I heart Chiang Mai.
Well, I got the heck out of Bangkok. My salvation came in the form of a rackety, old night train that looked like it had been transported out of the 1960's. 15 hours later after some sleep, a botched attempt to teach two French gals Rummy, and a valiant effort to use the 'squat toilets' while on a moving vehicle, I arrived in Chiang Mai. I think it's 700+ km. N. of Bangkok.
As I arrived at the train station, I was convinced by "Momma Hami" to stay at "her home", which is the Chiang Mai guesthouse. So, I, along w/ 4 other fellow train riders, went to the guest house. As far as guest houses go, it's all right. I have a big queen size bed, and the toilet and shower are down the hall. The best part is, I met two really nice German girls at the guest house, Jule and Johanna, and we chatted and got lunch together. There's this killer soup here that the region is known for. Yay. A really good meal can cost about .50 or $1. I wandered around the 'night market' during the day yesterday with Johanna, and we watched people hoisting sand bags around. The Ping River flooded here last night, so there is water in the street not too far from where I type now. People are so relaxed about it. I saw tons of people biking and motorbiking around in about a foot of H20.
One of my favorite sights this morning (as of 8:30 am) thus far has been this couple on a scooter. They had a dog with them, and the dog had two feet perched on the dude's lap, and the pup's front feet were perched on the frame where the handlebars are. There are tons of scooters, and they always are loaded to the brim with people.
Last night I found a nice place to relax off the beaten tourist trail (think neon lights, blasting music from 2002, and cheap drinks) and chatted with my new best German friends. We learned some Thai from the really nice people running the cafe, and I was offered the chance to try some bar fare, which roughly translates to fried fish, fried lime leaves, and some sort of beatle larvae. So, I feel somewhat forgiven by the karmic food forces for having a grilled cheese sandwich my first night in Thailand during peak homesickness/disorientation because I ate a few pu-ay (yeah, the fried beatle larvae). I repent.
Oh, and don't worry Mom, the flooding is totally under control, and I'm not in any risk.