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Point B


We’re spending our first Chiang Mai days at the Nine House, a guest house in the north-west corner. The proprietor thereof, Mr. Tin, served a fine breakfast this morning (eggs & toast, pork & noodles, fresh mango, excellent coffee!), and showed us a small handmade book written by a Western friend of his about Thailand travels. Somewhere toward the city center we hear a school band playing slow, labored warm-up scales. From our room’s east-facing balcony is a mist-covered mountain, and on its western slope, between clouds, the spires of a temple. Word is: it’s reachable by scooter in 20 minutes.

[Note to self: rent a scooter this morning.]

The old city is wild: every street is packed with buildings, with no discernable zoning. Streets are lined with dwellings, shops, cafes, schools, (many) temples, stray dogs (all friendly, and--so far--disinterested). Scooters abound. We walked around the NW quarter yesterday afternoon, and the rush-hour traffic is dizzying. Chiang Mai drivers appear (a) fearless, (b) to hold loosely and lightly things like “rules”, and (c) operate chiefly on intuition. Stopped in a music store (hoorah!) and yours truly heaved a sigh of relief at the abundance of instruments and gear.

Last evening in fairly heavy rain, we walked 'neath umbrellas to the east side (the city is roughly 1m square) to dine @ a eatery / drinkery whose name now escapes me. We’ve arrived near the end of the rainy season, and are told that when the rain is truly heavy, you don’t carry an umbrella: you stay in.

Spanked Monkeys (Travel Update)

On Konstantin

Thursday, Jan 30th (cont.):

(Image: Going all the way up there ...)

Wat Thammikaram, they call it the monkey temple. Rightfully so; I haven't even finished climbing two thirds of the countless steps to the top of the mountain when I see the first gang of monkeys relaxing by the side of the walkway.

I eye them with suspicion. Multiple travelers I met had warned me to bring as few things as possible or else it would surely be stolen by the free running macaque apes in the temple. So I have basically nothing on me, just a bit of money and my scooter keys crammed tightly in my back pocket. My cellphone along with everything else is still at the foot of the mountain in my rented scooter (which is why I can't provide photos from further up). I don't even have my glasses on as I they were always the main subject of those warnings.

However, these monkeys don't mind me one bit. So I just keep on climbing. At least they didn't look like they were eying me for valuables... In fact they were pretty much ignoring me completely. I watch another traveler walk by, dressed in full gear. Camera around her neck, glasses, the whole deal. I feel a bit stupid now.

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