Friday, October 31, 2008

Trying to Become a Famous Blogger

I'm participating in an experiment to read more blogs and have more people read my blog. You can find out more about it here:

http://chuckwestbrook.com/great-content-no-readers/

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Adventures

A few weeks ago, on our way to Mae Sot, we saw a huge bathroom warehouse beside the superhighway. Justin wanted to find it again. But we couldn't.


Instead we stopped at an orchid farm, the plants alien in their precise rows:



And Justin took this picture of me, looking startled:


(A fashion side note: that dress cost only b150, less than $5!)

Next we passed a spirit house store


where the empty houses waited (Do they keep bad spirits out or welcome good spirits in?)

and ate a huge lunch at the vegetarian buffet. This is Justin's first plate-full:


Later, Maggie convinced me to leave the apartment after 10 pm.

Emily and I pose like Thai girls:


We took a songtheow to Riverside.


Got tipsy on Sang Som. Felt superior to the backpacker crowd.

At midnight, I was happy to go home.

Friday, October 24, 2008

How to Feel at Home

Last night we had our first dinner in the apartment. With the help of a rice cooker found under the sink,


Justin made tofu vegetable soup. I de-boned a fish and assembled a salad. The whole process (cooking, setting the table, eating, cleaning) satisfied me in a way all the amazing Thai restaurants and street stalls never can.

And then this morning an elephant was waiting at the intersection.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

One of the Best Things That's Happened in Thailand

Some Background:

Wawee is a coffee chain in Chiang Mai. I imagine it must be like Starbucks was when it was only in Seattle and still cool. Wawee has the best coffee in Thailand and maybe the best coffee I've ever had. It is good. And wonderful. Yes.

Well, a few weeks ago, Maggie and I were in Wawee (the big Wawee, by the gym), delaying going to work and indulging in the delicious deliciousness of lattes, while a commercial was being shot there. They were filming a man in a chef's shirt holding a credit card.

"Who is that," we asked one of the crew members, figuring he was some Thai celebrity.
"That's the owner of Wawee," he said.

So we got to meet him! Here are the very awkward photos to prove it:


Back in Chiang Mai Again


Compared to Mae Sot, Chiang Mai seems very urban.


When I'm inside the apartment, I think, This could be my city. I might actually live here.


Then I go outside and remember

the motorbikes and songthaeows racing around the moat, street signs that mean nothing to me, all the people to whom I can only say hello and thank you, and bowls and bowls and bowls of rice.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Another Border Crossing

Thirty days have gone by already. It's time for another visa run.


After waiting in line for an hour, we are on our way.

The bus strains through the mountains towards Mae Sot.


It is the only town on the Northwest border where travelers can cross into Burma.


The streets are mostly dark when we arrive, except for a giant pagoda lit with Christmas lights.

In the morning, we rent bicycles and ride to the border only to find we cannot take them across.


"Why not?" asks Justin.
"Walking is good for your health," says the guard.


Once again I marvel at Burma, just on the other side of a tiny brown river.


Yet it feels so different (photo by Justin above).



In Chiang Mai we are two among many tourists and ex-pats, but in Myawaddy a tuk tuk driver follows us for blocks trying to give us a ride. Shopkeepers and restaurant owners eye us hopefully. "Hello," call the young men on the street corners. For the first time in months, I reconsider the short dress I am wearing.

But Justin, rightfully braver under these circumstances, leads us into a makeshift snooker hall


and plays three games with a Burmese teenager.


A crowd gathers to watch.


When he finally wins the third game, they clap.

It's time to leave.

I take one last look back across the river.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Back in Chiang Mai

Waiting at an intersection:


An empty market stall:


Another great sign:


The view inside the mall:


At brunch with Maggie and Zoe:


Live bluegrass, Thai style:


Later, a street-side restaurant for green papaya salad, som tam:

We order one not spicy and one very spicy, but mine is still too hot to finish. Justin mixes what's left into his to dilute it. Across the street is the bright outline of a temple.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Bangkok


Last Thursday I took the all day bus to Bangkok to meet Justin. To my surprise, I accidentally bargained down the price of the ticket!


The bus was sillily ornate.


And the views from the window sometimes reminded me of the drive between Portland and Eugene. But maybe it was just the feeling of going to see Justin.


Here he is, appropriately blurry, severely jetlagged.


Bangkok at night:


A billboard we both loved:


In a shop full of herbs and remedies:


Chinatown:


It was a Buddhist holiday; everyone was in white. This beautiful lady turned and caught me photographing her:


Bangkok street fashion:


The train station:


Justin and I decided to take the overnight train, but all the sleeper cars were full. In the second class, air-conditioned car we felt every bang and shutter of the train. But a stewardess served Nescafe, rice, and sticky pastries. Which was good because we'd eaten all our snacks waiting to leave the station.

On the long ride, I thought about all the places I wanted to bring Justin in Chiang Mai. It almost felt like returning home.