Chiang Mai – by Nate
‘The rose of Thailand’? I think that’s its nickname. Whatever its nickname, as far as cities go, Chiang Mai is alright in my book. First thing after we checked into our guesthouse was to find some food. 2 blocks from our hotel we found The Duke’s, it was the first real American food we’d had since we left. A pastrami Rueben with real cheese, 1,000 island and sourkraught on rye. It was a wonderful combination of 5 flavors my palate has been denied for the last 3 and half months. McKayla’s Cajun chicken sandwich was good enough to warrant another try 2 days later. Duke’s even had an enclosed indoors; I know it doesn’t seem like much, but nearly every restaurant here is open air, and A\C in Thailand is a beautiful thing.
Chiang Mai was going to have to be our shopping destination in Thailand. Chiang Mai has a famous night bazaar that does their best to encourage drunk shopping. There’s a bar for every 10 or 15 stalls, which seems like a pretty good way to operate a night market. As a man, shopping is not my favorite activity, but after a few beers I can tolerate it better, that, or I stay at the bar to write and set McKayla lose on a quarter mile of stalls eight wide, could be dangerous. We’ve done a fairly good job of sticking to our one knick knack and one piece of art per country policy, but it’s been nearly 2 months since we sent our first ‘shipment’ home with Jordan and Dylan. It was time to lighten our ever increasing pack loads, but first had to grab a few things. A random French guy in a cafe convinced us to go to a small town south of the city to grab some cheap and unique wood carvings. We spent nearly a whole day picking our way through 2 different big shopping areas; normally it was the sort of thing my nightmares are made of, but the wood carvings were cool and abandoned, while the night bazaar allowed for me to have a few beers while McKayla did her best to barter with the locals.
Shipping a 20lb box across the world was more reasonable than I’d expected. With packs lightened and gifts shipped it was time to enjoy a quality night of Thai kickboxing. We were ushered to our seats through a narrow alley, by a large unkempt ladyboy. Long tables in rows surrounded the ring while servers from the surrounding bars catered to their sections. Beers were served, and after a brief, terrible flute solo the fights began. There were 6 fights in all, with 2 breaks, one for a corriographed but intense sword fight. The other break was to let a group of 10 blindfolded boxers wildly beat the shit out of each other. Occasionally one of the blindfolded guys would start wailing on the ref, and then the ref would give them a solid kick to the chest – it was some silly shit. Before each fight McKayla and I sized up the fighters and bet amoungst ourselves rather than rising our Baht with the short guy with a fanny pack waving bills. We saw a couple really good fights, but at the end McKayla and I were 3 to 3 on our picks. The setting was almost as wild as the blindfolded boxers, but this is exactly how I wanted to experience some SE Asian blood sport.