Waking up a little hungry, having not really managed to eat an awful lot of the dinner the night before, we were grateful for our final free breakfast from our lovely hostel. We then got ourselves checked out and sat in the common area for an hour until it was time to hop in a taxi to the bus station to go to Chiang Rai. We arrived at the bus station an hour early, as stated on our ticket, to discover everything was a bit of a shambles. When we eventually found the counter for the company we had booked with we were told to hang around stand numbers 20 and 21 and our bus would pull into one of them at some point. So off we went to find a seat and wait it out, unsure why on earth we had been requested to be there so early. Our bus finally arrived 15 minutes before we were due to leave and by that time we were particularly delighted to get into the air conditioning and get comfortable for the next 3 hours.
The journey was rather uneventful and we were delighted to discover, when we pulled into Chiang Rai, our accommodation was a mere 3 minutes walk away. So bags strapped on, we ducked and dived our way through the men offering us a tuk tuk and arrived at Bike&Bed Poshtel. Now after checking in we discovered that "poshtel" might be a bit of a stretch. Our 4 bed dorm had no windows, was painted a dark grey and had very little space to move around in, but nonetheless we got ourselves as unpacked and settled in as we could. Both feeling a bit peckish, having missed lunch, we headed out for a wander down the lantern lined main street and stopped for an early dinner in Chef Sasa.
Man, that bed in Bangkok was comfortable! No sooner had we fallen asleep and we were back up again, on the hunt for caffeine. With neither of us fancying the buffet breakfast offered by the hotel (late night dining!), we found (found is the right word as it was past reception, past the conference room, past loads of meeting rooms and then, past laundry) the cafe and performed a magic trick on the black nectar. After checking out and getting our 1,000 Baht deposit back (in 10x100 Baht notes) we walked over to the airport and checked in. The flight to Chiang Mai took a mere 50 minutes and if anyone ever, ever asks, fly straight to Chiang Mai from Phuket! We took the cheapest taxi of the trip so far from the airport to our hostel for the next 5 nights, About a Bed, and checked into our 6 bed dorm. The receptionist was lovely and we liked her even more when we got the best bunk beds in the room, furthest from the door and closest to the A/C!
The afternoon was spent relaxing before heading out for dinner. Our original plan had been to go to a local restaurant but we stumbled upon a night market that only had food vendors. We both had the duck with rice and it was absolutely amazing and, with a price tag of £1.25 each, it might be the best value meal of the trip!
After a near death journey in a taxi over to Patong Beach (we really weren't sure if we were going to be sick or be in some form of accident first!), we arrived, in one piece and thankfully with breakfast still in our stomachs! Our hotel for the next 2 nights was the Baan Thai Beach Side Residence. We quickly realised however, we had made a bit of a mistake as we thought we had booked somewhere fairly nice with a pool to enjoy a bit of relaxing over New Year. We were quite wrong and the hotel was, in fact, at the back of a restaurant but the staff were friendly and the room seemed clean so we went with it and figured it'd be fine for a couple of nights.
After dumping our bags and having a brief lie down to allow the churning in our stomachs to subside we headed off to the Jungceylon mall in hope of finding a top for Craig to wear on NYE and some new shorts for Katy. We managed to procure a top for Craig however the shops were getting busier and we were getting more peckish so we bailed out of finding shorts for Katy and headed to the Hard Rock Cafe to grab another pin for Katy and have lunch.