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February 02, 2005

Day 2: Chiang Dao Nest

After my last entry, we spent the afternoon relaxing and reading. We had the mountain climbing trek planned for early the next morning, and we were still recovering from jet lag. We sat in the courtyard of the resort and drank tea while flipping through our books. I studied up on my Thai, practiced my Zen breathing exercises (which are hard!) and listened to my MP3 player.

Chiang Dao Nest is a cozy little resort. As I mentioned before, it is a family owned operation run by Stuart and Wiccha. They put this place together as an alternative to stinky, nasty Chiang Mai. Just an fyi, a "resort" in Thailand basically refers to anything that isn't a high-rise hotel, guesthouse or youth hostel. In this case, Chiang Dao Nest has two locations. The first one is nestled in the hills and surrounded by gorgeous mountain scenery, bamboo thickets, and massive trees that rise up from the ground a good 20 feet before branching off. They are truly majestic trees that provide a fair bit of shade from the blazing Thai sun.

Around dinner time, we mozied over to our bungalow, quickly showered and hurried out to catch some more Beer Changs. On the way, we met a German guy named Michael who had just completed a trip through Myanmar (aka: Burma). He was on his way to Chiang Mai and stopped off at the resort for an overnight stay.

Since it was Saturday night, the little restaurant started to fill up with tourists. The Chiang Dao Nest restaurant is well-known in the area for superb Western-style food. A pack of British folks and young Thai arrived for dinner, and the few guests of the resort sort of stuck around on the sides of the dining area. Michael asked us to join him for dinner, and we were happy to join him. One of the best things about travelling abroad is sharing stories and ideas with other travellers.

The first thing we discussed was his travels in Myanmar. For those that don't know, Myanmar is politically isolated right now due to human rights violations and assorted other nastiness. But as we discovered, this doesn't prevent people from going there. Apparently, alot of this is hype. Michael described Myanmar as very similar to Thailand with good hospitality, friendly people and easy-going police. Surprisingly, he said he saw alot of Americans staying there, and he even had dinner with them while they watched Condi Rice's confirmation hearings. When she mentioned Myanmar as a potential threat to human rights (along with Sudan), the Americans erupted in boo's and hisses.

The conversation drifted to the usual topics: US foriegn policy, George Bush, American work habits (and our complete disregard for vacation), and the various cities in Germany in which Michael lived. I found him to be a rather interesting chap with a terrific sense of humor.

My dinner consisted of a home-made duck liver pate', a ribeye steak, spicy yams, and a variety of veggies. Shaunna opted for a Spinach Spaghetti with Ratatouie, which wasn't half bad. Wiccha, the chef, is a terrific cook. I highly recommend this resort for anyone that is headed to Northern Thailand and is looking for an alternative to the over-run (and overhyped) Pai. Although Pai has a terrific community of bohemian travellers, Chiang Dao is quiet, somewhat rustic and very affordable.

Once it got late, we farewell to Michael and retired to our bungalow to pack our bags for the following day. We knew that our climb to Doi Chiang Dao was going to be tough, so we hit the hay early. This has become a standard procedure for me on this trip. I usually wake up around 5am, do some breathing exercises, walk around and stretch. I watch the sunrise, read, and shower well before Shuanna opens her eyes. On the flip side, I have been going to be before 10pm almost every night. Obviously, my clock is still way off.

Posted by coywest on February 2, 2005 02:06 PM
Category: Out and About

"condi rice sounds like a mexican dish. we should send her down to south america and let the mexicans eat her"

Posted by: bobby-jo on February 2, 2005 09:30 PM
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