Saturday, March 01, 2008

Chiangmai is such a likeable place...

Someone mentioned that it is a ‘small city with big city conveniences’...
I’d say, she is more a ‘big city that has not lost the small city charm...
She is after all, populated by about 2 million inhabitants... hardly a small city...

Initially rented a bicycle to dart around the huge Chiangmai University campus...
That bicycle was just too small for my body frame, such that I could not exert as much leg power as I’d like while peddling...
To make matters worse, the right pedal dropped off from the bicycle I rented... imagine me cycling laboriously with just the left pedal... and with leather shoes at that...

Changed to another bicycle (which was not in any better condition) and went riding in the old part of the city...
It is easy to navigate around the said area because it is completely surrounded by a man-made (I suppose) moat on all four sides...
Two rounds the moat I went, and just as I was about to return to the hotel, my right thigh cramped... arrrrghh...

Returned the bicycle immediately (had actually wanted to throw the damn thing into the moat) and rented a Honda motorbike... a 125 CC ‘JRD Storm’... Wooh, so nice to cruise around the vicinity...

Went up with this bike to the famed Doi Suthep temple in the hills on Sunday…
Couldn’t help but to notice that the temple grounds are filled with donation boxes...
‘Donate for a happy life... Donate for a better tomorrow... Donate for Children’s library’, etc...
Plus, little girls dancing in tribal wear, of course, with donation boxes placed in front...

Come evening, chanced upon the Sunday market...
Boy, was I impressed by the length of streets blocked up for this purpose...
The walk through this market seemed endless...
The sheer magnitude of this market makes the pasar malams in Malaysia look like child’s play...

There were street performers aplenty... little hill-tribe children...blind musicians... young, clean-cut boy singers... old folk musicians... a little girl playing the violin... a solo, ragged-voiced, cigarette-puffing rock singer on the guitar... and a flutist playing a meter-long, thin bamboo flute...

The amazing thing of this market is, despite all the goings-on, the atmosphere was just so silent... there were no blaring sounds and no one yelled across the road… it was so peaceful, so quiet, in spite of all the haggling, the buying and the selling...

It is easy to understand why so many foreigners choose to spend their days here in Chiangmai...

The following evening... had dinner at a clean-looking coffee shop...
Ah, I said to myself... this shop... I do not have to worry about risking my stomach...
Not too long after I rested my bum on the wooden chair, I noticed three girls, twenties maybe, chattering in loud Mandarin two tables away...
What the fish, I thought to myself... spoiling the atmosphere...
The chattering went on almost throughout my dinner...

After they left, peace prevailed as three equally-aged girls sat at the table next to where I sat...
Man, I had to strain my ears to eavesdrop what they ordered through the waitress...
Through the bits of conversation, I gathered that they spoke Mandarin... ooh, should I say that they were too civilized...