chiang mai

NEW YEAR IN CHIANG MAI AND 350+ MILES ON SCOOTERS

Our first stop in Thailand was Chiang Mai, the second largest city. It was gritty, fast paced and overwhelming. It was also safe, friendly, and seemed like a place you could find anything in. It was a great a place to start. Our schedule was arrive, have one full day, day 2 leave for elephants, day 3 come back to Chiang Mai, day 4 Chiang Mai, days 5-7 take our 350+ mile scooter ride, day 7 return to Chiang Mao, day 8 fly to Krabi for the beach.

Thai New Year was day 3-5 (4/13-15). To purify you for the new year people throw water on you. For 3 days. Chiang Mai is also the biggest celebration of this. Everywhere along the moat around the inner city there are Thai people set up with buckets, water guns, and hoses drenching everyone around. We can’t drink the tap water here let alone the very brown moat water, so it’s also an exercise of clamping your eyes and mouth shut since lots of people get sick.

It is a hell of a lot of fun though. There are unspoken rules though, no water in restaurant or on people near food stalls, and no water in the face of little old ladies. Otherwise it’s every man for themselves. We cut the tops off large water bottles for our weapons and dipped into the many trash cans full of water on the street. It was also 90-100+° which made getting soaked great. There were thousands of people participating between Thai and tourists.

The trouble began on the first day of our scooter trip and the longest, about 5-6 hours of driving. The first 3+ hours of getting water thrown on you wasn’t so bad, it was hella hot and we dried immediately due to the dry heat. But the back half I went over my limit, not that there was a damn thing I could do about it. They took great joy in throwing about twice as many buckets on me than A. probably because I was a girl. I’d estimate I had around 50 buckets of water thrown in my face on the ride. I was not amused.

People would actually form a line in the road so you couldn’t get through and then they’d all line up and get you. Adults and kids. A lot of four letter words were used mentally. Every truck was also a potential danger because every truck back was full of people with a big container of water so they could drive around dousing people, preferably people on scooters. Getting a bucket of water thrown in your face at 40mph feels like getting punched in the nose.

Besides their never-ending New Year celebration (they continued in smaller numbers the day after it ended) the scooter trip was epic. We drove through the mountains and saw beautiful jungle, farm lands, small villages, and quite a few chickens. We went up the highest mountain in Thailand, went to some spectacular waterfalls, and peeped some gorgeous temples in the mountains. Our first night was in Mae Hong Son and we would have spent a few days there if we hadn’t already booked some other stuff. Very cool town and great/cheap place to stay (Piya Guest House). Some very cool temples and we got to see some muay thai boxing for free. We also met some dudes from Texas, I’m beginning to think Texans are like Australians, they’re everywhere.

**obviously our scooters were much more high powered than our poor scootscoot. We also wore helmets Mom and I wouldn’t go faster than 70kmh

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Why I Can’t Survive In the Wild

One time in college I went to a cave man party (at Panarchy, for my fellow Dartmouth geeks). You showed up and there was a bunch of animal print cloth that you made an outfit out of to change into. Then you went out back and roasted meat on the end of your long pointy stick (spear if you will) on a roaring fire and drank a 40. Totally authentic cave man experience. I was a bit of a failure and my meat kept falling off my stick into the fire. Finally my friend Adam took pity on me and cooked me some. He told me I’d never have survived cave man life, but I told him I’d do exactly the same thing and get someone to cook my meat.
This story sprang to mind given my current problem track record in Thailand. I’ve been here one week and this is how I’m doing:
1. Came here with what turned into the biggest and worst canker sore I’ve ever had. It’s right by my throat so it hurt to eat, drink, and exist (finally mostly pain free after a week of being here). So I couldn’t eat much without being in pain, and had to avoid anything spicy. In Thailand. Basically I got to be the picky white girl that was encouraged relentlessly almost everywhere to try spicy food because language limitations made explaining the problem pretty much impossible.
2. After my first 24 hours I got sick and had to take the antibiotics for 3 days.
3. I had a spoonful of A’s coconut curry (I get sick from coconut milk, but can handle a few bites) got sick immediately so that will be the last coconut milk I have in Thailand which is in 60% of all delicious things. However, coconut water and I are ride or die. No clue how these two things are simultaneously possible.
4. I get headaches from the heat way easier than A. which has happened twice in a week.
5. We went on a 3 day scooter adventure and after the first day (close to 6 hours of driving in 100+ degrees at times) I ended up with a very sore/chafed behind that wasn’t improved by the next two days of driving. A. is of course fine.

So I’ve either shot the moon in my first week or I’m coming home in a body cast.***

***please note that in spite of my physical short comings, we’re having an amazing time so far.

Made it to Thailand

After months of planning A. And I quit our jobs and are in Thailand. We landed late last night after a very long trip from San Francisco that started Tuesday afternoon. Unfortunately I’m probably not going to be able to post photos on these blogs, but hopefully the stories will be entertaining enough.

We landed in Bangkok last night and flew to Chiang Mai today. We’re staying at the Ramming Lodge for these next two days before we go for an overnight at an elephant sanctuary and then return to Chiang Mai for another couple of days. We’ll be here for a month total.

So far it’s a very friendly country. We’ve had one meal and it was about $7 total and absolutely delicious. We walked around the city a bit and checked out some temples. Apparently the monks are really into cats and dogs, however Thailand isn’t into rabies shots so A. tells me every time I see them that I’m not allowed to pet any (animals, not monks).

On the way back to the hotel we did the feet/fish thing where you sit with your feet in a fish tank and they nibble all the dry skin off. It feels like your foot has fallen asleep, very tingly. Then we got foot massages which were great. All together it cost about $4.50 each. Bananas. Also the girl giving me a foot massage totally made fun of the girl giving A. a foot massage because of his feet. She did it in Thai, but it was clear what was going on. Especially since she grabbed his toe to demonstrate her point.

We also ran into some individuals celebrating Thai New Year early and got soaked. It officially starts tomorrow and there are people selling water guns on ever corner. Should be crazy. Going to have to keep our lips pursed because you can’t drink the water!

Aussie count is currently 1. I expect to reach double digits be for we’re halfway through.