Home > Chiang Mai, Meditation, Monks, Thai Temples, Thailand, Travel, Uncategorized > What not to do in Chiang Mai?

What not to do in Chiang Mai?

A short answer to this title is thus: do not attempt a diet of only fruit and nuts and ride 10km outside the city on a dodgy bicycle to a forest Wat (temple). Now the long answer…

Chiang Mai is Thailand’s second city and possibly first in terms of tourism. It is the gateway for treks into the mountains, visits to the minority tribes, myriad with markets selling tribal artefacts, abundant with tourist and vegetarian restaurants (details here http://www.theveggiebus.org/thailand), Thai massaaaages, charming Buddhist temples and a walkable layout of serene streets distinctly Thai in style and surrounded by an impressive moat. This was our second visit to Chiang Mai our first being back in 2008 on a 2 week holiday where we’d been completely taken by the city. Back then we’d done all the tourist trips such as visiting Wat Doi Suthep, the temple on the mountain, drinking in the reggae roof top bar and hiking to the villages of the minority hill tribes where we‘d bought many trinkets from village youngsters.

As travellers and not tourists our approach was a little different. New McDonalds and Starbucks lined the road into the old city and the small hotel we’d stayed in previously had been knocked down with signs surrounding the debris that promised new luxury, although the ‘hot Carl‘ graffiti on the road opposite was still intact. Had we not noticed last time how the foreigners outnumbered the Thais? The city was still beautiful and a comfortable place to hang out for a few days; but comfortable isn’t really how the Cockmans roll. So we decided to commence a diet of only fruit and nuts.

Fruit is abundant in Thailand and is some of the freshest and juiciest we’ve ever tasted. Pineapple, watermelon, jackfruit, melon and all sorts of berries were sold in small 10 bhat packets. After 2 packets each for breakfast we rented city bikes and left the city in pursuit of a Wat U Mong (a forest temple not an insult, and a joke that Carl and I had endless fun with). Although looking quite close on our not to scale map the Wat was a good 10km outside, up some pretty steep hills and, not surprisingly, in a middle of the forest. We arrived tired and thirsty so popped out some water and some unsalted peanuts we’d purchased earlier from the local Tesco’s Lotus.

We then entered the grounds of the waning Wat, enchanting in its old age. The moss covered stone walls secluded dark tunnels leading to Buddha shrines where old dogs slept and locals meditated. I found a cat to play with outside but in an unprovoked attack she sunk her teeth into my innocent hand so we wondered onwards to a lake overflowing with the more agreeable catfish. Here we found a quiet bench and sat soaking in the atmosphere and ignoring our hunger pains attempting to quieten them with more sordid peanuts that we happily shared with the catfish.

Another 10km bike ride awaited us so we stopped on the way back in the trendy Chiang Mai university area for a berry smoothie, no sugar, bitter. That evening when we purchased our 10 bhat fruit packets for dinner I found I couldn’t bring myself to eat the fruit. The fresh juicy sweetness that was usually so appealing seemed to wane and the taste of sugar made me feel sick. The next morning I had egg on toast and a tea whilst Carl slurped away on his mango smoothie, no additives just mango and ice. I’d lasted one day but Carl had a couple more in him.

Upon meeting friends a few weeks later who had under proper direction completed a one month fruit diet detox I became more convinced of it’s benefits. However, they advised that the fruit was to be eaten in huge portions and 20% of the diet was to be green vegetables. They also advise limited exercise, especially for the first week or so…

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