternoon I go to nearest pharmacy and buy some more of the same kind. Later in the evening my stomach is much better. Just like previous day the thundershower comes again. I guess that we now are at the end of the dry season and now going in to the hot season, with hotter but also much more unstable weather.

20 Mars.

On this day I feel much better, if not fully recovered, so almost. From my deposit and from the latest visit on the Night bazaar, I fill a mailbox with 18 kg of purchased things, mostly souvenirs and clothes. I mail the box at the nearest post office. This box I can hopefully receive in my hometown in early May. Also now I am back at the scratch, my present luggage is back below 20 kilos.

21 Mars.

Sunday again and here in Chiang Mai is the Sunday Walking Street the real big attraction. A 2 kilometres long road closes for car traffic and became a walking street with thousands of vendors selling mostly souvenirs, clothes and street food. There are also different kinds of artist appearances. Very much people coming and even if they don’t buy anything, so is it a opportunity to se others and also be seen themselves.

22 Mars.

On this day, I woke up with pain in my back and groins. I don’t have anything against the Lai Thai Guesthouse. On the contrary I like the place very much, but the beds are ways of to hard for me, and now my body protests. I decide to change guesthouse, but since I already have paid for the following night, so I can not change until tomorrow.

23 Mars.

The first thing I did this morning was to check out from the Lai Thai and then walk some half kilometres to the Top North Guesthouse. I have been living at Top North before, so for me it was nothing new, even if it was for some twelve or thirteen years ago. The Top North offered the very same as Lai Thai, but the bed was much, much better. Later same morning I joined a dayrrip to Mae Rim and Mae Sa Valley, just outside of Chiang Mai. The first stop was at the Tiger Kingdom. A place there you can spend some time sitting together with the tigers, little bit expensive but a hefty experience to sit near and touching the tigers. The Tiger Kingdom is a part of a bigger program of breading the tiger. There are only about 140 wild tigers left in Thailand today, so the breading of the tigers is important.

The second stop at this tour was at the Elephant Camp. There I saw the obligatory elephant bathing and later a rather good show. Just like the tigers, the Thai elephants are threatened of extinction. When the Thai government for some years ago created a law for protecting the remaining rainforests, which prohibited in theory all logging, the last working space disappeared for the elephants and their owners. To feed one elephant with 50 to 80 kilos of fruits or vegetables every day, is expensive, especially when the owner have no or small incomes. The Thai elephant always has been a very important animal for the Thai culture as well as for religious and ceremonial use.

The third stop was at a monkey school. The show was OK, but no more. The monkey schools mission is basically to train monkeys to tearing down coconuts. What one strong and well trained human being can do during one day; the monkey could easily in 20 minutes. If the trees standing close, then the monkey don’t have to climb down, just jumping from tree to tree.

The fourth stop was at a snake farm. I have seen many snake shows before, but parts of this show, I will always remember. They showed four kinds of snakes, cobra, rat snake, a jumping snake and finally a python snake. The snake farms here in Thailand has a very important mission, namely to collect serum. Only in Thailand several thousand persons got bitten every year and most of them survive thanks to the snake serum. The very most impressing part of the show was the python snake. On the arena, the snake was rather harmful and uninterested of what was going on. But when the python slipped down in the attached pond and the snake handler dived into it and tried to catch it. What a beast and what a monster the python became in the water.

The finally and fifth stop was at a hill tribe village. I must say that this was a real tourist trap. To enter the village, I have to pay a rather expensive entrance. Inside the village there were several different tribes, it looked very much like a construction and the big attraction supposed to be the long-necked Karen. The only positive thing was, that the prizes of the souvenirs they were selling was rather reasonable.

24 Mars.

A day of rest and relax. Most of this day, I spend in the near of the Top North Guesthouse. I guess that this is the end of the dry season and the beginning of the hot season. That means that the temperature rise some more degrees, but the big difference is the night temperatures. During the dry season the night temperatures use to be around 20°C, but now the minimum temperatures stay’s about 25°C. Ever since I arrived to Thailand in mid January, I had to be a little bit careful so the air-conditions don’t cool the room to much and I get sick. Now is it full power and speed on the aggregate. No problem any longer and the air-con barely succeed to cool the room a little bit. That makes the Top North’s swimming pool even more inviting.

25 Mars.

Thailand is full of rumours of what will happen coming weekend. News talking about that the Red Shirts is planning a new rally in Bangkok. Since the weather is still hot and rather hazy, I decide to buy and read the Bangkok Post and checking the news on the Internet little bit more closely. But I can’t say that I got wiser. Just like everyone else, I have to wait and see what will happened and hope fore the very best. I also read, in average one bomb or grenade explodes every day, mostly in Bangkok, but it has happened here in Chiang Mai too. A couple day’s ago, was a grenade launched at a shopping mall. That grenade did not explode.

26 Mars.

For a short break, I do a half-day trip of my own to Doi Suthep, the mountain top temple just outside of Chiang Mai. I have been there before but it is anyway a nice place to go. Unfortunately there were ongoing renovation works, so it was a little bit messy. On my way back to Chiang Mai, I visited a forest monastery, Wat U Mong. Nothing special except that was peaceful and quiet inside there. When I later came back to the centre of Chiang Mai, I found that I was almost surrounded of people, who all wearing red shirts.

It was a big gathering up of demonstrators who would later travel to Bangkok for the coming weekends protests. However everything went fine. What I could see, so were everyone happy, it was almost a party feeling over this group of people.

27 Mars.

The hot weather continues. I must say that I have coming in a daily routine which is hard to break. After breakfast I go out for buying a Bangkok Post newspaper, then reading it, then a tour to the bar, have some beer, return to room and some tour to the swimming pool. Meeting and talking to the same people every day. I feel very much that I have been stocked in these routines. For the moment I feel a little bit bored. I am planning for a third tour, up north of Chiang Mai and to the Chiang Rai area. In the evening when the temperature gone down a little bit, I went to the Saturday Walking Street. Except for some street food, I did not buy anything.

28 Mars.

The hot weather continues and as I describe before, I am very much trapped in the very same routines. Since the Red Skirts have made a habit to gathering up and rallying during the weekends. Then it is more interesting to follow the news of what is going on. Visit to the swimming pool, reading the Bangkok Post and the Internet, was what I mostly were doing on this day. Once again, when the temperature gone down a little bit, I went to the much bigger Sunday Walking Street. Same as yesterday, I did not buy anything, except for some street food. I came back to Top North about 8 o’clock in the evening and I felt that I could not go to bed that early. So I went out once again for visit some bars in the neighbourhood, just have some more beers and spend some time and then return to my room. Then it happened, an explosion goes off somewhere and I felt immediately that this explosion was not far away. A few minutes later, some persons telling me that there was a bomb, blowing up inside a telephone booth just 100 metres from where I was sitting. I must admit that I felt a little bit spooky. I cannot say that I became afraid, because I heard just an explosion and then it became silent and then the danger was over. A few minutes later, I decide to go down the small lane and with own eyes see what really have happened. When I come to the end of the lane, about 100 metres from where I was sitting, I saw that the road was closed for traffic and technicians were looking fore shrapnel’s.

29 Mars.

This day started exactly as the previous days, same presidia and same routines. It was not until the afternoon a hefty thundershower came in over Chiang Mai. Suddenly came the wind and then the sky turned to really dark, then the thunder came and finally a heavy rain shower. It was over in a one hours time and afterwards the temperature was some 10 degrees lower. This cool temperature remained the rest of the day. Lovely.

30 Mars.

In today’s Bangkok Post, I could read about the bomb explosion from last Sunday evening, just 100 metres away from me. I read that is was a homemade and a small bomb, which went off at the Moon Muang Road, and it did not cause so much damage and no one was injured. I also decided to go out of Chiang Mai for a third trip. For the moment I have two problems. The first problem is my visa, I am only aloud to stay in Thailand until the 13:th of April, I need another 7 days. For having more days, I have to cross a border and the closest place is Mae Sai on the Thai- Burma border. But I cannot do this before the 6:th of April. My second problem is the soon upcoming Songkran festival, the Buddhist New Year. By experience I know that lot of Thais are travelling, so not only backpackers and tourists who are looking for rooms. Most hotels will be fully booked. The Songkran also means a lot of water. Whole Thailand goes nuts for three to five days and the whole country became a big soaking and water throwing party. I cannot say that I like this, but the only and best thing for me to do, is to stay away as much as possible. That is why I am so eager to have my room at the Top North back, when I finally return to Chiang Mai.

31 Mars.

Another day with hot and hazy weather. My life looks more and more like the charter tourists life. Every day, it is almost the same routines and presidia. With visits at the same restaurants and bars, eating and drinking the same, seeing and talking to the same people all the time. I am feeling little bit trapped and for the moment, very bored. I take the final decision to really go for a small trip to the Chiang Rai Province. From the very beginning when I planned this trip, I had this trip in my mind, but I did not know if I would have time left for it. Now I know, I have time for it. I really need a change.

1 April.

A very hot day today. Even if the max temperature is not higher than other days, about 37-38 degrees, I guess. What’s making this day hotter is simply, there was no wind at all. In today’s Bangkok Post, I read about the “Red March”, a never-ending storey. So far the Reds have been gathering up during the weekends and had really big demonstrations in Bangkok. But during the weekdays most of the demonstrators goes home. During the weekdays, there are relative few “Reds” in Bangkok. Then the same thing happens again at the end of the week. All over North and Northeast Thailand, the “Red skirts” gathering up again and then they go to Bangkok over the upcoming weekend. In today’s newspaper I read that the Red leaders proclaiming that this time it will be the biggest gathering-up so far. So maybe, it will be up to 100000 protesters in Bangkok. I also read that, there is more than 50000 militaries and many thousands of policemen called to Bangkok.

Fri 2 April.

This is my last full day in Chiang Mai, at least for this time. Tomorrow I go for a small trip mostly in Chiang Rai Province. It is not the right time to start any new projects, so this day became mostly by preparing my luggage for an early check-out.

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