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Random musings from Chiang Mai


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I'm feeling prolific in this land of high speed internet in Chiang Mai, so you get to hear from me again.

Non-specific ramblings:

People are really friendly! Not a huge surprise, but people smile and wave at the nutso bikers. Actually, everyone smiles, Thailand is the self-pronounced "land of smile". really. The more enthusiastic people lean out of the car or twist around on the moped to grin and give us a big thumbs up. We're assuming from the prevalence of this behavior that a "thumbs up" is not a obscene gesture in this country - either that or the little old lady on the moped was extremely cheerful as she flipped us off! Most people are just more perplexed by the array of biking gear (bright, primary colored panniers, front pack, backpack, helmet, tights, bike gloves, big wrap-around shades etc.) than anything else - so they stick with the smile; if the look of confusion wears off before we're already past.

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Now, a word about the food:
ohhhwowyum!ummmmerrrwhatsthat?ooooohYUM!WOW!jeeeeeezzzezthatsSPICY!!!!whewburpyum!

what, you want to know more than that? oh all right:

1. The fruit: The fruit compared to Washington is like premium chocolate compared to cardboard. really. Well, ok, maybe not that intense, but still, amazing. The oranges are sweet and tart and wonderful texture. The bananas are great - and I don't even LIKE bananas in the states, the pineapple is sweet and juicy, without even a hint of cardboard, and the mangoes are perfect, either green or ripe. And the coconuts... they whack a medium sized hole in the top, you drink the juice and scrape the meat out - and the meat is unlike anything you've had in a coconut, unless of course, you've been here.

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2. The food: Well, much more variety here. Is it like Thai Food in the states? Sometimes, yes actually it is. Restaurant food tends to be a bit like restaurant food in the states, although generally better. The green curry tonight was an amazing sensation. Even better after most of my taste buds succumbed to the inferno :) On the street, things are another matter. The Thai are absolute snackaholics, and their imagination on this front is unparalleled. Sugary rice cakes, fried bananas, fresh bananas, roasted bananas, banana chips (we see a theme here, but it diverges, really), pot stickers, little scrambled egg mixtures cooked up in a bit of banana leaf (that does NOT count as another banana reference), crepes with (yeah, sorry) banana (and other fruit), strawberries, dried strawberries, fried just about anything, this amazing papaya salad we had for lunch (also in the moderate firepower class), and the list goes on much longer but I'll stop now. banana.
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We also had Indian food one night. Heck, figured we were at least closer to India, so maybe more authentic, right? actually, it was pretty much like home, from which I draw no conclusions. And last night we ate Italian. good pizza. Just don't even ask, eh?

Today we left the panniers at the hotel (whee!) and headed up to Doi Suthep, a very cool, rather touristy Wat on top of a darn large hill (15km or so of steady climbing). Beautiful day up there, although choked on a bit too much diesel on the way up. Chiang Mai was lost in the depths of the smog though. Then back down (wooooooohooooo!), through another Wat (Buddhist Temple) , and headed up to Mae Sai - where there's a waterfall and Elephants (not in the same place). Another grind up 10k of hills into the mountains, only to get to the elephant place a half hour after they closed. As we were standing there cursing folks who would close for the day at 2:30, 2 huge shiny tour busses pulled up, and disgorged a large number of mostly Japanese people, all wearing black "Bosch" polo shirts. The tour guide babbled at the people guarding at the entrance gate, probably something to the effect of "A thousand apologies, but my herd of black sheep got lost wandering around the royal palace grounds and it took me forever to herd the little bastards back on the bus, especially the one who sneaks off to the restroom right before we leave, so we're here late. will you let us in anyway? thanks!" and they all got to go in. We didn't have black enough shirts though. So we settled for the waterfall (ok) and found out that the national park service now whacks all foreigners with a 200B fee! (about $5). and only good for one day. youch!

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Refreshed and fed at least, and with the day cooling down we headed down to face the 14km of highway back into Chiang Mai. I think I inhaled enough diesel and 2 stroke fumes to go by the name "chimney" for the next week. Bought face masks at the drug store tonight for our trip out of Chiang Mai tomorrow. Chim Chimney Cheroo! Enough of the city, the noise and pollution! On towards Chiang Rai!







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