Written in October 2008
Every night in Chiang Mai they have a HUGE bazaar from sunset to midnight (the days are way too hot to do anything besides get a massage and have a banana milkshake) and you can buy all kinds of randomness: colorful carved soap flowers in painted wooden boxes, genuine fake Rolex’s and Chanel bags (and any other name brand you can think of), birds in little straw cages (to set free), shiny gold bikinis, silver toe rings, slick leather satchels, multicolored silk robes, intricate carved teak wall hangings, long strands of beads, embroidered blankets, Fanta baseball caps, egg and banana crepes, and MC Hammer pants (of course).
And then about a billion other things. It is almost so overwhelming you don’t want to buy anything- almost. After a dinner of pineapple and prawn fried rice with a giant Chang, the local beer, I hit up the market and discovered something new about myself (Reason # 898 why you should travel: to discover new things about yourself). I am an expert haggler. Now I am sure these cats are still making money off me, but I get the price I want every time, whether it is for a pair of fisherman’s pants or a ride on a tuk-tuk to a dance club, and it is usually 1/4 of the initial offer. And it really is all about the walk-away. My favorite line that the hawkers use: “GIVE ME MORE MONEY!” It must work sometimes!
Tuk-tuks are little three-wheeled vehicles with a seat in the back for transporting tourists, named after the sound their sputtering diesel engines make. You can fit six fit females in one. The drivers laze about in the back and as you walk by say, “Tuk-tuk? Tuk-tuk?” Even if you have just walked past a line of fifteen tuk-tuks saying no thanks, the next driver will still say it: “Tuk-tuk?” I will be hearing that in my sleep.
It was a tuk-tuk I took (ha) to track down some techno with some girlfriends last night; I hate to say it but my mission was unsucessful- though NOT for a lack of trying! The clubs here are crazy, of course. You usually have to pay 100 Baht (a bit less than $3) to get in which comes with a free drink ticket for a Blue Hawaii or some shit like that; many are full of tourists and pump out super-crap Top 40 mangled mixes. My recourse in dance clubs like this which seem to proliferate around the world to a sad degree is a failsafe request: “Outkast, please“. It almost always works and I get a little Big Boi or Andre to keep my mind on right.
After several of these junky clubs, we headed to Lonely-Planet suggested “techno club” called Fashion (GOD HELP ME) which was about mile away in the old town area, hiring a tuk-tuk to get there once I got the price down to a reasonable level. This place was in a new hotel and styly-slick, all red and black with a stage up front and a circular booth in the middle. In between were little tables packed with what must be the ‘beautiful people’ of Chiang Mai- hot young Thais having fun and getting ripped. The music, however, was not techno, rather some tropical-trance-hip-hop mutant, a genre which will not be making it’s way across the pond ANY time soon. Let us all hope, anyway.
Even weirder than the horrible music was the fact that I tried to order a vodka-soda only to be told that the bar only served bottles of Johnny Walker. What? REALLY? A second glance around the tables confirned this: sure enough on every table was a bottle of Red Label, surrounded by small glasses- no wonder everyone was freaking wasted. It reminded me a bit of New Zealand where they serve this concotion called ‘Diesel’- premixed bourbon and coke from the tap, served in pint glasses with no ice for two freaking dollars. TROUBLE.
We weren’t quite up for a whole bottle of whiskey (pussies) so I went to talk to the DJ (I never met a DJ I didn’t meet) to see if I could influence his music choices. On a napkin I wrote my laughable requests: Modeselektor? Glitch Mob? Yeah right. So NOT happening. I tried one more, an easy one: Snoop Dogg? DJ Hungry’s reply: “If you want drum and bass, go to Monkey Club.”
I can’t make this shit up, people.
Anyway I was like SWEET drum and bass let’s go!!! I said my goodbye to DJ Hungry and slipped him one more note with the Glitch Mob’s Myspace address followed by: “…will change your life”. Who knows? Maybe Chiang Mai will become the next big center for grimey bass?
I was down to try and find the next club on our adventure, but the other girls were ready to call it a night, and I knew a lone blonde chick really didn’t need to be exploring at 1 AM around a strange city with a few drinks in her. This is the only point ever in my life that I wish I had the guise of a male, because although it is not fair, it is what it is- traveling solo, men have more freedom than women. I usually get around it but sometimes you just have to know when to call it a night. So I did.
This morning I had a horrible breakfast at the hotel which I promptly threw up. Gross but better out than in, right? Called my happy parents for the first time since my arrival in Asia, had another amazing foot massage, bought some baby powder (this honkie’s new best friend- I swear the Thai people do not seem to sweat at all, and it just waterfalls off me) and then grabbed lunch at McShame. I KNOW, I know, but sometimes you just want some deep fried potato sticks and a dinky little cheeseburger in your belly. And it was GOOD.
I am off in a few for a Thai cooking course, and pretty excited because I love Thai cuisine- the spicier, the better. It is kind of cool to be back in a bigger city with all the crazy bustle going on; during my massage this morning I just watched the street scene as grandmas hawked candied papaya slices, men wheeled out booths from the market by grabbing onto the frame as they drove along beside on a motorcycle, Thai girls giggled along in their blue and white school uniforms, and tuk-tuk drivers slept in the shade. I am REALLY REALLY excited about something I am doing tomorrow but I can’t write it or my mom will freak out. Just know Mom that it is nothing dangerous AT ALL- nothing more dangerous than riding in a tuk-tuk, anyway.
Speaking of danger there has been some violent government protests in Bangkok, with hundreds wounded and one dead- I saw it on the Australian news along with a bit of the most recent Obama-McCain debate (McCain is SUCH a douche). My hotel room is super posh with AC, TV, and minifridge. Anyway, the unrest will most likely be over by the time I return to Bangkok (tomorrow) and besides I am a smart cookie who would never get involved in something like that (in a foreign country, anyway). I will stay very far away from any of it, so nobody worry. My mama didn’t raise no fool. I have felt very safe in this country so far and it is like 100 times more dangerous driving on Interstate 5 in Seattle on any given day. So no worries, yall.
Thank you all so much for reading my updates and especially the great comments (I love you Carter!!!) and Tim: yes, they have a whole lot of happy endings here. Woman and child prostitution is a huge problem all over Thailand. For you however I would suggest The House of Male which boasts “inside-outside service by men for men”– whatever the hell that means.
Much love and peace out! I miss you Seattle! I wish all of you (well okay some of you) could be here with me sharing this experience. Once you start traveling though, it is a complete mind-fuck, you will catch the travel bug and just keep going and going and going- it does not work any other way and you become a rabid avid traveler like moi, insatiably hungry for your next adventure. Mine: how to make the perfect Phad Thai. I’m out.