Chiang Mai

For those of you that have been check often, I thank you. We have been lazy these past few days, not seeing too many sights in Chiang Mai, and as a result, not blogging too much. I’m sorry to report that it will probably be more of the same in the coming months. We will be heading up to the Panya Project on Saturday. We will be spending about 2 months there volunteering at the permaculture project. I expect that the posts will slow down even more. We will be coming back to Canada at the end of September, which means we are on the final leg of our journey.

Enough of that though, Chiang Mai is great. This city is pretty small, somewhat historic and filled with good food and many temples. Since we have been here we have seen a handful of Buddhist temples (they all look pretty similar to me now), went to the Sunday night market, rented a tandem bicycle, got our visas extended, I had a 24 hour bout of food poisoning, and Tanya has been going to some yoga classes.

The food here has been great, from traditional Thai food to modern pizza, you can have many tasty meals here. One of my favorites have been the ripe mango on sticky rice. The mango is sweet and ripe (they don’t taste like this back home), and the rice is slightly salty, slightly sticky. It’s a great combination, combine that with an orange juice and a coffee, it is a great way to start the morning (only 1 Canadian dollar, perfect). There is lots of other food in this town as well, too many to name, all are cheap and tasty though.

Mango and Sticky Rice

The Sunday night market is not an event to be missed. A couple of intersecting streets, about 1km long each all provide thousands of people with something to do on Sunday night. Hundreds of stands lite by bright compact fluorescent lights sell all sorts of stuff. From trinkets to t-shirts there are stalls selling almost anything. The real treasure is the food however. For 10 bhat (25 cents) you can get a big spring roll, or Pad Thai, or fresh juice or any other number of great fare. The food is spicy and the atmosphere is electric. It was great fun, and after walking the market Tanya and I wondering why our grocery/big box/small box stores give us such an un-inspiring bland experience.

Tandem Bicycle

One day we found a tandem bicycle that you can rent. If you remember, we rented a really old, poorly made one in Da Lat, Vietnam. The one here was much nicer then the one in Da Lat. We rented it and headed out of town. We first had to get out of the city though and that was somewhat stressful. Although Thailand traffic isn’t the worst traffic around (like India or Vietnam), maneuvering a tandem makes everything a little more challenging. We did get out of town and it was great, the scenery was filled with green fields, a brown river and smiling faces. As many people would wave, smile or honk their horn at us, we felt that same feeling we felt back in India. It was great, and it really made us start to miss our cycle touring days. By the looks on the faces of the local Thia’s we passed, they don’t see tourists very often, never mind two on the same bike, pedaling in perfect sync. To me, that is what makes traveling great, making someone smile.

After a tiring 3.5 hour ride we headed back. We walked back to our hotel, tired and stiff (we haven’t been doing much exercise lately). Renting bikes are great, seeing the rural area is great, doing both at the same time is perfect. After spending the last couple of month backpacking, I know that having your own two wheeled mode of transportation is the best. You get off the main track, you see things other don’t and you have a great time. Although our trip isn’t done yet, I feel I have learned a great deal in the past 8 months: bicycles are fun, rural areas are nice (especially in the morning), having some meaning to your traveling makes things much more rewarding and 99.9% of the time, people are nice and helpful.

Posted from Chiang Mai, Chiang Mai, Thailand
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We have found another Cafe Coffee Day. The last one was just a random shop on the side of the highway, this one is in in the trendy part Mysore, the shopping district, where you can get designer clothes (United colors of Benetton, Pepe Jeans, Levis Store ect). Even the Cafe Coffee day is trendy, this three story coffee shop on the corner is something you would expect on Robson Street. Tanya’s Cafe Frappe is delicious and disapearing quickly (thanks to my help).

So why are we in Mysore?? That is a valid question, after we rode 60-some Km ride south of here Tanyas leg started to get tingly and hot. About 10 days ago Tanya notice some kind of bite on her leg, and it was getting better. When we got to Gundlapet her leg started to act up. We rode back to Mysore. The same road, but much busier. Traffic doesn’t really start to move until about 9am. The closer you are to city the busy the traffic. The ride back to Mysore was much busier and more trying on the patients.

We found a nice clean hotel downtown for a price that was 1/5th of the price we stayed before. As such we were giddy, only spending 1/4 of our daily budget on accomodation, we felt relief. We went to a doctor recommended to us by the person who runs the guesthouse we previously stayed at, and for Rs150 he will take a look at one’s ailments. He didn’t seem too concerned and said it was a common problem, though Tanya felt he didn’t really¬† understand what the problem was and was more interested in asking us questions about Canada’s medical system, he wrote out a prescription for a painkiller (which if the doctor would have listened, there wasn’t really any pain involved) and some vitamins. I think we will go get a second opinion.

A second opinion is what we got (the next day), we went to a hosptial and the intake physician sent us to a skin clinic to see a dermatologist. The doctor there said that there is an infection in the leg hair follicles (due to shaving legs with some open bites and some scrathes on her legs) and as such, provided an entry point for some bacteria. Now Tanya has some anti-botics and we both hope that is the end to the leg problems. There is a lesson here, and it is always to good to get a second opinion if thnings don’t seem right.

We also met a two girls from Holand. They are cycling for three weeks in India. One knocked on our hotel door, after she saw our bikes in the hotel garage, she had to find us. Good thing, we exchanged stories and experiences of cycling in India. It is always great to meet other cyclists on the road, we will always go out of our way to chat with other cyclists. Tomorrow is Sunday and would be a perfect day for us to leave Mysore except for the lesson we learnt a month and a half ago (which is, you don’t cycle on Sundays, everyone has the day off and the roads are congested and very hectic). As such we will spend another day in Mysore, with our cheap accommodation and a Cafe Coffee Day around the corner, we are happy to spend another day here.

Posted from Mysore, Karnataka, India
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Distance: 32km
Roads: great
Traffic: none until National Highway, then it was crazy

We are in a city called Hospet, there isn’t too much to see here. In fact we are waiting for our bus to leave for Mysore. We elected to take a bus to Mysore becuase there isn’t too much to see on the way and there is a high likely hood that we would have to camp at least once (maybe more) and we don’t want to do that. It is now 3:30 and we have been here since noon and getting a little bored.

The ride from Hampi (actually Virupapu Gaddi, you have to cross the river to get to Hampi) was good at first. Very quiet roads, rolling hills with a slight downhill grade overall. The the road we were on ended and we were on the national highway, which was crazy busy, a ton of trucks. We didn’t know we would have to ride on the National Highway, and it confirms our reasoning for avoiding them at all costs. Luckly the ride went quick and we were in Hospet, where we ate at what we thought was a nice restaurant.

Every since arriving in India Tanya has wanted to have some Ice cream but avoided it with the fear of getting sick. That fear was pushed aside today when Tanya ordered some Ice Cream from this busy, nice (and moderately expensive) restaurant at a relatively fancy hotel. Within 30 minutes of finishing the Ice Cream she had to go to the bathroom, but didn’t quiet make it there before vomiting all over the restaurant floor. With a 8 Hour bus ride on the horizon, it should prove to be an interesting night. Here’s hoping the worst is over.

Posted from Hospet, Karnataka, India
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