July 11th, 2004

Chiang Mai, day 2

Yesterday afternoon, we spent a while sitting in a restaurant. Basically, it was around 3:30 and we hadn't had lunch yet, but we didn't want to eat and spoil dinner, so we decided to look around for a coffee shop or something. We found a place that advertised "Italian and Mexican Food" and popped in for nachos. Not as good as California Mexican food, but better than nothing! We hung out at that place for a while, and eventually ordered dinner. T got quesedillas and I got ravioli -- yum! I'm wondering if the people running the restaurant used to live in the US or something. After that we went to check out the "night bazaar", which was basically just like the shopping in Bangkok but at night. It's sort of like the valley indoor swap meet, but outdoors.

This morning we went to the Chiang Mai Zoo. It was okay -- kind of dirty, and they let cars drive through the whole zoo. However, they had some interesting animals, and a pair of giant pandas! We got some exercise walking up and down the hills there, and saw more of the fuzzy caterpillars that I saw in Hong Kong (I took a picture of one this time).

After that we went to the Chiang Mai National Museum, which is pretty tiny. As expected, they had a lot of Buddha images, and not much else.

Back at the hotel, we had another mid-afternoon snack (missed lunch again, didn't want to spoil dinner again) -- this time fruit salad and french fries, instead of nachos. After that we wandered over here to check our email and such.

We rode in a tuk tuk last night (they're these three-wheeled motorized taxis, sort of like a motorcycle with a seat hooked up behind it), which we designated as a "real Thai experience." Today we rode in the "minibuses" that serve as taxis in this city (rather than regular metered taxis). Basically it's like a pickup truck, but in the truck bed they put this covered thing with bench seats on the sides, so you climb in the back and sit there hoping you don't fall out. We got covered with nasty soot and stuff from all the exhaust fumes -- just like being back in Beijing! :P

Anyway, we've run out of things to do in Chiang Mai, with prety good timing since we're off to Phuket tomorrow. The only things we really want to do for sure in Phuket are get a Thai massage and go on a canoe trip. The canoe trips go around these islands, and you get to go into caves and stuff while the tide is out. It looked pretty neat! T still needs to buy a swimsuit though.

Hopefully there will also be an internet cafe near our hotel in Phuket, but if not we'll be back on the 15th!