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Sunday, November 12, 2006

Chiang Mai: Staying Put

The Top North Guest House is plush by my standards. For one thing, the bed is not the only furniture. I have an armoir for my clothes, a nightstand, a dressing table/desk, a chair, and two small benches. The goodies continue: a hot water shower, a front desk that is staffed all the time, a restaurant, daily maid service, towels and soap, a balcony, and a swimming pool. A bit of a splurge at 400 baht (35 baht to the dollar).

After a few days here, I decided to stay for two months. I was too jet-lagged to even check out the places next door. So I paid 14,000 baht to keep the room through December 27th, and I got credit for the money I had spent for the first four nights. The deal works out to $200 per month, or $6.33 per night.

I felt strange giving them so much money ($400) all at one time. Not because I am worried about the money, but because I haven't committed to staying anywhere for such a long time since I bought the house. I'll be here, in one town, for a minimum of two whole months.

A few days ago I met a couple from Canada who have a serviced one-bedroom apartment outside the moat, in an area called Central. It's near the mall and the university. They are paying about 5500 baht a month, while I am paying 7000. I've since heard they can go for as low as 3500 baht ($100).

I felt a little pang for the extra money I'm spending, but it went away quickly. A three month lease is required, and I'm not ready for that. I wouldn't be able to walk into this area. I'd have to take a tuktuk (a golf-carty thing with a motorcycle providing the power), taxi, or songtheuw (small pickup with bench seats along both sides of the truck bed and a camper cover). Besides, Lucy and Ralph don't like the neighborhood much and they aren't even stuck there. They have a motorbike to get around on. If I tried that, I'd have road rash in about a minute, and be dead in a week. All in all, I'm quite happy.

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