Guess it had to happen sooner or later. We set out this morning to purchase over night train tickets back to Bangkok on Tuesday (7th) ready to meet Cathy and Steve on the 8th.
For some reason, you can’t buy train tickets on line any more though older guide books may say you can. You can employ an agent who will physically go to the station and buy them for you and deliver to your Hotel but there is no guarantee of a ticket this way.
So we got in a Tuk-Tuk and agreed 200 Baht to take us to the Train Station from the Centara Duangtawan Hotel, where were staying, to the central railway station and then into Chiang Mai Old Town. This went swimmingly and the old Tuk-Tuk driver got us there and waited whilst we went to the ticket office.
Here we learned that all 2nd class sleeper seats for the night we wanted were gone. So we had a dilemma . We could book second class seats but sitting for 12 hours on a Thai train isn’t something you really want to put yourself through. Other option was to try to book a seat on a flight, for this we needed Wifi and the Station doesn’t have it. There is a cafe next door that charges 20 Baht to use their Wifi as that was how we booked our current Hotel upon arrival.
So I went and paid the TukTuk driver and told him to go and we took a table at the cafe, ordered a coffee and asked for the Wifi code.
We were a bit disappointed to learn the Wifi wasn’t working today!
So plan B came into effect. We would go back to Bangkok a day earlier than planned and see if we could get a refund of one night from the Hotel?
So back at the ticket office we asked if we could book the relevant tickets, went through the process and gave over the credit card. Then they asked for our passports which of course were in the safe at the Hotel.
No passport, no ticket!
So, we jumped into another Tuk Tuk and headed back.
Once there we purchased another 250 Baht voucher to use the Hotel wifi ( yes, the Centara Duangtawan Hotel charges for wifi use and it’s bloody useless, they put us in a business room but had to move us as there was no wifi in the business room. More about this Hotel later) and after a great deal of fuss, moving around the Hotel Lobby to find a signal we logged on to Bangkok Air, got two seats for the 7th, went to book them, entered all the details, and the wifi signal went off so we lost the lot!
On the second attempt we successfully booked the seats and it wasn’t much more expensive than the sleeper train, got onto the Chatrium in Bangkok and booked an extra night and it was sorted.
So we set out on foot to see the Sunday market in Ratchadamnoen street (Sunday walking Street) which the AA key guide to Thailand suggested was closed to traffic on a Sunday and well worth a visit. Well it is, but it wasn’t.
The Street is closed to traffic and there is a Market but it don’t start till about 1700 hrs, when we went down at lunchtime there were a few people starting to rect stalls but nothing more.
We stopped for lunch at a very attractive Chinese Restaurant called Hot Chilli. This was a mistake because it’s now one in the morning and Jaki has been vomiting for about an hour and apart from poached eggs on toast for breakfast, the spivey salad was all she’s eaten. We did question the hygiene standards at Hot Chilli as they share a toilet with all the other restaurants in the courtyard and don’t appear to have any hand washing facilities in the kitchen or restaurant. When I visited the loo one of the waiters was having a rather noisy crap and on finishing, he walked straight past the sink and went back to work. I’m hoping the fact that my food was deep fried was enough to kill any bugs that may have been present but it’s a very tense time. With every fart or gurgle I’m wondering if it’s the start?
So, if you come to Chiang Mai eat street food, it’s much safer.
Before this the day was quite pleasant. We went to the very end of Sunday Walking Street and there’s a temple, Wat Phra Singh and it has a very pretty garden where there was a small market selling craft goods, some nice food and a really cheap massage. So we had the half hour foot massage in a Temple, what a result.
By the time we wandered back up the street at about 1630 the stalls were being set up and we stopped for Coffee at the far end by the gate in the old city wall where we watched a very lively group of Harris Krishna followers performing. All down the centre of the street blind or disabled musicians are given a spot and they play for money. There’s no welfare system here.
We went into a bar that was called the something Garden (name escapes me) and watched a rather accomplished jazz band perform whilst we had a beer then I sat on the terrace of the Villa Duang Champa (see their web site, this is a great little Hotel that we will book next time) and watched the hubbub whilst Jaki did some shopping.
The plan was to grab some street food on the way home but By now Jaki wasn’t feeling too well so I ate a bowl of noodles whilst we watched a Thai Dancing competition on a big stage. We walked back to the Hotel past a lot of bars with an abundance of very bored young ladies who if I’m not mistaken were trying to chat me up. But when they saw the determined look that was now set on Jaki’s face, they didn’t bother.
Back at the Hotel we were in bed by 1030 and awake again at 2400hrs.
Luckily she’s now sleeping (first time I’ve been glad to hear her snore) so it’s time to switch of the lights and settle down.
Or, will I be on the great phone to God later?