Category Archives: Chiang Mai

Bertie the Bear’s top 12 tips for travelling in Chiang Mai

IMG_1370

1. Use the red trucks for transport. They are the Thai equivalent of a bus. Agree a price for where you want to go first before you get into the truck. Usually anywhere inside the city is 20 THB and just outside is 40 THB. A trip to the airport is between 150 THB and 200 THB. (2014 prices)

2. Get a pre-pad SIM at the airport so you can keep in touch with friends and family while travelling through Thailand. The counter staff will set your phone up for you. You can buy a cheap sim without internet quite easily or splash out on unlimited internet for 30 days and 100 THB of calls for 850 THB. (2014 prices)

3. Everywhere has wifi. The codes to access the wifi are usually written inside cafes and restaurants. Most staff will help you with wifi codes if you ask. Downside….wifi can be slow!

4. A Thai cooking class is a must! It is a fantastic way to learn more about the culture and you will walk away so full you won’t need to eat for a day!

IMG_0659

5. Barter, barter and barter! Haggling is fun especially at the night markets. Half the price which the stall holder quotes and work your way up from there.

6. Buy food from the street stalls. It is safe to eat and delicious. Make sure that it is cooked fresh in front of you. Do not buy food that you have not seen being cooked.

7. Smoothies come laden with sugar, ask for no sugar.

8. Taxi’s are very expensive. Although you can hire a taxi for the day to take you to agreed places around the city. Prices usually start from 1000 THB. Alternatively negotiate with the Tuk Tuk drivers. They usually ask for 300 THB for 2 hours service.

9. Visit the Sunday night market! It is an awesome place to pick up great deals, cheap clothes and cheap food.

10. Crepes with banana and Nutella are a must try and at 50 THB on most stalls are a complete bargain.

11. Use Tiger Balm on mosquito bites. The locals recommend it and it helps with the itching. If your bites swell up really badly you can buy anti-histamines from most of the Pharmacy’s relatively cheaply.

12. Thailand has loads of temples to visit. Chiang Mai has 300 alone. When visiting a temple please dress respectfully by covering shoulders and legs. Some temples have an entrance fee, although these are usually the bigger ones.

Bertie’s tips for getting to Pai

IMG_0544 copyright Key Image

Yes, you read that correctly, Bertie is not talking about food and has used his spellcheck. Pai is a small and friendly town near the Myanmar border, in northern Thailand’s Mae Hong Son Province. It is about 50 miles/80 km north of Chiang Mai and lies along the Pai River. It is well worth a visit, having a relaxing atmosphere and friendly feel, simple to navigate streets and amazing food stalls all of which add to the hippy charm and character of the place.

How to get there: 

Catch a bus from Chiang Mai. Be prepared for a bumpy road journey on a steep and winding route. Take a book or take a friend! Buses and mini buses usually take a break half way through the journey. Expect the journey to last about 3 hours and to cost in the region of 180THB (Prices correct March 2014) Mini bus transport can be arranged at many of the travel agents stores located within Chiang Mai.

You could choose to fly, which will take about 30 minutes and can easily be arranged online or in one of the many travel agents within Chiang Mai’s city. Or some brave backpackers will hire a motorbike and complete the journey themselves.

Leaving Pai:

To arrange a return is easily done at the bus deport in Pai itself. However, take note as most of the services stop at the Arcade Bus Station, located in the northeastern region of Chiang Mai. From here you will have to catch a red truck to your accommodation or next stop.

Coming next: Bertie’s top things to do in Pai

The little things in life

IMG_1370 copyright Key Image

Whilst travelling through Thailand I visited a lovely town about 50 miles/80 km north of Chiang Mai near the Myanmar border called Pai. It has a lovely relaxed atmosphere and a friendly small town feel as this photograph shows.

What a lovely way to put a smile on your customers faces of a morning than this fabulous spoon that accompanied my morning brew! It reminded me that it is the little things in life which make us happy.

Have a fantastic friday!

Caged

IMG_1372 LR copyright

When Bertie was exploring through the north of Thailand, outside Chiang Mai, he came across a disturbing sight. A teddy bear, stuffed in a confined cage with no room to move. Alone. Head bowed. 

Bertie wondered what this teddy bear had done to desire such a cruel punishment. Then he noticed that the cage was unlocked. If the teddy bear really wanted to escape he could do, but he was trapped in his own thoughts and negativity. In fact the teddy bear was so obvious to everything else but the negativity he blocked out the sound of Bertie calling to him. He didn’t realise that if he chose to reach out that others would be there for him. 

Bertie felt a deep sinking feeling. There was nothing to be done. He could not help the teddy bear whilst he was in this state. All he could do was walk away and continue on his journey. It seemed so sad but then Bertie realised that he had once been that teddy bear, buried at the bottom of a basket, unable to see or do anything to change his situation because of the negative thinking he was embraced with. He began to consider himself lucky, that he had found the courage to embrace this journey and was accepting the opportunities that were coming his way. Hopefully, in doing this, he could inspire others to do the same. 

Bertie felt like he was lighting the path for more to follow and that gave him an immense sense of fulfilment and positivity.

Bertie’s top 12 things to know about Chiang Mai

Bertie in Chiang Mai

1. Use the red trucks for transport. They are the Thai equivalent of a bus. Agree a price for where you want to go first before you get into the truck. Usually anywhere inside the city is 20 THB and just outside is 40 THB. A trip to the airport is between 150 THB and 200 THB.

2. Get a pre-pad SIM at the airport so you can keep in touch with friends and family while travelling through Thailand. The counter staff will set your phone up for you. You can buy a cheap sim without internet quite easily or splash out on unlimited internet for 30 days and 100 THB of calls for 850 THB.

3. Everywhere has wifi. The codes to access the wifi are usually written inside cafes and restaurants. Most staff will help you with wifi codes if you ask.

4. Wifi can be slow throughout Thailand.

5. Barter, barter and barter! Haggling is fun especially at the night markets. Half the price which the stall holder quotes and work your way up from there.

6. Buy food from the street stalls. It is safe to eat and delicious. Make sure that it is cooked fresh in front of you. Do not buy food that you have not seen being cooked.

7. Smoothies come laden with sugar, ask for no sugar.

8. Taxi’s are very expensive. Although you can hire a taxi for the day to take you to agreed places around the city. Prices usually start from 1000 THB. Alternatively negotiate with the Tuk Tuk drivers. They usually ask for 300 THB for 2 hours service.

9. Visit the Sunday night market! It is an awesome place to pick up great deals, cheap clothes and cheap food.

10. Crepes with banana and Nutella are a must try and at 50 THB on most stalls are a complete bargain.

11. Use Tiger Balm on mosquito bites. The locals recommend it and it helps with the itching. If your bites swell up really badly you can buy anti-histamines from most of the Pharmacy’s relatively cheaply.

12. Thailand has loads of temples to visit. Chiang Mai has 300 alone. When visiting a temple please dress respectfully by covering shoulders and legs. Some temples have an entrance fee, although these are usually the bigger ones.

The hustle and bustle of life

Bertie at Doi Suthep

Bertie was experiencing so many new things on his adventure that it was hard to keep track of all the different experiences. This was so different to anything he had ever been through before part of him longed for the security and safety of his dusty basket, where as another part of him was excited and curious about what was to come!

Today Bertie was to experience being around more people than he had ever done before. He was taken to Wat Phrathat Doi Suthep temple. He was expecting peace and tranquility but instead he was amongst hustle and bustle. His little bear brain could not take in the amount of information that surrounded him, let alone focus on one thing. There were so many different languages being spoken and so many people only pausing to take a photograph, or to kneel in front of monks wrapped in their yellow robes and then they would move quickly on.

Bertie was relieved when he was able to pause for a while. Peeping out from inside his cosy and safe pocket he watched with interest. There were people everywhere and they never seemed to stop moving. Bertie began to wonder why? Now that he was still he began to notice so much more. He tried to drown the noise from the crowds out and look at the place he had come to rest.

The more still that Bertie became the more things he noticed, such as the old lady who was working her way down a line of large bells concentrating hard and ringing each one with a careful purpose. When she got to the end of the line of bells she put her hands together and bowed. There was a large, tan coloured dog which had found shelter from the blazing mid day sun underneath a large, golden bell, and the gentleman who was sat still with a white stick in his hands who also looked to be listening to the scene around him.

Bertie began to wonder why most of the people around him felt the need to be on the move all the time? Surely they would get more from this spiritual place if they paused long enough to let it consume them? What was the rush? Why didn’t they sit down and let the environment consume them rather than chasing the next experience?

As Bertie continued to watch he realised that sometimes people can be so consumed with their own thoughts and in their own worlds that they are not really present in the world around them. It was almost as if these people had created a little bubble which was theirs and theirs alone.

Although Bertie was enjoying watching the scene’s before him he was relieved when he was carefully carried out of the temple and he could snuggle safely into his warm pocket while listening to the gentle roar of an engine.

What a surreal experience, he thought as he drifted off into a daydream like sleep.

Meet Bertie the Bear

IMG_0026

Meet Bertie…..he’s a simple bear, who travels light and has been carried into an unknown adventure. Not much is known about Bertie’s past and he likes to keep it that way. He chooses to focus on the present moment. The present moment being a strange new place, with people who talk in a strange new way that Bertie has never heard before. There are sights and sounds and smells and so much to explore and see and do. It would be easy to become overwhelmed.

For the first part of Bertie’s trip we find him in Thailand. His journey to arrive here is long and the warmth of the sun in this place takes some getting use to for a bear who has been buried at the bottom of a basket for what seemed like forever!

There are strange new creatures in this place. They seem calm, although Bertie finds himself very intimidated by their size, he seems to somehow sense that they mean him no harm. The whole experience has caused Bertie to start to think. Something which he has tried to avoid for a while now. Thinking leads to questions and questions require answers and finding the answers to some questions can unlock a very scary journey into the unknown. Never the less, Bertie is thinking. He is thinking about communication. How it is such a simple thing, that every living thing does in its own unique way, but how without fully understanding what is being communicated, how things are being said and the reasons why things are done it can cause many problems in life. For example, these majestic animals that Bertie encountered in his first week of travelling have been communicated to by humans in an attempt to use their skills and strength. How have people communicated to them? In the only way some people know how, and that is through dominance, force and pain. When they do something wrong, it hurts, so they know they don’t do that.

Bertie began to wonder, what if there was a better way to communicate with these animals. Once which involved kindness, reward, patience and mutual understanding. Surely that would be a much better way to live?

Yes, for the first time in a long time, Bertie was beginning to think. He almost felt like he was waking up from a deep sleep.