From the Islands to the Mountains..............

Trip Start May 16, 2006
Trip End Aug 15, 2006

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Wednesday, July 26, 2006

What a contrast, after a couple of weeks in the islands Chiang Mai offers a nice change. Chiang Mai is Thailands 2nd largest city and is still quite a bit smaller than Bangkok. It is much more manageable and walkable.

Thanks goodness I flew this leg. I could only book a flight later in the day so I had to stand-by to get to Chiang Mai earlier. The first flight I tried for was full, the 2nd I had to upgrade to Biz Class to get on. Thankfully it was only $30! Even flying it was almost an 11 hour journey. Versus 24 hours by train. It was almost 2 hours on a rather small ferry. There was a mechanical with the original boat that was much larger. So our boat was jam packed. I had an aisle seat but could not sit normally because the row in front was so close. The seas were quite rough. I was sitting in the back of the boat and when we would hit a wave the boat would "bend". Very surreal. It wasn't very long before the barf bags came out. I sat there for about 2 minutes, that was all I could take with all the heaving and puking. One guy was nice enough to come from the front of the boat to the back where I was to do his thing.

I arrived Chiang Mai early evening on the 24th. It was straight to bed and asleep by 830. However I was early to rise as the rooster alarm clock started his thing early. Breakfast was followed by a short stroll. A tuk-tuk driver stopped and said I will take you to here, here, and here for 30 bhat. I asked him if he was going to take me to the tailor, jewelry store, travel agent etc. "no, no" he said. Liar! So we went to 2 Wats then we went to 2 carpet stores, 2 jewelry stores, Parasol factory and the silk factory. It wasn't quite as bad as I make it out. At least at these places there were various demonstrations how all the above are made except the carpet shops. The Silk factory was especially interesting. The silk worms make their cocoons then they are boiled to separate the thread. Then the thread is spun and dyed and then the thread is turned into fabric on an old fashioned loom.

Eventually I returned to the guest house for a short nap. I was headed to the famous Chiang Mai Night Bazaar. I walked out of the guest house about 7pm and again the rains began. I went back to my room as it was pouring and it never let up until late evening. The evening was spent reading and watching Thai TV.

Today I was up with the rooster and headed out early. No tuk-tuks today! I did a walking tour and visited several Buddhist Temples. Chiang Mai is a nice city. The cleanest so far and it is very lush and green. The city itself is very flat but is surrounded by mountains. Tonight I managed to make the Night Bazaar, it did rain tonight but held off until I got to the Bazaar and after about an hour or so it stopped. There were lots of pretty good deals. I read where it was the best shopping in Thailand with the best prices. I think the weekend marked in Bangkok may be better, it is certainly larger. But it was fun none the less.

I had planned on taking a "trek" into the mountains, elephant riding, bamboo rafting and visit a hill tribe. I decided against it as I think the hill tribe visit is a bit exploitive and voyeuristic, so I am skipping the trek. I have also decided not to go to Laos, it sounds like a lot of travel and would require at least 5-7 days. I hear great things about Laos, I hate I am this close and am not going. Maybe I can visit another time. I plan to fly out Friday to BKK and try to fly to Australia on Monday.

Take care and maybe I will load pics tomorrow so check back!!!


********************************** 27 July ****************************************

Today I took another cooking class. About the time I returned to my room last night the rain began again and it rained all night and until about noon today. When I woke up I was thinking what am I going to do today? So at the last minute I inquired about a cooking class where I was staying. They said I was too late although it was 9:02 and the class started and 9:00. Go figure. So I ended up in another class, which is just as well the instructors were a hoot. So funny, we'll probably see them on TV one day. We learned 6 dishes. Pad Thai and Tom Yum again, which was good because they were a little different. Also learned mixed veggies, panang currie, papaya salad, and sticky rice and magoes. Once again maybe I will open a Thai Restaurant when I get home!!! After 9 hours of instruction I should be a pro by now!!!!

The rains started again this evening so I read a bit followed by this update. I still have not eaten as I am still full from class today.

Ive got to run pack, leaving for the airport early in the AM to head back to BKK!

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