Day 155 - Lotus Hotel and the Highly Reviewed Lemongrass Restaurant

The breakfast at the Lotus Hotel is amazing!  They have a little bit of everything, from pancakes to eggs to noodle soup to fried rice.  Whatever you are in the mood for you can have.  Our kids were psyched about the pancakes and thankfully they tasted good enough.  After a nice filling breakfast, we headed out in a quest to find a laundry place that actually had a dryer.  The sunshine in Chiang Mai is marvelous and would probably dry all our clothes in an hour, but it doesn't do us much good in a hotel room with windows that don't open! 

We thankfully found a nice and clean place not too far from the hotel at the advice of a bellboy.  1 load in the washer cost us 20 Thai Bhats and the dryer cost 1 Bhat per minute. The entire thing ended up costing us 110 Bhats, which is equivalent to a little over 3 USD.  Much much much cheaper than doing laundry at the hotel, where 110 Bhat may have gotten only two or three articles of clothing cleaned! 

While our clothes were in the washer, we went to explore our Thai neighborhood, but instead we found ourselves in New York!  Strange time warp?!  Perhaps!  

We had fun scoping out the nearby restaurants, which were a variation of Thai, Korean, American, and Japanese.  We also came across more cafes and bakeries just walking on 2-3 streets than we had encountered in France!  Once again the conclusion that Chiang Mai is very westernized was definitely re-confirmed.  The downside to this of course are the prices.  Most things such as food and service, although still cheap compared to Europe, are much more pricey than they were in Vietnam.

We also checked out the shopping mall attached to our hotel to get a Thai SIM card for our phone, and were pleased to find the price was cheap and they actually offer unlimited data!  We also ate at a good but slightly overpriced pizza restaurant.  The kids however were quite happy and content with our choice to eat pizza!

Back at our hotel, with clean clothes, we had fun at the massive swimming pool.  

Thanks to all the amazing reviews on Trip Advisor we decided to head to the famous Lemongrass restaurant for dinner for some proper Thai food.  We took a taxi there, our first taxi in Chiang Mai, and were definitely over charged!

I'll need to explain the taxi system in Chiang Mai some more to explain why.  There are two types of taxis in Chiang Mai: red cab and tuk tuk.  The red cabs are pickup trucks with covered benches in the back.  This type of taxi is expected to be cheaper as it picks up random passengers along the route it is already traveling.  If the passenger wants to go somewhere out of the taxis way, they have to keep waiting to find one that is willing to take them.  The other type is what is known as a tuk tuk (pronounced as took took), which is a small three wheel vehicle like a motorcycle with a wide seat in the back.  This taxi is "private" in the sense that you will be the only one going from point A to point B without any other passenger boarding.  These are much more expensive and really only worth it if you are traveling a short distance.  What makes the whole process very frustrating is the lack of a taxi meter.  The taxi drivers pretty much just put a finger in the air and quotes you a random price based on the number of passengers, the distance you are traveling, and, most prominently, how foreign you look.  You can negotiate, but even then we don't always get the price we hear from Miss B that we are "supposed" to be paying.

We do miss the metered taxis in Vietnam :(.  We also made the mistake of taking the taxi from the front of the hotel, where they markup the price by at least 100%.  We are learning from our mistakes as we go along!

When we arrived, the restaurant was packed and the waiting time was around 30 minutes!  We aren't the only ones using Trip Advisor apparently!  We decided to wait anyways, since Hannah had fallen asleep in the taxi and Kian wasn't totally starved. 

The wait was definitely worth it.  The food was really delicious and I would agree with all the positive reviews on Trip Advisor.  However, I will say that the food was not really all that different from a good Thai restaurant in the US.  Also, we did not see a single Thai person there.  They clearly cater to the tourists and tourists' taste buds.  We'll have to eat more authentic Thai food another day.

Regardless we had a great meal and would definitely recommend this restaurant to anyone who will be visiting Chiang Mai in the near future.