Saturday, January 31, 2009


Sorry no pictures yet. I'm about to tackle that one. So far I've wasted a huge amount of energy trying to get cell phone working. Mainly because the dental clinic people looked distressed that they couldn't contact me. Turns out that Skype is available everywhere and it's only 2 cents a minute to call home, or free if we did it via the computer.
I ended up hiking to hell and gone to find this tech shopping center. Two Thai techie guys looked over my ebay phone and pronounced it unworkable. So I bought a cheap new phone (that I hate) and spent about an hour trying to get it set up, only to have the credit run out after a ten minute call. I don't understand the Thai phone system! But I surely do love Skype!!!
Sorry for the rant.
While I was searching for the tech mecca, I found one of those nationwide optical chains Top Chaoren and went in to see about getting a second pair of glasses. What a trip. There were four or five very pretty young women in tailored uniform outfits who brought me juice and a chair and many more frames than I actually wanted to look at.
Fortunately the manager was not so distractingly pretty and spoke decent English. She said she'd been to San Francisco twice!
I got the cheaper lenses and frames and it came out to about $60 I think. Probably people will point at me and laugh out loud when I wear them, since I picked them out myself without the aesthetic counseling I'm used too. That would be American people laughing at me, I mean. The Thai are much too polite.
On the way back to my hotel I was shanghai'd (sp?) by a massage provider. A rather big and strong Thai woman, from Issan, the poorest part of Thailand. Many workers, taxi drivers, etc here in Chiang Mai are from Issan.
Somehow I always end up hearing the sob story of my massage provider. I don't know if that's just me, or universal. This woman had to leave her bad husband and take care of her two kids, who were back in Issan. Today is her seven year old's birthday and 'no party'. No money.
Well, thank god the massage was excellent. I gave her a very good tip indeed.
The massage was excellent but the room was bathed in lurid pink light and there were many mosquitoes despite the too cold air con. I was worried about getting bit, but didn't. When I saw that pink light I was worried it was a sex place. I have to admit to being very naive about such things. I've heard an offer of an "oil massage" can be a euphemism for sex.
My gal wasn't the type. Thank god.
So after the massage I was almost home when I spied an old man sitting in a samlor. A samlor is a bicycle rickshaw and I'd been wanting to try one out. So I 'negotiated' a ride to the Saturday night walking street market over by Chaing Mai Gate. When I say negotiate I mean that this old fellow kept saying "whatever you like" when I asked how much it would cost! I offered 30B and he was happy, but I ended up paying 40B since it seemed like hard work hauling my skinny ass around through thick traffic, crazy intersections and long quiet dark alleys. It was a beautiful experience. The Thai seem to do much of their living at night. I guess because it's usually so hot. It reminded me a bit of the Oregon Country Fair, how so many places were all lit up with colorful lights, and lots of music from bars and clubs spilling out on the street.
Anyhow, we finally got there and made warm farewells and I waded into the walking street experience.
I'm guessing it was about 97% Thai. The farang were few and far between. I met a few very nice folks from Oz and Florida and Paris. I was craving having even a brief conversation in English and with the overwhelming sights and sounds it was lovely to be able to share words.
Of the sights and sounds, perhaps the most intense were all the musicians parked in the middle of the street. It was a fairly narrow street, what with solid lines of booths and stalls down each side, and totally crowded in most places. The musicians would usually be sitting on a mat and after a bit I realized that most of them were blind. Quite visibly blind, if you know what I mean.
They had cans or boxes out to collect money and the music they were making was quite diverse, but uniformly awesome. A whole range of instruments, from horns to electronic keyboards, to drums. I ended up spending much much more on these folks than on food. I did buy a little skirt for Eden from some Hmong folks. They were really nice people too.
The food was just a trip. I kept thinking Jerry would love it. For a quasi-vegetarian it seemed a bit risky. In fact I was tempted at one point by these crepe like desert things a woman was making, they had chocolate syrup and weird ingredients to choose from. I asked what this stuff was on one of the crepes she was making and it was shredded pork! With sugar, syrup and chocolate sauce no less.
I was looking at these little leaf boats filled with baked eggs. They looked like they'd been cooked over a hibachi and all had stuff in them. One was crab, one mushrooms and another insects. Ironically those were the tastiest looking ones. When I asked what sort of insects the woman held out a little tupperware tub of wriggling meal worms!
I guess I made a loud "Oooohh" cause all of a sudden people around me were laughing and I heard a little girl imitate my Ooooohh. They thought that was hilarious I guess. I didn't even know any one was watching me!
Well, I'm almost out of time (I bought an hour) and I need to get cleaned up. Actually I'd better buy a few more shirts today as I only brought the two.
One last thing though, so far I've been totally unable to sign into my email with sbcglobal. They say they're updating their goddam webmail service, so if you'd like to email me, please us I don't have anyone's email addresses at this point, unless I happen to have them memorized.
love from Thailand,

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