Friday, May 24, 2013

Chiang Mai Vs. the rest of Thailand

In a post Hangover 2 world, I feel people only think of Thailand as a hot, smoggy Bangkok. And while early posts of mine talk the world of this City of Life, I can boast with confidence to future Thailand travelers to skip this bustling city of scam artists, tourist traps and more Europeans than the world cup and fly right into Chiang Mai. This crafty, quiet city has the charm of an old country city and somehow still the convenience of an international city. It's streets are littered with little massage boutiques, open air cafes and the occasional tattoo parlor and aside from the few touristy sites, less foreigners than most Thai cities. During the day, mopeds and pedestrians flood the simple streets and at dusk most venture to the colorful night bazaar or local lady boy cabaret show. The city hosts several elaborate wats (buddhist temples) and the only large buildings are resorts or hotels. Just outside metropolitan Chiang Mai lies stunning mountains and lush jungle. There is a tiger "kingdom" which is easily accesible by tour trips but I recommend renting a motor bike and following a map. The scenic drive is only a little hectic when first leaving the old city and soon becomes easier and peaceful once you pass the main highways. The whole trip seems to take about 45 minutes to an hour but is worth the time. Plus, when you find a place yourself and aren't accompanied by fellow tourists, the trip seems to be that much better! The tiger kingdom is worth the visit. Not overly expensive to pet and play with the debatably drugged felines and take trillions of pictures. The staff is incredibly friendly and the tigers don't seem to be treated poorly, with the exception of an obvious heroine addiction to keep them from mauling the tourists. Many times the tiger would snap out of his high and move a little to brisk for my
comfortability and I would quickly feel like a guest at Jurassic Park, but the staff knew how to bring the tiger back down so nobody was eaten that day.

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