We will be leaving Chiang Mai tomorrow (Dec 18). I can’t believe that we’ve been here for over two weeks already! The pace of our days in the Northern City is so different from how we spent our time on the island. There are so many things to see just walking about the city, day, but especially at night. The city is so vibrant, and full of energy once the sun starts to set. Many markets are scattered about the city, and they start setting up on the streets/sidewalks once things start to get dark (except for the day markets LOL). The many bars and restaurants in the area (we’re near the old city) turn on their party lights, and the girls crowd the entrances and entice and welcome customers to enter.
It’s such a fun vibe at night, and I’ve been out many times on my own and have never once felt unsafe (wish I could say the same thing for our hometown)
I’m really enjoying Chiang Mai, and I feel very comfortable here. The other day I decided to head to one of the malls while Steve was getting his tattoo, and it was very easy and natural for me to head to the street and hail a red truck taxi (songthaew). Once on the street, a red truck (or tuk tuk) will give a quick beep beep honk to see if you need them, and then pull over once you flag them down. Then, you can negotiate the fare, and hop in the back of the truck, just like that. I never hitchhiked as a teen, so I kinda feel like this is what it might have been like – except I pay for this service LOL
Anyhow, riding in the back of the truck is easy and fun. I recently discovered that there are buttons overhead you can use to ask the driver to stop early if you want, otherwise he’ll head in your direction, occasionally picking up or dropping off others as he goes. It’s a cheap service, too, and at most has cost me about $3.
Now that we are leaving, I was looking over the list of the things that I thought I might want to do here in Chiang Mai – a cooking class, visit the monks/temples, but the most important thing – visiting the elephant nature park – we did, so I’m good. I would have liked to have done the other things, but I’ve really enjoyed just lazying about from day to day, not having to get up and go, go, go. I know that when the time is right we’ll take a cooking class again, and I’ll have an opportunity for a monk chat.
I’ve spent a lot of time shopping here – in the malls, and at the markets. Normally, I wouldn’t be into shopping because my darn backpack is already heavy enough, and we still have a few more months on the road. But, for our upcoming plans, I needed to get some pretty and fancy clothes.
So what are the upcoming plans for Steve & Ange? Well, we decided to take a cruise that leaves Singapore on December 22, and takes 28 days to head to Hong Kong, arriving there on January 19. We will celebrate Christmas day in Phuket (and on the ship), and New Years Eve day in Malaysia – I’m hoping that there are fireworks from the ship that night too – how cool would that be?
Since the cruise leaves from Singapore, we decided to leave from Chiang Mai and spend a few days in Singapore before we depart. That means that my birthday celebrations (on December 21) will be in Singapore! I’ve been doing a lot of research on things to do there, and I’m excited to see the city. Also, we have splurged (and traded in some points) and we are staying at the Fairmont Hotel – yippie! I hope that the Fairmont there is as fantastic as the rest of the Fairmont hotels I’ve stayed in. 🙂
Anyhow, on the cruise ship there are two fancy, dress-up evenings per week (yikes!), so I needed some dresses, and Steve needed some suits. Since we have been living like backpackers, with minimal variety for clothing, I was starting to feel worried and insecure that I was going to look like a big frumpy hobo. Luckily, we found a tailor to make some suits and shirts/ties for Steve. For me, I did some research and found some malls with brands that I recognize (and with western sizes) so I found myself some dresses that fit – and didn’t cost a fortune either! Shoes were also cheap, so I got a few pairs as well. I knew that I would need some accessories to make the outfits look different, so I now own about eight scarves, and so many sparkly accessories to match. I love shopping with a mission in mind, and it made visiting the markets that much more fun!
I go back and forth, being excited for the cruise, then worried that it’s going to suck. On the plus side I’m happy about unpacking once and not worrying about it for almost a whole month! No lugging shit around, just being settled in a nice room for awhile. I also like that we will get to see a few countries and places that weren’t even our radar, and being on the ship makes things easier for getting visas and such. It’s also inclusive for food, which is good, and there will be great pools and a nice gym. We are planning to make use of the gym daily again, so feel free to hold us accountable to that! I’m sure that Christmas and New Years will be over the top fabulous as well. By the way, we’ll be celebrating both of those before North America does – the benefits to living in the future I guess. We’ll let you know what to expect for the upcoming 2015. 😉
The things I worry about are the extra costs that could make this cruise more expensive, like the shore excursions and the booze! Oh, and we will be without internet unless we can find free wifi when we get into the various ports. They charge about .55-$1 A MINUTE for internet – isn’t that frigging ridiculous?! At least we are in a new port almost every day, so hopefully we can remain somewhat connected still. I also worry that our room is going to be small, that I might get sea sick, that I’ll be bored to tears, etc. etc. I even bought myself some crafts just in case – a kids cross-stitch and a little sewing project. They are, however, in Thai or Japanese or some other language, so we’ll see how that all goes I guess. LOL
I’m sure it’s going to be fun and I’m worrying for nothing. I was so excited when we booked the cruise because it just made things easier for a bit. When you are travelling around like we are, sometimes it gets hard and draining constantly trying to decide where to go next, then researching where to stay, deciding on how long we’ll be there, then trying to find a well located hotel that gets good reviews and is clean and safe and is in our budget. Then there is the travelling with heavy backpacks in the heat, in and out of airports, dealing with delays, and language issues, it can get rough. Please don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining, it’s all part of this journey and I am grateful to have these first world problems. I just wanted to illustrate that on the flip side of the glamour and seeing awesome new things everyday, is the shit of the planning and logistics.
A few days ago Steve hurt his back – almost the same kind of pain I had – and he’s been bedridden for the past couple of days. Poor guy, I really feel for him because I know just how horrible it is to not be able to walk, or find comfort sleeping ,or sitting, or standing. Luckily, I had cream and back patches leftover from my back issue, and he’s been making good use of those. I also ran off to the mall today and bought him a cane so he will be able to hobble around the airport tomorrow. It’s going to be interesting trying to get our backpacks to the airport, then sitting on a plane for 3 hours.
When we get to Singapore and get settled, I will try to do another update before we get on the ship. I hope everyone is doing well and is having fun planning for the holidays! Got your Christmas shopping done yet?? 🙂