Despite threats of distinctly unsavory weather in both Bangkok and Chiang Mai, being the sport we all know she is, Val came right along as planned(although she had, self admittedly, considered spending a week in New York rather than boarding the plane). The weather predictions being that of extreme heat, of course, an ongoing affliction which has lead us to consider a reroute.
We arrived in Bangkok a day early to take care of visa business and because we wanted to be sure we were there when she arrived the following morning. We were surprised that, while decidedly hot, the humidity we had felt back in Malaysia had seemingly dissipated, making for a much more tolerable day.
Well unfortunately the humidity holiday was fleeting, returning like a beast just in time for Val’s arrival. For two days we mogged the city – shopping and eating and seeking regular periods of respite in malls and 7 Elevens. The second night we took a river boat to a Muay Thai boxing show and match. The river boats seem to be the most effective way to navigate the city, once you figure out the color coding system. Each flag represents a different type of boat. Once you settle the uncertainties and get your boat in your sights be ready to move fast. We all learned quickly during a near distastrous misboarding that the boatmen have no sympathy for the pokey-footed.
The Muay Thai boxing show was a bizarre mix of theater and staged fighting followed by real fighting. We were drawn in by the billing – a theatrical history of the sport. Aside from a couple historical dates flashed on the huge LED screens, the show was one fight leading into the next, furnished with sound effects for every punch and tumble. Not exactly Tony worthy, but entertaining nonetheless. Two real fights afterwards were good, but no one used the super awesome flying spin kick moves we had learned about minutes before. At the end of the match a spectator was selected to award the winner with a strand of flower garland. Apparently being among one of the only groups of Westerners has its perks! After boxing we took a loop around the tallest ferris wheel in Thailand and drank a couple jugs of beer.
The tuk tuk back to the hotel was a wily fast ride with all the amenities – disco lights and music to match. We cracked up all the way home and paid the driver with a handful of coins.
Early the next morning we hit the huge Chatuchack weekend market. The market has something like a thousand stalls and encompasses home and garden, crafts, pets and corresponding supplies, florist equipment, clothing, shoes, jewellery, hardware, and gadgets galore! Val got a fairly uninspired interview by some local students at one point. We agreed we’d all had quite enough, and after nearly getting trapped in the pet section(why did all those right turns keep getting us back to the legless homeless man??) and walked away with some fine treasures.
Sunday afternoon we had train tickets for the overnighter north to Chiang Mai. We love overnight trains. For one thing it’s a great reprieve from the heat. The attendants come around getting dinner orders – food is made fresh on the train and quite delicious. Sooner than you can say khap khoon they’re packing your table and opening and making up your berth with fresh sheets and blankets. It’s early to bed in these parts and no one minds. The berths are super comfortable and spacious and each has its own privacy curtain*.
The train gently rocks you to sleep as it chugs along and we swear it’s some of the best sleep one can get. By the time you wake up you’re an hour or two from the station. It’s really a fine way to travel. Just before the departure, we got in a final dip in the hotel swimming pool to freshen up. Then we all-aboarded and settled in for the ride.
*the lower berth provides quite a bit more space an has a window while the top comes with a cozy reading light.