I’m sitting in the lobby of Two Gals and The Pig, a hostel I am staying with in Chiang Mai, when a Thai woman appears in the doorway, “Ok, she is there now”, getting up, I leave my belongings on the table and run next door, sit down at a table, and proceed to book a room for six nights next week.
Since 2010 whenever I visit Chiang Mai I stay at a guesthouse in the old city. It’s clean and affordable, and the people have always been pleasant; and then one morning I slept in, my phone was on silent and then died, and my friends were looking for me because I was suppose to meet them, and my guesthouse denied ever seeing me and told them I didn’t exist, and they went into a panic thinking something bad had happened to me, but eventually figured out my room number and woke me up. It was a harrowing 90 minutes for them, and a confusing way to wake up for me, and it solidified the doubts I was having about continuing my stay with Gap’s House.
Two days later I checked out of the guesthouse, much to the owner’s surprise, and moved myself to Nimman – an area a short songtheow ride from the old city – and booked a room with Baan Mek, a hostel just off Nimman soi 15. The main floor is narrow and filled with natural light, they have a lobby area with a couple tables and chairs, and atrium with a long table that stretches across its length, which has plenty of outlets and chairs. The rooms look like Japanese sleeping pods; maybe 6ft long and 5ft wide, there is roughly 2.5ft of standing space, the beds are China-hard (the equivalent of sleeping on wood), and the wifi is good. A comfortable and quiet option, until a horde of Chinese tourists arrived, keeping me up until almost 4:00 a.m. – making me question my choice in hostels.
After two nights of no sleep I decided to check out a night early and move to the hostel next door, Two Gals and the Pig, as I needed to be up at 6:00 a.m. and desperately wanted to sleep for more than two or three hours.
A brand new hostel, Two Gals and the Pig is white and fresh and light. The rooms are similar in size to the sleeping pods at Baanmek, but the beds are Thai-hard (they have a little ‘give’), and everything is brand new. Sure, there are still kinks, but the staff are friendly and eager, and not tainted by years of serving annoying backpackers; wifi is good, and while the walls are thin, there is little noise and sleep comes a little easier.
Unfortunately it’s November, and many hotels and hostels are booked due to Loy Krathong, an annual festival which pays tribute to the goddess of water, forcing me to switch hostels occasionally; six nights in one, two nights in another, five more nights in one, one more night in the other.
The relationship between Baan Mek and Two Gals and the Pig is uncommonly friendly; as I ventured to Baan Mek to check out a night early, the owner from Two Gals and the Pig was there talking with the manager from Baan Mek, it was not a secret that I was going next door, yet they still refunded me for one night despite my saying I was happy to still pay for it; and just before I left the staff at Baan Mek assured me that I was more than welcome to come work in their atrium at any time.
A few nights later, as I was figuring out where to sleep for my last week, I walked next door to Baan Mek, but as the manager was not there, I was told to come back. A few hours later a Thai woman appeared in the doorway, “Ok, she is there now”, getting up, I leave my belongings on the table and run next door, sit down at a table, and proceed to book a room for six nights, I then return to Two Gals and the Pig to book a room for my last night in Thailand.
I generally do not bounce from one hostel to another, and definitely not between ones which are next door to each other, but both places are comfortable, affordable, and in an area of Nimman that I love.