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Chiang Rai is Awesome!

THAILAND | Sunday, 28 November 2010 | Views [816]

My first night in Chiang Mai was an adventure. Having left Pai on such a great note, a night out with live Jazz straight from Chiang mai, falangs joining in and jamming with the band, then a live reggae band which was fun, dancing around with beautiful Kat from South Africa and learning a very popular Thai song, then the Bamboo bar for more games, laughter and chatting, I found an understanding and appreciation for Pai when the locals joined in and the shops shut down. Around half three in the morning outside the bar, a lady brings her food stand, and cooks up the ultimate prawn pad thai, oh yes, magic!


So after two bus rides and dizzying bumps and windy roads I come to the small city of Chiang Rai where Josh has been hanging out. First thing I wanted to get some food so off I went to explore. Soon I was lost, but confident and in no hurry, it’s always more of an adventure wandering around with not a clue where you’re headed and not bothered by the fact, I find. So I enter into the Teepee bar, I’d heard about first from our French friend Eric who came on the Mekong boat with us. He’d got stuck in this bar. I could immediately see why. The room, tiny and cluttered, with dusty tapes, spider-webbed bikes hanging from the ceiling, and assortment of crap covering every available space, and loud music blaring, it was welcoming and interesting enough to draw you in.


The guy behind the bar has to be the most entertaining bartender I’d ever seen, head banging and long haired, obviously the backbone of the place, he was funny and awesome in every which way. At the bar sat a French guy, Stephan, who I chatted away with over Chang beers, laughing and sharing stories. He told me of a bar with live music, and so off I went, three on a scooter, into the nighttime streets toward an area only visited by locals. We were the only falangs in the place, but it was an insight into Thai culture that I will never forget.


Most places where you drink or eat in a restaurant or bar will have a live band, I was told. This place was not cheap and had two large rooms packed with groups sitting around small tables eating and drinking. The 8-piece band started playing loud popular music, their energy and the sounds were very cool, and enjoyment was infectious and unforgettable. Even with no dancing, the vibe of the place was something special to be amongst, especially as it’s normal and common for the local crowds.


I started getting droopy lids so off I strolled into the streets to find my way back to the guesthouse; luckily I had a card with the street name on it. The tuktuks offered an extortionate price, as I was so out of place and obviously needed a way home, them being the only option around. I stubbornly walked off annoyed at the price of a 2-minute drive. The second person I asked was a guy leaning on his bike, he offered to take me, so on the back of a random bike I hopped. He was unsure the exact location but we were very close, and at the door as I went to offer some payment he refused the money. This act of pure kindness is something I wont forget, a small window into the absolute gold you can find in most cultures, it’s when they are shared between strangers that the act becomes genuinely astounding and beautiful.


Chiang Rai has become a highlight. Its community feel and lack of swarms of tourists make it by far the most intriguing place I have visited in Thailand. The Peace Bar is where I was welcomed by one and all last night. We were treated to live music, the band jamming or doing great covers. The enthusiasm of the staff and friends was wonderful, the smiles reaching sky high, the falangs all talkative and friendly, without a doubt this has become somewhere I am hesitant to leave!



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