And the occasional “Konichiwa!” and “Mushi mushi” from street vendors who assumed I was Japanese.
I never thought Chiang Mai would be so commercialized. Almost every business is geared towards tourists. American bars, Mexican food, dim sum, sushi, a three-storey Starbucks and several used books store with English, Japanese, Dutch, German and French books (one hung a Trainspotting and Che Guevara poster over the cashier counter. Can’t try any harder for touristy effect).
There were also posters and billboards of their king in various dignified poses throughout the city and its outskirts. Many also sport orange colored silicon bands embossed with “Long Live Our King.”
Thailand was never colonized, yet in a sense it has.
Escorts with “extra services” were advertised openly behind tut tuts. And then there were the old farangs with young Thai girls.
Armed with a hook-and-hammer-like apparatus, elephant trainers scratched and nicked the elephants’ thick skin to subdue them. The elephants painted on canvases, tote bags and t-shirts with the ‘help’ of their trainers.
Clap clap. More bananas. More sugarcanes. Whack whack. Clap clap. And pose. Click. And pose again. Click.
It’s the way of life for some and who am I to judge. I’m only another sojourner in this thing called life.
On the really plus, plus side of things is that there were many coffeehouses all around Chiang Mai. Locally grown and roasted fresh.
I also saw the borders of Burma and Laos, visited an opium museum and saw the Golden Triangle. It was at best, interesting and informative. At worst, depressing.
However, I loved the bamboo raft ride which lasted almost an hour along the Mae Taeng River. It was quiet, far from other tourists and it rained. The only thing that wasn’t drenched was my camera. Awesome.
(Taken just outside the Burmese border.) I will try to upload more photographs from Chiang Mai here.
Next: Staff retreat in Penang.