I’m a day behind on writing about my trip, and I expect I’ll get more behind as the week goes on, but I’ll try to keep up.
Monday was my wander around the old city day. I woke up surprisingly early, given how tired I was after all the travel and the night market, and walked to the east gate of the wall, which was about 10 minutes from my hostel. Right inside the wall, I found a place that sold mango and sticky rice for 40 baht and grabbed that for breakfast. I then started to wander around, hoping to find random interesting things.
It turns out that being in a foreign country doesn’t actually stop people from wanting to grab my arm and look at my tattoo. As I was wandering around the city, a Thai man stopped me and asked about the tattoo, grabbed my arm and started turning it to try to see it better. He told me that he lived in Australia and taught Muay Thai boxing there and was in Chiang Mai on vacation with his family, which seemed sort of suspect given that he was alone. He showed me his business card, which said his business was in Melbourne, but it was rather old and yellow. He then showed me a picture (also old and yellow) of his wife, who he said died twenty years ago of diabetes. He then proceeded to ask how old I was (???), say I was short compared to his 19 and 15 year old kids (thanks, dude) and then ask if I wanted a jungle hiking tour (yeah, I doubt he was a tourist visiting Chiang Mai). I finally managed to shake him and spent the next three hours or so wandering around on my own, visiting temples and random museums. And I managed to find a random place for lunch where I got a full lunch and a Coke for less than the Coke would have cost me in the States.
Around noon, I decided it was actually way too hot to be wandering around outside and figured I’d head back to my hostel to drop stuff off, get a massage and then visit the market where the locals shop instead of the tourist center. As friends can attest, however, I have a terrible sense of direction, and it took me much longer than it should have to make it back to the east gate of the city. I eventually made it back to my hostel, cooled of for a while in my room and then went out for a massage. After a couple of attempts and with help from one of the people in my hostel, I managed to find one of the places that I had found recommended online. I proceeded to then get an amazing hour long massage for less than a fifth of the cost of an equivalent massage in the US. My feet and legs felt so much better, and I was feeling boneless and ready for a nap.
I ended up heading back to the hostel instead of the to the market since it was getting late enough that I wouldn’t have much time there before it closed. The Night Bazaar was supposed to open soon, anyway, and was much closer to where I was staying.
After heading back to my hostel again and laying around for another couple of hours (the massage made me much sleepier than I thought), I headed out to the Night Bazaar. The bazaar is actually kind of a weird place. It’s mostly only full of tourists and is not unlike shopping in the Tibetan stores in the Haight, only at a fraction of the cost. Stalls line the sidewalks for many blocks, leaving enough space for only one person to walk.
Another thing that was sort of weird about the Night Bazaar is no one quite seemed to know what to make of me. It’s full of merchants hocking their wares, calling out to passing tourists to come look and buy. But people couldn’t figure out what language to use with me. One merchant greeted me in Japanese, Chinese and then Korean in rapid succession, and even when touts had picked a language to use. the first thing they usually did was ask where I came from. The one person I actually talked to thought I was Japanese.
Also, I’m sort of creeped out by the number of people who keep asking me if I’m traveling alone. Makes me not feel totally safe …