We settled into our hotel yesterday and I gave you the early read on what we think about it. To be fair and balanced, the staff here is great: friendly, accommodating and efficient. We have a butler here (Ray) as well, although we only saw him at check in. Since then, he’s been texting me to get updates on whether we need anything, but certainly has not reached the level of Bright from Bangkok.
And as I said, the place is quite attractive. I’m writing this sitting on our expansive veranda, all done in teak and tile, with a daybed and a rocking chair.
Sunday started early: June (our guide) picked us up at the hotel at 8:30 for a four hour city tour. We drove a short way to the flower market, where we walked for a while. Then we got in bicycle rickshaws for a ride around the perimeter of the old city. The moat which once provided part of the defense against invaders is still there, and a tiny piece of the wall stands as well.
From there we did the temple thing in the city, and then drove up Doi Suthep mountain to a famous temple at 1,055m (3,461′). Wat (1) Phra That Doi Suthep is traditionally thought to be located where a white elephant died. It contains both Buddhist and Hindu aspects, and June explained some of the relationship between the two great Eastern religions (2).
On the way down we stopped at a jade factory. Not just a tourist shop, this place actually makes lots of jade items from small pieces of jewelry and figurines to very large sculptures. Sally bought a bracelet, which they were happy to resize for her on the spot.
Next door was an umbrella factory. They make all kind of umbrellas, from very small ones for fancy drinks to very large one to be used for decorative purposes. Sally decided to have the appliqué they were using on the umbrellas applied to her bag.
By the time we got back to our hotel, it was mid-afternoon and we were starving. The hotel restaurant offered to make a special garlic-free sauce for Sally, so we had pizza for lunch.
Many Asian cities have a walking street(s) and night markets. The walking street is pedestrian-only either some or all the time; the night markets are bazaars that set up late in the day and run till the wee hours. They mostly sell merchandise of all sorts, but also have music and food. I decided to go to the walking street here to see the crowds and find some dinner, while Sally stayed behind and relaxed in the room. After a quick discussion with the hotel staff, I installed the Grab (3) app on my phone and ordered a car to drive me over. The 10 minute ride cost me $2.75.
The place was packed, and huge. It was many blocks long along a wide avenue, and extended into the side streets as well. It’s hard for me to estimate how long it was because it was so crowded I couldn’t walk very quickly, or indeed at any sustained pace.
I spent a couple of hours walking around not just the walking street, but also passing the night market and eventually walking back to our hotel.
(1) “Wat” means temple
(2) He also explained Buddhism is not actually a religion; there is no god.
(3)Very similar to Uber, but offers a cash payment option as well.