Mai Pen Rai

It means no worries… like, about a thing… because every little thing is gonna be alright now… 🙂

The photos are here: well here really

So I’m in Chiang Mai… and despite being 11 hours (on a 2nd class bus) north, and despite constant assurance from all that I’ve met that it would be… it is no cooler. I’m sweating my knickers off… but thanks to the lack of any sort of water heating system here… I am managing. It’s not cold water, it’s “refreshing” water… I tell myself as my DNA factory discovers previously undiscovered locals of my insides.

Thursday I went back to school with Ree for the field trip. I was greeted by a bunch of eager children who flooded me with Valentine’s Day flowers (I now am the proud Valentine of 17 young girls and boys… you should all be so lucky!). We hopped on our busses and headed to our first stop, the wax museum – actually an “Imagery Gallery” to be technical, but meh… what’s the difference. The bus ride there provided me with further insight into the differences between our cultures. Thai children, while on field trip busses, get played BLARING techno versions of American songs (you haven’t lived until you’ve listened to I Will Survive on 2x speed at 8:30 in the morning – beats a cup of coffee, I’ll tell ya.). The museum was full of many monks and famous Thai people who I didn’t know – but a good portion of it was in English so I could learn, and it was pretty interesting.

Next we headed to the crocodile farm, which was actually an Elephant Park (I need to get better translations of the places I’m going beforehand… not that I’m complaining, an elephant park is way more exciting than a crocodile farm!). We ate lunch on some bleachers and instead of just sitting with the teachers, I decided to sit with some students who had sat down next to me. Throughout the day I ended up hanging out with them quite a bit and they were awesome. One girl in particular, Fhay (or maybe Fhey?), I remembered from the day before because she had such a contagious smile and she was always smiling. After lunch we watched a croc show which was entertaining but seemed a little cruel, and an elephant show, which was even more entertaining, but again… I could only think of the years of animal rights propaganda I had force fed myself. The coolest part came at the end of the elephant show when we could buy banana’s and sugar cane to feed the elephants – if you take a look at the photos, you’ll see that it was an amusing experience for me… I actually got to pet an elephant… it was awesome!

Next up was a rose garden park, but we didn’t stop to smell the roses… we were ushered into a stadium and watched a presentation on Thai music, dance and culture (including a cool kickboxing display). I sat with Fhay and her two friends Mun and Wan. I had thought that they couldn’t speak much English, but they surprised me and it was cool having them explain to me what the different things going on were. They were great kids, and so cute – in fact, I’ve decided to find myself a Thai bride just to be assured that my children turn out as cute as these kids.

After the presentation it was a quick bus ride back to the school were we took a bunch of pictures, said some goodbyes and headed home. After picking up her husband Kha, Ree took me to a park near their house where there is a huge statue of the Standing Buddha and a beautiful wat that I cannot remember the name of. It is at the top of this amazing Uttaya (I know this is spelt wrong) road, which is the most expensive road in Thailand as it is lined with these golden dragon lamp posts.

My last night in Bangkok was interesting, as instead of forcing me (yeah right!) more delicious Thai food, the family decided to get pizza. Yup, pizza and beer… crazy. But it was great! I miss pizza! I checked my e-mail that night and my Dad (and uncle) teamed up and came through with some money for me, so it looks like I’ll actually not have to sell any major organs to contine my trek through Thailand. Thanks again Dad, I don’t know what my pancreas does… but it just sounds important, you know?

So… yesterday morning, after a bit of a scurry to a couple bus stops, I was on a bus to Chiang Mai. I opted for 2nd class as it was about 1/2 the price of the 1st class tickets and was still air con’d. Hugging my guitar with the love it deserves, I boarded the bus and spent the next four hours trying to regain some sleep I had lost the night before due to having to figure out how to pack the plethora of new stuff I had picked up in Bangkok (guitar, tent, shirts, instant noodles, etc.). Finally, letting the crappy suspension system declare victory over my quickly bruising noggin’, I decided sleeping against the window was a bad idea and I struck up conversation with the, frankly, beautiful Thai girl seated beside me. I knew from a cell phone conversation earlier that she spoke at least a little english…

We spent the next four hours or so chatting away, and when we stopped after about 30 minutes of talk to have a quick bathroom break at a reststop, she actually bought me a gift! It’s this little crafty thing that contains dried bananas. She said I could keep it as a souvenir or if needed, eat it. How sweet is that. I put her at about 20-24, but nope… wrong again. She was 30! I can’t get over Thai women… they all look so young! Anyway, we chatted about everything. Sadly she had to get off about 4 hours before Chiang Mai, so I was left the rest of the way to entertain myself… more sleep, more bruised grey matter, yeah!

I got to Chiang Mai and followed Naomi’s (my GFL friend) instructions – take a songthew (pickup truck with benches in the back) to the Central Airport Mall and then call Ooh, her boyfriend. The songthew, though assuring me it was the right place, dropped me at the wrong mall and I had to take a tuk-tuk to the correct mall. Thankfully everything else went smoothly and before long I was eating a beautiful vegi-Thai dish that Ooh made for us. Naomi is Canadian (from PEI in fact) and is here on a study-abroad (studying a broad doesn’t sound too bad? Most guys do it all the time) program for Uni. Her and Ooh live at his uncle’s summer home in a little guest house and I’m comfortably tented on the lawn.

Today Naomi and I went down to the local Tesco Lotus and I bought a sleeping roll pad thing, a pot, some batteries, another shirt and some other stuff I can’t remember. I’ve not really done much else today.. but tonight we are going to a No Viagara Needed party, and it should be great. I’ve not been a bar in Thailand, so it should be interesting.

Oh, so on the list of maybe romantic, but hopelessly foolish things I’ve done lately… as some of you may have noticed, today is Valentine’s Day… and well isn’t it lucky that I’m in the country where this day is celebrated more than Christmas! So yeah… to add insult to injury, the only person I want to be my Valentine is like really, really far away. I asked Cass to be my Valentine the other day… but haven’t checked my e-mail yet.. so I’m not sure what she said… but really, who am I kidding… I would be a shit Valentine, I can’t buy her anything or take her out or anything that you’re supposed to do when someone is your Valentine… and really how pathetic am I that the only girl I want to hang out with today is 8,000 km away and probably long forgotten about that Canadian dude she knew for three days.

Well anyway… time to go look for the the answer to my Valentine’s Day woes at the bottom of a Thai whiskey bottle. Thank god I don’t understand more Thai… or all the sappy music that is being played right now would make me all mushy and weepy… and so maybe due to that small linguistic challenge, I can find my way through the day. Wish me luck.

[added at the cafe]
And then she wrote me… and I smiled the biggest smile… and missed her more…

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