Escape to Chiang Mai

We can’t believe we have been in Thailand 60 days and now it is time to renew the visa. We got up early and drove the 20 minutes to a large shopping mall called Promenada where the immigration office is. You need photocopies of your passport, immigration card, entrance date, a photo and 1900 baht (£43). You then queue to give all this information and payment to an official who gives you a number. When they call out your number they then take another photo and then it is just a waiting game. Last year when we did this we got here at 9am and it was 4pm when we left. It was such a long stint we felt we had got to know a few people, also waiting, really well. Hurray, less than 2 hours this time, almost unheard of. What did help was knowing what they needed and we brought it with us rather than more queuing and doing it there. There are definitely less tourists here this year.

If you don’t want to renew in the office you can leave the country. If you fly back in you get 30 days, a waiver on arrival visa. If you enter the country by land you only get 15 days. If they didn’t have very strict visa requirements you would not be able to get into Thailand it would be teeming with long stay tourists. If you want to stay on a retirement visa you have to have income or cash in the bank.

Tonight a lunar event the Super Blue Blood Moon is about to happen in Asia, Australia and parts of the US. It is a full lunar eclipse and a Blue moon as it’s the second full moon of the month. The Blood moon is the red colour of the sunlight through the atmosphere and a Super moon as it’s as close as it gets to the earth and so is 7% bigger and 15% brighter. Here are some photos.

These photos were taken from the top of a building where Chris had sweet talked the security guy to let us go to the roof. The building was all ripped out ready for refurbishment but the stairs were intact. He very kindly led us to the top with his torch, even though I suspect he was a bit tipsy. Slowly we climbed 8 floors and chatted in broken English and any Thai words we could think of….. The moon was rising.

We had tried to get in our gym which is on the 7th floor to take pictures from their windows which fully open. The manager said we weren’t allowed to take photos because the Burmese Embassy was opposite and the police said no photos. Ok then…

The temple where we ended up to take more pictures is called Wat Suan Dok, which has a huge gilded dome. It has a large population of monks and is a large teaching Wat for both local monks and foreigners. A few local people had the same idea and turned up with their cameras to catch the spectacle. It was a good place to try and capture the image as there is lots of open space around it and the stupors are well lit.

Chiang Mai known as the ‘rose of the north’ hosts the annual ‘Chiang Mai flower festival’ this weekend. It is always at the end of the cool season, the first weekend in February. We came last year and it was fantastic. We missed the parade last year but we won’t this time. It starts from the train station and slowly makes its way to the Thai Pae Gate (one side of the moat) and has walking bands, floats and dancers. The dancers hand out flowers to people watching and later in the day they pick a ‘flower queen’. The park is transformed by flower displays, miniature trees, orchids, landscaping with waterfalls and patio plants all judged with prizes. The local grown damask rose is only found in CM. We are really looking forward to it. Here are a couple of pictures from last year and more to come.

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