Thursday, December 18, 2014

Ohhhh Maiiiii!

Well, my brain demanded it, demanded that instead of going to bed early like I probably should, I get started writing about my trip.  When I bought my tablet netbook thing I justified it by telling myself how easy it would be to bring on trips and I'd never need an internet cafe again!  Well, it hasn't exactly worked out that way.  Here I am on this trip, and while I should have been updating faithfully - the computer is all systems go, I have the right memory card, blah blah blah - I have another piece of writing I've been working on, and that's been like pulling teeth.  So.  Ahem.  On with the blogging.
Monday night I finally made it to Chiang Mai.  It was not exactly the smoothest...well, I guess I can't call it a start since I'd already been out of Mongolia three days at that point.  I didn't arrive on a good note, I guess.  The flight was delayed about a half hour and when my luggage FINALLY appeared on the carousel, I was done.  Brand-new Carlos Ruiz-Zafon book in hand, I grabbed it and rushed off to get a cab to the guesthouse I was staying at for the first night.  He took me to the place Dougie-Poo had suggested, a guesthouse he'd stayed at way back in the day called Julie's.  I'd emailed ahead of time and they said they had a single room with shared bathroom available.  However, when I got there, that was not the case.  The guy I'd talked to said I should have contacted them in advance, that they didn't check their email that often, and although I was livid that they made it MY fault in spite of the fact that they had a room that morning (not to mention the fact that they told a single woman to go wandering looking for different digs at 11 at night), there was not much I could do except go to their next-door competitor, JJ Guesthouse, where - once I managed to drag someone out of sleep long enough to ask - they were happy to put me up.  It was only when I was settling unto my room that I realized I'd left Marina, my brand new book, behind at some point.  Damn.

When I finally got up and started wandering the old city, I found Chiang Mai very much to my liking.  It doesn't have that unmanageable, hectic feel to it that Bangkok does; it's much more laid back.  I wandered around in a loop from JJ's, stopping into temples and keeping an eye out for someplace to eat.  Eventually I made my way back to where I started and sat down to eat basically everything on the menu at the Mickeybunny cafe, which had smelled appealing when I first got going.  While I ate ALL THE FOODS! I spent some time trying to figure out where I was going until 3, when I was set to meet Dougie-Poo, and eventually made a plan to get out of the city the next day.  Dougie-Poo and his wife were still working (like pretty much everyone in education except us), and I decided if I wanted to get out of the city for a day - and I kind of did - that it would be better to do it the next day rather than waiting until I came back through, when they were off work.  I saw a few more temples, then came back to the guesthouse, booked the next day's trip, and caught a tuk-tuk to Dara Academy, where I met up with my friends.
Dougie-Poo and I worked together back in Korea.  He's been living in Chiang Mai for about a billion years, minus a couple of stints in Korea to save money.  As we talked that evening, we both agreed that there was something about GDA - I've seen more of the people I worked with there since leaving than I have anywhere else, although that could just be the Stockholm Syndrome working its magic.  At any rate, Dougie-Poo and his lovely wife were gracious enough to put me up and feed me and take me back to the guesthouse at oh-dark-hundred the next day, and I'm looking forward to seeing them for realz when I get back to Chiang Mai on the 28th.

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