Chiang Mai

Trip Start Mar 13, 2008
Trip End Apr 03, 2008

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Flag of Thailand  ,
Sunday, March 23, 2008

After what felt like the longest "layover" ever, I finally got on the overnight sleeper train to Chiang Mai.  The sleeper trains are pretty nice and I slept really good in the bottom bunk.  There wasn't anyone above me until about 2:30 when another solo female boarded and she was in the bunk above me.  The train surely beats the bus.


It's so much better compared to Bangkok.  It's the largest city in the north although nowhere near the size of Bangkok.  It's so laid back but metropolitian at the same time.  I checked into the Sarah Guest House (yes, that is the name of it!) which is costing me a whooping $8 USD/night.  I really like it, it's on a sidestreet (soi as its called here) and there are restaurants and shops right on the soi.  Like most of Thailand, the shower is in combo with the bathroom.  It's kind of weird showing while looking at the toliet!  But the room is clean and the staff is really friendly.  I have a fan room, no a/c and after I settled in and turned on the fan, I was sure glad I hadn't forked out the extra money for a/c.  It's not the lazy fans I've seen in Thai guesthouses before, it's basically industrial stregnth and on the high setting I started to get cold!!! 

I rented a scooter from a shop on my soi for 120 baht ($3.87 USD).  I went cheap and got a manual (the automatic was 200 baht) and I have to kick start it which I've never done before but its easy.  I farted around this morning/afternoon seeing whats where and picked up flyers for yoga tomorrow, which I plan to do.  The traffic here is bad but not nearly as bad as Bangkok.  It's wild though to have no rules of the road and just go in and out of traffic as you please. And of course there's the fact that there's NO helmet!  What's amazing is that neither here nor Bangkok did I ever see an accident.  Very few people have cars, most have bikes, mostly scooters or sport bikes, you don't see a lot of cruisers but there are some.  Women ride them everywhere and in the states people are so shocked to see a woman on a bike!  Today a woman passed me on a manual scooter and I couldn't help but notice that she was wearing heels!!!

Now for the bad news - my meditation retreat has been cancelled!  I'm pretty much devestated because I've been waiting for this forever, I mean its one of the main reasons I came to Thailand!  So now I have to see if I can attend a retreat at another Wat (temple).  So far, no luck. Boo hoo.

On Sundays in Chiang Mai a few streets are closed to traffic and vendors set up on the streets.  Its called the Sunday Walking Street.  It wasn't far from my guesthouse so I decided to check it out.  It was pretty big, block after block.  When I first got there around 4:30 (it technically starts at 4 and ends at midnight) it wasn't very crowded but by the time I was making my way back to my scooter a few hours later, it was packed.  I skipped on soi because it was already dark and I didn't for sure remember how to get back to the guesthouse.  Anyways, the walking streets were really nice and pleasant.  There was A LOT I wanted to buy but I restrained myself and came back with only a pair of sunglasses (mine broke today and riding a scooter in smog filled traffic without sunglasses sucks), which cost $4 USD.  I got some strawberries but they tasted funny so I threw them away without eating the rest.  I did try some "ancient ice cream" (I don't know why it's called that), I choose lemon flavor and it was really good. 

I like the position of my guesthouse more and more.  There is a lot to see and do right around here.  Internet is cheaper here than anywhere else I've been - $1 USD per house!  In Koh Tao it was between $2 USD and $3 USD, which is still cheap considering I pay that just logging in at Kinko in the states!
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