Keeping Busy: Thai Style
A week seemed to go quickly by in Chiang Mai this January. Though it is January, and most likely wintery in your neck of the woods here in
We have fully embraced the 125cc motorbike – as nearly the entire Thai population has - as the perfect tool for exploring small rural villages, endless craft fairs, winding forest roads, and smoggy, clogged city streets. In just a handful of days we have covered many kilometers of Thai side roads and been thoroughly amazed with the continued diversity of this country. We climbed through hilly broken concrete roads, unable to read each and every sign in Thai script, and were rewarded with views over the entire valley from perched atop a massive earthen dam. The dam formed a large reservoir, reminiscent of the manmade lakes the dot the
For one thing, on this weekday, we were nearly the only one enjoying the ‘recreation area.’ No motor boats humming across this lake, only silent smoke rising from the valley below as rice farmers burned their fields and ditches. The air is always noticeably thick in
Back in Chiang Mai we find ourselves indulging in the options of the Thai city. Fresh orange juice for 50 cents, endless bizarres and markets selling so many things we’ve never seen before, constant temptations of ‘nearly free’ pirated software and movies, street food with unknown names, malls with Western familiarities priced in baht, and colorful Thais smiling, and working, and casually keeping busy. On the weekends the night bizarre comes to us and vendors move onto the plaza just outside our door. Stalls – most attached precariously to a motorbike – sell strawberry shakes, pork skewers, sticky rice, vats of curries, and parts of fish we’ve not yet ventured to eat.
In narrow alleys between the food vendors are jewelry vendors and hill-tribe peoples, shop owners and home-craftmans, each tucked under an umbrella and a single bare lightbulb patiently organizing their wares to attract Western tourists and Thais alike. Again, these affairs have the air of being both casual and bustling – it is a line the Thais have learned to walk well. We also continue our casual pace, heading out tomorrow in a rented Suzuki jeep for an larger adventure to the northwestern hills. We’ve embraced the modus operandi of our host country: keeping busy though sometimes it doesn’t look like it.