Sunday, September 18, 2005

My Chiang Mai

Somewhere in Southern Thailand

I'm on the second leg of my trip now, about two hours away from Chumphon.

Chiang Mai was a much different experience from Bangkok, and I think it was more representative of the real Thailand. It's the second largest city in the country, but it has 1/40th the population of the capitol. Bangkok appears to be a unique cacophony in the otherwise relaxed surroundings of Thailand.
Ben and I arrived in Chiang Mai on the 14th of September, and I was immediately struck by how much simpler life seemed to be there. There were no towering skyscrapers to block the view of the forested mountains surrounding the city, and the streets weren't choked into impotence by an immovable pile of traffic. The weather was cooler and dryer, and even the tuk-tuks seemed quieter. It kind of reminded me of any sleepy city in the US northwest.
As much as I enjoyed Bangkok (which was a lot), it was nice to be in a city that was a little more "real".
Ben stayed for two days, before running back to Bangkok. During that time, we did some shopping around the night market, checked out the Tribal museum, shot some handguns, and were captured by a group of Thais eating dinner by the lake. We spent many hours sitting in a small hut next to that lake, eating noodles, drinking beer, and watching the sunset. By the time eight o'clock rolled around, Ben had to get going to catch his train, but everyone was a bit tipsy. Not wanting to miss his last few days in Bangkok, he put his faith in Boi, got on the bike, and sped away.
He made it to Bangkok.
I spent all of the next day with Nam Fon, a university student Ben and I had met our first night in Chiang Mai. We rented a motorbike, and struggled through the mountains around Chiang Mai. We checked out an old Buddhist Temple, the King's autumn home, a hill tribe village and some nice waterfalls. She even let me drive for a little bit. It was a surprisingly intimate and satisfying experience to ride around with two people on a motorbike like that. You quickly develop a sense of trust and comfort when you're doing an open-aired 50 km/hour up and down winding mountain roads. On the "wrong" side of the road, no less.

Spending so much time in southeast asia has really turned me on to the idea of owning a small motorbike. The visual of speeding through city streets with a girlfriend clinging to my back really appeals to me now.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ben! Your final will and testiment is touching and funny.

9/18/2005 8:04 PM gmt

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Im very glad that you like Chiangmai.hope to see you again...maybe its dreem

9/19/2005 3:44 AM gmt


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