There were two festivals happening over our stay in Chiang Mai. The first, Loi Krathong, is a Thailand (and then some) wide holiday involving, in the simplest terms, little flower and leaf floats set alight upon the water. The second, Yi Peng (also found at the same link) is unique to Northern Thailand and feature floating lit lanterns. The 14th was the pinnacle for both of these events, though people were clearly celebrating them for the couple of days before and after the 14th.
On the morning of the 14th we got up and Brandon threw some clothes on and went over and got our laundry. We had some breakfast at the hotel (not as varied as our Bangkok hotel, but toast, butter, and jam were enough for me) and then stepped just a door or two down (just beside the laundry place) at a travel agency to ask them about excursion. There were two that drew us - the first to an elephant ride/rafting/swimming/etc., the second to the highest point in Thailand where there would be some pagodas. We were too indecisive at that moment to make a decision so we thanked her and told her we would be back later.
In the meantime we wandered up to a local market that was supposed to have a good selection of fruit for Duane - and it did! We spent quite awhile at the first market (fruit of all variety were had by Duane). Shauna and I bought a few clothing items. And then we headed a little farther north to check out another market. We passed the US Consulate on our way. The second market was much more food oriented and we saw pretty much only locals.
Finally done with the market we headed towards the Old City. On our way we waved down a red taxi who took us the loooooong way to the Wat we wanted to visit. If I remember correctly, we first visited Wat Phra Singh. This Wat was a large(ish) collection of buildings. There were students and monks all over the place. One of my favorite things about this wat were the sayings nailed to trees all over the property. It was a beautiful property well suited to quiet contemplation - if it hadn't been overridden with tourists. Even so, the sayings were definitely thought provoking.
From Wat Phra Singh we headed East towards Wat Chedi Luang, stopping for lunch on the way. On towards Wat Chedi Luang, we first stopped at Wat Phan Tao, just next door to Wat Chedi Luang. Wat Phan Tao had some beautiful lanterns that Brandon had taken pictures of on the night before in the midst of our rush to get laundry. It was somewhat less impressive but still pretty in the daylight. On to Wat Chedi Luang (the only Wat I remember paying an entrance fee to that day), there were sort of two things going on. A beautiful wat in the front part of the property (with some other buildings) and an ancient ruined wat in the back (I think this part was the actual Wat Chedi Luang).
Watted out for the day, we headed back to the hotel, stopping at the travel agency to secure a private vehicle tour for the following day. We then rested for awhile in our hotel rooms before heading out, this time towards the river rather than the Old City. At the river we met a dense crowd of people everywhere along the bridge and riverside. Some were lighting floating lanterns and some were lighting krathong and putting them on the river. We watched lanterns be lit for awhile (and the masses of lanterns that had been lit at the University float like stars in the sky) and then headed down to the packed docks to try and send off our krathong. The craziness of that space was such that our lit krathong blew out immediately and the others mostly went down the river unlit - but still with all the good intentions that we'd had making them (it was windy, ours was not the only unlit krathong, but rather one of many). The hectic nature of the dock made me very relieved to finally be back out of the crowd. We headed back to the Night Market and wandered for a bit before heading to the fish spa that Brandon had spotted the night before. Duane, Shauna and I all did the fish spa while Brandon took some pictures for us. After the fish spa we headed to a little food court and got some food as a late dinner.
To end the evening, we headed to a massage parlor two(ish) doors down from our hotel (I swear everything we needed was a door or two down from our hotel). There we opted for Thai full body massages rather than foot massages. And they were very good. We almost all ended up in the same room, but as soon as we realized they wanted us to change into our massage clothes together, we opted for two rooms. ;)
After the massage I spoke to the desk attendant at our hotel and tried to verify our room change for the following night. We'd originally only planned on two nights in Chiang Mai before switching things to three nights. However, when I went to add the third night, or current room rate was sold out so we opted for a slightly higher room rate. Trying to confirm this with the man at the desk proved fairly fruitless as the language barrier was a little more than we could overcome. Laughing and reassuring him that we'd check on things in the morning, we headed to bed.