Home

A few things about the Chiang Mai trip in 2016

Chiang Mai, 2016

Chiang Mai, 2016

In January 2016 I had a two-week trip visiting Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai in northern Thailand. There are something I would like to share during the travel experience.

在今天的一月我去了泰國北部的清邁和清萊,在這個兩星期的行程中,有些事情想分享一下。

 

The art of making a choice | 選擇的藝術

A truck selling oranges, Chiang Rai

A truck selling oranges, Chiang Rai

Official prices, or standard prices, or written prices, may not have been prevalent in some places of some countries like Thailand. You have to ask the seller how much and sometimes need to negotiate a deal which is good for both.

Bargaining is more common in Chiang Mai especially when taking public transport like Tuk Tuk and Songthaew. You have to tell the driver where you wanna go and they will tell you the fare… at this moment! According to, say who you are, what time and situation it is, where he is heading to blah blah blah. Sometimes cheap and sometimes overpriced. The driver proposes a deal, and you can try to fight for a cheaper price (under his agreement) or you choose not to accept his offer.
Bargaining or negotiation takes time. If you wanna save time, you mostly have to pay more than usual (e.g. going to the airport to catch a flight). If you have time, you may see more and more better options. You will learn.

I learn that everything doesn’t need to be quick quick quick. Give yourself some time to look for other choices and even ways to the same goal. I am still not good at bargaining, but I can choose to NOT CHOOSE. I tell myself I never miss a great deal that I decline. Be patient and something good (and even better) will come.

I also learn to learn through mistake. I will not accept to take a Songthaew ride from the old town to Chiang Mai Bus Station from 100 to 150 Bahts. I will wait and even fight for a lower price, and even take a bus to get there. I will walk more to see if there are other laundry shops which have much cheaper prices (i.e. 30 Bahts), rather than choosing the 80 Baht which is the nearest to my hostel. I don’t mean to get the cheapest or lowest, but I need to have comparisons first. I lack information at the beginning, and I shouldn’t have to worry I will miss or lose something if I reject some deals.

But those experiences above recall me that THIS IS LIFE. You don’t have to bargain when taking a bus in your hometown, but have to face it in other situations.

在一些國家如泰國,有些地方是沒有「官方價」或是白紙黑字的價錢,故需要口頭諮問店員甚至議價,看看價錢是否合理。而在清萊,議價的範圍更遍及公共交通,在坐雙條時必須告訴司機去哪,還要看他的狀況、是否包車等因素來決定價錢。你可以嘗試說服他給你更廉宜的價格,或是乾脆拒絕。

議價需時,如果要省時,就可能要付出更昂貴的價錢。如果給予自己更多時間,你會看到更多便宜方案。

我學到凡事不用太急,給自己時間就可以看看其他選項或方法。我的商議能力還是不好,但至少我還可以不選擇。我告訴自己拒絕了不會葬送了機會,只要有耐性,另一個好的、甚至更好的機會就會出現。

我也從錯誤中學習,例如從清邁市區去巴士總站,不會再接受100-150 Bahts的車資,我會等,甚至改乘巴士。我會走遠一點看看有沒有其他洗衣店提供更好價錢,而不是最近我住的80 Bahts那間。我不是指要得到最便宜的,但至少事前有一個比較。起初我有資訊不多,我也不應該擔心拒絕讓我損失機會。

商議、比較的過程告訴我這就是人生。雖然不用在自己的地方乘巴士要講價,但在其他場合,還是要商議、比較、拒絕。

 

Songthaew is beyond your imagination | 雙條:想像以外

Songthaew taken from Songthaew, Chiang Mai

Songthaew taken from Songthaew, Chiang Mai

Songtheaw is one of the mode of transport in Chiang Mai and other parts of Thailand. But what is Songtheaw? It can be a bus running a specific route with a timetable. It can be a minibus in Hong Kong with flexible routes, according to where people would like to go. It can be a taxi without meters. It can also be in other forms that you can't imagine. What you have to do first is to talk with the driver and see if the deal (raised by you or the driver) is good for both, say you wish to have a cheaper fare, want the driver to show you around the whole day.

So what is Songtheaw? Flexibility may be the best answer! Think what you want and see if the driver can help. Flexibility rather than rationality and bureaucracy. You will see other ways of getting things done beyond your imagination!

雙條車是泰國的其中一種交通工具。但,雙條其實是什麼?它可以像巴士般設有特定的路線,有固定的班次時間;它也可以作為小巴,但是沒有指定起訖點,視乎人們想去哪裡;它更可以是沒咪錶的士。它更可以是你沒想像過的形式,如包車或旅行團⋯⋯不論如何,第一件事是要向司機查詢,然後看看你或司機提出的方案是否為雙方可接受,包括價錢或一些特別安排。

除了貨車上兩排座位外,應怎樣形容雙條?也許,「彈性」是最好的答案,而那個彈性來自自己和司機意願及互相調整的結果,沒有指定的方式,但最後的方法或方案往往在想像以外。

 

Bike is the best transport here! | 單車是清邁最好的交通工具!

The bike rent in my hostel, Chiang Mai

The bike rent in my hostel, Chiang Mai

In Chiang Mai, its bus service has room to improve (only 2 routes and have to wait for long) so Songthaew and Tuk Tuk are major modes of transport in the city. As I have said before, the fares need to be negotiated (or you choose whether to accept or not the deal suggested by the drivers). Also, you may not find one easily in countryside. Rental seems to be a better suggestion, but you need to have an international license. If you don’t have one like me, bike is the remaining, only, but indeed the best choice!

The city area of Chiang Mai is not that big. You need to ride from 2 to 10 kilometers to most sightseeing spots from the old town, which takes about 15-60 minutes. Land is always flat and no steep slopes. Be aware that there are not so many bike lanes but don’t worry much about that since vehicles are slow on the road, if compared to Hong Kong and Taiwan. You can go where you want to, and save time and energy negotiating and even bargaining with drivers.

Bike rental is usually 50 Bahts for 24 hours (i.e. get a bike at 12pm and return it before noon the following day so that you can ride at night) with 1,000 Bahts deposit.

在清邁,由於巴士服務整體來說不完善,所以交通工具要靠雙條或是Tuk Tuk,尤其雙條要看所到之處司機會不會去、價錢和形式(如包車)如何。愈在城外愈遠的地方,愈難去,回程可能更難找車(如那邊本身是郊外)。這時候,租借車子似乎比較好,但是房車和機車需要持有國際車牌的,沒有牌照下,單車已經是最好的選擇。

清邁不算很大,而單車走5公里需要半小時,10公里約一小時。從古城出發,不少景點都在2至10公里距離。清邁平地多,沒有上斜問題。雖然要騎馬路,但是城市的車子不算快(相比香港和台灣)。與其與雙條司機議價浪費時間和精力,倒不如騎腳踏車吧!

單車一般收費為50泰銖24小時(按金1,000泰銖),如中午12時租借,可於翌日同時間歸還,所以不會為了還車而需要早點回去。

 

Walk and run | 行、跑

Chiang Mai

Chiang Mai

At the night before I left Chiang Mai, I ran around the wall of the old city, for 6.2 kilometers in total. Before running I used to think the total length of the wall should be 8 kilometers (with 2km long each side). The old city is not a (prefect) square as I expected, and the footpath is too narrow for people to run.

The small old city in Chiang Mai is walkable. Nimman, one of the popular places to go, needs 30-minute walk only alternative to Songthaew.

臨走前一晚圍著城牆跑,總共6.2公里。我還以為是每邊兩公里,總共8公里,城牆沒有在我心目中這麼正方形。行人路超窄,跑步其實很不適合。

以古城來說,清邁算是用走的可以。甚至走出外面去尼曼區,也只要30分鐘。是的,你可以等雙條,但是雙條每次都講價、每次都不知道它會不會經過自己的地方,就會找其他可行的方法。其實,走2-3公里,正如由北角走到銅鑼灣,只要有耐性,其實所花的時間跟坐車的差不多!

 

Winter in Thailand | 泰國的冬天

Coffee street car under 10c, Chiang Mai

Coffee street car under 10c, Chiang Mai

In January, both Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai are cold (16-17c) at night while hot (26-35c) during the day. However the severe weather occurred in south Asia like Hong Kong, Vietnam and Thailand. Chiang Mai was no exception in the last three days of my trip: as low as 10c during the day, and many people including tourists wore their own winter clothes.

一月份的清邁,晚間溫度降至16-17度,清萊可低至9度,不過在室內是暖的。但是日間溫度一般為26-35度左右,是夏天的溫度。不過今年來了個寒流,讓香港低至3度,也影響到越南和泰國等地,讓我在旅程中,最後兩三天的日間溫度低至10度。很多人特別是遊客都穿上了冬天衣物。