We’re now in Chiang Mai, having landed this morning after a 14 hour train ride. Just to revisit yesterday’s email, the guy in the speeding bullet tuk tuk was very unhappy with us because I had bartered his price down so much, then he found out that we were staying at an expensive hotel. That’s why he drove like a madman – a) to try and scare us (and possibly fling us out) and b) to get rid of us as fast as possible. His fast driving combined with his illegal driving manoeuvres (how in the heck do you spell that word?) had traffic police blowing their whistles at him like crazy, but he just ignored them and carried on.That combined with the railway line scenario (complete with traffic piling up behind us, beeping their horns like mad ‘cos they were now stuck on the tracks, the train barping it’s horn and the barrier bells nutting off,) made us feel like we’d just been thrown into the middle of a Jackie Chan movie. We’re still wondering if the police caught our speeding tuk tuk man on the way back and gave him a ticket.
Anyway, the train ride was pretty cool. We had a whole seat each – to ourselves. I kept waiting for people to get on and squish in beside us like they do in India and it took me a while to get my head around having the whole thing to myself. The window beside us was huge and across from us was a really nice young English couple who are travelling the world at the moment. She was lovely and the guy was really funny, so a whole lot more giggling went on throughout the ride.
We left Bangkok as the sun was setting. We went through several shanty towns made largely of corrugated iron and a few sticks and they were literally inches away from the track. It was kind of like driving through people’s living rooms, they were so close. We also drove through posh suburbs, past awesome looking temples and enormous billboards. It was raining and lots of lightening was happening, so it was a pretty cool visual send-off. Our waiter was a really funny guy and there was also a woman, who we named ‘Scary Bed Lady’ who came along and made all the beds up with frightening efficiency. Her smile had obviously been removed at birth, in direct contrast to the funny waiter guy, so we all found her a little intimidating. But the beds were comfortable and the ride was interesting. The food was the Thai version of railway food, but it kept our ribs from sticking together.
Our guesthouse in Chiang Mai is just inside the old part of the city. We’re in a budget place, surrounded by quite flash places, but we have a fan, a small bathroom and a roof over our mouths, so we’re quite happy. We also have a balcony overlooking our little street which is way cool. I got in touch with my inner idiot after we booked in and hung out on the balcony blowing bubbles. Good fun, and got a few smiles from it as well. Across the road is an artist guy who, as it turns out, is from the same family that runs our guesthouse, so we’re allowed to go and sit in his garden whenever we like. Nice place for birdwatching. He showed us around his little garden then drove off on his motorbike, leaving us – complete strangers – sitting in his garden and his shop wide open. Pretty trusting sort of area, aye what? We have a food market at the end of our street, so we have a glut of street stalls to choose from for dinner. Including some live fish swimming around in half-barrels. Yum. I think.
It might be up north here, but it’s still hot – around 35 degrees. So we’re fan-hugging and balcony sitting, waiting for the evening to come so we can go visit the night market and perhaps murder our wallets in the process.