Our Thai Apartment Near Wat Jet Yot

Sunday, July 20th, 2008

Last Thursday, J. and I moved into our own Thai apartment. We’ll be living there for the next two/three months while we explore Chiang Mai and the surrounding area. By Thai standards, or at least my Thai standards, it’s a pretty swank place: clean, austere, with decent furnishings, good views, free “broadband” internet, and air-conditioning. The building is less than a year old and situated in a quiet neighborhood on the west side of town. It’s near the old mall, some small restaurants, the university, and the mountains. The neighborhood is called Wat Jet Yot because of a temple of the same name.

Our rent is 8000bht($250) per month. This is high by Thai standards, as the average college grad makes about that much at their job. But looked at through my American eyes, this is a rent bargain. My monthly share for a new one bedroom apartment is $125. Impossibly ridiculous.

Our front door, right against the outer wall.

Bed and balcony. Note the calming hospital green wall.

J. sitting in the dining area.

Cutting mango for breakfast.

The breakfast of choice: mango, banana, yogurt, muesli, and a sock-brewed cup of real coffee. I’ll post photos of the coffee sock soon. It’s nice to be able to make our own breakfasts now. It makes for a much more relaxing day.

Our view out the dining area window: vacant lots, weird buildings, and a mountain shrouded in clouds.

The main street two blocks from our apartment. There are a few small restaurants, but it’s a Thai-only atmosphere. This means all the menus are cryptic and ordering is done only in Thai.

Huge, weather beaten apartments are on a street nearby. A new building is going up next to them. There’s a lot of new construction in the area.

I think this kid is living in a temporary shanty town that was built for the construction workers to live in. There are a few of them around, and they all seem too dense and sad to be permanent dwellings.

The new construction is sad, because maybe all of these cool vacant, overgrown lots will be lost.

I’m not sure why this fence was built. It doesn’t appear to be guarding anything, and a person could just climb through it anyway.

There are a few fruit trees around the neighborhood, including bananas. One day, I’ll poach a few.

Wall with rusted door.

Yesterday, J. and I explored the neighborhood on foot. Our destination was Wat Jet Yot, an aging temple complex built in the mid 1500s. The grounds were very tranquil despite being next to a busy road called The Superhighway.

Two restored small frame vespas parked near the monk quarters.

The main chedi seen through banana leaves.

The buildings were wonderfully aged. Most were constructed of brick and plastered over, with the majority of the plaster missing. I suspect the buildings look a lot cooler in their ruined state than when they were new.

Sculptures on the walls of the main chedi.

Incense, flowers, and candles left in prayer.

Mossy stone walkway.

Some gorgeous cocks guarding a flock of chicks.

Outside of the temple area was playground straight from a safety inspector’s nightmares. It was full of rusted metal, sharp edges, and plenty of arm breaking opportunities. Here’s a slide made from a barrel.

Figurines in a garbage pile next to a wall.

After the temple, we got lunch in a small restaurant. With the help of a kind old man it was determined that their specialties were khao sawy, noodle soup, or various sliced pork over rice. The man and I tried to make small talk in half Thai/half English. It went pretty well. For some of the conversation he was using a toothpick and shielding us from the procedure with his free hand.

We got BBQ pork over rice. It was fatty, but the sauce was good.

To kill some time in the afternoon, we drove over to the CMU art gallery. The show was crappy ceramics and mostly crappy flat art. But the gallery space is nice, and the grounds are weird enough to see on their own right. Something about the slab concrete buildings feels Communist.

The roof was open. It said they were going to screen movies up there that evening, but it was abandoned when we went. Instead, they were showing them downstairs a floor in a small, heavily air-conditioned room.

Bird head and enormous, bird head eating ants.

Gallery.

Yellow art car, perforated with holes.

The gallery kittens. The orange one was very scrawny from lack of food. And both they and their mother were infested with fleas. As it was still hours from the movie screening, we walked a few blocks to 7-Eleven so I could buy some cat food to feed them. They ate it. Plus, I have extra to carry around to feed other strays.

J. practicing the scooter in the parking area.

Although today when she went out to practice around the neighborhood, she took a spill making a U-turn and got this nice scratch on her arm. Needless to say, this hasn’t made me less nervous about her driving in the crazy Thai traffic.

For dinner, we went early to the Saturday walking street market on the south side of the moat. When we got there the street still wasn’t closed. But as soon as it did, the vendors scrambled like ants to set everything up. In less than half an hour it was in full swing.

The market.

Soda delivery girl.

Random old chedi crammed between new buildings on the south moat road.

Family of three riding a scooter.

Father driving while mother and baby ride sidecar. I saw two families of four riding single scooters, but couldn’t get my camera ready in time.

Pedicab driver reading the paper before the evening rush.

After eating, we headed back to CMU to watch some of the experimental films. Suck.

The all-seeing Chiang Mai eye.

It was another good day. In the evening, I finished Dordle 200 and the drawings for Dordle 201. I get much joy drawing, surfing the net, becoming tired and falling asleep in a foreign land.

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