Monday, July 8, 2013

last day in chiang mai 2013

Our last day, 14 June 2013, started late. We were at The Riverside Bar until the wee hours and couldn't get moving until it was time to check out of our guesthouse at 11AM. After a quick breakfast and visit to the money changer, we said goodbye to the old city of Chiang Mai and went to the Holiday Inn to wake Hot Tuna up.

It took ages for us to decide where to go for lunch; everyone was still feeling the effects of the Sambuca. In the end, CentralPlaza Chiang Mai Airport Mall, more popularly known as Central Airport Plaza, seemed to require the least effort. Shopping malls always have food courts, and faced with a myriad of choices, it should be easy to find something to eat. In theory.

Here was the problem: There were too many choices. Our solution: Get everything.

A platter of deep-fried things with the best shrimp paste I've ever tasted. Should've brought some home. 

Braised pork leg. I've noticed that Thais are crazy for this dish.

My first mango sticky rice of the week. The mangoes were super sweet, as all Thai mangoes seem to be.

Som tam with a pickled crab underneath all the fixins. Not my thing.

Stir-fried beef with basil. There was a long queue for this.

Mushroom omelet. Hot Tuna raved about the clear soup which came free with it.

Afterwards, I wanted ice cream. We headed to the Swensen's on the top floor, but when we got there we found another ice cream parlor right beside it. Cheeky! And it was a local brand: Ete. Naturally, we had to go local.

The Fondue for 2, 350 baht.

Three Grandé, 140 baht.

Star Troops, 340 baht.

Lime Sherbet, Kiwi Strawberry Sorbet and Raspberry Sorbet, 59 baht per scoop.

Ete's menu, inspired by Haagen Dazs, is very impressive. However, their ice cream is just not as creamy and flavorful. Still, it's a cool place for hanging out with friends. I would like to try the waffles and French toast next time. Check out their website.

Back to the hotel for a short nap and a shower before we had to leave. We were told to be at the bus terminal at least an hour before our departure time, so we were there by 9PM. It turned out to be unnecessary, especially since we had already bought our tickets from an agent days before-- ticket price 876 baht + service fee = 930 baht per person. That included a snack as soon as we got on board, a hot meal at 3AM, and breakfast at 5AM. With drinks.

Super VIP buses usually have 24 to 32 seats only.

Reclining seats with adjustable foot rests. Pillows and blankets provided.

The lady in red was our stewardess.

The toilet on board was small but very clean.

Note: You can't buy bus tickets online yet, so on 10 June 2013 at 8PM we just showed up at Mo Chit Bus Station in Bangkok and hoped for the best. There were two windows which said "Chiang Mai" near the entrance. The first bus company we tried to buy from was sold out for the day but the second, 666 Company, still had two trips. We probably would have had a harder time it it were a weekend.

When we arrived in Chiang Mai, it was too early to buy return tickets at the terminal since the offices were still closed. We went to a booking agent in town instead, who got us seats on the Sombat Tour bus. Both companies are quite similar, but I preferred the facilities, food and service of Sombat. We were dropped off at 6AM on 15 June 2013 at their own terminal in Bangkok, which wasn't as huge or busy as nearby Mo Chit. There was a never-ending line of vacant taxis waiting for passengers.

I realise that we could have flown for almost the same price or just a bit more, but getting in and out of airports would have added to the hassle and cost. Regarding the schedule and the long travel time: I can't think of anything else I'd rather do from 10PM to 5AM anyway, besides sleep.

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