Enjoying the Little Things in Chiang Mai, Thailand

Thursday, October 30th, 2008

Chiang Mai is an easy place to relax. This is more apparent when compared to the hassles of visiting India. Here, all of our needs are close by. Delicious food prepared under hygienic conditions to discourage vomiting? Check. Greenery and waterfalls? Check. Movie theater, mall, and bowling alley? Check. The only difficulty involves language. It almost seems like the people here are speaking another language entirely!

The first day back, we rented another 125cc Honda for a month. Despite being the same model, this one has a far better maintained engine. Sitting two-up, the scooter can still accelerate decently. If only we had had this before our long, hilly rides would have been easier. After a month of negotiating fares and riding mass transit, it was a joy to be under control of our own wheels. The Thai streets seemed clean and less frantic than I remembered them. Compared to India, they were distinctly lacking in cows, poop, potholes, garbage, and pedestrians.

On our second day back, we checked back into the apartment building we stayed before. This time, we opted for a cheaper, smaller room on a higher floor. Our studio at @Home Chiang Mai has a worse view but is equally furnished. Our rent is also a more manageable 5,000Bht($143) a month total, plus an equal amount deposit. If only I could get by paying $72 in rent in America. The place is under new management, but the only noticeable changes are some missing tables in the lobby, an internet connected computer by the front desk, and a funny misspelled sign that advertises “FREE INTERNET FOR COSTUMERS.” Good thing I brought my Jurassic Park Ian Malcolm costume.

Since getting back, we’ve been very lazy and on the internet a lot. Yesterday, we took a break to go for a morning drive up the mountain. I hoped that the road up the mountain would go through, but each split seemed to dead end at some eco tourism tribal “village.” The trip was smooth sailing on the new bike. What would have been a slow first and second gear crawl in the old one was now a third gear joy. The air at the top was crisp and clean.

Veer left.

A lonely pagoda on the side of the hill on the road to one of the hill tribe villages. A friendly groundskeeper pointed out features to us in Thai. I managed to have a small conversation about the weather.

View from the pagoda. There were beautiful butterflies and moths flying around.

A small waterfall near the road where I ate peanuts and used the bathroom.

In the afternoon, we checked out a festival on the muddy grounds of the university art museum. Not much worth seeing, but we ate some bean buns, sponge bread, and papaya salad.

Carnivorous flowers for sale at the market.

Beetle on a flower.

Watching the CMU students practice soccer at sunset.

Purple accented dormitory.

The custom pink car at our apartment. Despite its sleek looks, the owner has trouble starting it in the morning.

Apartment water towers at sunset.

One of the greatest joys about being back is having access to cheap, delicious tropical fruit. Just a few steps away from the apartment is a fruit vendor who sells slices of pineapple, mango, papaya, and watermelon for 10Bht(30¢) a bag. We get at least one bag a day.

Pineapple and papaya. Today we got a free bag because we’re good customers.

It’s supposed to be out of season, but we’ve been able to find delicious peeled jackfruit for sale. This tray cost 25Bht(70¢). Jackfruit is one of my favorites.

And lastly, my staple snack drink: the banana shake. This one is made with banana, ice, water, and a little condensed milk. Large cup for 15Bht(50¢). I’ll be making more of these when I move home.

I suspect the rest of this month will be lazy too. Tomorrow, we’re planning on going on our third trip to Huay Tung Tao Reservoir. We’re going to take a different route to see some new scenery along the way.

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