Saturday, January 10, 2009

Our First Day

Today is our second day in Chiang Rai. Yesterday was our first day in Chiang Rai...yes.

We somehow made it to Bangkok Friday night after a 13 hour flight to Seoul (sweet airport) and a 6 hour flight to Bangkok. We were too exhausted and disoriented to do anything but collapse at our hotel.

When we woke up yesterday, we were in a different world: stray dogs, families of 4 riding through the skinny streets on single mopeds, street vendors and all the smells that go with a new city (barbecued meats, sewage, animals, a nearby river).

At 11:40 we jumped on a flight to Chiang Rai where we planned to brush up on our Thai - the boy sitting next to us laughed and corrected us. We were greeted in Chiang Rai by a festival on the air strip which we soon discovered (after wandering around wondering what people were staring at) was a military air show. Everywhere we looked people were staring and we were quickly struck with the realization of being foreign. After discovering that we had written down the wrong address to the guesthouse, we attempted to call Thellie (our only contact in Thailand) and failed on all of 5 pay phones in a row. A group of ten or so Thai cab drivers (all just hanging out at the empty airport) sat and laughed at us (a reccuring theme of our trip so far).

We decided to get a ride downtown and assumed we could find our way to the guesthouse 1 km away. With Lonely Planet in hand and 50 lbs of baggage on our backs we headed NE with the help of a newly purchased compass/whistle (78 Baht! - how much is a Baht?). Trucks with at least 10 children in the back passed and all the heads turned toward us. Walking around we found that with a little smile or wave or a timid "Sawat dee" (hello) everyone we passed would beam back at us. We've already discovered why this country is known as the Land of Smiles.

The supposed fifteen minute walk from downtown continued for an hour along the highway heading back to the airport and we soon realized we were terribly lost. It was time to ask for help (ah!). We stopped at a small moped mechanics shop where four or five mechanics sat staring at us with dropped jaws. As we timidly approached with our massive backpacks, tevas, sweaty T-shirts and map in hand, their awed expressions turned to fits of laughter. The head mechanic and his wife grabbed the map from us and began to pass it around and looked just as confused as we were. We finally mimed "telephone, please" and were able to reach Thellie on our second try who spoke to the mechanic for us. Before we knew what was happening, we were each on the back of a moped, speeding through the streets of Chiang Rai and were finally dropped at the guest house - which actually was just a fifteen minute walk from downtown. The mechanics' act of kindness seemed to be an expected gesture in this culture - not an inconvenience at all.

After a nap we headed to the night market, a bustling 5 lantern-lit blocks of vendors selling everything from hand-sewn pants to maggot covered sushi (intentionally). Today we take it easy, soaking up the living-in-the-present mentality of Chiang Rai. Tomorrow... trekking?

World's Most Unusual Musical Instrument

Our view for 19 hours.

Dinner in South Korea (spicy!).

Lots of herbs.

Cows in the city?!

The Chiang Rai Clock Tower.


  1. hi this is Mom and Dad and Gert! What a cool thing! It feels like you are a minute away. Your description of the Thai smiles was lovely, and yes, how nice to be in a place where people take care of each other and are kind. Sounds like you are starting off great. We're all good having just come back from Molly's show which was sweet as pie. She did a great job and it all came together wonderfully what with the costumes and the gestures. Have a great day ?! Night?! Can't wait for the next posting!

  2. MA SOEUR!!!!!!!

    I can't believe you are actually in thailand and all these experiences are real. Thailand sounds like a wonderful place and I'm so happy your doing this. Dance Productions went really well and my weekend has been mellow, but nice. The house is quiet without you but I'm happy to hear everything is going well. Say hello to jamie for me!

    bisous bisous bisous

    ps did you try the maggot covered sushi?? Or anything else odd and unique to the area?

  3. ahaha mom and dad commented as you and jamie...

  4. oh! one more thing.
    did you see the moon last night? It was the biggest one of 2009 because it was on it's closest orbit to earth and it was incredibly beautiful (I took photos so you can see them when you come back).

  5. 1. 78 Baht = $2.34. I can't really comment on if that was a good deal or not since I haven't seen the whistle.

    2. Try to listen to this:

    3. Keep it coming

    For Jamie: we had a team meeting after practice to discuss our goals for the season (ntnls/going all out). Some friction, but for the most part very positive and people are excited. Kiosk is going to teach me how to do squats. Also, my brother dunked the other day.


  6. Hi, guys, so we're not the only people who laugh at you all the time! Have any kids actually come up to you and grabbed at your skin and clothing to make sure you're for real? That happened to dad a lot in Africa and it's weird but kind of cute.

    Berkeley High Coup won a tournament yesterday. Caleb says they're third in the state now. Caleb even got to play and said he actually touched the frisbee.

    The pictures are great! Any explanation for the "Parking, Tomato" one? Keep em coming -- what a treat to feel like we're on this adventure with you!

  7. Thailand sounds AWSOME! Next time you're taking me with you. Like mom said, we won the frisbee tournament. I know you've just left, but i wish you were back home. no offense to mom and dad, but the house is empty and boring without you.
    Have an amazing adventure, and keep posting!

  8. Jamie and Anna! This blog is fantastic - I really enjoyed reading this!

    I'm glad to see you guys are taking full advantage of the camera. The pictures look great. Have fun, please don't bring me any maggot-covered sushi, and be well.



  9. Keep it coming. My only vacation this year is by proxy, and I'm really excited to see the sights of Thailand without having to carry the 50 pound pack.

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  11. Shman and Jamie!
    the blog is delightful, nicely light, in such a way that i feel that I am actually there with you guys.(laughing at the two of you of course). Keep posting pictures and videos.
    ada "#1 fan" ruzer
    p.s. i teared up reading what's new?