Thailand 2008: Mai word, it’s a jungle out there!

Hanging with a new friend at Elephant Nature Park, Chiang Mai, Thailand

Chiang Mai, Thailand

Yup, for now I’m safe in Northern Thailand (Chiang Mai) and not stuck in BKK airport, in case anyone was wondering. Our timing couldn’t have been better: apparently while we were up on the second floor of Suvarnabumi airport transfering from Phnom Penh through to Chiang Mai, the PAD was already outside blockading the road leading to the airport. We never knew a thing until we flipped on the news that night! Then, by the time things had started heating up in Chiang Mai, we were even further north in Chiang Rai.

You haven’t heard from me in a while because I’ve been busy playing this game, maybe you’ve heard of it? You stay in your hotel room and sprint back and forth from the bed to the toilet. Sometimes you sit on the toilet, and sometimes you put your head in it. For the really advanced players you can try to do both at once. Then you just sleep and drink water for a couple of days. So yeah, that’s what I’ve been up to. It’s really fun, you should try it sometime. Who needs to see boring old Thailand anyway?

OK in all seriousness now, the bug finally got me, and I strongly suspect, it got me in Cambodia. Nonetheless I seem to be back on the mend, however still not able to stomach the thought of Thai food, or, catastrophically – coffee. For now, tea and American-ish food it is.

I’m surprised that the food got me in Cambodia before the traffic did. Riding a bicycle in Phnom Penh is the single most death-defying thing I’ve ever done (outside of the time when I was 6 and Karen R. and I decided to sell her older sister Kristie’s geranium collection for a penny a pot….) I can’t believe I survived (either incident). Phnom Penh traffic works like this: the major intersections (4 lanes or more) have traffic lights. Everything else has nothing. Not even a stop sign. So everyone just goes, all the time. There’s no “yield to the person on your right” rules or anything. So turning left goes like this: you could never turn left in front of 3 lanes of oncoming traffic, so you turn left INTO the oncoming traffic (both bikes and scooters do this). Now you’re riding up the shoulder of the wrong side of the road, with all the traffic coming towards you. You continue like this until there’s a crack in the traffic big enough for you to bolt across and try to merge into the 3 lanes of traffic going the same direction as you. It’s really fun, you should try it sometime.

Still, Cambodia did have its own charms and character. We probably didn’t give it a fair shake, as we were only there a week. Thailand is like a country club in comparison. Everything is so….easy here. I definitely see it with different eyes the second time around. I love being back in Chiang Mai, biking around (so easy!) the now-familiar streets. I re-visited the Lila Thail Massage (Chiang Mai Women’s Prison Massage) where I gave in and finally braved a true Thai massage. Basically it’s a combination of an advanced yoga class, a chiropractic session and a martial arts course. With a little massage tied in, cleverly disguised. I was pummelled, punched, twisted and karate-chopped for 60 minutes and somehow still came out feeling better at the end of it, even if I walked a little funny. All for the bargain price of $6.00. It’s really fun, you should try it sometime.

So we hung out in Chiang Rai for a few days, scooting around (wearing many layers, and scarves!) and exploring the countryside. Chiang Rai is one of the prettiest places I’ve see in Thailand, landscape-wise. It doesn’t translate into photographs unfortunately, so I’ve just been taking lots of pictures with my mind. Most of the activities in CR are focused on trekking and hilltribes, and since we’d already done that, we headed back to Chiang Mai. We’re off to Pai again tomorrow for our last few days together. It’s winter in Northern Thailand (who knew they had a winter? Not me…)….we are woefully unprepared for the weather (no coat, only one sweater, one pair of pants). Can’t really complain though…it’s probably about 10 celcius at night, and 25 during the day. 🙂

We’re taking a sleeper train (I’ve always wanted to do that!) from Chiang Rai to Bangkok at the end of the week and we’ll see if Fab’s flight is actually still leaving on the 8th or not. So weird that he’s leaving already…..7 weeks really flew by. I’m open to any and all suggestions as to what to do / where to go next, and especially, where to spend Christmas? Feeling a little out of sorts about that. My Thai visa runs out on December 24th, so I need to either do a visa run before then or choose another country. Christmas alone…what was I thinking?

PS – not many photos lately, sorry. Not inspired. However if you go back and look at a new entry titled “More photos from Cambodia”, you can see…well, more photos from Cambodia.

Hair Clips: A mini-blog from Cara’s curls

Sorry I haven’t been more available to you lately, but the truth is, I am a huge star in Thailand. HUGE. I try to keep to scheduled autograph sessions and appearances, but my public hounds me constantly. It’s exhausting, but I don’t want to come across as an inaccessible diva or anything, so I try to grant all requests. I just hope the flashes from the paparazzi’s cameras aren’t damaging my colour or texture in some way. 

Basically, everyone wants to be me. Cara’s been very understanding about it all.

Must run, I’ve got an interview in 30 minutes….

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