The train journey ended well, and after meeting a few more fellow travelers we went our separate ways. There are an overwhelming amount of Germans, and that remained true throughout my travels in Chiang Mai.
I arrived at the BMP backpackers hostel with a Colombian named Alex and two German girls, Leoni and Judith. Due to the nature of the night train, we were all exhausted, but collected ourselves and met to swim at the pool. It was a crucial step towards relief from the heat of the day. We were all scheduled for the next days overnight trek, but had the day to explore Chang Mai, an ancient city wrapped in historic brick walls and a wide moat. We went from temple to temple and were amazed by the complexity of each individual sanctuary. One popular tourist practice is to sit and talk with a monk, primarily so they can practice English, but also to share their experience as a Buddhist monk in Thailand. There are tons of tuktuk, mopeds and truck bed taxis whisking foreigners around to temples, mountain escapes and elephant sanctuaries. The local markets, the best of which are hidden secretly down small soi (alleys), have the best local Thai food options, interesting people watching and essentials for travelers: sunscreen and baby powder.
From fish and pork broth soup to fried everything, my favorite food ended up being a spicy vegetable concoction that made my eye balls sweat but tasted incredible. Later in the evening on our first day, the 4 of us walked towards a larger night market, ate loads of a la carte food and wandered the around the endless stalls of souvenirs. Alex was unsatisfied with his dish, as it was likely dog meat and didn’t satisfy his hunger but the crispy pork wontons and hot crab rolls hit the spot. Besides the company and laughter, the best part of traveling with others is getting to try everyone’s food.
Tired from the train, we called it a night in preparation for our trek. We gathered yet another set of three Germans in our crew and are now setting off for our over night trek. Hiking, waterfalls, bamboo rafting and elephants all lie ahead. We are hoping the forest provides a cooler experience as the city temp was over 40C, requiring constant stops for frozen fruit smoothies, which they won’t have in the forest.