Back in Chiang Mai:
Early Wednesday evening, I SMS-ed Helen to find out if she was coming into town. I received a reply from Kerri Lee Beasley, saying that Helen's phone had run out of money. They decided that the rain would seriously inhibit any likelihood of fun. I wandered about the bars for a while, in the rain, before returning to the hotel.
Helen rang during breakfast on Thursday morning. I walked to Starbucks and had a cappucino. I went looking for a bamboo saxophone, that I'd read about in Stephen's Lonely Planet. I ended up with a B25 flute, with holes at the bottom that were unreachable. (I left it at the hotel.) I spent an hour writing an email and sending it to my and Helen's famíly.
I ended up near the night bazaar, found the D2 hotel and looked for Friday. I wandered back through markets, and couldn't find the Old City, where my hotel was. I did find a yard full of soldiers, and the U.S. Consulate, where the gateman set me straight. In the afternoon, I spent more than an hour wandering around trying to find a nice massage place. It was as though customers were an imposition. I finally found a place behind the hotel. The massage was very different to those in Indonesia, and very good. Helen arrived, and we found a bar to have a glass of wine. It took us longer than expected to hail a taxi to take her back to the Prem Centre, because it was raining quite heavily. I caught a tuk tuk to the night bazaar, in the rain. I bought some silk ties, and then had a nice Indian meal. I had a beer near the hotel, and then returned to the hotel to read for a while.
On Friday, I couldn't face another Karinthrip breakfast, so I had a pancake and a very large hash brown, at Ratana's Kitchen. I also checked my email. I walked to Starbucks for coffee. I packed and then read for a while. I checked out, and then walked around the vicinity to take some photos. I caught a tuk tuk to the D2 Hotel. I was able to check in early, although, for the third time in Thailand, the first room I was taken to was occupied. I went for a wander, and Helen had arrived as I returned. We went for a long walk down to the old city and back, around the block. I bought some gongs and a xylophone on the way back. We then pottered about the night bazaar for a while.
For dinner, we jumped in a tuk tuk and returned to the old city to "House" restaurant. Kerri Lee was there, with two others who'd done the course with her and Helen. Helen and I had a lovely meal with a bottle of wine, but it was very expensive - no backpackers there! On the way back, we came across about twenty bars, clustered around a kick boxing ring. I told Helen that, if I'd discovered it on Monday, I would have SMS-ed her "See you back in Surabaya"! We had a drink, and watched an American tourist fight a draw with a much lighter Thai.
We slept in until 7.30am. Helen went to the gym, and then we had a nice breakfast. We walked down to the river, where there were sand bags everywhere, because the water was rising rapidly. We again encountered Kerri Lee and a friend, perusing the galleries. When we returned to the hotel, we stopped to collect a wall hanging we had paid for earlier. The shop assistant gave our money back, saying that his employer had told him he had sold it too cheaply. We were very angry. We eventually bought a kimono-style jacket to hang instead.
The hotel bus dropped us at the airport at 4.30pm. I wasn't happy to see that the Bangkok Airlines plane had propellers. However, we had a really nice flight. It was a circus from the moment we got off the plane at the new Bangkok airport. We boarded a brand, new bus. It seemed as though the driver was on his first drive, of anything. He leap-frogged us around the airport for nearly 20 minutes before one of the two flight attendants, on the bus with us, pointed out that he was not only at the wrong place, but that we were about to have a "head on" with a large, stationary earth mover. He then proceeded to do a 10-point turn to find the right drop-off point. All the passengers clapped and cheered.
We were supposed to be met by someone from the Asia Airport Hotel, (at the old airport.) I searched far and wide, with no success. No-one at the information desk spoke any English. We went to the taxi rank and were charged B400 (~Au$1.30). It was a long trip. The entertainment continued when we went to the coffee shop for a snack. There seemed to be a number of "Manuels" working there. We ordered two whiskeys and one diet coke. Of course, we only got one of each. Just like in Indonesia, it was silent when we entered, and the stereo was turned on, loud, just for us. They turned it off when asked.
In the morning, we boarded the overcrowded bus to the airport. We had a transit at Changi, and then an uneventful flight back to Surabaya.
Back to the Trek