It was our last day in Chiang Mai. We’d covered just about everything on our initial plan, except for the Warorot market, a market located a short distance outside the eastern wall, which sells fresh and cooked food, along with clothing, kitchenware, souvenirs and other miscellaneous items.
After having breakfast and cleaning up our room, we made our way on foot to the market. We had explored this area of the city on our first day so we chose a different road to follow. It was a particularly warm morning, with clear skies and plenty of sun. Along the way we passed lots of motorbike repair shops, shops selling laundry appliances and shops selling Singer sewing machines. None of these really appealed to us, so we made our way as quickly as the heat would allow, ducking from shop front to shop front trying to stay in the shade.
As we approached the market we came across a small set of food stalls selling various fried foods, fresh fruits and juices and one or two souvenir stalls. At first I thought this was the market but, after we turned the corner, ahead of us was a much busier street lined with more stalls, and two signs pointing to buildings which housed the official market.
The ground floor specialised mostly in fresh, dried and cooked food while the upper level sold clothes and household goods. There were tshirts, pants and shorts, through to undies and socks. There were shoes and thongs for sale, next to kitchenware and some souvenirs. With Loi Krathong, the light festival, approaching there were also lots of lanterns for sale, some only 10 cm tall and others as high as a metre and decorated as animals and cartoon characters.
We made our way upstairs to the second floor and looked down on the bustling market below, then crossed over a footbridge to the other side of the road, and back downstairs where the market was more focussed on food. There was some fresh produce available, but there was also herbs and dried items such as tea, fruits and fish. There was a smaller section running along this lined with food carts selling small snacks and larger meals.
We spent an hour or so browsing, and I bought some tea. We tried some coconut jellies filled with cane sugar and drooled over some of the street food, not quite brave enough to eat it in case it made us sick. After we’d covered almost the whole market we went back outside and started back towards the Old City. Along the way we stopped for refreshing smoothies. While we were stopped we checked out our map and found that there was another market nearby selling Hmong products. The Hmong people are from local hilltribe villages.
The items they were selling were all made of cloth, featuring lots of bright colours. There were souvenirs available, such as key rings, bags and cushion covers, and they were also selling traditional clothing for hilltribe people and beads and fabric used to make the clothes. Everything was very colourful, and there were some really interesting designs woven into the fabric. The stalls were packed under tarp coverings which trapped the heat, and out the back kids and pets were lounging around eating lunch or watching TV. These buildings backed on to the river. Despite the souvenirs, it had a real local feel with people just going about their daily lives.
We were really glad we’d detoured through here before going back to the Old City. It was interesting to see their work and a great chance to grab some souvenirs and practice our bargaining skills.
After that we headed back into the Old City for lunch. We found a Thai restaurant with a touristy feel and I had a massaman curry. Lunch was deliberately planned near the Chiang Mai Historical Museum, part of the same complex as the Cultural Centre we visited earlier in the week. Our ticket gave us access to the three Chiang Mai museums so we spent an hour learning a bit about the history of Chiang Mai.
I found this museum to be more interesting than the Cultural Centre. Although some of the English translations were a bit odd, and everything was very wordy, the exhibit seemed to follow some order progressing chronologically through the key historical events in Chiang Mai’s history. We ended up supplementing this information with a quick scan of Wikipedia over coffee, but it was still worth the visit.
With only 90 minutes until we needed to be back at Elliebum for the ride to the airport, we decided to just relax with an iced latte at a nearby Cafe. It was nice to just stop for a little while and look back on everything we’d done over the past few days – it had been a busy week!
Back at Elliebum we considered taking a taxi, but the primary school just down the road had finished for the day and the street was packed with cars and motorbikes collecting kids. There were a few taxis, but these already had passengers to take.
We ended up walking our bags a block away where we caught a songthaew to the airport. It was a third of the price of the taxi ride we took from the airport on our first day. Our only concern was that it might take longer if the driver chose to stop and delivery other passengers along the way.
There was one other lady on the songthaew when we got on and fortunately after dropping her off we went straight to the airport. Less than 30 minutes later we arrived and checked in with an hour to go. A quick Maccas stop staved off tummy grumbles before we boarded the plane.
When we landed in Bangkok a big storm had just come through and traffic was chaos. There was a massive queue for taxis so we took a bus. The bus was crammed full with people and suitcases. As we bounced along the highway, I lady squeezed her way down the aisle collecting money and handing out tickets. Although it was crowded the bus was air conditioned so the 20 minute trip wasn’t too bad.
We changed from the bus to the above ground railway, the BTS, then met Marwan for dinner. We had Japanese barbecue for dinner, not something I was expecting in Thailand. It turns out Japanese restaurants are actually quite common here. After that we headed home, quite relieved to stop for the day, unload our bags and sleep.