Post # 1 – Chaing Mai Thailand
Day 5 Days to Go 1075 – Hi there. It’s Monday morning 5/12/2011 here time and I’ve found an internet café for the inaugural virgin post for shecyclesolo. I can’t believe it’s only 48hours after touchdown Chaing Mai. Leaving was emotionally harder than I imagined and the flight and transit seems a blur now. The next 1080 days isn’t intended a holiday and I wasn’t really prepared for the moment of letting go of the logistics phase and entering into a whole new world literally. Let’s say it’s been a transition from the overwhelming to now feeling ready to rock and roll. What has helped is a newfound insight for the gift of internet: to video skype with my partner and exchange emails with my family. We are not so far part and I am certainly not alone in this adventure. Plus it definitely helped to have a loving upper cut from one of my sisters to get on with it one peddle and post at a time. But enough of the heavy… 🙂
I head today for Chaing Rai then onto the border town of Chaing Konginto Loas in about 5 days. Chaing Mai has been a trip for the senses and an amazing beginner’s introduction to Asian travel. The local people are colorful, friendly, helpful, and down to earth and respond warmly and graciously to the universal smile. I’ve made a point to catch the eyes of locals and smile with a nod. Local people speak little English so it’s been an entertaining mix of acting, drawing, laughing and trying again. Thai folk away from the tourist centers are keen and patient to understand. Plus I think I have been a source of amusement in my efforts. For a seemingly hectic place the people are relaxed and polite and move around each other with an ease that works. There is lots of honking and beeping but no aggression in it. It’s a language of its own used to communicate to people and other traffic goers – and there’s a whole mix out on the roads spilling onto the footpaths: Cars, mopeds, cyclist pedestrians, dogs, cats, and taxis of all sorts.
Everyone seems to have a street sense or a survival sense I’m guessing. Moving around the place there is a theme of food and more food and the sight and aromas from street stands and stores is intoxicating. Of course there are heaps of shops and stores selling cheap everything aimed at the tourists. That seems to be the dominant industry catering for the visitor. Children are used allot providing street entertainment to gain sentiment and baht. There is of course some begging but there’s also many other disadvantaged persons particularly handicapped attempting to entertain for pay as opposed to just begging.
To get away from the tourist traps I have peddled my way around over the last two days and have loved every moment. The centre is a walled old town with a moat and wall remnants still land marking the old quarter. Outside the old town is more Chaing Mai municipal but a bustling mix of old and new. Markets are another main theme: Food and more food, clothing, flowers, and mixed wares. The temples or ‘wats’ are focal points for stores to attract the tourists. The temples themselves are ornate classically decorated with gold and colored trims. Most I have seen are still active places of worship by a very present Buddhist culture. It is the common practice by every day folk to meet, greet and thank with a Buddhist style prayer bow. It’s very warming and compelling to mirror back which continues to be a cool experience.
I have dealt with the initial shock of it all by getting out there amongst it literally on my bike playing in and with the traffic all sorts. I have quickly established a security regime with my valuables and that has been great for my confidence in being able move around and do things safely and confidently. It’s been really fun taking picks to capture the initial 48 hours. I’m so glad I took a few days to experience Chaing Mai, find my feet and settle into new look day-to-day.
I have managed this morning to attach a few of those but the internet is slow and you have a sample only. I add the rest when I get the chance but it’s a taste. On the photos the old man was sitting with his wordly possession smoking a cuban cigar how random. He was all smiles with no teeth and loved his photo when I showed him. My first Thai food was a tofu kabab thing drissled with thai chille sauce yum followed by coconut icecream for desert double yum – vegetarian style of course,
So today is the start of touring and my first spot check GPS location will be uploaded at the end of the day. I won’t get going until after 11am as I have to now check out. Lets see how far I get on route to Chaing Rai. One thing I know for is that it’s going to be an amazing ride. All the senses are firing with the saturation of everything new and this is a very cool good good thing. One peddle and post at a time as I wiser woman advised (x). Thankyou for sharing post #1. Talk soon.