Friday, 16 October 2009

In Chiang Mai (for the 2nd time) but not written all the way up to there yet...

I'm making this a bit easier by just adding little bits at a time instead of sitting somewhere for an ages trying to plug it all in! So this entry is the accumulation of several smaller sections!

So, would be the 11th of October. I was thinking about leaving on this day as i'd pretty much done eveything there was to do in Kanchanaburi. But i was enjoying my time there so i decided to stay a bit longer. I rented a bike and went to a floating a restaurant, had some lunch, drank some beer, read a bit. Then i cycled over to the bridge again. This time i went all the way across. I'd bought some food from a food stall, which was essentially just various meats deep fried and put on skewers, then covered in sweet chili sauce. A cat got a wiff of it, decided her liked it and so followed me all the way across. I couldn't think of a name for it, so i simply called it 'the cat on the bridge over the river kwai' .......or tcotbotrk for short. :D This is what daytime drinking will do to you. I sat on the opposite side of the bridge on a bank, watched people wandering. A saw a bunch of monks wondering across and taking pictures of each other. Little bit surreal! So then i was planning on leaving the next day. However i woke up in the morning and had a change of heart. I was going to go to Lopburi, which is a place with a few temples that is completly overrun with monkeys. But i'd already seen trouble making monkeys at Erawan falls so i decided to change my plans. I booked a flight to Chiang Mai for two days time.

So i ate one more time in Chaba restaurant before i left. They were pretty suprised to see me as they thought i'd left. I told them that i was going to Chiang Mai, and one of them said, 'i think someone else wants to come with you!' Apparently one of the girls had a bit of a crush on me. Bless.

So then back to Bangkok, back to Rambuttri village inn. There are a few tailor shops just out from the entrance, and a bunch of guys hang round wearing smart suits trying to make friends with you and to get you to buy a suit. Unfortunately they recognise me now, and their sales pitch is getting pretty far along! If i was flying from Bangkok straight back to home, maybe i would buy some ridiculous suit and wear it on the plane, and come out of Heathrow looking like a tool. But unfortunately (whilst also fortunatly) i still have a long way to go, and there is no way i'm going to lug around a suit when my backpack is already pretty full!

So on the 14th i flew to Chiang Mai, got a taxi to where i decided to stay. Wondered around a bit, in the evening i went to this night market, there was also a big stage there. On this night, there were a guy and a few girls singing, with these 4 girls dancing as backing dancers. It was pretty hilarious. 3 of the 4 danced like me, (read: not well) but one of them could. The other 3 just seemed to look at her with envy! I had some dinner then got a dragon fruit shake and watched the rather entertaining show!

Next day i decided to check out some of the temples, as this is mostly what Chiang Mai is famous for. I headed in the direction of the biggest temple, the city itself is pretty cool, it's surrounded by a square moat, so it's pretty easy to find your way around. Anyway, i was wandering towards the biggest one, checked out a couple of smaller ones on the way. The city just seems to be completely littered with temples, they're everywhere! So i got to the main one, can't remember the name. It has a huge buddha inside which fell off some transport hundreds of years ago, so they decided to build the temple around it. There was also a waxwork of a famous monk in the temple. I stood there for a good two minutes, convinced it was real, waiting for the eyes to move or something. Boy did i feel stupid :D On the way out of the temple i got talking to a local, he used to be a muy thai fighter, and had spent time in the army. Anyway, i thought this was one of those rare occasions where a local would come and talk to you without trying to sell you something. But of course i was wrong. He was a taxi driver, pulled out a map and told me he could take to these various places (outside the city and out of walking distance) for 100baht. Why not. I thought the price was a bit too good but i later found out why it was so cheap!

So he took me to a few temples outside the city. They were all pretty awesome. Very different, very interesting. Unfortunately my camera died part way through so i didn't get all that many photo's. I also met my first buddhist monk in one of the temples. Normally you see them walking around but they don't feel like the most approachable people, more out of respect. Anyway, one of the monks came up to me in one of the temples, he was from Phnom Penh. So yeah, that was a cool first!

Then my driver took me to the 'handicraft village.' At first this was pretty cool, he took me to a silk place, where they show you how the silk is made (with the silk worm in various stages of its life cycle). After being whizzed through the 'factory' you are led into a huge gift shop area, filled with lots of silk products. Yeah, no thanks. So this happened quite a bit. He took me to a silver place, a lacquer place, a stone place. Again, quickly whizzed through the factories and into the showrooms. So eventually we were heading back to Chiang Mai when my driver said 'i want to take you to these two other places.' He hadn't mentioned this earlier. He said something about getting a coupon for gasoline, i didn't really understand. So we parked outside this place that said 'private collection' and in I went. It was just another shop with various things in, all pretty expensive. The guy at the door asked me 'what are you looking for?' and i said i was just looking. He got a bit pissed off with this, and started looking outside at my taxi driver. He told me that he gets 50 baht for bringing me here, because supposedly drivers only bring people to this place who are actually going to buy something. I felt bad for the guy, so we talked a little bit. He was from Kashmir, and somehow we got talking about American foreign policy. At one point he said 'America is the terrorist, not these other places. I just sort of vaguely agreed, not wanting to piss this guy off more than my being there already had.

So i left and my taxi driver took me to the next place, and this time i knew what was going on when i walked in, so felt a bit more prepared. This time there were a few guys inside, all Indian. Again, 'what are you looking for?' I just said 'i'm just looking.' I wandered over to some handmade postcards, and one of the guts said '50baht.' He then asked me where i was from, and I said England. He then said 'you have nothing.' Um.....what? So he said it again. 'You have nothing.' Me being the diplomat said 'i don't understand what you mean?' So then he said:

'If you come here you have to buy something, people only come here to buy something.'
Me: So i'm not even allowed to just look?
Him: No, people come here to buy. You are costing me money, with my overheads, electricity'
Me: So you guys just turn the lights off and wait in the dark for customers?'

He didn't like this attempt at humour, and so led me towards the door. And then once I was outside he said 'thanks for coming.' Really? I just said 'yeah whatever.' So then i was done. The driver knew that i'd get some stick off them, so wanted to buy me some beer from a 7/11, but i wasn't even mad with him, i was on his side now. I was glad i'd gone in and pissed these people off, and that he'd got money because of it. He drove me back to my guesthouse, i paid my 100 baht and went back to my room, laughing at the day i'd had.

In the evening i had some amazing stonebaked pizza somewhere because i was craving for pizza, and then spent some more time at the night market where tonight there was some sort of show, like the kind of thing we used to have to watch in school. It was a play to stop kids from drinking alcohol and doing drugs. Of course it was all in Thai, but was pretty obvious what was going on, and pretty entertaining to watch. Then a band played, and people kept going up to the lead singer to put these paper chains around his neck. Towards the end of a song he'd have so many round him he could barely see, it was pretty hilarious.

The next day i got a minibus to Pai, and many a fun time were had. But i should probably stop this entry here because its a pretty big one!

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