August 22, 2011

Markets and motor scooters FTW

It's official:  Chiang Mai is my new happy place.  There are coffee shops with fantastic coffee on every corner, the street food is rocking my world, and NO ONE has gotten in my face to sell me anything or take my picture.  And there are mountains.  Take me drunk, I'm home!  Wait... I'm only on my first beer... scratch that first part for now.

I arrived here yesterday.  After taking the nap that I'd been dreaming of for about 24 hours, I went out to see the Sunday Night Walking Market.  I have to admit, often times crowded markets and even tamer places like, say, Macy's, overwhelm me and I quickly decide that I am too bombarded with stuff to even look at anything.  Strangely, this did not happen at the Sunday market.  Shoot, I walked around for nearly 4 hours!  Multiple streets were lined with vendors selling food, drinks, shakes, clothing, fabric, knick-knack junk, silver, wood, you name it.  I began with the best pad thai I have ever had.  It cost less than a dollar, and it was served to me in a banana leaf bowl.  I topped that off with a coconut milkshake that rocked my entire world.  As I walked, I came upon a few Buddhist temples and thought, well, I'm here... might as well check them out. 

I also came across some interesting nibbles for sale.

Today I did something that is a perfectly normal tourist activity here, but will send my family into a good southern tizzy - I rented a motor scooter and drove up to the top of a mountain to see the great golden Doi Suthep temple (note to family:  STOP PANICKING.  I've already turned the scooter back in).  Have I ever driven a scooter before?  Um, no.  Have I ever driven on the "other side" of the road before?  Actually yes, but not much.  Could I read the road signs?  Bah.  No need for that.  All I needed was insurance and a helmet.  Done! 

The drive up the mountain was beautiful, and this temple is an amazing sight.  I mean, other temples around here are gold and red and whatnot, but this temple is freakin' GOLD.  The views from the mountain top location weren't too shabby, either. 

I took my time wandering around.  This place was well worth it.  And as a final parting shot, here is my trusty steed and I (said steed cost less than $10 to rent).

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