Category Archives: tourist

Laos

I am finishing up my 4th trip to Vientiane Laos.  Thailand is going to let me stay in the country 3 more months.  There’s not much to do in Vientiane.  I’ve seen everything already.  So I passed most of my time thinking about my life, walking along the Mekong River, and watching youtube videos 🙂  I did eat some good food.  I tried a new French restaurant near the hotel I stayed at and visited the Chok Dee Cafe again.

Yesterday was a Thai holiday which means the embassy was closed.  Which means I got my visa a day late.  There was a small chance I would make my flight home.  Right after I got my passport back I headed to the airport.  I got to the airport 20 minutes before my flight left.  But by then the check-in counters were closed already.  So I missed my flight but was able to book a new flight a few hours later.  So now I have some time to kill in the airport.

 

A taxi from the airport to any place in the city center costs 57,000 kip.  The hotel I stayed at books a taxi from the hotel to the airport for 60,000 kip.  I planned to take a tuk tuk from the embassy straight to the airport.  I asked the tuk tuk driver how much.  He said 100,000 kip!  I said why so much?  He said how much do you want to pay?  I said a taxi is 60,000.  He came down to 80,000 then I said 70,000 which the tuk tuk driver agreed to.  I thought I did pretty good.  Don’t let the tuk tuk drivers overcharge.

 

So you want to move to Thailand…

Great!  It’s good to get out of your comfort zone and experience a different reality for a few months or a few years.  Here are some things to consider:

  1. Get everything in order in your home country.  Have a house?  What will you do with it?  Where will your mail go?  Where will you put all your stuff?  How will you pay bills? etc, etc….
  2. How will you access money?  If you end up working in Thailand you can open a Thai bank account and keep your money there.  I don’t work and all my money is in my U.S. bank account which means I pay a fee each time I withdraw money from the ATM.  It’s not too much but it is kind of annoying.
  3. What kind of visa will you get?  I’m not working and wanted lots of leisure time so I went with a student visa.  I think it’s a pretty good balance between cost and convenience, plus I’m learning the language more than most expats who have been here much longer than I have.
    1. A tourist visa is good for 60 days and can be extended once at a local immigration office for 30 days.  I think the initial cost for a tourist visa is 1000 Baht.  The 30 day extension is 1900 Baht.  Total is 2900 Baht per 90 days plus costs to travel to a Thai Embassy / Consular office outside the country.
    2. A student visa to study Thai language (or possibly other subject) is a convenient way to stay in the country for a year at a time.  The initial cost is 2000 Baht plus 1900 Baht for each 90 day extension.  Keep in mind tuition for the school you’ll go to and the requirement to attend classes.
    3. If you have a work permit then you need a different kind of visa.  I’m not sure how much it costs or the process involved but I would guess it is similar to that of a student visa.
    4. There is the relatively new Multiple Entry Tourist Visa.  I don’t know many details but it is supposedly good for up to 6 months stay in Thailand but can only be applied for in your home country.
    5. Starting a business in Thailand is also an option for those motivated to go that route.
  4. Where will you live?  I’m a little biased but I think Krabi is a pretty nice place.  There is of course Bangkok and if one is moving to Thailand to look for work it’s not a bad option.  Phuket is also popular with tourists and expats.  Chiang Mai is to the North and culturally is a very interesting city and also popular with tourists.  Best bet would be to do some research before hand, pick 3 or 4 options and spend a few days to a week at each one to see which place suits you the best.
  5. Will you work?  If so, what kind of work?  Work for foreigners is limited and can be difficult to get unless you are interested in teaching English or becoming a diving instructor.  You could enter Thailand on a tourist visa, find job, then make a visa run to get a new visa / work permit.  People do it but working in Thailand without the proper visa / work permit is not a good idea.
  6. Thai culture.  It’s very different than the West.  How will you adapt?  Thailand isn’t just paradise, beaches, and beautiful women.  There’s a lot to like about Thailand but there’s also a lot to dislike.  I’ve enjoyed my time here but I hate the driving here and also have a hard time accepting the fact that as a foreigner I will never have the same rights and privileges as a Thai citizen.  So I decided awhile ago I won’t be living here permanently.
  7. The transition from tourist to resident.  Enjoy your first few weeks here.  Live it up!  But that gets expensive (even in Thailand) really quick.  Figure out when and how you will transition from a tourist to living a more sustainable daily life.
  8. Cost of living in Thailand can be very cheap to very expensive.  Be realistic about how much you will need to spend to live a lifestyle you are comfortable with and can maintain.
  9. Learn the language.  Learn to read.  English skills of the average Thai person are very poor, especially outside the popular tourist areas.  It’s makes things much easier to speak a bit of Thai.  It also lets you know when you are being overcharged because of the color of your skin.  But speaking the language with a moderate level of proficiency can sometimes get you the Thai price 🙂
  10. Making friends.  I’ve found it hard to make friends with Thai people.  Sure, there are Thai people I am acquaintances with but all the people I’ve met in Thailand that I would consider a friend are foreigners.
  11. Western products in Thailand are very expensive and cost more than you would pay in your home country.  For example, when you tire of drinking Thai beer, a pint of IPA  (if you can even find it) from England or America could cost around $10.
  12. It’s really hot in Thailand.  During the hot season it can regularly be over 40C / 100F.
  13. Sometimes it rains all day, every day.  The rainy season can be kind of depressing.
  14. The cool season is magical.  Perfect weather, hot but not too hot and usually no rain.
  15. There are a lot of weird insects around here.
  16. Transportation.  Everyone has a motorbike.  If you’re sure you’ll be here a long time at least a year or two, consider a car.
  17. Medical insurance.  You should have something.  I got travellers insurance through World Nomads.  Luckily I haven’t had to use it but I assume it will work.  There are also insurance policies foreigners can purchase in Thailand.
  18. Finally, don’t do things in Thailand you wouldn’t do in your home country!  I could write a whole post on this but briefly…
    1. You probably wouldn’t drive a motorcycle without a helmet at home so DON’T DO IT IN THAILAND!  Thailand is one of the most dangerous countries to drive in.  I see near misses multiple times a day.  Minor crashes nearly every day and see or hear about major crashes involving fatalities almost weekly.  When driving leave your ego at home and be extremely defensive.
    2. Meet a beautiful girl who seems perfect and proclaims you the love of her life?  Great, I’m happy for you.  But in a few weeks when she asks you to meet her family or send her a significant amount of money DON’T DO IT!  It sounds stupid but so many foreigners fall for this.  It would seem crazy to give a girl you just met at home a lot of money or meet her family after a few dates.  It’s crazy to do this at home and it’s crazy to do this in Thailand.
    3. Despite what you may have read about in Pattaya, some parts of Bangkok and Phuket, Thai society is for the most part very conservative.
    4. And on and on…  Just because you are in Thailand and it’s new, interesting and exciting, don’t let your guard down.  Educate yourself on the common tourist scams so they can be avoided.  Related to #3, most Thai people are shy.  Be wary of the ones that approach you out of the blue.

Chinese Tourists

Chinese tourists have a pretty bad reputation all over the world.  I haven’t personally witnessed any really bad behavior but I do find them annoying when I am also being a tourist.  They tend to travel in large packs on tour busses everywhere they go.  So a tour bus full of Chinese tourists might pull up to a location and then 40 or 50 people mob it for 20 or 30 minutes, talking loudly, pushing people out of the way to take pictures, etc… then leave.  So if bus of Chinese tourists pulls up to wherever you are, it’s best to leave and come back in an hour.

But I find this article hilarious because Thai people are criticizing Chinese people for doing the same things they do.  Chiang Mai residents apparently don’t like Chinese tourists because they:

  1. Don’t flush the toilet.
  2. Don’t follow traffic laws.
  3. Are loud.
  4. Litter, spit, and cut in line.
  5. Let children defecate in swimming pools.
  6. Have poor English-language skills.

I can’t say I’ve seen a Thai person doing #1 or #5 but everything else they are guilty of.

Koh Phi Phi

On the 11th Anong and I travelled to Koh Phi Phi to visit a friend of mine and her husband who were visiting from America.  We woke up early and by 12:00 we were on the island checking into our hotel.

Koh Phi Phi is very beautiful.  It has recovered from the 2004 tsunami and is back bigger and “better” than before.  I say “better” because Phi Phi now suffers from mass tourism.  I didn’t really see any Thai culture here.  Just lots of tourists.  It could have been a tropical island anywhere.  If one wants to relax on the beach and party at night, Phi Phi would be a good place to go.  Phi Phi is also the most expensive place I’ve stayed at and I didn’t think it offered good value for money.  Even though this is kind of critical of Koh Phi Phi I did enjoy my time there because I got to see some friends and the climbing is also good.  Oh, one good thing about Koh Phi Phi.  There are no cars on the island!  So at least I didn’t have to worry about getting hit by a car like I constantly do in Krabi / Ao Nang.

So back to the first day.  Anong and I met my friends for lunch then we headed off to Tonsai Tower for some climbing.  I had heard the grades here were soft so I was curious to see what the style of climbing was like and what I could do.

First Day

  1. Trong Pai (Straight Ahead) 6a+, Relatively straightforward climbing with a cruxy move near the anchor.  Onsight.
  2. Seven Samurais 6b+, Did this one on top rope but I should had led it.  Easy climbing up to a roof which then has huge jugs to pull on to get over the roof then moderate climbing to the anchor.
  3. Scenic Bulimic 6a, Huge blocky holds up a slight overhang.  A little pumpy but easy.  Onsight.
  4. Gladiator 6c, A steep jug haul.  Big fun moves.  Just when I thought I couldn’t hang on anymore it eases up near the anchor.  Onsight.
  5. Sol y Sombra 6b+,  By now I was feeling tired and thought I’d lead a nice relaxing 6a+ by heading up Sud Jawt.  Well, 3/4 of the way up my friends informed me I was on a 6b+.  Oops.  But it was going well so far so I continued up and was going well until I got to the crux.  WTF.  Had to rest to figure it out then pulled on the sling to get past.  Oh well.
  6. Crisis?  What Crisis? 6b, By now very tired but climbed cleanly on top rope.  Fun climb up some tufas.

So, yeah.  The grades seem soft.  Or maybe I’m that good?  No, they’re soft.  But it feels good to lead 6b+ without too much trouble and even onsight a 6c for the first time!

Day 2

Warm up on Scenic Bulimic 6a again.  Still feels pumpy.  Then we get started on today’s objective.  Going Dutch 6c+, a 4 pitch climb.  The first pitch was great.  More steep climbing with lots of jugs and pockets.  I was following but climbed it clean.  The next two pitches had some awkward sections on them.  Beta was difficult to figure out though graded easier than the first pitch I thought they were actually harder.  The final pitch was easier but the rock quality not as nice.  But overall it was a really good climb.  I was an idiot and dropped my ATC from the top of the third pitch which meant some time wasted on the rappel.  Amazingly enough I was able to find it in some bushes when we got down.  The sun was going down by the time we made it back to the ground and beers on the beach after tasted really good.

Day 3

  1. Golden Copulation 6b, I had to climb it for the name but it also looked fun.  A two pitch climb that I climbed as a single pitch.  Easy down low and very fun climbing up higher.  50+ meters of rope is really heavy.  Onsight.
  2. Mr Viper, Mr. Pit Viper 6a,  Slightly overhanging climbing up huge blocky holds.  Onsight.
  3. Pirates of the Andaman 6c, Bouldery start then easier climbing to the first anchor.  Onsight.  Follow second pitch.  Starts off easy then some tough moves on pockets.  Onsight.
  4. Sud Jawt 6a+,  Decided I should actually climb this climb that I intended to a couple days ago.  Not a bad climb.  Onsight.

The climbing in Koh Phi Phi is pretty good, even with the aggressive monkeys.  I’ll post some pictures later.  The grades on a lot of the climbs are on the soft side. Onsighting two 6c’s as well as a 6b and top roping 6c+ cleanly has me feeling good about myself.  But some of the climbs are very weird and maybe it’s just figuring out the beta but I thought were full value.  I’m thinking of the 6b+ pitches of “Going Dutch” and the 6b+ Sol Y Sombra.  Overall a good trip that was lots of fun.

 

Chiang Mai – Part 2

One night we decided to have a traditional northern cuisine dinner along with a show of traditional Thai dances.

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The food.

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There were many different dances and lots of good costumes.

The next day was Loy Krathong.  We visited a few more temples.  I’ll spare the pictures since they start to look all the same.  In the evening we walked around the city and participated in the festivities.

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A couple weeks ago we met Christine when climbing at Tonsai.  Turns out she was going to be in Chiang Mai around the same time as us.  She was with a bunch of other friends and invited us to Thanksgiving dinner.  There was no turkey (we had some chicken) but we got to have some other traditional thanksgiving dishes.  We also made plans to go climbing a day or two later.

Anong wasn’t feeling too well so she stayed in the city but I met Christine and Kat at CMRCA in the morning for a day of climbing.  We decided to climb at Reunion Buttress.  It has a few fun moderate climbs and a really good three pitch climb that we were able to do as 2 pitches thanks to my 70m rope.  First we warmed up on Teamwork 5c which was relatively straightforward.  Then we climbed Smells Like Team Spirit 6a which had a cruxy middle section and a really good finish.  Then we did did the Reunion 6a, 5a, 6a+ which was fun, a little scary on the last pitch, and had some really good views.  By this time, Kat had to catch her ride back to town but Christine was riding with me so we had time for one more.  We finished up with Reminisce 6a.  By now it was starting to get dark  so it was time to head back.  Pro tip, best to leave the crag around 4:30 or 5:00 even though it stays light till 6:00 or 6:30.  Once the sun starts to go down all the bugs come out.  My helmet didn’t have a face shield so dealing with all the bugs was annoying.  Other than that, it was a great day climbing!

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Kat going up Teamwork.

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Me getting started on Smells Like Team Spirit.

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Christine on Smells Like Team Spirit.

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Kat on Smells Like Team Spirit.

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View from the top of Reunion.

The next day we went back with plans to meet some friends of a friend who were also in Chiang Mai the same time as Anong and I.  We climbed at The Rooftop which doesn’t actually have any roofs but gets up up really high at Crazy Horse and the views are really good.  Warmed up on A Route With a View 5c+, then did Heun Fah 5b, and finally the best route at the crag, Skyscraper 6a.  It’s a rather long route at 29 meters with lots of fun moves.  We ate lunch then headed over to Tamarind Village and climbed The Chimney Sweep 6a which took me a couple of tries to get.  I guess I need to work on my chimney climbing technique.  Then The Queen Bee 5c, 4500 5a, and finally finished up the day on Happy Birthday 6b which I climbed clean first go but on top rope and was a good finish to the day / climbing at Crazy Horse.

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Anong belaying me as I head up Skyscraper.

Back in the city we had Khao Ka Moo from the cowboy hat lady.  It was really good.

Dinner.

Dinner.

Laos Visa Run

Well, it’s been a year already.  But I don’t feel ready to come home.  So I decided to enroll for one more year of Thai language lessons which means a visa run to Laos.  I guess I need to rename this blog.  Sorry to family and friends that miss me.  I’m going to be gone one more year and will definitely be coming home after the year is up.

On December 10th, we woke up early to catch a flight to Udon Thani.  Then from there needed to figure out how to get to Nong Bua Lamphu.  We decided to stay a few days in Nong Bua Lamphu to visit Anong’s family.  We figure out we need to go to “Udon Thani Bus Station #2” which is 4km away.  The taxi station at the airport says it will be 200 Baht.  This seemed very expensive and they were not willing to negotiate so I told them for that price I’d rather walk.  I didn’t really want to walk but I’m also not willing to be overcharged just because I’m an obvious foreigner.  Luckily we find a tuk tuk driver who said he would take us for 100 Baht.  Deal!  5 minutes later we were at the bus station and as luck would have it the bus we needed was leaving in just a few minutes.  So we are on our way to Nong Bua Lamphu!  Later on I’m comparing prices of the Udon Thani airport taxi to other places.  Most taxi’s are charging 20 to 25 Baht per km.  This taxi wanted 50 Baht per km.  No thanks!

In Nong Bua Lamphu we didn’t do much.  Just relaxed a couple days then got on another bus back to Udon Thani then a mini bus to Nongkai / Thai / Laos Friendship Bridge.

Going through the border was pretty much as I remember it. First go through Thai immigration and use your departure card to exit Thailand. Then take a bus across the bridge (20 Baht) to enter Laos and go through Laos immigration. The Laos immigration border is very confusing to me but after going through it 2 times now I think I have it figured out. There is one line that Thai (maybe other) citizens go through. They pay 100 Baht to get an entry/exit card then go through immigration and get their passport stamped. American (and most likely other) citizens go through a different process. Go to window #2 and get the visa on arrival form. Then go to window #1 and give them your form, passport and pay $36 dollars. Then go to window #3 to collect your passport with new visa and any change. Sometimes I do really stupid things. I have no idea why but I skipped window #2 and gave window #1 my Thai education visa application form the school prepared for me for the Thai embassy consular office. Nobody said hey moron you gave us the wrong form, go to window #2 and get the right form. They just accepted it and gave me my visa so I had no idea at the time I gave them the wrong form. Anyways, now that I have my visa, I get to skip the other immigration lines and also don’t need to buy the exit card. Just show whichever “official” looking person your visa with stamp and they will let you through.

Now into Laos we need to figure out how to get to the hotel. It’s about 20km to the hotel we’re staying at so walking isn’t really an option. I’m always skeptical of people coming up to me offering rides. First they said 60 kip to the hotel we were staying at. I was very confused because 60 kip is basically free. Less than 1 cent. After clarifying they meant 60,000 kip which is about 250 Baht. Seemed reasonable so I went with it. After 30 or 40 minutes we arrived at the hotel. Something slightly humorous on the ride to the hotel happened. Turns our our taxi was actually a song thao so we picked up another person who happened to be a kind of cute Lao girl, probably in her 20’s. Halfway through the trip she spoke something in Lao. I just ignored it because I thought she was talking to Anong sitting across from me. Lao and Isaan languages are very similar so Anong can easily and often does talk with Lao people.  Lao people also understand a lot of Thai.  The grammar is pretty much the same but vocabulary is often different.  There is some common vocabulary and Laos people are exposed to a lot of Thai media which is one reason they understand Thai.  But Thai people understand little to none of the Lao language.  So this girl says “อ้ายอ้ายไปไส” which sounded like gibberish to me since I wasn’t expecting anyone to speak to me let alone in the Laos language.  I ignored her because I didn’t understand what she said and didn’t think she was talking to me.  Anong ignored her because it was obvious to Anong that she was talking to me.  I later learned a rough translation of what she said was “Hey dude, where are you going?”  I guess she thought I was cute too.

 

I wasn’t too impressed with Vientiane the first time I came here, partly because the first time I came here I choose a hotel close to the embassy (about a 5 minute walk). There really isn’t anything to do in that area. This time I chose a much nicer hotel which is closer to lots of restaurants, cafe’s, shops, temples, etc… But it’s about a 45 minute walk. Vientiane is slowly growing on me. The place is an interesting juxtaposition of Lao, Buddhist, Communist, and French influence. International cuisine is pretty good here and of course there is a lot of Lao / Thai food to be found.

The embassy / consular office was closed all last week due to a holiday or something. So Monday morning was a complete shit show. Anong and I got there just after 8:30am when they open and there were already hundreds of people there. I’m guessing 333 people to be exact since the number given to me for next day pickup was 334. It wasn’t like last time where you stand in line to get a number then can sit down, relax, wander around while waiting for your group of numbers to be called up with window 1 or 2 to submit your application. It was just one giant line that snaked around the chairs in the waiting area, back to the entrance, around the yard, and out the entrance. At one point one of the guards decided the gate needed to be opened, I think for a car or motorbike coming in or out. I forget. Anyways, he just opened the gate and rolled it right into some people around me waiting next to it without any warning at all. Luckily I avoided it but a couple people got their shins / feet bashed. WTF? Seems at least once a week I see something new that makes me shake my head and leaves me dumbfounded about the behavior of Thai people. Not even any warning this guy just decides to roll the gate right into people waiting in line. How is that acceptable behavior in any culture?

Except for that it was pretty boring. Was next to a guy from Australia who spoke pretty good Thai. He was teaching me some Thai slang / vocabulary. Most of which I’ve already forgotten but did write down a couple things. Shortly after the gate incident and chatting with the Australian guy, I realized my mistake at the Lao border and that I did not have the visa application form. After a short panic Anong got a new form for me. Luckily I had one extra passport / visa photo. But the form requires two pictures. So I found a picture on another document I didn’t need to submit and cannibalized that. It was a little smaller than the first picture so I spent the next two hours standing in line wondering if my pictures would be accepted. There was a place photos can be made but I didn’t want to take new pictures and lose my place in line. By the time I finally got to the application window I submitted my application and forms. The guy behind the counter didn’t say anything and said ok, come back tomorrow so I guess they’re good. I’ll find out soon since I’m on my way to pick up my passport that hopefully has a new visa in it. Total time in line, nearly 4 hours!

Advice for visa application. Don’t go on a Monday after long holiday or you will spend a lot of time waiting in line. Even after I was done the line still went all the way back to the gate.

The next day I go back to pick up my visa.  Another long confusing line.  But after awhile I figure out we don’t need to stand in line and they’re calling numbers up.  So I sit down on the grass and wait.  About 3 hours later I have a shiny new visa.  Later on I learned over 1000 people applied for visas that day.  Definitely do not go on a Monday after long holiday.

The next day we’re off to Bangkok for a week.  Saw some friends, climbed on fake rocks, and ate some good food.

 

 

Chiang Mai

A few weeks ago, Anong and I decided somewhat spontaneously to go to Chiang Mai for Loy Krathong.  Since Chiang Mai also has some very good climbing at Crazy Horse Buttress, we also packed the climbing gear and got ready for a week of climbing and Thai culture.    On November 20th, we hopped on the airplane and were off!

Day #1 First order of business was to get checked into our room.  A ฿160 taxi ride from the airport took us to the Yindee Stylish Guesthouse.  The rooms were clean with air conditioning and hot water and reasonably priced at around ฿1000 per night.  There are of course much cheaper rooms in Chiang Mai, as little as 100 to 200 Baht per night but in my old age, I require just a little bit of luxury these days.

Second order of business was to find the CMRCA climbing shop to get some beta for Crazy Horse.  We found it without not much trouble and picked up a guidebook for the area and got some new climbing shoes for Anong since her old ones will likely be worn out in a few months.

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Anong testing out her new shoes.

The CMRCA shop is pretty  cool.  In addition to having lots of gear that can be rented or purchased, they also have a pretty good bouldering wall / training room.  If you’re a climber and in Chiang Mai, definitely check it out.

Third order of business, eat dinner!  Northern Thailand is known for its unique cuisine.  One of the most famous dishes in Chiang Mai is Khao Soi (Thai: ข้าวซอย).  It’s a coconut based curry noodle dish containing egg noodles, chicken (or pork), some vegetables, and topped with crispy fried noodles.  It’s delicious and one of my favorite Thai foods.

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First Khao Soi of many in Chiang Mai.  This one was very good.

 

Day #2, first thing we did was find a shop to rent a motorbike.  Motorbike rental shops are all over Chiang Mai so they are not hard to find.  Chiang Mai isn’t as well known for its motorbike scams as Koh Tao but it still happens so I did a little research before hand to find some reputable shops.  Thai Moto Rent seems to be the most highly regarded shop but unfortunately they had none available.  Another shop named Mr. Mechanic also seemed pretty good and as a bonus they were close to my room.  So I rented a bike from them and we headed off to explore the city.  BTW, other than an empty tank when we received the bike there were no issues with the bike or the shop trying to scam me when returning the bike.  So except for the British helmet, Mr. Mechanic gets a thumbs up from me.

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Unfortunately, this British flag helmet was the only one that fit. 😦

Exploring a new city means visiting the numerous temples in the area.  Here’s a few pictures from Wat Phra That Doikham:

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And a few pictures from Wat Phra That Doisuthep which I didn’t really like since they charge a fee for foreigners to enter.

 

Day #3 is what I was stoked for.  Climbing at Crazy Horse!

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Since this was my first day at a new climbing spot, we just took it easy.  My goal was to get familiar with the area and climb lots of easy routes.  The first wall from the trail is Crazy Horse Area and it has a few easy routes on it.  So we set up shop there and climbed:

  • Ding Dong 5b
  • The Muppet Show 5b

We met an Italian guy who was just learning to climb and was there with a friend.  They didn’t have enough quickdraws so asked to climb with us a bit.  We were planning to move on to another area but I headed back up The Muppet Show one more time so he could try it on top rope.  Considering that he was climbing in sneakers he climbed it well for a beginning climber.

After he was done, I climbed again to clean the route.  Since I haven’t taught Anong how to clean a route yet, that means I’ve climbed 6 pitches by now.  Once to lead, and once to clean.

Next we decided to go to the Anxiety State Crisis Cave.  The best routes here are above my ability but there are some easier ones.  Beautiful Mess 6a was fun and except for a cruxy section in the middle of the route was pretty easy.  I also put up The Underworld 5c which was also nice but not quite as good as the first route.  By now it was starting to get dark.  After a bit of a panic over lost keys (thankfully found) from our new Italian friends we were on our way home.

Day #4 it was back to Crazy Horse.  This time we climbed at Heart Wall which is pretty new and has lots of good routes.  The goal for today was still to take it easy and have fun but push myself just a little more.  We warmed up on Peuan Jai Rai 5a then moved over to Kuu Jai 5c.  Now time for something a little harder.  Dtok Jai 6a+ relatively easy climbing but then comes a small roof.  Getting up and over this is the crux which I think is a bit harder than graded.  I fell here and it took a couple tries to figure it out.  I was certainly startled when I came to this.  Once past the crux it’s easy climbing to the anchor.  Next up was Duang Jai 6a+ It looked like a fun route with a traversy chimney like section.  I was having fun, trying not to let the exposure get to me and everything was going well until I came to a section of rock covered by what must have been millions of some kind of small beetle that looked like a lady bug.  Even though by now I was only a few bolts from the anchor, seeing no clear path through these insects, I decided to bail off the route.  So I took apart one of my quickdraws and lowered off a carabiner.

On the way down I came to the anchor for Hua Jai Wai 6c+ so I set that up to try on top rope.  It starts off very steep with powerful, overhanging moves on nice big holds.  But then the rock turns vertical and the holds get much smaller and sharper.  Needless to say it took me a few tries to get to the top but it was fun to try something hard.

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From the ground, I thought the black stuff on the rock was some kind of lichen.  But no, it’s millions of tiny black lady bug-like beetles.

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View from the top of a climb.

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The 6c+ and another view of the insects.

 

Day #5 was a climbing rest day.  We spent most of the day at the Chiang Mai zoo.  Speaking Thai, was able to get the Thai price for tickets.  Screw you dual pricing Thailand!  Here’s some pictures from the zoo:

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Ticket prices.  Adults 150 Baht or 100 Baht if you can read Thai.

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Got the 100 Baht ticket!

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Had to buy another ticket to see the panda bears.  100 Baht or 50 Baht if you can read Thai.

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That’s it for now.  The rest of the pictures are on my camera in Krabi and I’m in Isaan visiting Anong’s family and getting ready to go to Laos to apply for a new visa.  So stay tuned for part 2 in a couple weeks when I’m back in Krabi.