Sunday, 1 March 2009

Bangkok To Chang Mai

Last night I had one of my favourite meals so far.

I got to the station far too early (it's one of the problems of taking buses here, having to build in too much buffer time). Looking for something to eat I avoided all the places just to the side of the station, especially those where they're pushing you to sit down. Instead I walked just behind the main street. It was an odd time, too late for lunch but too early for dinner. I sat at a little place with it's kitchen outside, the dirty dishes on large bowls waiting to be washed, and a few tables inside.

The only other customers were three girls from the station who helped the owner with my order. It was a deliciously simple sweet basil and squid dish. The lady that did the cooking was a bit upset that I wouldn't have it spicy, but I'm a wimp at that. The food was so good I ordered another one to take away with me for a late supper.

After being on Indian trains and in their stations this journey, Bangkok to Chang Mai, felt almost clinical, as if I was in a hospital. The seats are so tidy, the beds are's all a bit boring. I am amazed how much I'm actually missing India.

One thing I certainly missed on the train are the hawkers, the constant stream of people selling chai, coffee, samosas and a million other things that I ate but didn't know the name of, or for that matter, what were they made with.

Waking up in the morning, the train was on a gentle upwards slope. The vegetation is a mixture of forest and bamboo with the odd paddy field. Sadly the scars of recent fires are too present. I read yesterday that a cloud of smog is covering Chang Mai, caused by a spurt of forest fires and all the nearby industry. Nevertheless it was crawling back to life and the blackened soil was dotted with bamboo shoots.

Chang Mai is a lot more manageable a city than Bangkok and its historic centre is surrounded by a moat. The whole area is meant to be walkable, but I think later on I'll rent a push bike. The town is flat, with some great temples, and some good food, but there are also lots of stuff for travellers, treks, bars, etc..

I visited Wat Prah Sign, which is considered the main temple in town. This time I asked the Buddha for something for myself. One thing that really threw me out was the fact that they're trying to be so realistic, putting glasses on some of the statues...

I am off to meet a couple I met down in Krabi last October, it'll be nice to meet up with people I know. I should also start looking for treks. I'm thinking about doing one for three days and two nights.

I am also considering doing a meditation course, but am concerned that they're quite strict....some of them don't allow you to eat past midday.

I think I may crack and lose it if I get too hungry.

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