Aimlessly wandering the streets of Chiang Mai
Chiang Mai Travel Blog› entry 2 of 46 › view all entries
Well I'm close to having 'hello' (sawat di khrap (ka for females)), 'thank you' (khawp khun khrap) and 'can you speak english ?' (khun phut paasaar angkrit dai mia' worked out, but Thai is a tonal langauge so depending on which of the 5 tones I'm using I could well be insulting their mother. For example depending on how you say the word 'khao' it means either white or rice, could be tricky :)
The body language thing feels like an ongoing game of 'simon says' It's rude to have your feet pointing at someone, so you catch yourself out having to shift to odd positions at bus stations and so on, keeps you on your toes though. Also have to keep that left hand stowed away, quite often shift money from my left hand to right at the last minute (left hand is v dirty in most of south east asia).
First experience in Chang Mai was just to aimlessly walk the streets in the rough direction of the river, I'm sure the Thais were laughing at the weird farang (foreigner) walking in the heat of the day. It's not a bad city, but bigger than I expected (roughly a million people) and has this moat in the centre that has been the centre of Songkran (water festival) festivities in the days beforehand. Westerners get soaked in this period so I was happy to fly in afterwards
I think I'll learn the 'keep out of sun' lesson quick and take tuk-tuks (motorbike taxis) or sawngthaew (prononunced song-tay-ow, picture two benches in the back of a van) everywhere. Had a lateish lunch of fried Chang Mai noodles, fantastic! I'm looking forward to the food here :) Though as the stray dog stared at me downing my noodles i couldn't help but think "maybe those rabies shots would've been a good idea.
Finding my way back to the guesthouse was an experience (stayed at Pagoda Inn guesthouse, cool little garden area to chill out in), I didn't know where it was (was it Soi (sidestreet) 1, 2,3 ??) so me and my tuk-tuk guy just looped around for a while until I saw a basket shop I recognise, all part of the fun and doesn't cost any extra! Will learn to take the little card with a map from the guesthouse from now on :)
One of the biggest dilemmas of the day (and I admit it's not a big one) was what to carry and when. i didn't take the backpack today, the intention being to look less touristy, but I think us 'farang' stand out like a sore thumb anyway, especially with big water bottle in hand, so I think the daypack will be joinging me from now on. I've grabbed a book called "Mai Pen Rai" which means "never mind" and is a story about a housewife who came to live in Thailand, examining a lot of the cultural faux pas we farang (westerners) always make.
While I had planned to do the hill-tribe trek from Chiang Mai, it hadn't leapt out at me so I was beginning to thing of doing it from the less touristed Chang Rai, with maybe a quick visit to the elephant conservation cetnre first if it works out. Then all it took was some random chat to a Canadian guy Paul back at the guesthouse who said that there was a 3 day trek leaving in the morning, so that seemed conveient :) Oh I'm so easy to sway in this flexible travel mode . The tour sounds good, 1100 baht (about US$27) for a bit of rafting, bit of elephant riding, bit of walking, we'll see how we go!