Our flight from Houston to Chiang Mai was actually pretty nice. Last year when we flew to Asia we had 32 hours of flying (not including layover) time, and it was brutal! This time we flew from Houston to Seoul, South Korea (15 hours), had a 3 hour layover in Seoul, followed by a 6 hour flight direct to Chiang Mai in Thailand. Only two flights to cross the world? Not too bad. It was our first time flying Korean Air - and we were definitely impressed with the service and amenities. I had requested vegan meal options in advance and they accommodated no problem... even providing Vegan butter, bread, salad dressing... fabulous! I should also mention that of all the airports I have been to in my life, Seoul (Incheon) is definitely the best. I will a post about it on its own but on top of having free shower rooms, rest areas with lounging chaises that you can sleep in, and great food, they also have FREE TOURS DURING LAYOVERS! Yes... thats right. If you have a layover longer than 3 hours you have multiple FREE tour options you can choose from to go check out Seoul & Incheon. Temples, museums, even downtown Seoul if your layover is long enough. We flew through last year and had a 5 hour layover so we did two of the tours and they were amazing. They really made us want to go back to South Korea to explore further. This time unfortunately our layover was only 3 hours so we had didn't have time. Instead we had some food, and took a nap.
Once we landed in Chiang Mai, we had a good nights sleep and ended up sleeping in until 11:00am the next morning. Jet lag! Since it was lunch time by the time we were ready to start our day, my sister Nikki and her boyfriend Dave decided to take us for a picnic at Huay Tung Tao, which is this sort of lake and picnic area in Chiang Mai that is really beautiful.
Getting there was my first time riding on the back of a motorbike in Asia (traffic and driving in South East Asia are pure insanity) and so I was a little nervous, but once you are actually in the traffic it seems like people just kind of watch out for themselves and it tends to work out ok for all. After parking the bikes (I was on the back of Nikki's and Kris on the back of Dave's) we walked a small way down to the huts that are meant for picnicking. After choosing our hut, a waitress came down to take our order (you can either bring or order food). We ordered some beers and a spread of rice, veggies and papaya salad. When the food came they also brought a small bowl of live shrimp.... slowly withering and drowning in a bath of spices and lemon juice. It was pretty nasty to a group of mostly-vegetarians, and we spent a good few minutes trying to figure out if it was some kind of nasty April fools joke since it was April Fools Day. Don't think so.
After a very scenic lunch, the boys decided to head back to the house to have a beer, chill out and listen to music, while Nikki wanted to take me to her favourite massage place in Doi Kham National Park which is very close to their house. I love massages in general but Thai Massage is my favourite. Thai Massage is a tasty combination of very hands on deep tissue massage with full body stretching incorporated. In Thailand, massages (including Thai Massage) are very affordable. From what I have seen they range in price from $150-$300 baht for one hour which is about $6-$12 dollars Canadian. The massage place she took me to in Doi Kham was the most insanely gorgeous place I had ever got a massage.
The room overlooked the lush, green jungle below and the doors were left open to allow the fresh air and jungle smell into the room.
The massage was the best I have ever had, and the scenery is pretty indescribable. Such a beautiful memory. Once the massage was done they serve you a small thai candy and a glass of cold, coconut ice tea.
This whole experience cost $200 baht, or $8 Canadian. We tipped well - and it was money very well spent! We had a nice relaxing dinner at home that Nikki and Dave cooked, and it was certainly a lovely first day in Chiang Mai!