BootsnAll Travel Network

bye bye, chiang mai

wow, i’m a poet and didn’t even know it. hehe. lame, i know. i’ll stop. =)

it’s hard to believe that i’ve been in chiang mai for 3 weeks now! time flies when you’re having fun, i guess. i feel like i really lived here, you know? it’s definitely been a great experience. this morning i woke up early and made sure everything fits into my new bag. yup, i ended up having to buy a new one, despite promising myself i wouldn’t shop… originally we had only planned on being here for 12 days, 10 of them at the meditation center where we’d be wearing only white, so i had only brought “real clothes” to last a few days. i ended up buying a few more things along the way once i realized i was staying a few weeks rather than a few days, hence the need for a bigger bag.

bargaining for my new “le sportsac” bag last night at the night bazaar was part of the fun… the first price i was given was 1200 baht ($40!), which i knew to be a rip-off, since they probably cost next to nothing to make somewhere in china and there are more than a few stalls selling almost the same items. so i strolled around a few different vendors, telling each one the lowest price the one before had given me, to get them to drop their price. (it also helps to be buying more than one of something, but that would defeat my purpose.) eventually i wound up at a stall near anusarn market which had the exact pattern and style i wanted. the young girl started at 800 baht, i acted noncommittal and ready to walk away, and we settled at 400. i walked home with my new bag, reflecting on how inflated the prices become once you’re identified as a foreigner.

sometimes it helps that i have a bit of asian blood in me, occasionally i get locals speaking to me in thai – sometimes even in the local dialect of chiang mai. this makes me a little bit more comfortable, and i try not to open my mouth to give it away that i’m farang (or a “foreigner”), unless i really know what i’m trying to say. other dead giveaways that you’re not from around here include: sunglasses (thais hardly ever wear them, i don’t know why? it sunny!), waiting to cross the street (as opposed to running across and pretending not to notice when you’re almost hit by a tuk-tuk), ordering your drinks without ice, and wearing skimpy tanktops.

once you’re identified as farang, inflation immeditately sets in. a saengtaw ride that would normally cost 15-20 baht becomes 40 or 50 (hoping you won’t try to bargain it down). once i had a lady charge me 10 baht (she spoke this in thai), and when i handed her a 20 she “forgot” my change. i let that one go. not to mention the fact that in a restaurant where you’ll pay 30-40 baht for thai dishes, spaghetti w/ tomato sauce will cost you 80+ and pork chops or fish and chips will be 140 or more. it’s usually better to just stick with the thai stuff anyway, unless you’re really craving comfort food from back home.

now, don’t get me wrong. thai people are not all out to rip you off. in fact, its quite the opposite. part of what i love about chiang mai and about thailand is the people. they call it the land of smiles for a reason – there’s always a friendly smile and a “sawadeeka” waiting for you. thai people give from their hearts, and if you hang around in a place long enough to learn the names of the waitress at your favorite restaurant, your landlady, or the guy at the neighborhood internet cafe, you’ll see this first hand.

part of my last minute to-do list this morning was saying goodbye to the people i’d gotten familiar with in the last 3 weeks, people that i truly came to think of as friends. when jess and i had first gotten here we met a girl named nittaya (or “nit”) who had just opened her own massage place. we went there a few times for the coconut oil massages (she’s the best!) and one time i had just bought a cd and she let us play it while we got our massages. she had really liked it, so this morning i ripped it to my flash drive and took the cds over to her so that she could keep them.

my last stop was at a little beauty parlor called robin’s to see the owner, keung. she invited me in for thai iced tea and promised to show me how to make it next time (i had to finish packing!) and to take me to the market with her, and to teach me how to make indian food, and to show me how she uses the leftover water from cooking rice to clean and moisturize her skin. (just like back home, beauty parlor owners are chatty!)

i had lunch at my favorite restaurant, biaporn, and said goodbye to the people there too, with promises to visit next time i’m in chiang mai. hopefully it won’t be long… but for now, i’m off to a 15 hour train ride back to bangkok! i’m not really looking forward to that after being able to be so comfortable here for so long, but what can you do? =) on to new adventures!

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6 responses to “bye bye, chiang mai”

  1. Mom says:

    Sorry I missed your IM last night…was out voting…Obama won in a big landslide….hope the train ride goes well:)…love you. Mom

  2. sheryl` says:

    wow you have been in chaing mai for a long time… you next adventures will just as great or better.. have fun.. be safe.. I like your battering story

  3. wendy says:

    hi malia – i wouldn’t expect you to get anything less than a good bargain. say hi to kimi and christy and all the girls for me. and keep taking those fabulous pics so i can live vicariously!

  4. Freebirdpro says:

    Hi Malia

    Thanks for visiting my Escape England site…

    Love your site…

    We’re in Koh Lanta until April/May… where are you headed next?

  5. wisa says:

    Aw. I wish I were there with you. Sounds super fun malia. You are the quuen of barganing by the way. I remember being at the swap meet with you when we were young…

  6. Kevin says:

    🙂 Know that I could always send them your “aloha” too ..(when I get there that is)

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