Had dinner in a family run restaurant on the banks of The Ping River just down the road from the Baan Orapin. The food was home cooked tasty and inexpensive. Cost 380Thai Baht or $14.50 Australian. The owners love cats and at least 30 were visible all around the place including some cute kittens.
When we arrived there our fellow lodgers Sylvia and Bill from The Baan Orapin were there and we joined them. They had been eating there a few days already and were treated as family by our hosts. Sitting there with the Ping River flowing by beside us made us cast our minds back to our earlier visit to Chiang Mai where we stayed in an old Lana House on the banks of the river not far from here.
That was over 20 years ago and it was called The River Ping Palace. When googled today we find it has been turned into Club 17, a gay men’s only place with a phallus shaped swimming pool! My how things change. Wait for the Pool shot to come up.
It used to have a river bank restaurant called Once Upon a Time and it was run by an eccentric Englishman called Phillip Wall. The speciality was Volcanic Chicken. The chicken used to come out held in a vertical position by an open tin can with its fundamental orifice facing skyward. With great aplomb Phillip would present the chicken to an unwary diner and the light it up. The flames would shoot into the air about 2 metres from the chicken’s backside very much like a volcano! Each night we were entertained by this amazing spectacle and we have seen nothing like it since. We later found out that the towering flames are from a cup of Thai Whisky that has been preheated. Often wonder what happened to Phillip.
35°C predicted for Chiang Mai. Plant to check out the area we are staying in now thoroughly before we move into the Old City on Tuesday. Our friend Glenn has a tummy bug he thinks he got in Bangkok and is laid low. We just rang him and apart from lots of sprinting to the bathroom overnight he is over the worst. Catching up with him again today.
Explored the area favoured by Expats in Chiang Mai - Nimmanahaeminda Road. It has many Coffee shops and is “Trendy” we imagine. It has about 17 leafy lanes connecting it to Siri Mangkalarjarn with many businesses and shops. There are also many Guest Houses and Condominium blocks of varying standards. The newest ones with modern architecture looked very good but some others appeared a tad tired and dated. We assume the rental cost per month reflects these differences. Noticed some brave electrical workers using a bamboo ladder set up in the road with just an orange flag on it for protection. Street wiring here would not pass muster in Australia.
We visited the Maya Shopping Complex again and discovered a great food court in the basement which resembled a market and sold very well priced and good food. It was very busy. On the 4th level is a more sophisticated range of restaurants and we partook of a Japanese Set with grilled fish which although tasty was average. The complex is very new and Ramping’s Supermarket was fantastic with Cheeses, Wine, tasty morsels and just about everything an ageing expat could wish for. If you lived in a nearby condominium you would only have to leave this area if you chose to. We can see why it is popular with expats. 45sq metre studio apartments can be purchased her for around 1Million Baht plus or $38,500 Australian upwards. Some new ones called The Nimmana are 1 to 3 bedroom and larger and are on the market for 2.5 Million Baht plus fully furnished or about $96,000 Australian. We will be doing more research in this area.
Headed up to The National Museum which although under-funded had some beautiful old Lanna pieces from the 17th and 18th century. There was also an informative display of Chiang Mai history. In this area are Cave paintings and sites where Neolithic stone tools have been found. We plan to visit them. Chiang Mai was founded as a city in 1296. Prior to 1796 it was deserted for about 20 years. There is a lot of history to be discovered here.
On return by Tuk Tuk to the Baan Orapin our driver pointed out a massive pillar of smoke across the river. Investigating it we found it was a massive fire in the market area in a multi storey building and was burning out of control. We watched as fire trucks, water tankers, ladder trucks rescue services, the army and scores of other police personnel descended on the area. Hundreds of onlookers made it hard for fireman and water had to be pumped from the river by a little pump boat to feed the fire trucks We watched for a couple of hours as they struggled to control it. It is all over the TV news tonight so it was definitely a major fire. We had never seen anything like it before.