Posts Tagged With: northern thailand

Into the Homestretch!

I’m officially into my last full week here in Chiang Mai. I’m still not sure where the time went, but it’s been a great four months. I’m definitely sad to be leaving, but there are a few comforts of home that I’m starting to miss and looking forward to enjoying in about a week and a half. These include:

-Greek yogurt. You can find most foods here in Chiang Mai, but Greek yogurt is one of the few things that you can’t. And I miss it sorely. Chobani, here I come!!

-Cooking. Man do I miss waking up, walking downstairs, and actually having a choice of foods IN MY OWN HOME that I can enjoy while still in my pajamas. My kitchen appliances here consist of one half-functional refrigerator. And a hot water heater that I purchased only a few weeks ago.  My fridge is half functional in that the fridge part doesn’t work and the freezer keeps foods that should be refrigerated slightly too cold. I can’t wait to be able to cook again with my own recipes and ingredients. It will be a glorious feeling to have a stocked and functional kitchen again.

-AIR CONDITIONING. Okay, now I know I was warned that Thailand would be hot. Duh. What I was not prepared for is just how hot, for how long it would be and how low my tolerance is for living without airconditioning. I don’t mean to whine, but heat makes me cranky. When I fall asleep and wake up daily in a pool of sweat, I start to get really cranky. I will not miss this feeling. I cannot wait for that first wonderful night sleeping back in my own bed in my airconditioned room. Sigh.

-My car. Don’t get me wrong, a love a good fresh (?) air motorbike ride, but there is something about cruising on the highway (aircon pumping) in my car and singing along to favorite tunes that can’t be beat. I’m sure once I’m back I’ll miss the feeling of the fresh (?) air blowing through my hair, but right now Coche (as I’ve fondly named my car back in CT) sounds pretty nice.

-Reasonably clean bodies of water in which I can swim. For those of you who may be geographically challenged, Chiang Mai is nowhere near the ocean. Despite the abundance of islands and beaches in Thailand, I am nowhere near those and have sadly not been able to enjoy them on this trip. I’m looking forward to all the summery things New England has, like beaches, lakes and pools within an hour or two’s drive from my house. Especially if a job that I applied for works out (it would start in mid-August), I can’t wait for all the water time I’ll have this summer. Fingers crossed things fall into place, but I may have a job lined up for the end of the summer, allowing me to frolick and play for a couple of months before having to get my ducks in a row again. Please life, please work out!

Hm, I’m sure there are other things that I’m missing, but those are the big ones. Air conditioning. And some other stuff, yeah. Obviously I can’t wait to see friends and family, but that’s a given 🙂 I have a couple of very exciting weekends to look forward to back in Boston as well that makes the transition back home slightly less depressing.

Here’s to a solid last… 10.5 days in Thailand!!

Cheers,

Jamie

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Riddle me this.

All in all, Thailand has been mostly what I expected.  Warm/hot, loud, confusing at times, but overall a vibrant, welcoming place.  There are, however, a few things that I’m still having trouble wrapping my head around…

  1. Cold showers are the norm.  Finding a place with hot water can be a luxury.  The Lawa village where I’m headed off to tomorrow for the next three weeks doesn’t have showers at all: my showers will be a bucket of cold water.  Yippee!
  2. Toilet paper is also a luxury and definitely can NOT be flushed down the toilet. A hose mounted next to the toilet is the norm, for all your cleaning needs. I’m still adjusting to this. Toilet paper is occasionally provided, but putting it down the can is a big no-no. Learned that the hard way. Oops.
  3. No matter where you are, you are probably no more than twenty feet from free wifi.  Your accommodations may lack a shower and a seated toilet, but I bet you 50-1 they have free wifi.  I’m still trying to figure this one out.
  4. Traffic here makes rush hour on the Mass Pike look like a cake walk.  Scooters, tuk tuks, motorcycles, cars, trucks, songtaews, and pedestrians all jockey for a place on the road.  I swear to God, it’s like a real life size game of Mario Kart when the light changes (bananas occasionally included.)
  5. Thai people really are as friendly as they’re made out to be.  When you smile, people actually smile back!  If you smile and give someone a friendly “sawatdeeka”, you’re in.  The other day we stopped for a drink and some snacks at a road side stand and made instant friends with three women also stopped. One even invited us to her house for dinner, anytime!
  6. Thai natives do NOT understand the concept of walking for fun/exercise.  I can’t even tell you how many straight up crazy looks I got the other day when I was walking down the road, simply to see some sights and enjoy the exercise. Part of it was probably my farang (“fa-lahng” or foreigner) status, but man, they were perplexed.

Overall, I’m loving things here. I had a successful Skype interview with a university back in the states last night and I’m still impressed how clear the call was. Considering I literally called the other side of the world (11:30 am EST, 11:30 pm Chiang Mai time), things went really well. I might as well have been calling the house next door. This has been the biggest surprise of all- I’m as far away from home as I could possibly be, but if I turn on my computer, I feel like I haven’t even left. The ubiquitous free wifi has made it almost impossible to feel like I’m that far away.

I suppose things will be different in the village.. But then again, despite being two hours from the nearest town and having squat toilets, I’m told that there is (wait for it) free wifi. Oh technology, how the world keeps shrinking…

Stay tuned for my next update from the hills! 🙂

❤ J

Categories: Travel, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , | 1 Comment

An eventful day!

Well, I think yesterday takes the cake for most eventful day in Thailand thus far.  I managed to sleep in until 7:15am, quite the accomplishment since my first morning I woke up around 6:30 and day 2 around 6:45 (today I even made it to a little after 8am! I’m improving!)

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My lovely accommodations in the Sunshine Guest House, home til Sunday.

I hung around my room for a little bit before heading over to Dave’s girlfriend Nid’s place to meet up with the gang around 10.  Of course, being chronically early and certainly not adjusted to “Thai time” yet, I arrived around 9:45 and took a few laps.  I made my first successful solo purchase in 7 Eleven, managed to make it rain baht all over the floor, and enjoyed a breakfast of dried seaweed and water before returning to Dave and Nid’s closer to 10.

We met up with Katherine, Alexis, Stu, another volunteer who does work with Atma Seva from time to time, and another American named Scott who just arrived two weeks ago.  After chowing down on some delicious chocolate croissants, courtesy of Stu, we headed out for the day, planning on making a loop from Chiang Mai around through Mae Rim, a nearby district in the hills, and back to the city.  The first 1/3 of the trip was great, incredible lush, green forest, relatively empty roads compared to downtown Chiang Mai which is complete chaos.  Things were going great until Dave and I (on his motorcycle) and Katherine and Scott (on her motorbike) stopped at the top of a hill to wait for Stu and Alexis.  They were suddenly nowhere in sight after we’d all been following each other at a pretty close distance.  After about 30 seconds of wondering, Dave’s phone rings. Ut oh. It’s Stu, informing us that they crashed after being forced to swerve by a songtaew, or Thai version of shared taxi, that made an unexpected turn.  We raced back to them and found the Thai ambulance already at the scene, cleaning out their wounds and bandaging them up.  Luckily, nobody was seriously injured and an awesome bystander who witnessed the whole thing actually managed to chase the songtaew, which fled the scene, up the road and bring him back!!  That guy was our new best friend.  While they were getting patched up, another local kept translating for us what was going on and how we needed to wait “just few minutes!” for the driver to return.  All things considered, it was pretty lucky that the crash happened literally two minutes down the road from the clinic where the ambulance is housed and that no one sustained injuries worse than some gnarly scrapes and bruises (thank you, helmets.)

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Alexis getting patched up by Thai EMTs.. and still she manages a smile!

Needless to say, this was not how we expected our day would turn out.  Dave’s words as we eventually continued on our way, “I’m having a really hard time selling you on the whole idea of learning how to drive a motorbike…!” Um, yes.  In three days, this is the second crash I’ve seen (although I’m told by others, like Katherine, that in her entire six months here, these are the only two she’s seen as well.)  I also managed to give myself my first “tourist tattoo” or leg burn from leaning against the exhaust pipe of the motorcycle.  Oww/oops.

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My new “tattoo”… really just an afterthought to the rest of the day’s events!

So yeah, right now I don’t have such a great feeling about these two wheeled beasts.  I must say, I was pretty impressed by the Thai emergency service.  Not only were they efficient, but we didn’t have to pay them a thing.  They got the contact info for the songtaew driver and he’s responsible for any charges, no questions asked, no forms to file, no waiting for claims to process.  I also managed to get a saline soaked gauze pad taped onto my burn while we were waiting, free of charge! Katherine got some iodine for a cut on her leg as well.  In America, we’d be out thousands of dollars for that little visit from the ambulance.  I’m still amazed how easy the whole process was and it reminds me of how ridiculously inefficient/cost in-effective our US system can be.  Annnnyways, I’m just happy that everyone was okay in the end and made it back to Chiang Mai in one piece.  What a crazy day.

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The scene of the accident. The stand to the left is where all emergency care was administered. The EMTs were there for maybe 15 minutes tops.

Stay tuned for more updates from Wat Doi Saket, the temple I’ll be living at next week!

❤ J

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