Saturday, 11 July 2015

Arrival in Chang Mai.


Street view, nice car.


Finally got to Chang Mai after yet another more or less sleepless night. It was the first time I'd taken a night bus in Thailand. It was quite different from the others I've been on, with large aircraft type seats instead of the tiny couch things. Thought that might work, but it wasn't any better.

While I was sitting there, waiting to go, a guy got on and sat in the seat looking out the opposite window. The lady allocating the seats told him that he was in the wrong place and pointed to the seat next to me. He became a little agitated; like a kid who had been looking forward to sitting by the window.

Finally, he took his place. There was something slightly incongruous about him. He looked a bit like an off-duty or ex monk, (de-saffroned?), with a shaven head and did lots of bowing and hand gestures. However, he was wearing a tee shirt with a Beretta pistol emblazoned on it and a pair of camouflage cargo pants which, on closer inspection, turned out to be a decorated marijuana leaf motif.

He bowed to me, with palms together, grabbed my hand and proceeded to read my palm. After a few seconds, he blew on my hand and then gave it back to me. Whether it was good or bad news, I couldn't tell, as he only spoke Thai. A couple of minutes later, he did the whole thing again.

Suddenly, he started rummaging in a cloth bag, of the type carried by monks and in the same colour as their robes and handed me something. It was a small but heavy Thai Buddha in brass, with little fake red jewels for eyes. It looked like a Buddha who had smoked a lot of weed. There was something demonic about it.

I wasn't quite sure what to do.

'For me?'

He mumbled something, took it, and put it back in his bag.

Lots more rummaging went on, with me trying to persuade myself that his bag wasn't capacious enough to conceal a Beretta. Finally, he stopped and went to sleep. There wasn't another peep out of him for the next 12 hours.


Lying at the side of the road.



Staggered off the bus at about 6.30 feeling a bit the worse for wear and headed to the nearest café for for a fruit drink. The lady spoke English and as I was leaving, heard a shout. I'd left my guitar.

At least the weather is slightly cooler here up north and I've finally stopped wearing the dark blue elastic strapping on my foot, which made me look like a middle aged (I should be so lucky), Anglo Saxon holiday maker.

Got to the hotel by Tuktuk to find that everything was open, but with no-one about, so did my morning ritual of headlines, mail check and Guardian Quick Crossword. Finally, a smily lady turned up and showed me to my room, where I had a couple of hours' sleep.

I'm finally getting to grips with Thailand, which has a character all of its own although I can't quite figure out what that is. The Thais do seem to be even more smily than the peoples of any of the other places I've visited; the people of Laos being the most reserved.


On the way to lunch.


By the canal, which looks like the Canal St Martin, Paris.


Went and had lunch and got chatting to one of the waitresses, who, when I told her I lived in France, wanted to practice her French. It wasn't great, but had the impression that she had picked it up on holiday there, as she told me that she was useless at it at school, but had spent a month touring from Paris to the Cote d'Azure a couple of years ago.

On the way back, popped into a tattoo place for a quote. All I want is a small semicolon on the top of my ankle. They said it would be 1,000 Bhatt, about 25€, which I thought a bit steep for what is essentially two small dots. Why a semicolon? I'll let you find out on the Internet.

There is music everywhere in this town. The choice is great, with most bars offering live bands every night. Got a message from Magali this afternoon saying that she was back in her adoptive Barcelona. When I replied, the first thing she mentioned was the great music scene. A good recommendation, as she works as a musical events organiser. Will see this evening.

Joined in a photo session of two newly weds on the ancient fortification. The second time I've photographed a wedding since I've been in the region. One more to go, then it'll be three weddings and a funeral.









1 comment:

  1. I like the semicolon tattoo idea -- not come across that before. Unfortunately, I have taken a "no tattoos or else" vow, or I'd be tempted to start a fashion for the ellipsis (three dots) as the symbol of Introverts Anonymous:

    "A series of dots that usually indicates an intentional omission of a word, sentence, or whole section from a text ... Depending on their context and placement in a sentence, ellipses can also indicate an unfinished thought, a leading statement, a slight pause, a mysterious, echoing voice, or a nervous or awkward silence..."