Friday, December 30, 2005

Popular Thai Food...Not Spicy!

A couple last notes from our stay in Chiang Mai

-- It is almost impossible to get away from the touristy areas, though we did try. The food cart pictured to the left here might be one of our favorites though. Can you be appealing any more to the non-adventurous?

-- One of the things you quickly become very aware of is how much bigger we are than the Thai people. The message gets communicated in many ways. 1) In the cooking class they were talking about Thai garlic or other ingredients (which is different than the western version because it is smaller). 2) When you pass people on the street, you tower above them. 3) Perhaps the most humiliating, when you try and buy clothes. Personally, my self-esteem loves it when I can't fit into the extra-large men's clothing. (I didn't even bother trying on any of the women's styles). At least I wasn't trying to buy a new bra..... Meanwhile, Brian has been trying to buy a new pair of shoes (since 6 months of wearing them everyday has worn his hiking shoes out) and a new hat (since his got lost in Lyon). Unfortunately, Thai feet don't come in size 12. And no one (not even the stores in Europe) seem to carry a hat big enough to fit his noggin. We're thinking of seeing if one of the suit tailoring places can make him one...

-- It was very strange for Brian spending Christmas here. As well as being the first year he wasn't with his family, it is sunny and hot in a Buddhist country. Hard to get less Christmasy than that. There are some trees and decorations scattered around for the tourists, but it wasn't the same. Instead of a big family meal for Xmas eve, we ended up eating street-food pad thai (though granted it was the best pad thai we've ever had and we've gone back there twice) on the sidewalk facing the 7-11 and trash bags. Not the most atmospheric of meals. (or incredibly atmospheric, depending on how you look at it). Since Hannukah started on Christmas this year, I found us a Christmaskah tree to decorate so that we had a little bit of holiday cheer in our dark guest house room.

-- Speaking of guesthouses, we learned a lesson there too. We had originally booked at the Pun Pun Guesthouse, which came recommended in the guidebook. When we got there we discovered that though the staff were very nice 1) it was much farther out of the main downtown area than we had realized (about a 20 minute walk), and while we usually don't mind walking, there are hardly any sidewalks here and we were frequently concerned with being hit; 2) the place was 9 pm all the lights were out and there was no group of fun travelers hanging around to talk with and learn from and have fun with.; 3) we didn't sleep very well there as the noise from the road, the apparent dog kennel next door, and our neighbors came right into the room (as the top of the wall on each side (including to outside) was just mosquito netting). All that being said, it was only $7/night and was nicer than the hostel we stayed in in Phitsanulok for $10/night. Still, after 3 days of scary walks, depressing evenings, and no sleep we decided to find someplace new.

-- We ended up just around the corner from the cooking school's downtown location and restaurant at the Smile House. Though we now had to use shared toilets/showers instead of having one attached, we had a bigger room, with much more comfortable bed and quieter atmosphere; there was a whole indoor/outdoor hanging out area downstairs where we have been drinking beers and swapping tales with other travellers from Sweden, Ireland, Switzerland, and home; they have cable tv to catch english premier league football matches, HBO movies, and CNN news; and there is even a pool(!)...not that we have gotten in it, but we have enjoyed sitting in the chairs and couches around it to read, write in the journal, and play cards. Best of all, it's right in the middle of everything so that if we want to come back in the middle of the day and just chill for an hour or two we can, instead of having to be out and about all day. All that, and the room is just $5/night. Sometimes you just have to love travelling. (And it taught us a good lesson too about waiting to get a room until you can check it out in person instead of reserving it ahead of time).

-- English signs in Asia crack me up. This one was very zen though...

We're off now to finish our prep for our Laos adventure and to check out New Year's eve in Chiang Mai. Should be a trip. Check back later for observations on travel in Laos, including what it feels like to be a walking piggy bank (there are no ATMs in Laos so we have to bring in all our money with us.

Happy 2006!


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

That is a submission for if I've ever read one. Got to love it.......bloom