Wednesday, March 12, 2014
pun pun - chiang mai
I was pretty pissed by the time I found this little moment of tranquility. And pissed in the American sense of the word.
Lets just say this - I rely on Googlemaps almost entirely when travelling. Of course there are places so remote where it just doesn't work but I wasn't expecting that to be Chiang Mai. I mean I was staying in the jungle in Koh Phengan and the clubs/bars were listed on FOURSQUARE as "Eden Bar - rocky outcrop underneath Bamboo Huts" I mean these are places that don't even have addresses, anyway.
So the day before I cycled out to Pun Pun - about 7 kms out of the city in a pretty industrial area. I knew the second I got there I was in the wrong place. Another place called Pun Pun but not the sustainable, vegetarian cafe I was looking for. Had to cycle back, hungry, another 7kms to have a defeated meal at Bodhi Zen. The Pun Pun I was looking for is not even listed on Googlemaps.
So I had to do some digging. Read a lot of forums, found out that Pun Pun had a large farm at the bottom of the mountain and were recently (well according to the forum) opening up another cafe in a monastery. Well I cycled 10kms to the bottom of the mountain and spent a fruitless hour roaming the streets trying to find this place. Eventually I gave up but read in a forum about the monastery so thought I'd give it a shot as it was on my way back into Old Town. I got there. Fruitlessly cycled around this stupid monastery for about 15 minutes trying to find the cafe, extremely uncomfortable and aware that I was in shorts and a singlet and covered in tattoos of tits. Finally a young monk took pity on me and lead me to where the cafe is.
Later I found out that they had sold the cafe at the bottom of the mountain about a year ago and it's name had changed.. which is why I couldn't find it (though according to their website its new and still there - this is the level of information available generally). This is very very typical of almost all my experiences of trying to find things in Chiang Mai (or they were closed for the holidays).
By then I just couldn't care less. Chiang Mai is a difficult place to get around. Googlemaps does not work, the streets/addresses aren't labelled properly anyway, all the forums are very outdated and directions/comments can't really be trusted. Most businesses do not have websites or if they do they are incredibly outdated. At this point I just decided to stick to Old Town for my remaining few days left in Thailand and eat at places that were open and just try and relax.. because getting around was proving to be fruitless for me.
So to the food. It was incredibly delicious. The menu is vast, interesting and varied. If it wasn't so far from my hotel and I hadn't had such a shit time trying to find it I would have eaten there everyday. The cafe is outdoors entirely, so avoid if raining.
My advice for Chiang Mai is try and find the most up to date information possible. I should have gotten the Nancy Chandler map that Gill mentions in her post. Chiang Mai is very much an analogue city so a printed map would have probably gotten me out of a lot of trouble. Also using locals/tuk tuks would have worked a lot better too I'm guessing - but I prefer to cycle.
Overall definitely hit up the monastery. If you find it first go (which you should now) you will discover a gem in the crown of Chiang Mai. Hopefully it's still open by the time you go.
deets: Wat Suan Dok temple (on Suthep Road between the Suan Dok Gate on the moat and the Chiang Mai University) web: pun pun
$$: was about 200 baht including 2 iced teas (about $7AU)
other voices, other times:
gills blog alerted me to pun pun and many other chiang mai highlights for her
Labels: chiang mai