Our first stop in Thailand was Chiang Mai, the second largest city. It was gritty, fast paced and overwhelming. It was also safe, friendly, and seemed like a place you could find anything in. It was a great a place to start. Our schedule was arrive, have one full day, day 2 leave for elephants, day 3 come back to Chiang Mai, day 4 Chiang Mai, days 5-7 take our 350+ mile scooter ride, day 7 return to Chiang Mao, day 8 fly to Krabi for the beach.
Thai New Year was day 3-5 (4/13-15). To purify you for the new year people throw water on you. For 3 days. Chiang Mai is also the biggest celebration of this. Everywhere along the moat around the inner city there are Thai people set up with buckets, water guns, and hoses drenching everyone around. We can’t drink the tap water here let alone the very brown moat water, so it’s also an exercise of clamping your eyes and mouth shut since lots of people get sick.
It is a hell of a lot of fun though. There are unspoken rules though, no water in restaurant or on people near food stalls, and no water in the face of little old ladies. Otherwise it’s every man for themselves. We cut the tops off large water bottles for our weapons and dipped into the many trash cans full of water on the street. It was also 90-100+° which made getting soaked great. There were thousands of people participating between Thai and tourists.
The trouble began on the first day of our scooter trip and the longest, about 5-6 hours of driving. The first 3+ hours of getting water thrown on you wasn’t so bad, it was hella hot and we dried immediately due to the dry heat. But the back half I went over my limit, not that there was a damn thing I could do about it. They took great joy in throwing about twice as many buckets on me than A. probably because I was a girl. I’d estimate I had around 50 buckets of water thrown in my face on the ride. I was not amused.
People would actually form a line in the road so you couldn’t get through and then they’d all line up and get you. Adults and kids. A lot of four letter words were used mentally. Every truck was also a potential danger because every truck back was full of people with a big container of water so they could drive around dousing people, preferably people on scooters. Getting a bucket of water thrown in your face at 40mph feels like getting punched in the nose.
Besides their never-ending New Year celebration (they continued in smaller numbers the day after it ended) the scooter trip was epic. We drove through the mountains and saw beautiful jungle, farm lands, small villages, and quite a few chickens. We went up the highest mountain in Thailand, went to some spectacular waterfalls, and peeped some gorgeous temples in the mountains. Our first night was in Mae Hong Son and we would have spent a few days there if we hadn’t already booked some other stuff. Very cool town and great/cheap place to stay (Piya Guest House). Some very cool temples and we got to see some muay thai boxing for free. We also met some dudes from Texas, I’m beginning to think Texans are like Australians, they’re everywhere.
**obviously our scooters were much more high powered than our poor scootscoot. We also wore helmets Mom and I wouldn’t go faster than 70kmh