Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Chiang Mai: Day 1

Chiang Mai Breakfast Club
After traveling all this way and waking from a 14 hour slumber we had to replenish the energy reserves. We found the best breakfast spot in Chiang Mai: the Blue Diamond. The spot was charming: a perfectly manicured miniature jungle garden, buckets of every dried fruit you can imagine, freshly-baked bread, handmade soaps and oils, and a koi pond. We split a fancy english breakfast and a pad thai. Delicious. Yum. Highly recommended. It's funny, the fresh squeezed orange juice is just a bit tangier. And the hill tribe coffee opens your eyes just a little wider.

The streets of Chiang Mai are filled with monks, children, and motorcycle-driving grannies (often with full families on board). Of course we wanted to fit in so we rented a little 125 cc-er for our stay (don't worry mom, I took my helmet off to look cooler in the photo). This is the way to see the town.
Birds Eye View
An hour later we were looking out over the town from 1000 feet.

The Bhubing Palace

An hour after that, we we'd climbed several thousand more feet and were at the gates of the Bhubing Palace on the Doi Buack Ha. It was built in the 60s and is where the Royal family stays during visits to the northern part of the country. We were very curious about the Majesties... It turns out that the Thai Monarchy has been around since the 1200s, was never interrupted by colonization, and was never overthrown by the numerous military dictators of the 20th century. The palace itself was under construction, but the gardens and buildings shed some light on the architecture and style of Thailand. There were dozens and dozens of staff tending to the gardens and we were two of only and handful of tourists. Lucky us.

As we walked higher and higher through the grounds, the clouds rolled in and light rain fell for a half hour or so. Middle Earth turned to Narnia. It was wild. The bamboo was also wild. That's Flor standing by the largest bamboo we've ever seen. 
The rain seemed to attract these large fly-type bugs, about twice the size of a mayfly. The flies refused to take shelter and would get pelted to the ground by the rain. Sure enough, huge frogs came out of the woodwork and they feasted. And feasted. And feasted. We literally thought they were going to explode. It was magic.
The rain subsided, we fetched our motorbike, caught this shot of this beautiful flower and took off down the mountain in search of food. Just like the frogs.