Current Location: Chiang Mai, Thailand
Imagine walking around in a sauna all day that is turned on to low, that is about the best description I can give regarding the heat and humidity here in Thailand. I’m not sure I am completely used to it yet but it’s something I am slowly accepting as a fact here. This usually leads to me hiding in the mall for lunch as they are usually air conditioned, actually I’ll hide in any building given the choice of air conditioning or even a fan at times.
I’m liking Chiang Mai for several reasons one of which is the touts here are of a different breed than those that exist in Bangkok. I like to paint the picture that the touts in Bangkok are like running into a wall over and over again, but in this case it’s the wall that incessantly runs up against you. They eventually break you down and you succumb to their pitch. Here in Chiang Mai I can actually walk down the street without being bothered by anyone, a great way to learn the city.
I originally wanted to head south from Bangkok and work my way back north on over to Cambodia and Laos but ended up coming up north to Chiang Mai for the Loi Krathong festival (festival of lights) which I heard about in Bangkok and decided to check it out. While here I’ve sort of found the sense of urgency that my time here is very limited. I’ve done a cooking course, ridden an elephant, fed monks, and seen loads of temples along with going to the festival. It’s been a pretty long week but fairly amazing what I’ve seen and done.
The elephant riding took me a while to get over mentally, but I rationalized it away with saying that I rode a horse with no qualms so why should this be any different. I couldn’t see an elephant having a hard time getting around with me on it’s back. It turned out to be loads of fun and the group I was with for the day all had an amazing time with the guides and elephants. We learned 3 different ways of mounting an elephant as a mahout would, took them to wash them down in the river and played in the mud with them, not a very stressful day for the elephants I’m thinking. I have something like 480 pictures from that day alone so sorting through them will be a bit tough, hopefully I can get to it sometime in the next few days.
The cooking course was also amazing, for the price of what I would pay in Hawaii for dinner at a thai restaurant I learned to make my 5 favorite dishes (green curry, pad thai, mango sticky rice, papaya salad, and coconut seafood soup) and they all turned out amazing. We got cookbooks as well listing about 30 different things we could have learned so hopefully I can master them all.
The festival itself is the second largest festival in Thailand next to their new years celebration and Chiang Mai turns out to be a really popular place to celebrate it. It’s utter chaos on the streets starting at about 7pm with fireworks going off literally everywhere. And I’m not just talking sparklers, everything that you can imagine going off is happening all around you with little regard for who is around, it’s really quite unnerving to have aerials going off little more than 2 feet away from you. The celebration is basically to ask forgiveness from the water god of the sins they had committed through the year and to ask for blessings. We made our own krathong here at the hostel and set them off down the river so hopefully my sins will be forgiven.
As much as I’ve liked Chiang Mai it’s time to move on, the plan is to take a bus to Ko Tao (turtle island) in the south to learn to scuba dive. I think the bus ride is something like 20 hours, which I am not looking forward to but it’s the cheapest way to do it. For 1200 baht a 20 hour bus ride is cheap as chips.
edit: I found some time on my hands and sorted through some pictures.