Thursday, October 20, 2005

October 20: Chiang Mai

(1) The first morning in a new travel city always feels great. You've moved on from the stress of actually getting there, taken things out of your backpack, and managed to get some sleep. So, when that bright morning light hits your eyes, you know that the day is yours for exploring. In Chiang Mai, I didn't have anything in particular that I wanted to see, but I had an incredible urge to just walk around. My first stop, after visiting a tailor, was Wat Phra Singh, Chiang Mai's second most impressive temple.

(2) No trip to the north would be complete without a visit to Wat Phra That Doi Suthep, the region's holiest and most impressive shrine. Perched atop a commanding hill on the outskirts of the city, this really isn't a walk-able excursion. So, I hired a "red truck" to take me to the top. Red trucks are, well, red trucks that act as taxis. The beds are covered and lined with bench seats, capable of picking up multiple passengers for multiple destinations. I was told it would cost 60 Baht to get to the top, several kilometers up a long, winding road. I agreed, and the driver took me as far as the zoo (this is how it works). I was to pay my first driver 20 Baht, and the next red truck driver 40 Baht. What ended up happening was that I sat in the back of my second ride for 45 minutes, alone, waiting for more passengers to arrive. The driver told me that they would not leave until they had ten people in the back to justify the 40 Baht price. So, I sat... and sat... and sat. If I wanted to go to the top by myself I would have to pay 400 Baht. Perhaps it was just travelers' stress, but I sort of blew an O-ring. Without getting into detail, this photograph from the back of the red truck reveals the last smiling you would see from me for a while as I totally lost my cool with the driver, and acted like a big jerk. Sometimes, in life and in travel, things don't work out as planned - you just have to laugh it off. I didn't. However, I did manage to sort things out in my head as I walked back to my guest house.

(3) Earlier in the evening, I ordered my best meal of the trip at a nearby restaurant called The Wall. Khao Soi, a soupy Burmese dish made with curry and coconut cream, noodles, and meat, is one of the most popular dishes in the north, and was made to perfection at this cozy little hangout on Thanon Ratchawithi. I explained to the Dutch owner how much I enjoyed the meal, and he brought out the chef so she could tell me more about the recipe. After dinner, I took a digestion stroll across the moat, stopping, first, at my tailor for a fitting, and then at Inter Bar to listen to the gravelly voiced owner sing and play guitar. Later, I walked back toward my end of town to the UN Irish Pub for trivia night. Upstairs, I met five Brits who let me join their team... we won a pitcher of beer for our third place performance.

(4) The worst little salesman in Chiang Mai. Apparently, Captain ADD was under the impression that he could improve his sales by punching me in the crotch. Yeah... peace, kid.

Thailand Home & Sidebar
Previous Day -- Next Day


Post a Comment

<< Home