Chang Mai, Thailand
I woke up bright-eyed and bushy tailed. Alex needed to sleep in. He did not get a good night’s sleep due all the explosions. I showered and continued reading my book Around the World in 80 Days in the garden. We’ve been traveling for 56 days and have made it through 4 countries. I felt like we have been moving quickly but the guy in this book was freaking ridiculous.
Everyone at the guesthouse looked rough. They were all hungover. With all the stimulation last night, I realized I had nothing to drink. It felt weird to have been the good girl for once.
Once Alex was up we took off to wander along the walls of the city. We tried to order a Thai coffee but the Thai woman posted at her cart was too hungover to boil water. This was the theme for the day even with the Thais. Touts were not out and about trying to get us to get us to go on treks or tours. Tuk-tuks drivers were passed out in their vehicle. Stores were closed or opened late. The Thais we came across were not smiley as usual.
As we walked along the moat and what remained of the wall at a leisurely pace. Along the way, we spotted remnants of last night’s party. Alex found many of the small clay lotuses which looked like tarts. He picked a few up and skipped a few on the water.
In Asia, we have come to learn shops are grouped together based on what they sell. We walked down a street we referred to as the “Pet shop district”. Alex & I were hungry. Due to the lack of street carts today, we had to search harder than usual. One store was a weird hybrid: pet shop and restaurant. For lunch, we ate fish ball soup in a pet fish store. Fish tanks lined the walls. There were mostly koi fish and plenty of the other fish I had never seen before. My favorite fish were pink and white with black strips with the big brain or perhaps brain tumors. I felt guilty eating distant friends of the fish that stared at us. Ironically, the fish was the best I had tasted thus far. The man had added dry shrimp to the soup.
The morning was enjoyable since we spent it in the non-Western zone. I had read a lot about Chang Mai in some of my fictional travel novels. Once here, it was not at all as idyllic as described. It is sad what has happened to this town. The expats and tourists have fucked up the face the town. There were too many Western restaurants and sports bars. I don’t understand why expats move to a place different from home and try to change the place into their former home. Why do they not just stay there ass at home? The Thais don’t seem to like the farangs here very much. I don’t blame them. Alex got extremely cranky. He wanted to leave immediately.
There were 2 activities I wanted to do while in Chang Mai: take a Thai cooking class and go on a “hill-tribe” trek. Alex vehemently vetoed against going on a trek. After walking around Chang Mai, I had mixed feelings. One of the few things I had on my must do list while in this region was go on a trek and ride an elephant. The “hill-tribe” treks would check off both. Although I wanted to see what life was like in the hills but did not want to be fed a Disney-fide version of it. Growing up near Disney makes me hate packaged bullshit.
In the evening, Alex & I visited the Night Bazaar. Both of us wanted shop. It is now 2 months into our trip. Our packs are no longer bursting at the seams. We have room to pick up a few small items for ourselves and family. The Thais had recovered from their hangovers and were ready for business. Alex bartered with a Thai woman with stained betel-nut teeth from the hills for his “hill-tribe hippy bag” from 130B to 75B. I complemented his new man-purse aka murse. Alex knowing my mom likes puzzles pointed out a Buddha puzzle. How appropriate since it is a very zen activity putting the pieces together. I found a white linen shirt for me.
The Night Bazaar was mainly for tourists not Thais. As we walked through the market we saw only a few variations of stalls. They sold the same T-shirts and trinkets most likely from the same distributor. We soon got bored and made our way back to our guesthouse. Alex tried to find more bugs to eat without success.
The party, parades and fireworks were not as intense as the previous night but still going strong. I was happy to get some shopping done and remain unscathed from rogue fireworks. Alex & I sought refuge at CM Bunkhouse that served as our fortress. We drank Chang beers watching the magical lanterns float into the heavens and listening to sounds of explosions from the safety of our balcony. Alex & I had no desire to be on the streets setting of fireworks. We stayed in and made our own.
The Loi Krathong festival is like a combination of several of our holidays: 4th of July with all the explosives; Halloween with the full moon and lighted lanterns; Hanukkah since it is also a festival of lights that goes on for days; Thanksgiving with the parades and giving thanks…mainly for surviving the explosions with arms, legs and eyeballs in tact!