23 March 2013
Andy and I left Laguna Beach from LAX on a Thursday afternoon. The flight over was pretty much uneventful. The good news was for the first leg into Seoul, Korea we had an extra seat next to us. It's always nice to have a little extra space during a 14 hour flight. I felt rather tall, and looking around me I noticed that Andy and I were some of the few 'white folks' on the plane. It's always interesting to have that check and reaffirms what a great nation we live in that has such a huge melting pot of people from all over the world, especially living in Southern California.
We made it into Bangkok in the wee hours on Friday night and made our way to the Novotel, the airport hotel. Nary a person in sight. I'd booked and pre-paid a non-smoking, two bed room and was very much ready for a horizontal position. They didn't have a room like that. Only a king or a smoking room. Ick. After some quick negotiation for free breakfast and internet we were in the King non-smoking with a roll-away.
The next morning we were up and ready for our early flight to Chiang Mai. Neither of us has been to Chiang Mai before, the draw is to be somewhere a little more rural and see the elephants.
As we were waiting to board our flight, Andy decides he is going to learn Thai. So he begins saying words out of his phrase book, practicing out loud to the amusement of a young Thai man sitting directly across from us. In a moment, the young man had joined in and was helping out with some of the words. We got to talking . . . in English. Turns out he's a student that goes to school in Bangkok and lives in Chiang Mai, headed home for his Spring Break.
The flight crew calls us to board and we begin walking towards the gate. The young man with a very delightful smile and curious nature asks me if he can be our guide for free tomorrow, it would be a great way for him to practice his English. Yes, it sounds like a cliche, but we were in.
After the flight we exchanged information and agreed to meet the next day (which is today)!
After arriving at our beautiful little hotel called the Yaang Come Village, we immediately made massage appointments. We got the bags into this perfect, quiet room and went down for 90-minute 'stress relief' massages. The staff assumed that we were some how a couple so we had a room together. Nothing to worry about, as the massage was fully clothed and neither of us are moaners. The massage was Thai style, so a lot of pressure points for back, neck and head and then reflexology for feet. Felt wonderful. Afterwards we had lunch at the Whole Earth restaurant, a delightful combination of Thai and Indian cuisine with plenty of vegetarian options.
Nap time. Guess jet lag caught up to us and at 4:00 we were snuggled in. I slept hard. I guess it was the comfort of knowing we were at our destination for a while, well three nights, and we could rest easy.
I awake at 7:00pm and knew I had two choices, I could sleep till morning or force myself up, freshen up and head out to the night Bazaar and find some dinner or just continue sleeping. The excitement of a new city just steps away won and I was dressed and ready for adventure. I determined after a little prodding that Andy's adventure was going to be in dreamland among his sheets and pillows.
It took a little mustering to venture out at night alone in a strange place I'd never been -- but I've done this before and I know from experience that once I get going I find myself, my inert desire and curiosity to explore and find myself quickly out on the street, the new smells, interesting people of a vibrant city before me. The first thing I notice is the plethora of massage parlors everywhere -- temping to go in again, but no, I'm on my way to the colorful Night Bazaar to take in the feel and flavor of the locals and tourists alike. The next thing I notice is the mangey dogs running loose without collars or owners attached to leashes. Initially I feel a little uneasy, but no one else does, so I calm and relax into 'they are not going to bother me.'
After a quick tour of the night bazaar, the most interesting thing was a huge dead insect collection and some beautiful transvestites getting ready for a show, I decided I was hungry. I consulted one of my many guide books and decided on Italian food (don't ask me why). So, I hailed a tuk-tuk, remembering to ask BEFORE I got in how much. 60 Bhat, okay, that sounded right and off we went in a fast-paced open-aired motorized bicycle through the city. When he pulled up to a corner and said is this okay, I said yeah, not even knowing where I was because I'd never been there before! Armed with my map I got out of the tuk-tuk and got my bearings and found my restaurant.
It was quiet, charming, filled with Europeans and Australians -- the food was what you'd expect when having Italian in Thailand.
I walked around this new neighborhood a bit, checking out the young people hanging out and then decided I'd better find a tuk-tuk and head home. One found me, he must have sensed I was ready. When I asked him how much he told me 100 Bhat. Aah, I'm smarter than that. I said no thank you, that's too much and started to walk away until he said -- okay, 60.