Day 15: Thursday 19 January: Day off in Chaing Mei

There is not a great deal to say about today – except that eagle eyed readers will have noticed that my OCD tendencies have come to the fore and I have renumbered all the previous blogs to get them right – so this is “day 15” and is Thursday (all day) and 15th January (again all day).  Someone will have been as irritated as me about our inability to number and date the blog pages correctly – and have quietly said to himself or herself “Just get it right”.  You are now put out of your misery – it is all now in order.  Now we can both worry about other things of equal (or possibly even of lesser) importance.

I cannot get over how conflicted I feel about Chiang Mei.  We rode 800km to get here and so should feel pretty good about arriving, but there is a slight feeling that this is Thai-ersatz, but that may be unfair.  All the bits of Thailand that we have grown to love are here, but the effect of being in a tourist hotspot is that they are packaged slightly differently – and thus work better for tourists (which include us of course).  I recall that when we were in Mexico were told that Cancun was a Mexican tourist city that Mexicans went to in order to learn what life was like outside Mexico.  Chiang Mei has something of that feeling, but at the same time a short away from the tourist main drag is a Thai city indistinguishable from those we have passed through to date.  It perhaps has a slight Morcambe and Wise effect – all the right notes but not necessarily in the right order.  The bars and restaurants (almost every other outlet) all have menus In English (brilliant for us of course).

There are tattoo parlors on every corner and I feel somewhat naked without any body art.   am tempted to have “nil desparandum carburubdum illegitami” tattooed across some discrete bit of my body but have resisted so far – mainly because I doubt the spelling will come out right.  

Chaing Mei is a loverly, vibrant city where the centre is full of European, American, Australian and Chinese people – i.e tourists like us.  There are a surprisingly large number4 of oldies like us (not many on bikes) and the  Chinese are, without doubt, the best dressed and the best at applying make up (both sexes).  Appearance must be a high factor in China as I cannot believe they only dress up to go abroad.

But there are also marvelous cultural sites.  We went to a series of temples this morning but Wat Phra Singh Woramahawihan stood out.  We were there as the monks did their morning chanting – and it was magical.  We could have been back in the Benedictine Abbeys of our youth.  The descriptions are best shown by photos but the tourists did not spoil the reverence.

The afternoon was a trike fixing, reading, relaxing and sorting out time.  We have planned the next week or so into Laos and are both excited and a touch daunted by the prospect.  The hills will get bigger and the overnight stays will become more basic – and we may have to camp.  

In the evening we ambled out to the tourist infected night market – dishes from all over the world on offer but we both plumped for Thai food and Thai beer.  I think we may have either acclimatised or gone native.  Then an amble back across a foot bridge where we specifically told not to sleep on the bridge – which had seemed so much more attractive than our hotel but we are law abiding folk at heart and so compromised by going back to our air conditioned room.

1 thought on “Day 15: Thursday 19 January: Day off in Chaing Mei

  1. I fear you will find cities like this all over the world. In Palestine our comment on the tourists was “How to see the Holy Land without leaving America!”

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