Last week turned out to be, in a word, expensive.
After we got back from our trip, it became increasingly noticeable that our bed is extremely uncomfortable. Thai beds are traditionally stiff, and ours is no exception. So it was almost serendipitous that on a trip to the bank, we found out that the department store in the mall was having a major sale on mattresses and mattress pads. They had to order one for us, but it will be here on Thursday, and we will once again sleep in bliss. My wallet cried a bit.
It has also become harder to ignore the heat, smog and outright smoke that chokes the air these days. As the farmers in the surrounding hillsides burn their fields, all that gunk has settled in our valley, making the sky a constant white/gray. When we try to ride our bikes the same distances we were doing a month ago, we end up wheezing and coughing our way home. So until the air clears, we’ll be getting around on our very own scooter! As seems to be the case every time I just want to go look at things and price them out, we found an awesome deal on a bike that’s old, but has lived most of it’s life in a garage and is in really good shape. It called to us. And so once again, we bit the bullet and brought it home. My wallet cried a bit more.
But despite all the expense, it’s nice to really be setting down roots in Chiang Mai. There’s always a line when you start buying things that aren’t simply going to be packed up in a suitcase later, that mark your status as a resident rather than a visitor. I am only good at being nomadic for so long; after a couple weeks of travel or being in a new place I always end up craving stability, and this time it took the form of a mattress pad.
Of course, we couldn’t just have a new scooter and not go places, so we went on a journey into the mountains. Our poor little 100cc scooter huffed and puffed up the hills, and when we thought it probably wouldn’t make it up one more steep climb we stopped. We decided to stop at Bhuping Palace, the winter residence for the Thai royal family that’s open to visitors when they’re not there. Our only small snag: we were both in shorts, inappropriately dressed for the occasion as all palace visitors must wear pants. Fortunately for us, the palace had a solution for such delinquents as us, for rent at just 15 baht each:
So in our new (hot and ridiculous looking) garb, we headed into what we soon realized was kind of like Thai Disneyland. Soothing music plays at you from speakers hidden in immaculately kept gardens, and using the map that comes with your ticket you can find and read about all the buildings on the grounds. We were kind of annoyed that no one mentioned that the palace is under construction, and you can’t actually go in any of the buildings. But it was cool to wander around for the afternoon anyway.
We’ve got about 6 weeks left until we start work, and it’s shaping up to be a pretty busy/fun time. We’re planning a trip to Pai, a town about 3 hours away that’s supposed to have awesome hiking and cave trekking. It’s my birthday next week! Our term at TFH is coming to a close, and the “graduation” for our students is on Friday. We’re looking into starting yoga classes, and maybe Thai classes. Even though we’ve been here for a couple months already, it feels like there’s always more to do and see. It’s nice to be able to blend all of these new experiences with the town we’ve grown comfortable in.