Thursday, December 22, 2005

Chiang Mai bound

Hopping the train to Chiang Mai in a bit, but time for a couple of firsts:

-- First elephant of the trip. A teenager was just riding the small elephant down the side of the street here in Phitsanulok like a bicycle. He even had a blinking red light tied to its tail.... (To all the kids out there that we know, none of the pictures we took of it came out, but we will do our best to send you pictures the next time we run into elephants.)

-- First cockroaches of the trip. Two big ones skittering around our room last night. Okay, so they weren't the giant ones, but at 2-3 inches long they were big enough for me. We finally got them (leaving a nice cockroach guts design on the wall of the room) with our shoes, but it did make sleeping a little harder. I kept imagining things crawling on us. Ah, the joys of budget travel.

-- First songthaew ride of the trip. Songthaews are pickup trucks with rows of benches in the back that act as buses or taxis around Thai towns. We caught one from the old city in Sukhothai 14 km in to the bus station, crammed in with students in uniform coming home from school, two little old ladies (one with her basket of laundry and one with her pole with baskets hanging off each end (don't know what that's called....) who kept smiling and laughing at us, and one drunk peasant who the lady running the ride kept trying to shoo out the back. I'll post the picture later if I can. It looked like one of those clown cars in the circus with people stuffed in and hanging off the ends.

-- First two open-air aerobics classes of the trip. In both Bangkok and here in Phitsanulok, we have run into these end-of-the-work-day extravaganzas with several hundred people kicking and bouncing to the beat. In Bangkok it was in a park, but here it was just along the riverside, spreading up and over the sidewalk. Men and women both, all getting down to "and a one, and a two" in Thai. They appear to be free, all-comers events...kinda like the exercises you see the Japanese or Chinese workers doing in documentaries except for more music and jiggling...

-- First bad meal of the trip. Up to this point (and especially in Bangkok), the food has been amazing. We have been eating at local dives (that look like places I'd be too nervous to go into at home) and we have just revelled in the tastes. Yesterday on the outskirts of the Sukhothai old town we grabbed a bite at a more touristy places (with pretty wood tables and plants) and were very underwhelmed in the tasteless (or bad tasting) dishes we were served. Just goes to reinforce our general strategy of following the locals.

Enjoy the double holiday weekend!


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