Friday, February 10, 2006

Chiang Mai

After much footering about and miscommunication I found somewhere to plonk my rucksack for the next 3 months. Staying at a place just outside the North-East corner of the old city called Pacific Mansion. Nice to be in one place for a while and have things like a fridge for cheese & milk (and cereal for the first time in a year) and a kettle for Pot noodles (actually some Thai version, also available as rice porridge!) I have Milo but I need a Milo container before opening it. That should confuse some people who don't know what (or who??) Milo is!

Seeing as how my conversations in Thai generally follow the Hello, Thank you, Goodbye format, I decided to sign up for some Thai Language course at the AUA. Gah, now I need to remember how to use my brain for learning. I'm disregarding all those who say I should learn English. My spelling mistakes are because I'm not a native English speaker, I'm Scottish.

Found a few good cheap places for food. Actually one of them being the mall. A lot of malls in Asia seems to have food centres tucked away in the basement or flying high on the top floor. These places have a decent selection of vendors selling grub (no not actual grubs, you have to go to the outside markets for that!). You exchange your baht for coupons and pay with these for some reason. I used to try and work out what I would have, how much it costs, and then exchange my cash. But a much easier way it to get a 100 baht of coupons and then get your change. For some reason you can't hold on the coupons. In Bangkok some of the places have swish electronic cards instead of these coupons.

Also, just next door is a small restaurant. Some pretty spicy food, sometimes. I ended up with chilli tongue, where your mouth just throbs relenteless. Taking a swill of water cools your mouth for about 5 seconds before the fire restarts. Apparently the best way to cure is to eat plain rice. Which is fine until you realise that there is a tiny green chilli hiding at the bottom of the rice. A tastebud firework, a tongue scorching bonanza!

In a fit of erm.. fitness type stuff I bought another bike to whizz around Chiang Mai on. A useful way of getting from A to B, as long as it's not too hot. Have to try and get out of bed earlier and do the cycling in the morning while they day is cool(ish). There is a big mountain which looms over Chiang Mai and my room. Maybe before the end of my time in Chiang Mai I shall try and cycle to the top without dying. Unforutnately it's a mile high, so I need to build up to it!!

Went on a cycle to Ban Tawai, a self-proclaimed Tourist Village. Lots and lots of shops, selling all sorts of handicrafts and not so handy crafts. With signs like "Very Good and Very Cheap" or "Any price (as long as we make profit)". Reminded me of the stalls on Khao San Road with say "Buy/Sell Anything!". One stall even took that the terseness further with a sign simply proudly proclaiming "ANYTHING!!". However the best thing in this village, clearly was the seven foot Predator "robot" made from scrap metal. I want one! It would look excellent guarding an outside gate of a house.