Thursday, June 08, 2006

Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Pai....you're now updated!!

Hey Everyone,

Cara and Rhiannon (Cara’s friend from uni) are in Thailand!!!!!!!!!! We are having an awesome, hot, sweaty, non-touristy time. We are slowly increasing our Thai vocabulary. At the moment we cant read nor understand a thing and think the Thai alphabet is squiggly lines (Rhiannon), exotic (Cara) but we can say 5 things- hi and goodbye/sa-wat-ti-ka (same word- its like aloha, ciao, namaste, salut), toilet/hong-nam (very important and learned after getting tired of miming at 7/11’s), thankyou/ka-pu-ka, how much is this/tow-rye-ka (after which everyone replies in Thai so it is not soooo useful) and no/myow (we are still working on yes). Today we added ‘See ya/Pu-knee-pope-can….don’t look at the phonetic spelling all of you who know fluent Thai! Thai is a tonal language….something which we are currently ignoring and therefore probably saying all sorts of stuff!

So what have we done so far?
DAY 1-We met in Bangkok on June the 2nd after I fought the most amount of traffic I have ever seen to find Siam Square and Rhiannon. We met, found a very nasty and averagely priced for Bangkok (400Bhat= 13.30AUD=10Euros ) hotel room and wandered the streets taking it all in- the horrendous traffic, carbon monoxide, designer shops, street vendors selling cheap goods and scary food that would have the health authorities aghast (but was sooo good says Rhiannon).
DAY 2 was spent in Bangkok exploring the Palace and Reclining Buda (temple) followed by Thai massages and then we got up and left nasty Bangkok as soon as we could. We caught and overnight and allegedly air conditioned (ok, it got cold after a while) bus north to Chiang Mai. We had a 2am rest stop (what the?...everyone was sleeping and suddenly it was ‘wake up, off the bus’) where we bought strange packaged little round delicious(Rhiannon)/chalk like consistency (Cara) biscuits.
DAY 3 we hired bikes and rode thought the traffic mad streets exploring Chiang Mai which has more temples (or wats as they call them here) then you can poke a stick at (Rhiannon). In excess of 300, with 121 within the municipal limits (Lonely planet). All we had to do was wander or turn around and there was another beautiful and exquisitely decorated temple. Normally the exterior had dragons flanking the steps leading up to the door, coloured mirror mosaics, dogs in the yards and coloured tiled roofs. Monks in richly coloured robes are found inside outside and on the streets…everywhere. Rhiannon and I visited one very large, grand temple and ended up being asked to teach the mini-monks English which was really fun, so cute and just wow. I thought the head monk who asked us very clever for inviting us to teach- we ran through the alphabet many times, taught vowels and simple words. At the end he gave us his email address!
DAY 4 we hired the Thai version of a taxi (a sawngthaew…that pronunciation is lost on me) and visited a temple called Doi Suthep which is on a mountain and has dragons at the foot of the stairs that flank the entrance and their bodies continue up the entire 300 steps to the top. In our taxi we met Pin (Thai) who escorted us up, bought us the standard prayer pack consisting of 3 incense sticks, a long stemmed red rose and a long stemmed lotus flower. Pin showed us what to do with our prayer pack and how to shake a jar of sticks to and get an ancient Chinese Prophecy (Cara: number 16. Getting this number means you will be happy without trouble and suffering. Property, dignity and success will belong to you surely. Asking about illness, it’s already recovered from illness. As for lover he/she is very good and honest to you. Rhiannon: the 11th number tells that you are very lucky. It seems the full moon is without clouds. You benefit from your behaviour in the previous life. The lover, the cousins, and the debtor are very good to you. You will win the lawsuit.) We were all blessed in one of the temples by an old monk who dipped a bundle of sticks into water and flicked it at us while chanting. After which he gave us string bracelets which we tied on and are still wearing. I am quite fond of mine…we don’t know if we are supposed to wear them this long but are ignorance is bliss. We looked at a beautiful view over Chiang Mai. Pin then took us to the Warorot market in Chiang Mai and bought us lunch (omelet and rice). We walked the market and then got ready for our ‘cultural thing’ as Rhiannon just said. We attended a dinner and performance of Thai dancing which was very much like what I have done with my grandparents in Hawaii and New Zealand. We felt very cultured and dinner was yummy…we liked the fried banana the best.
DAY 5 we left Chiang Mai for Pai which is further north west. It is a very hippy town….full of all the Caucasians we have been glad not to see when eating at the street markets and biking around. It is perfect for those who would like to visit Thailand but not really see it and just chill out. People seem to come here with good intentions of staying bit and end up being here long term. Rhiannon and I had dinner with Patrick (USA), a random we met on our accommodation hunt, who speaks fluent Thai taught to him by the students he has taught English to in Bangkok every summer for the last 4 years. He ordered yummy things for us to eat and added chili, sugar and lime like Thais add to their meals (similar to westerners adding tomato sauce or mustard) and taught us lots of things about Thailand and its people. The Thai people are completely and utterly impressed with Patrick for speaking Thai….even more so then the French being impressed with me I think because no one speaks Thai. We were honored to be the first people he’d spoken English to for longer then 2 seconds in over a month! Go us!
DAY 6….TODAY we hired motorcycles…ok they are automatic and more like scooters I, with a wealth of experience from my single Croatia excursion (haughty voice), was ready for something bigger but had to think of Rhiannon…we both answered yes definetly when they asked us of we had experience ). We went and saw a waterfall, a village, a canyon, lots of beautiful countryside/jungle and saw and petted and fed ELEPHANTS! That’s right! We touched and cuddled and took millions of photos of them. We fed them mangoes and a reedy/sugar caney/grass thing. We have booked a 2 hour elephant ride for tomorrow which cost 450 Bhatt or 15AUD!!!! Lastly we visited a temple on the way home. We were invited into the temple by the monks, we sat down and all of a sudden were in the middle of what was probably evening prayer. The head monk gave us each a little stone tablet with Buddha on one side and a little mysterious critter on the other…..I love Buddhism!….I might become a Buddhist (an odd thing to say). I love scooters!....I keep singing ‘Ride Sally Ride’ and thinking things like ‘Open ‘er up’, ‘Pedal to the metal’, ‘I want to feel some air through my hair’ and “Varoom rooom rooom’ while flying along….Cara loves speed! I might be become a biker Buddhist. What’d ya think? P.S. We want to learn Thai.

10 comments:

Julia said...

Hey Cara,
sounds like you are having a great time with some really great experiences. I can't believe you met monks and they gave you stuff. What is the purpose of shaking a jar with sticks? I think you should totally become a biker monk.

Cara's Mom & Pat said...

FANTASTIC!!!

PHOTOS!
PHOTOS!PHOTOS!
PHOTOS!PHOTOS! PHOTOS!
PHOTOS!PHOTOS!
PHOTOS!

Anonymous said...

Dear Cara ,

Remember (old Budhist saying)- "an elephant is not a motorbike".....please don't speed on one..... and especially no 'pedal to the metal' cause you will only have one very grumpy critter.

Sounds great !!!! Can you get a photo of an elephant lifting you up with it's truck??? Maybe not a good idea from a safety point of view.....

Love
Patrick

Mr David said...

ha! monk with an email address! brilliant!

haha nice one Patrick.... although I don't think elephants can drive trucks!

Cathie from Las Vegas said...

Cara you are having too much fun! Is that possible? You are also an excellant reporter and I hope you are serious about a novel. I never really had any interest in seeing Europe before but now I find myself wanting to go to the Croatia Islands and thereabouts. I would love to take trains rides to everywhere. My secret passion has always been New Zealand! Can I catch a train to there? Maybe an undersea one someday.
Yes, a Budhist Biker for sure.

blue said...

Hah, Cara the biker monk! Makes for a funny mental image that's for sure.

I found this site of Thai vocab - http://www.samui-holidays.com/info/thaivocab.htm which might be of some help.

Who knows about the tonal thing though, that sounds complicated to learn.

Glad you're havin' fun while the rest of us are slaving away at the end of term/semester/whatever :p

Daddy said...

I love your descriptions and details. I hope that you are wearing a helmet on those scooters! Are you around any beach areas? I have heard that the beaches are very beautiful!

Daddy

Anonymous said...

Meme, I can't even imagine the
thrill of seeing and experiencing
all the wonderful things that you
have done. The way you tell and
describe everything, is almost like
being there. We will look forward
to seeing lots of pictures.

Love you lots, honey
Nonie

Anonymous said...

Cara----your travels continue to enthrall me--- what an advenure!!! You really should think about putting all this in book form when you have time...?!? Love every report from you- Aunt Pat from Texas

Damian@Jeffrey.net said...

Sounds like you guys had an awesome time 3 years ago in Thailand. I too went up the mountain to visit the Wat Phrathat Doi Suthep last week, and also received prediction #11, with same text. Hope it is a real one! :) I liked the blog you guys wrote - quite observant.