It’s time for another installment of travel tales from my Grand Adventure in Asia. Now that I’m no longer travelling, I plan to post these on alternate Wednesdays, interspersed with the same sort of mental-health posts and personal observations that I was writing before the trip. Mondays will continue to be about books and media (SF&F-focused, but not exclusively), as always. I’ll continue to post twice a week for now. Enjoy!
Our first stop in Thailand was Chiang Mai, the country’s second-biggest city. It’s in the northwest part of Thailand, among rolling hills that keep the temperatures down to something very reasonable for North Americans. This means it’s a popular destination, not only for North Americans but also for Chinese tourists, whose numbers have exploded recently due to cheap flights.
We found Chiang Mai to be more intense than Malaysia, in all sorts of ways. Because we’re geeks, we quickly started to talk about this as “levelling up” — a video-game term referring to mastering a level and moving on to the next. For example…
Our guesthouse, Kamala’s, was on a tiny side street. (Note on addresses: Non-main streets are known in Thailand as sois. Thai addresses give the nearest main road, then the number of the soi, because the sois themselves don’t have names, even though they may be large streets. So Kamala’s was on Chai Sriphum, Soi 1.) Across the soi was an old Buddhist stupa, a useful landmark since it was visible from several streets away.
The soi was lined with other guesthouses and the occasional Thai massage place, but it was short on restaurants. This turned out to be a problem because the traffic was utterly terrifying…