This is my fourth visit to Thailand and my third to the northern city of Chiang Mai. Each time I’ve taken a different airline. This was my first time with Oman Air. The flight out of Heathrow was delayed by about 45 minutes due to the crew not turning up. Apparently they were stuck in a traffic jam outside their hotel. It seems that whilst they insist that we mere passengers turn up with three hours to go, the flight crew cut it rather finer.
The change of planes at Muscat was therefore a hurried affair and I was concerned that whilst I had made it with a few minutes to spare, my luggage may not have done. After a second flight of four and a bit hours we arrived at the beautiful Suvarnabhumi Airport in Bangkok and by the time I had cleared visa control there was my bag going round on the carousel. Feeling a little jaded by then I lugged it up to the fourth floor and checked it in again for my connecting flight to Chiang Mai. Bangkok Air have the wonderfully enlightened practice of opening their lounge to economy passengers, providing free snacks and WiFi. I passed the two hour wait there. The flight was uneventful and I love the way that at Chiang Mai airport the pilot just taxis up to the building and parks the aircraft. Passengers disembark, and just walk into the building. No fuss with buses or sky-bridges here.
It was gone 11pm local time by the time I arrived so rather then try to find a tuk-tuk I just grabbed a taxi. You can arrange it all whilst waiting for your luggage and then just go outside and find your driver. About 15 minutes later I was walking up the narrow lane to the Chiang Mai White House, where the night watchman was expecting me. Whilst he was copying details out of my passport I grabbed water and beer from the fridge and wrote it in the honesty book. Total time from leaving home to arriving in my room here: 26 hours. I was ready for bed!
I’d like to give a shout out to Steve, one of my longest standing massage clients. He gave me this hang-up wash bag for Christmas and it works perfectly. Being away for three weeks one needs full size containers of things like shower and shave gels and toothpaste. This was just the right size for everything I needed on that front. Bathrooms in guest houses very often don’t have much by way of shelving, although the one here does have a small shelf. But this wash-bag hangs perfectly on the towel rail. As the showers here are generally wet rooms everything in the bathroom can get wet if one isn’t careful. However, the towel rail is usually in the place that’s likely to stay driest. Another related feature of Thai bathrooms is that one usually keeps the toilet paper out of the bathroom to avoid soaking the whole roll. In any cases Thai toilets come with a ‘bum shower’ so that you can wash rather then wipe after using the toilet. The toilet paper is used to dry oneself.
So my first full day has been spent getting over the jet lag and getting used to the heat. I walked to the massage clinic where I’ll be studying from Monday, had a siesta, went to the nearby temple for a massage, walked around the little local market getting a few bits and pieces and called in at another temple on the way home. Chiang Mai is full of temples.