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Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Chiang Mai: A holiday weekend

The King's birthday is on Tuesday, and most Thai's are off work the day before and and after as holidays, as well as the day itself. That makes it a five-day weekend, and Chiang Mai is a prime holiday destination. In addition to hill tribes and handicrafts, many of the wats here are very important in Thai and Buddhist history. Add to that the cooler temperatures here, and the result is a lot of Thai tourists. Someone at the guesthouse got back from his day trip yesterday to find he had nowhere to leave his car. The parking lot at the guest house is full, two rows of cars that must be juggled and jockeyed for anyone to get out. Usually there are only two or three cars, since most of the guests are foreign travelers using public transportation. But this weekend the Thais are here.

This morning I watched as what looked like three families traveling together headed off down the small soi opposite the Top North, strung out over fifty feet or so. I think they were in search of breakfast. They probaby had to split up, as many places here won't even be able to seat them all, especially down that soi. One of my favorite small places (they put dragon fruit in the fruit salad - yum) has only five tables, each seating two people.

On the King's birthday, no alcohol will be served. It seems he's pushing an anti-drinking campaign. There were signs at Loi Kratong about honoring the King by not serving drinks, or at least not getting drunk.

I'm using the internet at yet a different location today, as my usual hangout has a problem with their ADSL line. Yesterday I went to a plush coffee shop. I had to pay 10 baht (35 baht/US$) but it was worth it for the air-conditioning alone.

Just as I was packing up to leave, the woman who runs the place started walking around with a something that looked like a raquetball raquet. The shape and size were a little off, though. Then I heard these funny noises. zzzzzzzzpt, zzzzzzzzzpt. "Excuse me," she said, "but we have mosquitos." The paddle-shaped thing was a portable electronic mosquito zapper. When I looked closely, there were prongs on the end for plugging it into the wall.

I'd never seen one before, and I imagine people reading this and wondering what was wrong with me that I didn't know what it was. You know, another one of those things that became common while I was out of the country. I think they are novel, everyone else thinks they are old hat. I've gotten used to feeling like a country rube over the years. As they say, LOL.

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