Location:Chiang Mai, Thailand
What We Did:
Vivid. Hot. Humid. Loud. Colourful. Since arriving in Thailand a week ago, we’re adjusting to a new way of life: a new culture, language, currency, food, pace…the full shebang. Immersed in a local house in a local neighbourhood, we’re officially transcended the tourism thing (it helps not being in the Old Town tourist district) and wave each day to our neighbours, who are so incredibly friendly, as the Thai tend to be. Chiang Mai is not nearly as nuts as Bangkok. It’s liveable and manageable and a favourite for digital nomads, which is what we will become for four months. This might explain Art in Paradise, perhaps the most entertaining, innovative, interactive and digitally wondrous experience we’ve had anywhere! A dozen Korean artists have turned an old mall into a 3D masterclass of illusion, enhanced with an app that makes dinosaurs and sharks, polar bears, the Mona Lisa, volcanoes, waterfalls and snowflakes animate around you. It’s difficult to describe, and left us in awe. This would be a world class attraction in New York, never mind Chiang Mai! More surprises awaited us at the Elephant Poo Poo Park. Steeped in sustainability (which is ironic considering there’s no recycling here and just an unbelievable amount of single use plastic around us), the park takes kids through the process of turning elephant poo into odourless and quite lovely paper products. With a friendly guide, the kids got to roll poo, flatten it out into sheets, remove sun-dried parchment, and make cards and bookmarks. Both kids loved it (and so did we). Between the tuk tuks and the night markets, the golden temples orange robed monks, and fun rides in the basket of a public bike system that works called the Mobike, the kids are having the time of their lives. We’re here for a 6 weeks as Dad writes another book. More adventures to come!
What We Ate:
Rice. Chicken. Chicken and Rice. Rice and Chicken. Chicken-Rice. Rice-Chicken. Noodles. Noodles and Chicken. Chicken and noodles. Noodles and Rice. Red Curry. Green Curry. Pad Thai. Deep fried stuff. Soupy stuff. Amazing stuff.
Where We Ate:
We don’t know what these places are actually called, but they’re the local Thai joints where locals eat. There’s no menu. We ask for the rice and chicken, and it comes back costing about $2 a plate, and it’s delicious. There’s the old lady around the corner. The young lady on the corner. The crepe guy. The sticky rice guy. We did have fantastic Indian food for a splurge, and got ripped off near the night bazaar (same same menu, but very different tourist price). Mom now knows her away around the local market, and Dad is getting quite creative with the wok. There are modern supermarkets but things are about eight times more expensive than in the local street markets, and it just doesn’t pay to cook even though Dad is doing a fair bit of it. And Thailand ain’t as cheap as it used to be (although nowhere near the realm of Australia). There’s hardly any beef about, but a lot of chicken and shrimp and grilled fish. Oh, and a lot of sweet Thai iced milk tea, which we can’t get enough of.
My Favourite Pictures Today
Where We Slept:
We’re staying near the Kat Kom Market, about a 10 minute walk from the moat and 15 minutes from the Night Bazaar. We’re in a 3 bedroom Air Bnb house that is comfortable, with neighbours who make and run a variety of food carts (fish balls!) and clearly love roosters. Everyone is so friendly, one old lady ran down from her window to give Gali and Raquel handmade clothes today. Thank God for air conditioning! We’re getting used to the humidity and the electric showers, the no-paper flush toilets and mugginess. A cleaner comes once a week and leaves our place spotless, and the friendly Thai-Finnish couple owners are right next door and have been super helpful. It’s taken us a week to figure out that we’re not moving, just living in one place for a while. After the pace of Australia, our legs felt like they were still spinning, like Wile E Coyote running off a cliff.
To smile and say Kap Kun Krap/Ka a lot (it means thank you). That public bike networks like Mobike really work well! That Grab Taxi, the local Uber equivalent, is a life saver, especially if you don’t want to haggle with a tuk tuk driver every time you go somewhere. That the mosquitoes love the taste of Raquel and Dad, and Mom, Amy and Gali not so much. That Singha and Chang beer do not, contrary to popular belief, contain formaldehyde (although that doesn’t mean they taste that great either). That the Thai love picking up kids. That Chiang Mai doesn’t have many playgrounds. That Raquel loves a good shiny temple. That roosters don’t only crow at sunrise. That western food is not cheap, and the closer you are to old town, things double, triple, then quadruple in price. That $12 hour-long massages restore your faith in life. That Chiang Mai – a one hour flight from Bangkok – is still amazing, 10 years after Dad visited it last.
Reflection of the Day
The Best Part:
The food, the temples, the bike rides, the illusions, the Friday night feasts at Chabad, the lack of rules, the air conditioning, the fast internet that puts Australia to shame, but most of all the wonderful locals. Oh, and Raquel’s Muay Thai class, in which she’s learning to punch, kick and elbow with alarming grace, and efficiency.
The Worst Part:
Mosquitoes. No going out without a spritz of bug spray, or going to sleep without a burning a repellant pad. These are the craftiest mossies we’ve ever encountered…able to disappear into other dimensions just before you swat them, biting fast like kamikaze ninjas. The Rooster across the street, who penetrates our wild dreams every night.
Today's Random Thing
A Note from Mom and Dad
It was an epic travel day getting here, but feels like a distant dream already. If we’re culture shock, the kids have been positively electrocuted. One day they’re in modern Australia, the next they’re in a world without carseats, hopping in the back of tri-wheel tuk tuk, eating strange food, seeing strange script, and having people pick them up and wave “sawatdee!” all day. Gali has reacted by not eating, subsisting entirely on apple juice, milk, and snacks. Raquel is eating wonderfully, but like the Hulk, you don’t want to get on her bad side (especially now that she knows how to elbow you). There’s just one playground to go to (a taxi ride away) and so the kids keep busy learning with their lovely au pair/teacher Amy at home, roaming the streets, exploring temples, and of course, checking out the wonderful attractions of the city. Sleeping has been pretty good, all things considered, with Raquel finally sharing an air conditioned room with Gali. Raquel has had moments of homesickness (as has her Mom) but as we slowly get used to our new reality, we are all aware of how unique – and temporary – an opportunity it is to live somewhere so exotic, even if only for a couple months.