It feels good to be completely unaware of what day of the week it is. Yesterday, Kelly asked me what day it was…I had no idea. We’ve managed to cover a bunch of ground since I posted last. At the moment, we’re about 5 days into our stay at a lodge in northern Thailand. I think we have about 5 more here before our next adventure. Or is it 7?
This “electronic journal” (refusing to admit I’m blogging) is serving more than one purpose. Of course, it is fun to share bits of our experience with friends and family through the words and photos logged here. I, however, have recognized over the years that memories do fade. In order to preserve a few, as my ability to remember decays, I’m excited to selfishly document. This “computerized memoir” fits the bill, it is my brain’s hair tonic. So, in order to keep things in order, I will back up.
We managed 5 or 6 days in the city of Chiang Mai. As mentioned in my last entry, Chiang Mai is several hundred miles north of Bangkok, even more from the Bering Sea. It needs that many to separate it from the craziness… & cold water. Our experience in Chiang Mai was unforgettable (with the help of photos and words). We stayed at a guesthouse that Kelly found online months ago. The owners we very welcoming & offered advice on all things in the area. It was a nice place to make ours for a few days.
Until recently, finding food has been a two or three times a day EVENT for the family. In my opinion, Thai food trumps ours back home on every level. I reckon the boys feel differently. I’ve yet to not see them first search out the Farang (Thai word for white person) food section of every menu we look at. One of our host’s recommendations for a food stop is certainly worth mentioning. The Sukontha Buffet, not to be confused with Anchorage’s Golden Corral, holds as my favorite food stop so far. In short, every ingredient and dish known to Thailand (or me as Thai food) is offered here, and most of the fresh meat/seafood is left for you to cook on your own, at your table. All of it is buffet style, except for the quality. Back home one typically associates buffets as a “quantity over quality” type establishment right? Oddly, everything was very fresh…and plentiful! We all had fun, check out the photos!
Traffic and driving habits of people here came as a bit of a shock. Think big American city at rush hour, but with half of the vehicles as motorbikes, most without helmets & seatbelts, and no 3 second rule. Remember that rule in drivers ed, the one where you follow no closer than three seconds behind the driver in front of you? Yeah, here it’s the one meter rule, at 5 or 150kph…it doesn’t matter. Most of the motorbikes have two or three passengers, some have four. If anyone is protecting their noggin, its the driver…not the wife behind the driver, or the two small children somehow holding on to her. Think large Alaskan village family on a 4-wheeler, minus two wheels. Somehow, it seems to work…until an American and his son try it.
On morning three of our stay in CM, I decided to rent one of these “motorbikes”. It was awesome. For a measly 10 bucks, Zach and I got our own hog for the day. A Yamaha 125. At one point, I had to kick Zach off to make it up one of the dozens of steep hills we climbed. We explored for hours that day & managed not to die!
Another unplanned epic event: During our day out doing our best Sons of Anarchy impersonation, Zach and I happened across something neither of us will need this blog to remember. As we cruised through the curvy hills, about 30 km out of town, we started seeing the occasional sign for waterfall (at least that’s what the picture appeared to show…with a bunch of Thai lettering). It was hot, even cruising at our high rate of speed, so we figured swimming at a waterfall seemed like a logical stop. So we did. We couldn’t hear any water from where we parked the bike, but figured the trail would take us to the right place. Soon, among the sounds of tropical birds and other critters, we heard water…and saw large piles of poop. I figured some big horses or cows, maybe a few huge donkeys packing pineapples or something? Nope, it was only about a half dozen elephants, chilling out with about 3 or 4 little Thai guys. I saw them before Zach and managed to keep quiet as we approached, in anticipation of Zach’s reaction. Of course Z was quite surprised, I think he was initially confused. Neither of us were sure if we should move any closer, as none of them were tethered, just staring us down. Maybe we looked like shiny white gorillas to them? After a few uncomfortable moments one of their keepers motioned us to come say hi. The bull reached up with the tip of his trunk and touched Zach as soon as we were next to him. It was one of those moments I was lucky to share with my son. I was pretty excited to check off the “see elephants” tourist attraction as well, all for the price of a motorbike rental.
We managed to pack a few other touristy excursions into our stay in Chiang Mai. Look for the photos of zip lining & Sawyer’s encounter with a baby tiger. Somewhere in there the kids make time for school too. I certainly make time to check the football scores.
Thanks to Val Zimmer’s tip, we’re currently staying in a little hill tribe village called Ban Tham Lod, not far from the Myanmar border (also known as Burma). The lodge is well described in a NY times article here. Our stay is worth a post of it’s own, sometime soon.
For now, the twins and I are off an a kayaking adventure…
Is that the bird?