|Early flight means an early check in at our guesthouse, but first a swim before breakfast|
Friday the 13th we left for Taoyuan airport, but not to fly. We stayed at a nearby motel, a love motel recommended from a friend of a friend as a cheaper alternative than the airport transit hotel, or sleeping in the airport. We might as well have, I didn't get much sleep with planes thundering over us, but my daughter was able to catch a few Zzz, which was important as we had to wake at 3:30 am.
|Our first Song Thaew ride|
We arrived in Chiang Mai around 9 am, took a taxi to Natlen Boutique Guesthouse outside the old center and having to wait for our room, had a swim and breakfast. After a shower power rest in our room, it was off exploring temples. We hailed down a local songthaews, red pick up trucks converted to taxis, which are surprisingly cheaper than tuk-tuks.
|12 zodiac animal offering, Tiger in the center|
Our first temple was the Wat Phra Singh which had several chedis and smaller temples and shrines on its grounds, including the main attraction Whuan Lai Kham built in 1345 and a small reclining Buddha that was empty. There was a copy of the Jade Buddha in the teak Ubosot built in 1806. It was a beautiful introduction to Chiang Mai. The grounds were peaceful, the weather was neither hot or cold, with sunshine and a gentle breeze rustling the leaves.
I saw a small restaurant on the way that looked packed and had as many locals as foreigners, so we walked back there, downed a few coconuts and feasted. I had an amazing spicy tuna salad and a (?) soup. Oh the world for heaps of tamarind and lemongrass!
Feeling tired we returned to our guesthouse and instead of sleeping, lounged by the pool for a read, my daughter was in the water the rest of the day. I had to beg her to take a late nap around 5, so we could go see some kickboxing that started at 9:30. When I tried to wake her for dinner at 7:30 pm, she did not want to get up and was quite the grouch potato during dinner and didn't perk up until the kickboxing started.
The audience was mostly western tourists, so I'm not sure how authentic the whole set up was, but it definitely was an exciting introduction for us. We had nice seats near the ring, but as the seats filled in, my daughter couldn't see over the melon heads in front of us. We moved back near the bar which was raised and actually it was a better view, not just of the matches, but the Thai family members that came to support their fighter. It also became the "box seats" of the team of the final match (a Swiss guy against a local).
We were pleasantly surprised to see a female match and an entertaining interlude of several fatty, blindfolded fighters swinging blindly at each other for comic relief. My first impression was that the fighters seemed to have a lot of respect for their opponents, obviously they are are friends outside the ring. We saw several hair raising KO's which was unexpected-of course when I put my camera down.
|Natlen Guesthouse at night|
We returned around 11 pm, and hit the pillow hard, having been up since 3:30 am. A long, voltaic Valentine's Day indeed .