My home, as much as I have one these days, has for the past two months been a condo in the city of Chiang Mai, Thailand. I have been living in the university area of Chiang Mai and it is one of Chiang Mai’s best. The area around Tae Pae Gate in old town is incredibly touristy and awful. Out here it is true Chiang Mai life, no one speaks English and there are no tourists. I am still an alien but they at least presume I am a resident alien! My 10th floor ridiculously cheap condo enjoys a rather nice view of the city from my balcony:
Just a few minutes walk from here, there is a large collection of food stalls under one large roof. We call them the Uni kitchens and they serve brilliant Thai food all day long for no money! Meals are all either 25 or 30 bath – around half a Euro, a quarter of a dollar, 4 Danish Kroner! For a full meal with free drinking water. We shall miss the Uni Kitchens very much now that we’re moving on!
Good day and Goodbye Chiang Mai, Thailand – my impressions
As I prepare to move on from Chiang Mai to Kuala Lumpur and then Australia I would like to share some observations with you. To be enjoyed with a healthy amount of sarcasm and irony!
- where the weather is just about perfect every day. Except there’s no coast and beach, nowhere to relax and enjoy this nice weather.
- where traffic is absolutely insane and it is perfectly normal to drive 3-4 people on one motorbike, Mum on the phone steering with one hand, 3 year old holding on to the handlebars – no one wearing helmets!
- where young people find it perfectly normal to wear weird furry hats in the form of a panda, mouse, tiger etc!
- where wild dogs roam the street wearing T-shirts!
- where strange Thai soap operas play 24/7 on every TV
- where noise is no issue. Thai’s do not notice it, are oblivious to it. I on the other hand want to find the off switch in my ears before I go insane. There is so much noise here. PA systems from hell. Traffic making your ears bleed. Disco in the ZOO. Jam bands killing my ears every night from every pub in the area. Outdoor concerts making me want to nuke the area! Noise always noise! Drives me absolutely insane.
- where you have a hard time walking anywhere. Sidewalks are not for walking. Thai’s do not walk. Sidewalk is for motorbikes to park on, for trees, for phone booths, traffic signs, anything but walking!
- where dried fish on a stick is considered a lovely snack.
- where NYE was one great outdoor party dancing in the street best ever!
…and in the best Monty Python tradition I end with:
The Sounds of Chiang Mai
- The Grinder. Always someone doing construction work.
- The Rooster. Not just at sunrise either.
- The Hammer. More construction.
- Never ending traffic.
- The Rooster. Again.
- There is no number 6!
- Kings of Leon and Red Hot Chili Peppers Jam bands. Play every bloody night at the pub next to my condo.
The Smells of Chiang Mai
- Fried Chili – and sewage
- Deep fried banana pan cakes – and sewage
- Diesel exhaust!
Chiang Mai. Love weather and food. Noise and traffic have driven me insane. Well more than I already was. Going to Australia. Full stop. Happy for end of Report khrap!
Christmas comes in many different forms for many different people, cultures and religions. Whichever way you spend the upcoming holidays I want to extend my best wishes for a great and merry Christmas for you and your family and loved ones!
I am posting the weirdest and most surreal Xmas decoration ever. This is from the entrance in a guesthouse in Phonsavan in Laos. Now; Laos being the most heavily bombed country in the world with a lot of unexploded ordnance still not cleared – you would think that bombs on display would be the last thing you would see. But no, they seem to display them as a sort of tourist attraction or…I don’t know. We all just stood there staring at this and just, it just does not compute. This is some large bomb with a lot of small cluster bombs (particularly evil) as decorations. And a Merry Xmas sign. So surreal!
I am spending Christmas in the tropics this year with dear friends, in my present home of Chiang Mai, Thailand. This being a buddhist country there is little in the way of Christmas decorations and I am quite thankful for that. Except in the large shopping mall where the "farrangs" (foreigners) get to enjoy a gigantic plastic tree and Thai versions of White Christmas so truly awful your ears bleed! I hate shopping malls with a passion but just when you think they could not get any worse! Copenhagen is covered in snow experiencing truly arctic temperatures, but we have a nice 30 degrees during the day and a big bright sun to go with it!
By far the easiest and funniest way to get around Bangkok from the Ramkanphaeng area is using the canal boats. Full throttle pedal to the medal they get you up and down the canal in no time! The boats run at great speed and as they pass each other up and down the canal remember to pull the cord to raise the blue striped plastic cover on the side of the boat – or you may find yourself soaked by a big wave. To keep the speed up the boats stop for just 3-4 seconds and hardly even stand still at every stop. You have to be quick and agile to jump on and off quickly and hopefully avoid a swim in the canal! The canal boats also offer an interesting very different view of Bangkok and the suburbs.
The boats are staffed by these incredibly skilled ‘Ticketeers’ (my word for lack of a better one). Wearing helmets they run and jump around the boat in perfect balance, collecting money, handing out tickets and helping people on and off in the 3-4 seconds where the boat lies reasonably still at the stops. They are a great fun to watch, I am a big Ticketeer fan!
Ending with another street scene from where I lived. Notice the power lines, how they ever get these to work is mind boggling!
When they actually have to repair these it is incredibly they ever find the right power line. Also; watch for hanging live wires – could give you a bit more energy than you would like!
- I am now based in Chiang Mai, have my flat and an outstanding 10th floor view from my balcony overlooking Chiang Mai and all the way to the hills where the sun rises every morning and the weather is perfect.
- This means I am sorta taking it slowly, finding my feet, will be a bit before I get to landscapes (this is probably hardest on myself as I have little patience!) so for now it is just my average travel photography I post. Last 4 months = hectic. So my balcony is presently my favourite place in the world I must admit.
Once upon a time is how many adventures begins. This one starts now (or well it started Tuesday after many preparations). Day Zero. Time is reset as I leave Danish airspace destination Nomadic life, first stop Bangkok.
The flights are turbulent. First one to Amsterdam is physically turbulent as we pass through a major rain storm. Second one from ‘Dam to Bangkok is emotionally turbulent. This is huge. Hours earlier I said goodbye to my two best friends. Now raw electricity shoots through my veins. Goose bumps. Heart races. Into the Wild, the wild unknown. Leave it all behind. New life. Reset time.
Bangkok – alien in Ramkanphaeng
Immigration and luggage is a breeze and I find my good friend Kai – he worked with us on the Malaysia and Borneo expedition in June. We get a taxi to his suburb Ramkanphaeng. Part of the fun and challenge of travel is knowing nothing. This is at the extreme end of that scale! Ramkanphaeng is a large uni suburb, mostly students or people who work at the uni. Kai speaks very good English but no one else does and everything is written in Thai. For 3 days I do not meet any other tourists. Not a single whitefella actually. I cannot read and only Kai understands me. I eat at the street kitchens where I point to food and handover money not understanding the price (does not matter anyway is lunch is something like 30 bath = 1 US dollar). This is actual true Bangkok life, no touristy Khao San Road from hell and it is incredible fascinating to experience this. More Ramkanphaeng stories to come, here are a few snapshots from the streets and markets.
Main road of Ramkanphaeng, add some rain and this is Blade Runner! Very busy street, even more so at night.
Fresh food markets, a symphony of colours and smells:
A typical street kitchen on the small road where I stayed. This is away from the main road and a charming neighbourhood of real life.
My Hood – kitchens and shots on the street where I stayed.
- As I am ordering lunch from a street kitchen using my special pointing technique a guy asks me in English “oh you know and like Thai food”. “Yes”, I say surprised, “Love it”. Turns out he is from the Philippines and when I reveal I am Danish he promptly speaks to me in Danish. He used to have a Danish girlfriend. Small world at times or weird coincidences surely!
- I did spend a few hours in the city centre and saw Khao San Road which is hell on Earth. A disgusting terrible tourist trap backpackers from hell street of nothing but pubs, restaurants and shops pushing crap to tourists. Interesting to see, a completely different world to Ramkanphaeng.
- Naturally as time is being reset some weird glitches occurs in the ‘Matrix’. In ‘Dam airport a young Brit two meters from me is arrested by the Police and he then promptly proceeds to regurgitate the drugs he is smuggling. On the plane to Bangkok I actually sit next to a couple from Finland named the Harkonens! (read Frank Herbert’s Dune).