AK763 touched down Chiangmai Airport with a breeze, we took a tuktuk to interstate bus terminal and took the 10:15 am Green Bus to Chiangrai. The service was good and attendant was very helpful and attentive. Unfortunately, we have to take the last row of seat as it was almost fully booked. Eric met me and my wife in Chiangrai Bus terminal 2 office. This is the first time I arrive at Terminal 2 which serves as intercity terminal. The terminal 1 is next to the night market but it has been converted to intra or local Chiangrai bus terminal.
We went to the old market in Chiangrai Chinatown to buy some fruits before heading to his place. It’s the season for fruits and we are able to buy some good mangoes, pineapples, and durians. Heading for his place in Wiang Chai. Som and Selyne were there to greet us.
Wiang Keaw is a small village, 20 km east of Chiangrai and Eric’s home is on the second row of house from the main road. It is convenient and yet accessible. I was told that the bus to Chiangkhong pass by every hour and songtheow (25 Bahts) also pass by regularly.
Google “a-thai-village-home stay,food,culture experience” for Eric’s village.
I must give credit to Som for keeping their home clean, tidy and very comfortable. There are 2 minimum requirements that I will insist for a homestay – (1) clean (2) western toilet – and Eric place meet my requirements. All at home except the cat and dog speak English and there was really no issue in communicating. Eric has installed Truemove Satellite TV (Channel includes BBC, CNN, History, NGO, etc and also a fast Internet service (Upload 2.6MBPS and Download 0.4MBPS – tested at speedtest.net). I was able to post this blog from his Desktop PC. The hall also has a good BOSE HIFI system besides the 40″ Sony LCD TV. The guest room is very big and airy due to many windows and even in the March dry season, we had to use the blanket at night as it is very cool at night. They have a western toilet with heater and there is no problem to shower at night.
We took a walk in the neighborhood, visiting Som’s father house and his rice fields, and met with Som’s Grand mother (92-year old lady). We met up with the chief monk in the neighborhood temple. There was a funeral that day and we witnessed the funeral proceedings. As the village school is having its semester break, we could only see some kids playing basket ball in the fields.
For dinner, Eric drove to another town’s market nearby to buy some live fish for dinner. But we only get 3 live small Soon Hock Fish or Marbled Goby to steam for dinner. Som is a great cook and as she has lived in Kuala Lumpur before she cook the dishes besides the fishes according to our tastes. It was a sumptuous dinner to say the least.
Chiangrai Walking Street
I have to congratulate myself for taking the advice of Eric to arrive early so that I could visit the Chiangrai walking street. I had earlier wanted to rent a car and drive to CR via Thaton and MaeSalong. I had been to Chiangmai walking street and really love to experience one in Chiangrai.. Chiangrai Walking street is held on Saturday evening and Eric is kind enough to take us there with Som and Selyne. We arrive a bit late at 7:30 due to a late dinner. CR walking street was much spacious compared with CM’s. My wife had a lot of success in shopping. I was more interested in the street food than buying anythings. We had street foot massage like the one in CM for 60 bahts for 30 mins before taking the 20KM drive home. We have some beers and chatted till midnight before rest.
Sunday 28 March 2010
Eric suggested we visit the White temple or known as the Wat Rong Khun and volunteer to be our tour guide. The whole temple complex was designed by the national artist named Mr. Chalermchai Kositpipat. To quote him…”It was my strong intention to build a temple in imitation of heaven. I wanted it to be a heaven on earth. I built a main building in the Buddhist monastery. I wanted it to be like a house of the Buddha with white color representing His purity and white glass representing His wisdom shining all over the earth and the universe”.
We have visited the white temple 2 years ago. The temple is almost completed by now and it is really worth a revisit. I also missed the Northern Thai arabica coffee (grown on the hill slopes and harvested by the hill-tribes). There are a lot of new development especially the souvenir shops and the rest rooms. We dropped by the bus station to buy our return ticket to CM. despite buying bus ticket 24 hours earlier, we had to contend with last but one row. We had Wonton noodle in a shop on Sanambin road and did some shopping at the Big C before heading home.
Som has been a good hostess and insisted to stay home to make dinner for us. We had sumptuous dinner of baked fish, stirred friend green bean and herbal chicken soup. My wife had the opportunity to learn cooking tips from Som.
Eric’s traditional Thai house has a large rest area outside the hall where he install a hammock. The rest area is a good place for beer, rest, relax, and leisure talks. We had a good time talking about Thai and Malaysia politics. We chatted till late night.
CR to CM
The next day, Monday 29 March 2010, was the time to say goodbye to our host. Eric was kind enough to send us to the Terminal 2 to catch a Green bus. We stayed in Star Inn in ChiangMai near night market. Online booking was done on 28 March and we were lucky to secure a standard room with breakfast for two at USD33.
Putting down is difficult
I salute Eric’s resolve to “put things down” and settled down in a quiet small town in CR. It is easier to “take things up” than to “put things down”. My short stay here has given me time to reflect what I really want to do with the rest of my remaining life. I have seen the passing of many friends due to illness and stress. In a recent case, one of my very good friend and associate, CT Chang was diagnosed with end stage cancer. You can read and follow his treatment on http://upekah.blogspot.com. He was forced to put things down. I have been taking more and more things up – work on contract as manager and study to prepare for my retirement job in teaching. Just wonder when I will follow Eric’s footstep and put things down. I hope I don’t have to wait until it is too late to quit the rat race.
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