rant.

This is how my morning began.

I could tell it was going to be a terrible, horrible no-good very bad day.

Once one’s head hits the pillow for their midnight Bangkokian slumber, it becomes extremely apparent within the first 30 seconds that their rickety old ceiling fan (circa 1800) on “high,” from their $4.50/night room just ain’t gonna cut it. Within the first minute, the frugal tenant comes to terms with their cheapness and prays for a morning where their face doesn’t look like they smeared it with Vaseline per their nightly bedtime anti-wrinkle regiment. They also pray they won’t slip-n-slide their greasy way out of bed in the middle of the night and break an arm. When prayers aren’t enough, they buy soap. Plenty of sudsy shower soap.

I have never hailed myself a clean freak. On the other hand, nor have I bragged about how few of showers I had taken in any given week (*cough KEVIN*cough*). That said, soap is what gets me through the hot sweaty nights. Soap is what makes me feel a little less like the skuzzy traveler I know I am, and bit more like the skuzzy CLEAN SMELLING traveler I know I can be (albeit for the first 20 minutes, anyway). When I dropped my soap this morning, my ONLY hope of smelling (and feeling) even remotely clean all day, down the squatty potty….a squatty potty which looks like it hasn’t been cleaned in well over a month (see that lovely ring?), in (once again) a $4.50/night room, with cockroaches…within the first 10 minutes of my day, I knew it was going to bed one of THOSE days. A day when just looking at me the wrong way may constitute a punch in the face.

A no-good, very bad, straight-up rotten, kind of day.


Now, I recognize it might seem a bit drastic to deem a day “rotten” within the first 10 minutes simply because I won’t be able to degreasify my body. This may, I understand, to those unknowingly basquing in the ordinary comforts of an air conditioned home, seem drastic. But let me assure you. It’s not. Do you ever just have one of those days when you wake up grumpy? Maybe you slept funny, or couldn’t find your blanket for 1/2 the night, or MAYBE you went to bed grumpy, and therefore, woke up that way? Unfortunately, that’s what happened to me. Last night, around 2am I decided having a clean, non mildew smelling pair of shorts to workout in would make my new step-aerobic friends more likely to want to stand by me (did I mention I’ve been doing step aerobics in the park with the gay men, and little old ladies? Well I have. And it’s awesome. But that’s for a happier, less “woe is me” kind post. Stay tuned:)). So, I got out my trusty little bar of soap, and went to work. Once all my workout clothes had jumped up a few notches on the clean scale, I had a second wind, and thought, “Hell! While I’m here, I might as well do everything!” I should mention that a few days ago I bought some new (read: used) clothes off the street for 50 baht that I LOVE. 2 cute shirts, and a pair of green cutoff shorts. I’ve been wearing them everywhere. So, I scrubbed and scrubbed, and close to an hour later, thrilled about saving the money by washing everything myself, but exhausted from all the hard work (thank god for modern day advances), I started to hang up everything to dry outside my 5th story balcony window.

I felt very domestic.

So just as I’m hanging my last sock, I swear to god, the only gust of wind Bangkok has felt in 2 months comes swirling by, and knocks my favorite new CLEAN pair of shorts off the line, down 5 stories, into a muddy gutter way above anywhere I could reasonably reach without a 40 ft extension ladder.

So I may have misspoke when I blamed my day going wrong when I dropped the soap in the toilet at 9am this morning. Come to think of it, I had a hankering my day would be a little less than perfect around 3:30 am staring over my balcony at my shorts. My favorite new CLEAN shorts (man, there seems to be a clean-theme here I didn’t recognize before this!!).

I’m sorry that you all might be getting a little bored with my little sob-story. I don’t care. It’s not done yet. It’s days like this where I feel totally justified complaining about everything and anything…but wait a second! There’s nothing new with that, now is there!!! 🙂

Okay. So lunch. I was starving. Must have been all those step aerobic workout moves, but I’m pretty sure my stomach would have eaten all of my other organs if it could have. For some unknown reason, I have this uncontrollable craving for “Seafood in Sticky Gravy Sauce,” a dish I tried one of the first few weeks here, and really loved. So, Kev, being the trooper he is, ignores my mood, and brings me to find what I’ve been craving. I order it. It looks great. Exactly as I remember. It looks like this:


Yes. Noodles covered in sticky, mucus-like gravy….uh oh. Sick. Just as I’m about to take a huge delicious bite of the one meal I have been craving…the meal we have spent over a hour looking for, I am reminded of an episode of “Dirtiest Jobs” that we watched with our dear friend Nick in a hotel room in Seattle one night on our way out west. Sick, slimy, disgusting mucus-expelling sea slugs. A Japanese delicacy. The sea slug mucus is exactly what is covering my noodles, and I can’t take my mind off it. Why then? Who knows. I’ve eaten this meal before. Fate was against me. I try singing a tune. I try playing “Expando” on Kev’s iPod. I can’t shake the sea slugs.

Lunch: ruined. I stomach a few more bites not to totally annoy Kev too, and leave, vowing to never again to watch “Dirtiest Jobs.”

Skip forward to much later in the day (I’m sure lots of reeealy annoying things happened in between there, but it’s getting late, and my tiredness is overriding my need to vent about the previous 24 hours:)). In an effort to get me in a better mood, Kev takes me to see Mamma Mia! which I have been ecstatic about seeing since we saw the preview during Death Racer. Lame, yes. I was thrilled just the same. Thrilled until I noticed the lead was the same chick from Mean Girls. Thrilled until Pierce Brosnan started singing. For the record, Pierce Brosnan should never sing. I don’t know where his agent was on this one, but if I was her, I would tell him to look for 2 things: movies where he can just sit, flash his pearly whites and look pretty, or movies where he can choke on half-chewed pieces of shrimp in fancy restaurants. Too bad I’m not getting paid the big bucks–I would have just saved that man’s career. All in all, the movie was terrible. Just kidding. Kind of. I can’t be too hard on it. It was terrible, but at the same time, any movie where you can watch Meryl Streep shake what her momma gave her in gogo boots can’t be all bad. Also entertaining? Looking down your row at all of the men singing, “Dancing Queen.” Tonight being the opening night, and ours being the first showing, I expected to see a lot if girls with their mom’s or girlfriends. Nope. Quite the opposite, actually.

Score for tonight’s events:

Movie:5.2
Entertainment:9.5

So we left the movie. Walking quickly enough to make the last run of the Skytrain. It’s 12:09am. One step from under the Skytrain’s aunning… lightening. CRACK! Thunder. Torrential downpour. Look at each other. Laugh. Taxi? Bah. Can’t stop a bad day set in motion. Just gotta let it run it’s course.

Total expenses trying to get me in a better mood (food, entertainment): 735 baht
Total travel costs to get me in a better mood: 180 baht
Walking for an hour through crazy downpour, getting the best shower (with or without soap) Bangkok can offer: PRICELESS.

Rant: I still don’t have my shorts.
Rant: I hate the traffic here. After 2 months I still don’t have a clue which direction it’s going to come from.
Rant: I hate the bugs who bite your legs and leave SCARS! I have 22 unknown bites on my legs, and look like I might morph into a leopard from the thigh down. Kev’s feet are worse. Terrible picture, but you get the idea.

2:52am. Almost 24 hours exactly to when my “terrible, horrible, no-good very bad day” began.

Here’s dreaming of a happier day tomorrow….and soap.
xxxlgt

Omg

OMG I was just literally 3 feet away from all of the Thai Olympians
with their medals!!!

Idea

Learn how to make sesame things
Banana roti
and
cow neeow sune kaya.

sharing.

ayuthhaya. once capitol, now ruins of thailand.

unbelievably, the humid thai air has enabled kevin to grow facial hair.
he talks about how manly he is at least 5 times a day.
(i’m not lying).
he has also been experimenting with different looks.
pictured above: gotee
pic for proof.

epic.
(and i don’t even like that word.)

head/armless statues.
decapitated and amputated by the burmese playing mind games in 1767

buddha resides in all.


beautiful wat (temple) in chiang mai.

takkke me to the riiiverrr! drop me in the waaaterr!
dinner on the riverboat in chiang mai.

kevin attacking my face.
waterfall somewhere far away(15+km) from chaing mai.
we don’t know where… just happily exploring.

leaving ayutthaya for bangkok, for the 3rd time in 2 months.

BKK bound.

A few new photos

Well, we’re in Ayutthaya at the moment, but tomorrow we’re heading off to Bangkok. It’s 11:30 PM here.

Tonight, as sad as it sounds, was almost ruined by two terrible meals. First was at a place called the Moon Cafe. I ordered “chips and cheese with salsa” for 100 baht, which I figured would be a cool thing to eat, considering I haven’t eaten any sort of chips in the last month and a half. But, I ended up getting Dorritos (sans cheese) on a plate with a bit of salsa (which actually wasn’t bad to be honest) for 3 bucks. The second bit of food was the same sort of thing.

The night was made better by a trip to seven eleven down the street where I found a bottle of goats milk, which I bought and drank and was very very happy with.

I really love food.

Also, just FYI I posted a few photos on Flickr. I’d post them here as well for those of you who don’t feel like clicking on a link, but I have 1 minute left before the ocmputer shuts off.

much love to you all, miss you!!!

http://www.flickr.com/photos/shoelessone/

A detailed budget of sorts

500-ferry-kohphangan-koh tao
Taxi-200
400-big blue lodging
Internet-50
Indian food-400
Sandwhich-50
—-1600—–
————–
100-Thai lunch-res
30-mango shake
200-lodging
320-dinner
30-banana pancake
50-beer
20-soap-711
3600-diving-big-blue
—-4350——
————
120-breakfast-2egg-sandwhiches
270-dinner-coconutsoup-gingerchicken-rice-frenchfries-icecoffee
1356-tickets-koh-Tao-champhon-kirikah-boatbustrain
400-rooms
60-smoothies
50-cake
30-lemon shake-street
—-2286—-
————-
120-breakfast sandwhiches-res really good double decker
10-ice 711
40-soup for lindz-street
40-soup for kev-street
120-dinner-friednoodle-padthai-iced coffee-tip20b-res
35-cholate nuts and soymilk-shop-trainststion
500-hotel in kiri khan
—-865—-
————
500-hotel
90-breakfast at hotel 4 eggstoast
90-umbrella
100-rice for kids
35-ice cream and cake
20-crazy drinks
60-soup at stand
15-coconut
10-monkey food
100- foot cream
110- laundry
490-dinner ouch-lindz=300
70-food market @10icecream
—–1690—-
————
90- breakfast
30-711 ice coffee
45- coffee and desert
80- monkey feeding
500- rooms
40-pad Thai street
40- chicken soup street
5- dumplings street
15- egg and meat stick
40- ice cream
20- kow neo- sticky rice with custard
24- toilet paper and H2O
—–929—-
——–
100- nice lady breakfast
10- rice and sugar in bamboo
10- noodles on train
12- ice cream
28- pruat kiri Kahn – hua hin
88- hua hin to Bangkok
470- rooms at not such a nice place w cold AC and no adjustments
10- water
70- taxi from train station
80- Internet
110- Internet
50- pad Thai
32- batteries
—–1070—-
——–week1—–
470- rooms
120- may kaidee
13- yogurt at 711
20- fresh guava from street
5- water
12- needless giving
6- 3 statue guys
30- Internet
50- pad Thai
10- water
30- sky train
109- gormet shopping orange juice and milk
15- chocolate puff
240- movie
80- taxi
70- mango and 1.5 hours Internet
—-1280—–
————
8-3-08
70- taxi to siam from khoason
12- bread for Lindsay
11.75- yogurt at fancy store
470- rooms
70- cipro
12.75- yogurt from fancy store
6- water from gormet store
20- curry naan from mall
12- Japanese custard pancake
70- taxi to khoason road
100- stuff
50- dinner
22- 711 stuff
20- pop
—–1196.5—
—————-
15- Internet
90- taxi from khosan to suk11
800- nice rooms at suk11
453- crepes+50 baht tip
40- internet
50- BTS
60- 50 iced coffee
40- BTS
—–1548—-
—————
160-Internet
85- lunch
1222- 2x train from bkk to chiang mai
70- taxi from nana to train
100- dinner at train station
60- beer and water
80- train junk food – bun, dognut, etc
—–1777—-
—————-
6-8-8
550- rooms- hollanda montri
100- tuk-tuk to rooms from train
650- sushi
–1300———-
——————
550- rooms
90- food at street stalls
1200- visa run
1000- border crossing to Burma
280- mikes burgers
400- deposit for cooking class
40- internet
60- shake and leomanaide at border
—3620———
——————
1400- cooking class
130- 711 shampoo, razor, batteries
550- rooms
25- giving
–2105———
—————–
550- rooms
60- lunch
144- dinner
75- Internet @ 20b/hr
—–829——-
—————-
180- rooms darets
20- giving
40- drinks
29- gas station
25- sushi
20- dumplings
10- fish desert
30- sushi
300- scarves
30- sushi
40- games
69- coffee + custard
80- Internet
60- wallet
10- earings
50- postcards
5- water
20- kow lahm
110- purse
200- shirt
20- games again shooting targets
—-1348——–
—————–
180- rooms at darets
300- bike for 2 days
70- breakfast
90- gas
60- wat entry
150- prison backrub
40- prison coffee
20- kow neow
70- lunch
150- umbrella
300- dinner at da stafano
45- mango shake and lassi
—–1375—–
—————-
180- rooms
74- breakfast
80- fuel
225- dinner
40- street food
100- ice cream at mall
20- video game
5- pen
20- coconut shake
135- Internet
15- guava shake
49- tea at grocery
——-943——-
——————
180- rooms
400- bike x2 days
90- breakfast
492- dinner
80- gas
—–1240—-
—————-
180- rooms
60- Internet
240- dinner
38- desert at street market
110- paper market
199- helmet
70- fuel
90- breakfast
15- soap
18- almond thing
—-1120—-
————–
180- rooms
75- breakfast
400- bike
600- haircuts
40- desert
20- video game
10- massage chair
250- shoes
565- dinner on the boat – riverside
12- water
—————
676- ticket to ayuttaya
180- rooms
80- drinks
77- breakfast
70- gas
100- bike
150- dinner
128- buds ice cream
80- Internet
15- ducttape asprin
————–

+++27793+++
16 day average:
///1737B///
54.20 USD

————————
asia.shoelessone.com
(from iPod Touch)

Just a trim.

Well, I guess It’s been a while since I’ve written much of anything, and after a lot of harassment from Kev, I realized I do actually have a few things to report. As it turns out, 1 1/2 months later, I need to make another addition to “the list…but I’ll get to that in a second.

As of 6 tonight, I “bit the bullet…” “went all out…” [add other ridiculous little phrase here] and got cute shoes AND bangs!!! Okay fine, my shoes aren’t really all that cute. In fact they’re knock off, $4.50 Birkenstocks, and my bangs, well…without a blow dryer, curling iron, or straightener, you could say they’re looking a bit funky, air drying with all this crazy humidity…but I will not be discouraged!! Kev actually was first to get his hair cut earlier this afternoon, and after watching him get a (seriously, no lie) 10 minute head massage and shampoo, I decided it would be a crime if I didn’t get one too (right?!). So, I found a cute little picture of a hair cut I liked, and showed the guy what I wanted. Obviously there is a BIT of a language barrier in this joint, but when he saw the picture I liked he said…”Oh! You want Asian girl hair! I give you straight Asian girl hair!” (this is what I THINK he said, by the way.) l smile and nod my head, and adjust myself in the really sticky pleather chair. Now there are two things I should mention at this point. One. While, yes, I picked out a picture of an Asian woman to copy my hair after, there were absolutely NO magazines of any white girl haircuts to choose from (not that I initially minded). Two. As I mentioned earlier, my hair’s been runnin’ with this whole humidity thing, and has left me with quite the crrrazy do’s these days. My hair is thick. I am white. Unfortunately, no amount of hair product will leave my hair as straight, slick or shiny as any of the girls’ here. I figured the man would recognize this. But decked out in his pink Lacoste hat, matching polo sweater vest, tight leather pants, and enormous diamond encrusted cross necklace and earrings– it was obvious, this man was on a mission. Almost 2 hours later, my “trim with bangs” was completed. Looking down at the floor, I laughed at the 1/2 of head of hair laying on the ground. This poor man truly could not handle the wave in my hair. Every time he cut and released the hair he was holding, my hair would lay with a slight wave. I watched as his face tensed up, and he grabbed the thinning shears, trying to thin my hair down to a point of no wave. When he could thin-no-more, he resorted to the hair wax, and methodically attempted to tame my hair into the “Asian hair” style he promised. You could almost read the profane words of frustration coursing thru his brain, mixed with the lack of understanding on “why it won’t lay flat!!!” In the end, afraid of losing any more hair, I finally stopped him, and just told him I liked it just like it was. He smiled, and whipped his hand across his forehead with a sigh of relief, and then proceeds to say, “You the first white girl hair I ever cut! Not like Thais, it hard!” Ha. My poor hair has been through so much over the years. It’s a wonder it doesn’t fall out just to spite me. I walked out looking like a drowned rat, while yelling at Kev for laughing at my “special new hair cut.” It was quite the trip…but now I’m one step closer to “fitting in”…right?! 🙂

Okay, so back to the list. Number 3… (Dun, dun, duuuuuun!) Being able to drive a scooter like a bat out of Hell. Let me just say for the record: Kev has mastered that skill. I wouldn’t be surprised to learn he has Thai blood coursing thru his veins. Today alone he ran 3 stop lights (common practice), utilized his horn multiple times (common practice) and mastered the delicate art of car/tuk-tuk/pedestrian/songatheaws/scooter/stray dog weaving. Needless to say, I’m veerry impressed (and scared to death most of the time:)). Speaking of stray dogs, the other day Kev picked up some dog treats at this night bazaar and has been carrying them around searching for hungry stray dogs for close to a week now. A giant bag. Full. Of smelly dog treats. It’s pretty cute, I will say.

Tonight we ate dinner on this boat while putzing along the river. It was an amazing way to see the city from a different angle. After, we went to another night market (where I bought my shoes!) and drove around looking for stray dogs to feed for an hour. It was really fun. Although pretty scraggly, they are pretty cute…and make me miss Clee the Beeo.

On a totally different, not so happy note, the other day I went to the Women’s Prison to get a massage. I heard that they had just implemented a program where 100% of the money the women made would go directly to help them get back on their feet when they were released, or to their families, assuming they weren’t getting out for a while. The woman I was with was named Soi, who seemed to have an incredibly sweet, but unmistakable sadness to her. I was just making small talk with her when she said, out of the blue, “so I bet you want to know why I’m in here.” After trying to assure her that, no, it really wasn’t any of my business, she said she needed to talk, and wanted to tell me. So I sat back and listened to how she had just seen her 4 year old daughter a few hours earlier and had been doing a lot of “thinks” all day about how she got there. She told me about how she found out her husband was molesting her daughter, and when she found out, she bashed his head in with a mortar and pestal. A bit graphic, sorry. She said he was in “really bad shape,” and that even though she was just protecting her daughter, she had a long time to serve. I haven’t looked into this, but she told me that in Thailand children are considered almost like adults by the time they’re 3. Which means, even though this little girl had no way of truly protecting herself from her dad, she still is responsible for her safety as far as the court is concerned. It was really difficult to take in. She also talked about the child-sex industry and made mention to why it’s so big here. She told me that even though it is now illegal to sell your child into the sex industry, parents (in especially rural villages) often have no way of protecting their daughters from it. And, of course, there’s no protection for the parents trying to protect their children. It’s a sick, frustrating cycle. I asked her if I could do anything, give more money, etc, but she told me no, she was just giving a service, and couldn’t take a cent more from me. When I left, she gave me a giant hug and thanked me for listening to her “thinkings.” I smiled, asked again if there was anything I could do and left feeling unbelievably drained, helpless and sick to my stomach. So much for a relaxing Thai massage! I guess this is the kind of stuff you find out once you’ve been somewhere for more than a week…you trim off the fat, and get to the meat of the issues effecting the people you’ve been surrounding yourself with.

I’m planning on going back to see her tomorrow.

Anyway, enough of this depressing post. It’s been a long day–and I think I’m hittin’ the hay. Miss and love you all.

Trim what you don’t need.
Xxx lgt

I bought a bike helmet

I just bought a bike helmet. It was 199 baht, a bit less then 6 bucks. I bought it because it has a visor, and I’m tired of my current loaner helmet which doesn’t have a visor (makes driving in the constant rain difficult), plus my current helmet smells terrible.

plus, i’m going to buy a scooter when I get home. Mom/Dad, we’re gonna need a bit more room in our garage!

terrible pic:

Chiang Mai pt 1

Well, I'm writing this more to serve as a record of our trip then an
interesting read, but here goes.

I don't know what I types last, but after Suk 11 in Bangkok Lindsay
and I took a night train from BKK to Chiang Mai. That involved
spending anentire day in the BKK train station (lots of cards, lots of
reading, etc) which wasnt all bad. I had gotten into my book "Bone
Mountain" which was about Tibet and Buddhism and the Chinese making
life difficult. Anyway, very good book and it gives some picture of
Tibet and its religion, somewhat accuratly. Plus it gives some idea of
what the whole "free Tibet" thing is all about.

Anyway, I digress, I think. We ate some dinner in the train station
with a fellow north American (quebec actually, however you spell that.
Lindsay says this is correct but the iPod doesnt like it), then jumped
on the train Around 7:30. This time around we had a second class air
conditioned car, the only train available on that particular night (we
had a reservation the next day in Chiang Mai) which was actually very
nice. It was a bit pricey at 611 baht a person (~18 USD) but again it
was the only option and Lindsay and I both much prefer taking the
train to the bus, which is generally filled with tourists, not to
mention making more stops. I should point out that I realize we are
probably no better than other tourists, but its still nice to not see
them.

The train itself was nice, we were surprised and pleased to find out
that we were provided with dinner (similar to airplane food, a bit
less in quality, but similar and actually served in the same manner)
as well as breakfast of sorts in the morning (a bun filled with berry
jelly stuff). We read until 11 or so then watched "Hitch" on my ipod
before *trying* to sleep. Neither Lindsay or I slept very well, and
when we arrived in Chiang Mai at 7:20ish (12 hours on the train for
those of you who don't have access to a calculator) we were both tired.

Enter Chiang Mai, a very popular place for tourists with a bit more
time and perhaps interested in getting out of the touristy tourist
(note the extra tourist) areas of Thailand. While there are still Many
tourists here there are also a lot of ex-pats and it doesnt feel at
all "made for tourists," at least not in general. Just as an example,
the popular night markets are popular to lacal Thais as well as
tourists. Anyway Lindsay and I needed to get to our guest house so we
hailed a tuk-tuk (our first! We have a video we'll post sometime) and
paid 100 baht to get to our place the Hollanda Montri. The rooms were
500 baht per night, not particularly cheap bit doable – plus there was
AC and a TV (only channel in English was the Russian news station
which turned out to be interesting as the big Russian/Georgia conflict
started the day we arrived) and hot showers, etc. Hollanda Montri was
heavily recomended by the people of the Internet and we were quite
happy with it, though as you'll read we decided later it was not the
place for us.

We slept for a while that day until later in the afternoon when we
walked around the city to get our barrings. I find that while it is
exciting to first arrive to a totally unknown and new city, it can be
difficult to get oriented and it is nice after s few ssys of wxploring
to get a sense of direction/space/layout of a city. The first day (and
in fact the first 4 days) we used our legs as our sole means of
transportation. There are no metered taxis here (almost) so tuk-tuks
and songathews (red/yellow trucks that sort of travel in routes around
the city) are the only means of public transportation, and seeing as
they require bartering to figure on a price and even still can be
quite expensive they are not the best for exploring a city. We walked
a long way our first day, and in each successive day as well.

The city is sort of broken into two parts, an old city and new city.
The old city is basically a square bordered by a moat (a real moat at
one point I might add) with 8 gates at various points around the moat.
At this point in time the gates are not really gates but a bridge (the
moat isn't exactly a flowing river) although there is one actual gate
still around. To be honest I can tell a HUGE difference between the
old and new city, until you her a ways out of the city center things
are fairly similar (street markets, restorants, etc). Anyway I'm not
sure why I'm typing all of this if you really care about the cities
layout check out wikipedia or wikitravel.

The "first part" of our Chiang Mai stay was a mixture of three or four
things:
1) me getting a bit sick (not too bad)
2) going to Burma for a "visa run"
3) a cooking class at Baan Thai
4) walking
5) eating

I'm typing all of this on an iPod so I'm not sure how much I'll
actually write about each, but Lindsay (who is sitting across from me
reading) just informed me she wouldn't write much about this stuff so
I'll try.

1) I was a bit sick, which sucked, but it was just a day and we had AC
and a TV so it wasnt too terrible. I watched a lot of the same war
footage from Georgia (S. Ossetia) and heard a LOT of the same Russian
war corospondants say a lot of the same things.

2) I seem to remember already typing something about this but to be
honest I don't remember and at the moment I don't have Internet access
to check so hear goes. Our 30 day tourist visa expired on the 11th of
August and everyday after that we stayed cost us 15$ USD so we had to
do a visa run -basically leave Thailand and then come back in (I feel
deja-vu writing this). The closest country being Burma/Myanmmar we
took a bus to the border, crossed over, and came back (ok not I'm sure
I've written this before). Sort of silly I suppose. The bus ride cost
us 600 each and the visa to Burma was 500. We met a wonderful woman
named Susan and talked all day. We also had good fried food in Burma.
It was sort of a long day and expensive, 11 hours or so in a bus.
Actually a van. That night we went to mikes which didn't help with the
budget (more on that later). Anyway now we can stay until September
something.

3) Baan Thai cooking class was quite wonderful. I wish Lindsay would
write something about it as I'm sure I will not do it justice here.
The class was all day(ish) from 9 am to 4 pm. It was exactly what we
wanted (pretty much) and really well run. One of the best parts about
the class was the people we met. We had a couple from France, a couple
from Isreal, a woman from New York, and a brother/sister from
Singapore/London. Those were just the people we sat with.

You sit on the floor on matts around a table and are provided with tea/
coffee when you first arrive, plus water pitchersa. Basically it was
just very warm and hospitable. First thing we chose which dishes we
wanted to make, there were six to choose from on total. I won't list
them all but I chose a red curry paste, kohsoi, sticky rice and mango,
spring rolls (just because they sounded good), and a prawn and coconut
soup. Lindsays dishes were different though generally similar.
Basicaly we each had one of each "type" of food (1 curry paste, one
stir fry, one desert, etc).

After choosing our dishes we went on a market tour which was quite
spectacular. We walked around a "wet market" and purchased all of our
ingredients, as we went the girl who led the tour explained
everything. You could tell they went there daily as they picked up raw
ingredients (for instance shaved coconut used in the process of making
coconut milk) to show us. That is not to say that this was a tourist
market, it was very much a "real" street market which made the
experience all the better. After buying the required ingredients we
were happily surprised to be given 15 minutes to walk around the
market finding things to ask questions about. Bonus: the guide would
buy things we were currious about, out of Baan Thais pocket, so we
could try them. Once the tour was over we headed back to the cooking
school where they put together a rather nice looking spread for each
of us with all of the foods that we picked out at the market,
including fresh mangosteen and dragon fruit. It was a nice way to
start the cooking class.

The actual cooking was very fun. It was slightly less "intensive" then
I would have liked, but that isn't really a complaint, just a personal
preference. For each dish we moved to specific stations depending on
what we were cooking. For the most part the ingredients were mostly
prepared and cut, except for say, an onion and a tomato and perhaps
some lemon grass. Then you basically put everything into a wok in the
prescribed order and ta da! Food! There was luckily a little more to
it then that, you learned little things like about Thai ginger, how
you dont take the skin off of Thai garlic, etc.

In the end it was lots of fun. We had fun making the dishes and were
very full all day, plus we met lots of great people, including the
brother sister combo Kai Wing and Wei Yee that we ended up going out
to dinner with that evening (which was wonderful and amazing – thanks
again!!).

It was 900 baht per person (yikes!) well spent!

4) not much to say about walking. In the interest of saving money
Lindsay and I walked a good 10-20 kilometers a day. It's nice to walk
as it gives you a better feeling for the city I think but at the same
time when the city is somewhat large walking can be somewhat limiting.

5) food. I love food, as some of you may know. Here we've had some
spectacular food.

To start with what was certainly the most extravagant meals of our
trip so far (certainly on par with lindsays birthday sushi) was the
meal that Kai Wing and Wei Yee treated us to at a resturant called The
Whole Earth. There have been very few meals in my life that I have
been treated to that have such a spread – fish, curries, palek paneer,
an egg dish, naan, dimpling "things", normally I remember exactly what
was served at any given meal but this meal was too big. Even better
than the food was the company. Kai Wing worked and lived in Singapore
and Wei Yee worked and lived in London. Wonderful people, very well
traveled and interesting to talk with. To top it all off they payed
the bill (which was substantial I'm sure), which while making us feel
a bit guilty, was a very nice treat. Thanks again guy!

Edit – OOPS! This should be in the next post as we are not at darets
yet in this post!!****** All of our meals at our guest house, Darets,
have been great. I especially apreciate the scrambled eggs on weat
toast that are a welcomed break from Thai food. Plus the 20 baht mango
shakes. Lindsay has been eating cashew nuts and chicken (for
breakfast, which drives me crazy by the way) and "Lassi shakes" which
are homemade yogurt and ice blended together. I normally love a good
lassi but I'm not a huge fan of these. She loves them though, even at
25 baht! 😉

Near the public park in the south west corner of the old city (which
in itself deserves a post – let the record reflect that I just nicely
asked Lindsay if she would be willing to write something small about
the park, she replied, "no, do it yourself!" – though to be honest she
was [partially] kidding and she has been a most perfect traveling
companion and I think we are both really happy to be traveling
together) is a street that is covered with street food vendors. This
is not at all special or unique as most streets are lined with street
food vendors at one time or another, but these food stalls were top
notch and a few of them were unique to this area. For instance, sushi
stalls with decent maki sushi (rolls) for 5 – 10 baht a piece. Fried
home made dumplings, fresh iced coffee, roasted nuts, buns shaped like
fish with custard in them, and so on. Street food in general is great
but Lindsay and I liked this place enough to come back twice. The
environment at night makes it all the better, the park across the
street is sort of like a city park combined with a carnival combined
with a state fair, only much smaller and more condensed and with less
crap. But still enough crap that people like me can play the games
where you shoot darts out of a gun at stuffed animals to win prizes. I
won a stuffed mouse-thing for Lindsay. There are also beatiful orchid
displays all over for orchid judging competitions, kids painting
statues (10 baht! I wish izzy was here!), and even a somewhat run down
and miniature ferris wheel. Not to mention people all over serving ice
cream for 10 baht (30 cents). Oh, and a small stage where we watched
several local boy/rock bands perform. A wonderful place.

Last but not least (as far as food is concerned) is Mikes Burger. This
is a great place that is very very popular for good reason. They serve
American style hamburgers, French fries, shakes, etc. It great not
only because the food is very US American but also because it looks
and is run in avery American way. People wear gloves when handling
your food, your given "real" napkins, a bill, etc. Plus you sit on
bright red stools at the counter, facing in, while behind you is the
traffic of Chiang Mai whipping by your back. The food is really good
and would satisfy anybody missing a real cheeseburger.

Well thats about it for part 1. It has taken me two days and several
hours to type this all out on my iPod. In reality this post only
covers up to four days ago, we've been at our new guest house for over
4 days but I wanted to split the blog post into two parts to keep
things somewhat focused.

Miss you all!
Kev

————————
asia.shoelessone.com
(from iPod Touch)

Went to Burma today

Quick post: lindz and I made a visa run today, which basically involved driving 5 hours to the border of Burma, crossing into Burma aka Myanmar, then crossing back into Thailand. It felt a bit pointless but at least I can say I’ve been to Myanmar -it’s amazing how different it felt, even just order the border. Anyway, it was another 5 hours back to Chiang Mai. We met a wonderful woman named Susan and had a great chat.

Tomorrow in the AM we have a cooking class at 9 until 4 in the afternoon, which we are both very excited about. 6 different things to cook, plus a tour of the markets.

Oh, tonight we gave into temptation and went to “Mikes Burger” and had hamburgers and a shake.

That’s about it!!!