The Moat: A Royal Pain in the Orchid

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January 19th 2007
Published: February 4th 2007
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nothing more to say, really. just mushrooms
My hope in writing this entry is that it will be found, some day, and that it may prevent even one innocent tourist from coming, naive and unsuspecting, to Chiang Mai.

Jen and I arrived at Chiang Mai train station from Bangkok on the Number 51 overnight train. We left Bangkok on Tuesday evening at 22:00, having booked passage on a Second Class Sleeper Car (fan only, no air-con, please). The trip was uneventful, and we rolled in to town at 12:45 well rested.

We had spent the previous day running around Bangkok, sightseeing, and meeting up with our man in Thailand, Chandler van der Grift (more about CvdG, later), all after riding the overnight bus from Khao Lak for 12 hours. I know, I know: "quit your whining, and suck it up!" is likely what you are saying to your computer monitor as you read this.

In any case, we find ouselves in Chiang Mai, we find a decently priced hotel room (clean) in the Inner Moat District (must be seen), and we take a day to rest up. All is good. Today, January 19th, we took a Thai cooking class where we learned to make all
Mixed veggiesMixed veggiesMixed veggies

We took a trip to a market for our cooking class, and the produce looked so good, I had to take pictures
sorts of good things, including Phat Thai (sometimes written Pad Thai), and spring roll (sometimes pronounced Spri-Ro). The television in our room has a footie channel; life is cheap and easy.

Jen and I will visit the Royal Flora Festival, an international flower festival which happens to be on while we're here. It's like the city was witing for us! How divine!

: Oh, the city was waiting for us, alright. Like a carnivourous bloom! It turns out to be very easy to get to Chiang Mai, very inexpensively. It is quite another thing to get out, inexpensively. All the second class trains (fan, no air-con) are, as if by magic, sold out. "You fly, or take bus! Or you stay Chiang Mai!"

January 20th: Morning ticket agents at the train station, the ones who wear uniforms, are not on the take; we were sold two second class "sit only day time train" tickets. All is well. Take a look at the pictures. It really is a nice town, in the end.

January 23rd: Jen and I went on a 2 day, 1 night trek to "see the hill tribes" north
Cooking SchoolCooking SchoolCooking School

The morning's output. We each made this much, and we then had to try to eat all of this
of Chiang Mai. Very pretty, and the hiking was plenty tough considering this is a holiday. The "hill tribes" are actually farmers who are relatively recent arrivals to Thailand; 1949, to be precise. They were, at one time, the 93rd Army Regiment of the Chinese Army, and the Communists (and then the Government of Myanmar) drove them to settle down in this region. The whole thing is very tame: you see a cave, a waterfall, you go for a swim, your guide is drunk through the whole thing, and the food is fairly harmeless. Nice cabbage and fruit farms (see pictures

We did get around to visiting the Royal Flora. Not an easy thing to find out how to get to this international event, but it turns out that a free shuttle will take you there and back if you can find the Secret Bus Parking Lot(!!). The whole exhibition is one big botanical garden dedicated to the king...sorry... THE KING (cue the gong). The king apparently has a "New Theory of Farming", but we pressed for time, so we never got around to that pavillion.

Next, we returned to Bangkok, via 12 hour train ride, and each fought a battle with Traveller's Discomfort. More on our stay in Bangkok at a later date... At the time of posting, we are in Cambodia, but I will try to get the blog caught up to us.

Thank you all for the notes of support, even those of you who wrote to complain that I didn't provide frequent enough updates (I won't mention names, yet)

Ciao for now.

Additional photos below
Photos: 11, Displayed: 11


Cabbage patchCabbage patch
Cabbage patch

No weeds in this garden.
A Jungle FriendA Jungle Friend
A Jungle Friend

with a leg span of, oh, about 6 inches front to back.
Our private swimming holeOur private swimming hole
Our private swimming hole

The water was a bit cold, but the entire floor of the pool was covered with sand. Quite nice, really
Royal Flora residentRoyal Flora resident
Royal Flora resident

just one of the countless orchids we had to muddle by.

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