Stepping off the quick 1 hour flight from Bangkok into Chiang Mai airport was a relief. Especially as it immediately followed an 11 hour flight from London. We had finally left England to go travelling and we couldn’t be more excited!
We were off the flight and outside the airport in a matter of minutes and immediately made a beeline for a cab. From what we could see, there were two taxi companies based inside the arrivals area. Taxi Meter and Chiang Mai Airport Taxis. We went for the latter where a very busy yet organised lady quoted us 160THB/£3.15 to get to Tha Phae Gate (about a 5km, 15 minute drive). Not bad considering the driver was very friendly and had a brand new and fully air conditioned 4×4. Pretty swish!
And then it was just us and our backpacks.
We still had a couple of hours until we could get in to our apartment so we wanted to find a Pharmacy or shop to get a couple of bits. I fired up my OsmAnd maps app and switched on GPS. 10 minutes later, I still couldn’t get a GPS fix. No problem, let’s just go for a walk and figure it out on our own.
Luckily we stumbled across a Tesco Lotus and got what we needed. I checked my phone again and the GPS had finally worked. Too little too late pal.
By this point we had been awake and travelling for what felt like forever. It didn’t help that we were hot, hungry, dehydrated and carrying heavy backpacks! Knowing that we needed a boost and a bit of free wifi we fell into a random coffee shop which was empty. Coffee and water please! We ended up staying for about and hour and a half because the lovely lady who works there made herself a coffee and sat with us for a chat. She was incredibly friendly and gave us loads of advice. We ended up paying 110THB/£2.17 for 2 bottles of cold water and 2 coffees. Oh and the fast wifi was included too 🙂
Now it was time to get to our apartment. We weren’t sure whether to get a taxi, tuk-tuk or a songthaew (song-tee-ow, a bus like vehicle). In the end we thought we would go for a walk… Bad idea. We were tired, carrying heavy bags and not entirely sure where we were going. Nearly an hour later we did get to our apartment but later realised that we had taken a much longer route than the straight line it should have been, oops.
I wish we had just got a songthaew.
Finally we were here and could “check-in”. We walk up to the desk and the lady pulls up our paperwork. All well and good so far. Each month needs to be paid in advance so I whack out the plastic.
“No card. Cash only.”
By this point Claire steps in and mentions that the confirmation email specifically says we can pay with card on arrival and that we don’t have the cash on us. Same response. People don’t walk around with hundreds of pounds worth of Thai Baht on them so we asked what our options were. The lady then gives us the key and says we can pay tonight. She knows we’re not going to do a runner, we look bloody knackered. Great, but now we have to go back out to find a cash machine because if we sit down there’s no way we’re getting back up.
First we venture to the apartment and let ourselves in. It’s at this point that I realise a couple of things. Claire is pretty easy going and I am a snob. For a “superior” apartment I felt like we had been superiorly robbed. To be fair it’s fine really… The kitchen area was grubby and some of the furniture was well worn. The decor was also very dated. However surfaces were clean as was the bathroom and the bed looked new so that was nice. I just had to remind myself that this isn’t the Hilton and for the price of a 1 night stay in a nice hotel in London we will be getting 2 months in Chiang Mai.
At this point I’m trying not to look at the bed. Must. Get. Cash….
Using the last of our rapidly waining energy we go on the hunt for an ATM and a shop to buy a few essentials for the apartment. Expecting a krypton factor style challenge to find such things, we were relived to find that just a 5 minute walk down the road there is a 7-eleven and a cash machine. We stocked up on essentials and worked our way back. Essentials being:
- Toilet roll – Well duh
- Bleach and sponges – I’m sorry but I have to do something about that kitchen… I also cleaned the bathroom
- Hot and spicy pot noodley thing – Our first not-authentic-at-all Thai meal
- Milk and coffee – Mornings can be grim if Claire doesn’t have her coffee
- Magnum ice cream – It’s hot out dammit!
Our super authentic Thai meal
Back at the room we hunker down and get ready to spend the evening in chilling out. After a good clean up in the shower I felt a million times better. Washing the travel and the days’ heat off feels amazing!
We have a flat screen TV with loads of English channels and so watched The Hunger Games whilst sprawled half alseep on the bed and within minutes we were out like a light.
That was our first day in Chiang Mai. We probably could have planned things a little better but the whole point of us travelling is to not plan too much and just deep dive into things. We spent our lives planning everything and although it’s quite scary it’s also refreshing to not know where each day will take us. I’m already looking forward to tomorrow.