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Published: April 14th 2008
Chiang Mai, Thailand; home for a while?
So…in the end we had to go by plane to Chiang Mai. This turned out to be great. But in the beginning we wanted to go by train. You see, we have a lot of luggage, four 50 pound, bags, plus a computer and our two little backpacks. What! We moved here. What the hell do you expect?
Anyhoo, Thailand has a pretty cool train system that runs from south to north (actually it goes all the way into Malaysia) with Bangkok being the midway transfer point for the country. I hear the trains are slow, but that can be nice for scenery viewing. We wanted to go in a first class cabin which is only about $60. This would give us room for our luggage. Oh yeah. I didn’t mention that when we flew the domestic flight from Bangkok to Samui we were charged about $60 extra for our excess baggage.
In the end, because of the upcoming Songkran festival (Thai New Year) all the cabins were booked and plane was our only realistic choice. So we went by plane. We flew Thai Airways. They did not charge us for
Leopard Print Songtaew
Me (lookin' good) in the back of my new favorite songtaew. Songtaews are pickup trucks with this stuff on the back. They drive semi-fixed routes around and you can hop on about anywhere and get dropped of where ever along the route.
excess luggage (even though we had twice as much as we were supposed to) and their planes were much more comfortable than Bangkok Airways. Fly Thai Airways.
We got into Chiang Mai in the early afternoon. Our taxi driver was very friendly and told us he was our first new friend in Chiang Mai. This warm and welcoming nature from the Thais would become a trend over our next week (and hopefully our next months or however long we’re here). He dropped us off at our hotel. This was to be our home for the next thirty days…hopefully. See, when we tried to book this place a few days earlier nobody on the other end of the phone spoke English. We finally got one of the Thai ladies at our Samui hotel to call for us. She was on the phone for about a minute and gave only my first name. She then said it was all taken care of. No deposit or anything. OK.
Well it all worked out and once again, we ended up with a nice little room on the corner with a balcony and a decent sized fridge. All of this for only $6.66
Back of a tuk-tuk
Taken by me (BA) while riding in the back.
a day. They only clean once a week though.
Let’s talk a bit about Chiang Main as a city. I believe it’s over 700 years old. It used to be the capital of the Lanna Kingdom (I hope I’m getting this right; maybe you should just go to Wikipedia). The “old city” is surrounded by a moat. The moat is square and probably a mile and half or so across. To the east is the Mae Ping River. We are located at the north-west corner of the moat, on the inside. The biggest tourist area is on the east side of the moat and on to the bank of the Mao Ping.
The city is quite easy to get around and much cheaper than Koh Samui. We can get a meal for $1. A filling meal, of Thai food. It’s nice.
((a one day break in writing occurred here. I wrote the above after day 2 of the Songkran. Now I hadn’t drank much at all. I think the sun and five hours in a water fight just made me think slowly. If I keep writing at the above pace we’ll just never get through this. Now
This is off the net. For an example of a tuk tuk. They make a lot of black smoke and I don't think they would exist without tourists. They are more expensive than a sontaew but sometimes a bit faster. It's etter when they don't have roofs. Then you can actually see stuff.
it’s a bit after 7pm on day 3 of Songkran. I’m getting used to five hours of water fighting during the heat of the day. A valuable skill no doubt))
So it’s Monday evening during the biggest Thai holiday time of the year. I’m going to do a quick recap of what we were up to before the holiday hit. Job hunting…that’s it. I’m out…. Ok. I’ll give a few more details. Well…gosh, it’s just not that exciting.
Ok. This is semi-interesting.
Day 2 (Monday): Claire and I wake up and spend like five hours polishing our resumes, applying for jobs through e-mail and compiling a list of schools to walk in and apply to the next day. Around 2ish we decide we should journey out for food. We’re walking and this tuk-tuk driver (tuk-tuks are like…I don’t know; I’ll put a pic in) asks us if we want a ride. We say no a few times and then he asks us where we’re from. We say California and he hops out of his tuk-tuk and asks us if we know China town in San Francisco. We do. Turns out his uncle has a restaurant there and
he’s been trying to get a visa to go there and cook for some time. His English was very good.
So we talk, tell him we’re teachers looking for work and he asks if he can take us on an hour tour for free if we write a little review of each shop in English. We tell him we need some food and he’s like well we can do this restaurant on the tour too! We’re in. Why not. Oh yeah, he also said he owned his own taxi and we’d do the tour in that.
So we do the tour. It’s standard tourist stuff. A shop tour basically. Indian rugs, thai silk factory (we saw silk worms being boiled and a lady pulling the fiber out of the pot and twisting it up. Pretty cool. Weaving that silk stuff is crazy. Also a gem shop with a huge showroom (we saw the same thing in Bangkok) and some other handicraft place. We wrote some stuff for his taxi customers. Goodtimes.
The real highlight was this restaurant he took us too. See, if you drive 10 or so minutes out of Chiang Mia you will be in
areas that are all Thai and pretty rural. Chiang Mai as a city is pretty small (especially compared to Bangkok). This restaurant was frequented by almost exclusively Thais and their cashew chicken was some of the best food I have ever put in my mouth. I have been ordering the same dish at every restaurant since and nothing has come close. So good.
The next day we got a friend of the guys from the day before to drive us around to different schools. He took us to a few that weren’t even on our list. It was great.
As of Friday Claire had two solid job offers and virtually guaranteed offer from a third place (but for pre-school;3-4 year olds). I only had one offer (there are too many male teachers here so they jump on Claire; plus she’s smart) plus an anticipated offer or two. The thing that makes it difficult is the holiday coming up (that we’re actually in right now). It’s like job hunting during the Christmas season (but summer school is going on too). Most want you to come in and do a practice lesson but with the holiday coming up we only
were able to do that at one school. The other gave us two long interviews in one day (and made offers).
So here we are. The schools that made offers need answers by Thursday but we have more interviews and observations starting on Monday. What to do. Job offers everywhere. We’re going to live. This is getting boring and I have a peanut butter and jelly sandwich sitting here waiting to be consumed.
Yeah, we finally found some PB&J. It’s f-in glorious. Oh, also found some Mexican food while on the job search. We ate there the other day and it’s actually good. My bets are that it’s owned by somebody from California. Even the salsa was pretty good.
So I’ll put a few pics in this section. Why not more you ask? Well, that day we went on the tour we did not have our camera. Also, we were so busy during the week that we didn’t take one picture of Chiang Main until Saturday. Most of those go with the Songkran section. It’s a far more exciting section anyway. Who really wants to hear me talk about peanut butter and jelly sandwiches anyway?
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