google doesn’t have any street views of thailand yet, but mapjack.com does!
you can check out chiang mai:
http://www.mapjack.com/?VmbyUZhcacxC: north gate jazz co-op
http://www.mapjack.com/?oTbyUWmcaccB: the soi i live on
http://www.mapjack.com/?mhbyUV6VacNF: warm up, bar/venue/club
http://www.mapjack.com/?GMayUskdacmA: zoe in yellow/reggae soi
http://www.mapjack.com/?K3ayUQbaacmD: (what is now) bird’s nest cafe
went back to pai again with some friends, fun times!
the friends i came with are in a jazz band called “alukomarai“, which is kind of a play on words – in thai, “alaiomaruk” (i think) means “i don’t know”. here’s them playing at this really awesome place called edible jazz:
edible jazz is a really cool little bar/cafe/venue situated on temple grounds. they serve excellent vegetarian food, i highly recommend checking it out! plus, you can rent some really cute bungalows that surround it. the view from edible jazz looking out from the inside during the daytime (you can see one of the bungalows on the right and part of the temple in the background):
we also went to this really great hot spring that wasn’t really well known, probably on account of being at the end of this long rough and winding road. here’s my friend navigating down a particularly steep and dusty section (you can get an idea about how incredibly dry it is here right now from how brown the foreground is, verses the green of the background where there’s a mountain stream):
here’s (another really shaky) video of some of the road to the hot spring:
went to pai for a few days with my friend fon. pai’s a small town about 3 or 4 hours north of chiang mai, through the mountains. it was a really nice little place, though overrun by even more farang than there are in chiang mai, hah. it was still really fun, and mostly everyone was really nice.
we rented a motorboke in chiang mai for 4 days, which cost 600 baht (it would’ve cost the same for both of us to buy bus tix to/from). i really enjoyed the ride, but it killed my butt. the scenery was breathtaking! vids later.
it’s the dry season here, which means it really really dry. we got into pai after dark, and once the sun set we could see long strips of fire running up and down the mountains and along the road. the flames weren’t huge, maybe 2 or 3 feet high, but it was still pretty crazy to see the jungle on fire. you can see how dry everything is here:
here’s our apartment! it’s in the khumsiphaya grand hotel, in the north-eastern corner of the old city (within the city walls). there’s tons of good eats and bars in this area!
the apartment itself is about $190USD/month (6500 baht/month) depending on how strong the dollar vs. the baht is at the moment. electricity is extra, not sure how much that’s going to be but the lady at the counter in the lobby said if we ran our aircon constantly it wouldn’t be more than 3000 baht.
it’s around 400 sq ft, which is the size of my old apartment in wilmington minus the hallway. it’s a studio apartment on the 3rd floor, with a king sized bed and awesome balcony that looks out onto the western mountain. there’s also a lockable drawer (big enough for our laptops) for valuables. behind me in this picture is the door to the hallway, the closet, and a large bench. there’s plenty of shelf and closet space. if we go up the flight of stairs from this floor, there’s roof access! it’s a great area, with tile floor and lots of plants and tables set out. there’s maid service on mondays and thursdays, which is when we get fresh linens and the trash taken out.
all in all, i’d say a pretty good deal!
wrote jess another letter, just gonna be lazy and copy/paste it here:
so we got our first apartment in a place called the khumsiphaya grand hotel… i’m just going to copy and paste what i posted on facebook instead of typing it all out again: it’s a studio apartment, about 400sqft… my last place (in wilmington) was 450sqft, but i had a ton of furniture and such so this place actually feels bigger. 3rd floor, king sized bed, cable tv, wifi, balcony that looks out onto the mountains, decent sized bathroom, high ceilings, a lockable drawer (for valuables), aircon, cieling fan… plus they clean the room and give you fresh linens twice a week. it’s pretty cool! AND you rent from month to month, so if we somehow find a better place we can leave. supposedly electricity can run up to $70USD/month more, if you run the aircon a lot (which we probably will). still, very affordable! the neighborhood seems really awesome too. we were staying at a b&b just down the soi (avenue). there’s lots of really bitchin’ restaurants and such really close by.
i’m going to try to buy a guitar here within the next week! they seem to run between $50 and $150, depending on where you go. i’m going to try to find a cool one, and resist the urge to get another black guitar. i’m also going to try to find some velveeta mac and cheese, but i’m not hopeful… there’s a pretty good grocery store in the central mall, i think if anyone would have it they would. i’m also going to try to find my brand of hair dye, but once again, not counting on it. there’s a lot of hair gloss here, not much hair dye. we also need to get a hot plate, wok, and probably a microwave for our apartment. they don’t have kitchens in their apartments around here, and definitely no ovens. that’s ok though, i suck at cooking anyway… so long as i can boil noodles i’ll be a-ok!
all the showers are different too, they’re just part of the bathroom, like there’s a hose from the wall that hooks into an electric heater box and you just shower right next to the door and toilet and everything! it’s kind of cool though, the bathrooms are built for that so you can just hose everything down if you wanted to, no power outlets or anything. i guess it’s because most of the places were built without showers.
whew! man am i happy to not have to haul my luggage around for at least another month. the transportation is super easy to flag down around here. there are these red trucks with benches in the back that work as taxis, you ask the driver which direction he’s going in and if he’s going where you want, you just hop on until he passes where you want to get off, then you push this little button on the roof and he stops. it’s less than 50 cents USD a ride, and you share with other passengers. if you want a private one to take you wherever, it costs about $1.50USD. there are these things called tuk-tuks that are kind of like rickshaws but with a motor. those run under $2USD depending on the time of day and distance, and they’ll take you anywhere. they drive really crazily a lot of the time, weaving in and out of traffic. pretty much everyone here drives like that, within inches of each other. i’m amazed there aren’t any wrecks… at least none that i’ve seen yet.
not much news from the future… i think it might rain. haha
So, we just checked into another hotel for a couple of nights while we look for an apartment.
The place we just left was called 3sis Bed & Breakfast (3sisbedandbreakfast.com). It was super nice, with awesome furnishings and a beautiful open lobby with lots of different sitting areas. There’s lots of great little touches, like a long rectangular koi pond and teak furniture. The hotel offers free WiFi access and cable, and you get two free bottles of water a day. The actual sleeping area is behind the 3sis restaurant that serves a variety of foods, including some western dishes like club sandwiches and cheese burgers. We got free breakfast with our stay, and the french toast is straight up bitchin! I think probably the best french toast I’ve ever had. The staff is very friendly, and speak really good english, and you can register for your stay online which is rad. We paid about $30USD/night, which is way cheap for what we got. The hotel is located across the street from the Wat Chedi Luang, which is, like all the temples I’ve seen, amazingly beautiful.
Now we’re staying at a place called Charcoa (charcoa.com), which was kind of hard for us to find. It’s located on some of the back sois (avenues) in the north-eastern corner of the old city, near the Rasta Art Bar. We had to take two red taxis and a tuk-tuk to get here, since there was a language barrier it was kind of hard to express exactly where we wanted to go. It seems to be a really cool place to stay, the staff are super-friendly. I had a short conversation with one of the guys working here (I think his name is Chris) about how we were looking for apartments and he said he’d look some up for us, to which I replied was super-nice but not necessary. There’s free WiFi and cable here, plus the fridge is stocked with all sorts of stuff (that you have to pay for), and it costs about the same as 3sis.
Something I’ve noticed while in Thailand that is very different from the states – you’re not supposed to flush toilet paper! There are these little sanitary bags beside the toilets that you’re supposed to put used toilet paper in and then you put that in the trash can. At first I thought the bags were just for women’s sanitary products, but I just looked it up online and the t.p. goes in there too! I think it’s got something to do with septic systems that haven’t been updated to be able to handle toilet paper. Ooops… I haven’t been doing that. Glad none of the toilets have back up on me yet!