New Glasses! Hooray!
Chiang Mai Travel Blog› entry 44 of 48 › view all entries
Today's my fifth day in Chiang Mai, and I'm forcing myself to update for two reasons:
1) The further I fall behind, the more reluctant I am to update. While I log in relatively often to add new entries, every time I do so I think 'wow I still haven't written anything about <insert random location here>', and then I log out because I think I should wait until I have more time. And then I get lazy.
2) This morning I received an email from my brother, which read "Hi shouge, are you still alive?" Though it's been a while since I left home, and I've been perfectly safe thus far, I guess my family can't help but worry about my living-or-not status. So . . . sorry, family. I will make a conscious effort to update more often, particularly since my wack phone's not working again. Lately it only makes outbound calls when it's in the right mood, which doesn't happen very often. Maybe I'll light some candles and whisper sweet nothings to it before dialing tonight. That should do the trick.
to get on with my Chiang Mai update, I flew here from Bangkok on the 9th to meet up with a French-Canadian friend I made in Luang Prabang, Laos. We first met while sharing a taxi from the airport into town and went on the same elephant trekking tour while there. It's so fun to see people you know while on the other side of the world from home. Besides Mirko (the French-Canadian), I've been fortunate enough to meet with college friends in Kunming, China; Hanoi, Vietnam; Singapore, Singapore; and Siem Reap, Cambodia since my last updates.
Mirko himself is a science and religion teacher from a small region of Quebec, who, along with 49% of Quebec, voted to secede from Canada in the last election. Interesting, no? We get along well because we have similar tastes in books, and he also taught me to play a Quebecois folk song on my new guitar, which I've been toting around ever since I acquired it (free, yay, though occasionally missing one or two strings. . .) my first time in Bangkok. I've been in and out of Bangkok three times already and will bus there again tonight, en route to Krabi.
Before coming, I'd heard that Chiang Mai is really relaxed and laid back - especially in comparison to Bangkok - and I've definitely had the same impression while here. Though it's a fairly large city, the pace is much less hurried than elsewhere, the people are super nice and don't try to rip you off, and you can easily get around by walking or biking if you want. Another large plus is you can almost always breathe without worrying about your lungs chemically reacting to pollution spewing out of cars, buses and tuktuks all around you.
While most people come to Chiang Mai for the trekking, I spent five days just hanging around town and relaxing. It was really nice. Here's how I spent the days:
* Eating lots of yummy thai and other kinds of food. First time I've had tapas since I came to Asia : ) Also first time I tried ruby fish, which was incredibly moist and delicious - steamed whole in lemon and chili mmmmm
* Spending only 50 baht for a tuktuk driver to drive us around for 3 1/2 hours. Admittedly he just took us to store after store masquerading as handicraft centers (totally mindnumbing by the end), but it was still a pleasant way to spend an afternoon. I got some flowers painted on my backpack, and Mirko bought a good luck elephant made of Tiger's Eye. Briefly visited a temple in the old town area
* Watching my first ever Muay Thai boxing match. Generally not a fan of violence, but the guesthouse owner recommended seeing it since it was a big match between some French dude and a Thai guy. Was an interesting experience though I liked watching the audience more than I liked watching the fights. It's scary! They really hit each other hard, and most of the matches leading up to the big fight are between little kids or teenagers training to become big time fighters. When the French guy was in a corner getting beat by the Thai guy, I kept thinking to myself Somebody save him! Help! Help! Was kind of awful. But he seemed to be okay afterwards. We left soon after the big match to eat and grab a couple of drinks with two other guys from our guesthouse. Had a fried snickers bar, which was less delicious and more sickening than I imagined
* Buying a new pair of wire frame glasses with prescription lenses for only 80 dollars. Yay! I'm wearing them right now. They're super light and comfortable, though they make me look a little like an old asian auntie. It's okay though, I maybe look more my age now
* Witnessing an elephant eating peanuts at the bar. The owner makes money by having people pay to feed the elephant. Kind of weird. Hope the elephant gets enough to eat -- apparently they need anywhere from 200 to 500 kg of food a day! This one was a baby
* Talking to some Thai tourist police who told us funny things like people sometimes lose their fake teeth in the river hehehe
* Seeing The Simpsons movie at the Cineplex. The popcorn was so delicious, covered in a ton of what seemed to be fried onion powder, and probably a load of MSG as well. Mmmmmmm haha. Could eat a pool of that stuff
-- Before the movie started, the theatre played the Thai national anthem while showing slides of the king in the lives of his people, and I was reminded again of how much Thai people really love their king. The guidebooks all say this, too, but it's different to actually see evidence of this love. In Bangkok, my tuktuk driver once switched off his car at a stoplight to turn around and tell me (having just passed a 'Long Live the King!' billboard) that he really loves his king. It must be nice to love your king. Definitely a sentiment I've never felt. Probably because the US doesn't have a king, but you know what I mean. Clearly the same sentiment is not felt for our country's president -- and I'm sure not all Thais actively love the king either, but still. Very interesting.
-- By the way, speaking of tuktuks, we rode in the most awesome tuktuk ever yesterday. The driver'd souped it up with all leather, red and black batman-themed gear and was bumping super loud Thai music with the bass tube he'd installed in the roof. On his finger, he wore a humongous sparkly red stone set in platinum, matching the leather interior, and his choice of wraparound sunglasses and batman t-shirt couldn't possibly have been more fitting. At one point I asked him what he thought of superman, and he replied by circling his finger near his ear and saying 'he's crazy' -- and then after a short pause, 'he wear his underwear over his clothes!'. Hahaha. Tooooo funny
* Attending a buffet dinner and show at the Old Chiangmai Cultural Center. It was fun, though the performance was more a nice accompaniment to dinner than worth watching in itself, especially if you've seen Thai dancing elsewhere, or gone on any village treks
* Doing a quick tour of the Sunday night market right as it closed. Much more interesting than most markets, since there's a lot of unique handmade stuff there in addition to standard souvenir items. Mirko bought a number of lovely things for his family as well as a triptych fish painting, created by a portly Thai man with dreds. Although it's nice to have more time to browse, closing time turned out to be perfect because everyone just wants to make a few more sales before packing up, so they'll get straight to the point of how much they'll accept for a given item. That way you get better prices with less haggling. Vurry nice
And I guess that pretty much sums up my time in Chiang Mai. Only thing I haven't mentioned yet may be the super awesome guesthouse we stayed at, called The Green Tulip. The owners there are so so friendly and enthusiastic (though possibly a bit too enthusiastic at times), and it's one of the cleanest places with shared bathrooms I've stayed at during all my travels. It's pretty expensive compared to other guesthouses but it was totally worth it -- really new, and they give great recommendations and can help you with anything you need
Next on the agenda is Krabi via plane from Bangkok, which I'm reaching by night bus from Chiang Mai. It's a 10 hour ride so hopefully I'll get to sleep most of the time. From there I figure I'll head to Phuket or Phi Phi and obtain my dive certification before heading back to Singapore to pick up my stuff and party with Hugo and his lady before their return to the States. I'm then off to Malaysia for my last weeks in SE Asia (end is coming up so quickly! sad sad) before heading to Japan and finally back to the States. So crazy
K that is all for now. Have a good night and I will talk to you later, bye bye
-- jane h chen --
P.S. Cookie shop plans have changed! The end