The choice of buses from Chiang Rai is staggering, from clapped out wrecks cooled only by broken fans to VIP buses with airline business class-like seats and in-seat service. Needless to say, I decided to treat myself to the VIP option. For less than 5 pounds for a three hour trip it seemed like a bargain. Indeed, the trip was very comfortable – if it weren’t for the TV screens playing a selection of karaoke songs and Thai comedy programmes. (There’s nothing less funny than a Thai comedy. They’re so pathetic that they beat a drum at every punchline so that you know when you’re supposed to laugh – you wouldn’t know otherwise. The regular parade of supposedly stupid, obese women, shrieking katoeys and midgets is sickening.)

The hotel turned out to be both a delight and an horror. It was a charming boutique hotel in the Chiang Mai old city, close to many of the main attractions.

De Naga Hotel, Chiang Mai

The rooms were attractively furnished in dark wood against light walls with a few Thai motifs. The bed was enormous with more pillows than any reasonable person could need and an attractive swag of brightly coloured Thai silk across it. Most agreeable.

So impressed was I by the hotel that I decided to take dinner in one of its two restaurants. I had some very tasty Vietnamese fresh spring rolls followed by a local curry and rice. I suspect that the term “fresh” with the spring rolls was a misnomer – at least with respect to the prawns within, for at five in the morning I was faced with a serious dilemma as to which end of my body I should position over the porcelain. So intense was my vomiting that after an hour or so I was bringing up blood and my muscles all over were aching. Needless to say I was out of action for a couple of days.


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