Bangkok to Chiang Rai

Today is Friday, July 3, 2015. Before moving forward, I just wanted to touch on a couple of things I talked about earlier.

Based on descriptions I could find on the Internet, the Amphawa Floating Market is considered by most to be the best of the lot so I got lucky there.

After a couple of days, I got tired of washing my underwear and socks every night so I broke down and bought some at Robinson’s department store nearby. Two pairs of underwear and two pairs of socks used up most of the $50 the airline gave me. Prices at Robinson’s are high, in part I am sure, because much of the stuff they sell is imported and the things I bought were famous name brands and not the ones I can find at K-Mart at home.

My second suitcase did indeed arrive on Tuesday, six days after I did.

Moving On

Tuesday evening, I went to dinner with my friend Aey and two of her friends and fellow graduate students. They took me to a wonderful restaurant next to the Rama V Bridge along the Chai Phraya river. The restaurant was open air but covered and we sat right next to the river and one of the ladies even bought some dried squid (very tasty) from a vendor on a boat. We had a fabulous meal, about half of which was not spicy. Even the spiciest though was absolutely delicious. It was a red curry soup with some kind of fish. The broth was spicy and a bit tart and seemed to be tomato based. My mouth is watering right now thinking about it.

The restaurant was in Nonthaburi province in the north part of Bangkok. It took a while to get there but that was mostly due to traffic.

Wednesday morning, I got up early because I had my last dental appointment and it takes about 20 minutes on the BTS Sky-Train to get there. Seating my new gold crown took about a half hour and when that was finished I stopped at a street vendor for an ice cold and freshly squeezed bottle of tangerine juice. Absolutely wonderful and only about 60 cents. They have several kinds of “Oranges” here but the smaller green ones are used for the juice that is available everywhere.

Back to Barry’s apartment to finish packing and saying my farewells and I took a taxi to the Don Mueang airport. This is Bangkok’s old airport which is now relegated to smaller airlines while Suvarnabhumi, the new airport is the regional hub for international flights and is where I arrived in Thailand.

I got to Don Mueang early enough to have a nice lunch (for about $6). The only nourishment I had had until then was the OJ. After lunch I moseyed to my gate (which changed from gate 45 when I checked in to gate 71 when I was on my way to 45). No problem, still plenty of time. When it was time to board, they loaded us onto a couple of busses and we drove a surprising distance to our plane. It is only about an hour and 20 minutes from Bangkok to Chiang Rai and was a pleasantly uneventful flight. I noticed I was getting a bit tense as I arrived at baggage claim but my two suitcases were among the first few to appear so I loaded them on the shopping-cart-like trolley and out to where my host Jeff and his two sons, Cody and Kenji were waiting. It was great to finally meet Jeff in person and to meet the boys, ages 10 and 12, for the first time. They were excited to meet me and peppered me with questions about Corvallis.

Our first stop was their city house, a government supplied home where physicians and nurses are housed adjacent to the Chiangrai Prachanukroh Hospital where Jeff’s wife Nook (Dr. Worranart Imkiet) is a surgeon. At the house, I got to meet Nook for the first time and she is a delightful woman. While at the house, I took the motorcycle I would be using and followed Jeff to the country house where I will be staying for about a year. It’s around a fifteen minute drive outside the city.

The house is just as it is pictured on the AirBnB web site. If anything, it is even more special.

After dropping off the luggage, it was about time for dinner so Jeff invited me to go with the family to a farewell party with his bicycling group. These were mostly Thai but there was an Australian there as well. One of the first things the Thai ladies wanted to know was if I was single. When assured that I was, they started talking about who they could set me up with, or at least that’s what I was told. My limited Thai was not good enough to follow their rapid-fire conversation.

After the party, Jeff took me back out to the house. Leaving the highway, I tried to follow all the twists and turns on mostly paved road but I wasn’t able memorize it completely. And then I was in the house, alone and finally unpacked everything. The bed, unfortunately for me, is very low to the floor so it is difficult to get out of bed. The bed itself, however is very comfortable. Much more so than the bed in Barry’s apartment which is so hard it bruises my hips when I sleep on it. With a comfortable bed and tired from an active day, I slept well. Well, that is, until the roosters started crowing at about 6:30.

The neighbor, it seems, has chickens and the birds don’t respect fences so they roam around this property eating whatever they can find and crowing as soon as it is light. I think I will have to adjust my sleep schedule or wear ear plugs. There is actually quite a bit of sound here mostly from a variety of birds but also from geckos, some of which are inside the house. Jeff says he puts up with the small ones but doesn’t like the big ones. All of them, however, eat bugs (good) and chirp (bad when you are trying to sleep).

The next day was Thursday and Jeff was here and away with some final tasks before the family left for America today (Friday). We went to lunch at a small organic restaurant nearby. The food was terrific and I can see being a regular patron of the place. We were on motorcycles and I lead the way home until we reached a spot and I didn’t remember whether to go left or right. He sped past me and showed me the rest of the way. Later, I went out alone to drop off some laundry at a place where he showed me earlier.

While I was out, I also went to the local fresh market to buy some fruits and vegetables. I got longon, small fruits in grape-like clusters. The fruit itself is slightly smaller than ping pong balls and has a tough skin that you peel away to reveal the sweet and juicy fruit inside. I also got some cut up fresh pineapple. It is a variety referred to as Nong Lae (Saparot Nong Lae) and it is sweeter, less tart, and generally more delicious than any other pineapple I have tasted. Watermelon also came cut up and both were provided in plastic bags along with 9 inch bamboo skewers to make it easy to eat.

But wait, there’s more. I also got several mangos (to die for), some cherry tomatoes, and a couple of cucumbers. There were lots of other vegetables but I don’t know which is which and, though I am sure I have eaten and loved many of them, they don’t look the same cooked as they do in the market. I’ll need to do some shopping with somebody who knows what is what.

This time, on the way home, I got all the turns correctly and arrived home (how easily it falls from the tongue). I ate a bunch of the fruit then got some work done on the computer. I still have some organizing to do to get things where I want them.

Last night I took the truck into town to do some shopping at a very large supermarket, Big C. It’s kind of like Fred Meyer in Oregon where you have grocery in one part and clothing, housewares, etc. in another. One thing that sets it apart is that Big C also has a variety of other small independent shops and even a food court. Since it was late, I had dinner there before my shopping. I had delicious roast duck over rice and a soda for 65 Baht, about $1.90 US.

Well, that’s all for today. Stay tuned for the next exciting episode.

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