Back in the Magic Kingdom
Trip Start Dec 31, 2004
71Trip End Apr 22, 2005
Jeff, Margaret and I caught one of those weird Lao mini-truck tuk-tuks to the airport after breakfast for our flight. If I'd gone to the airport alone I'd surely have gotten wistful about leaving Lao even though it was time to leave. I'll be back someday. Jeff and Margaret are already planning their return.
The Thai Airways flight here was as lovely as a 72 person turbo prop plane with a lopsided descent could be
I emailed several hotels and none of them had written back with confirmation. Then just as we got out of customs there was a Lai Thai Guesthouse driver with my name on the placard
The room was pitch dark and had those Godawful frosted louvered windows. I deflated. The man who brought me to my room actually snickered when he heard me register disgust. "Oh, no this is too dark." Then I saw the bathroom, "Uh! No way -- let's go back to the desk if you don't mind." I got a better room but she didn't understand since the room I wanted had two beds and I was only one person. The new room was flooded with light and the bathroom was much better. I prefer an extra bed for my suitcase, plus I enjoy the extra pillow and towels. What in God's name is up with those hideous frosted glass louvered windows? I think they're called jalousie windows or something like that. I have no idea why that comes to mind because God knows I've tried to forget that those things exist beyond the borders of Pensecola. I can rough it but that's seriously asking a bit much. The hotel has a website if you're curious (www.laithai.com) but I feel pretty certain that the photgraphs were taking during the Nixon administration.
I have a pool
It's a bit early to make a decision of whether or not I like Chiang Mai. I found an interesting little area inside the old part of town where you can order a cocktail and then get street food and eat at one of their outdoor tables. I had two gin and tonics ($1.50 each) and a plate of roasted pork in a curried coconut sauce with rice that was only fifty-five cents and it was delicious. That part I love. The night bazaar is something everyone talks about. While it's huge that's about all I can say about it. The quality of the merchandise at the night market in Luang Prabang was vastly superior. For me the best part was a tasty banana pancake -- extra crispy and drizzled in condensed milk. The old hats and ex-pats of Thailand can roll their eyes at the farangs knoshing on the ubiquitous banana pancakes but until you can show me a tastier treat for fifty cents I suggest you shut your trap.
On the way back to the hotel I passed five bars all crammed with western men with several Thai prostitutes hanging off each of them. They reminded me of bee keepers covered black with honey bees that with the slightest movement clump to the ground. Welcome back to Thailand!
Chaing Mai seems a bit like Bangkok only smaller but seedier but that's only my first impression. There's beauty here I know but I have not seen any of it. There'll be plenty of things to do here though to keep me occupied. I'll go elephant trekking and maybe rafting a bit and I can't wait to take a Thai cooking course.
Tomorrow is the start of the three day flower festival and a parade is supposed to go by my hotel in the morning. I knew about the flower festival and that's why I decided to come to Chiang Mai at this time. That, too was a good decision. If nothing else their beauty and scent could do much to mask a multitude of sins.