Wednesday, 5 March 2008

North South divide

We've been in Thailand for a few weeks and have finally made it up North to the real Thailand. The beaches in the South are beautiful, and we thought we'd have a great time, despite warnings that it has been spoiled by mass tourism, but they were right, it has! We couldn't work out where the famous friendly Thais were, but now we know... they're in the North!

We love it when we can meet the locals. We like real food and real experiences at local (or at least fair prices). But then, we also like fresh water on tap, flush toilets and 24 hour a day electricity...

We also like unspoiled beaches with cafes that serve a decent espresso macchiato (Hi Nick!)... but unfortunately in Thailand we have been to a lot of Costa del McDonalds. You feel ripped off and crap and miserable, surrounded by fat Russians and sunburnt Swedes with peeling shoulders and feet cut to ribbons by the knock off Diesel sandals they bought for EUR 1. This is modern Thailand! Argh! These dumbasses come over here for 2 weeks a year, throw their money around and expect meatballs and pizza and all that nonsense. They push up prices, lower quality and expectations, and ruin the local culture for everyone.

What a nasty way to travel.

Chiang Mai on the other hand is great! We're staying in a place for 250 Baht (EUR 6) a night - about a third of the price of the accommodation on the islands - and we've finally found some delicious, hot, hot, hot, Thai food, for proper Thai prices. Feels like we're discovering Thailand for ourselves now, rather than having it shoved down our throats, and it's great.

So far we've done a walking tour which took us to the Warorot Market, where we bought little matching knock-off North Face bags for our upcoming Gibbon Experience adventure; went to the womens prison and were fully body massaged by real life cons(!); had a chat with a monk at Chedi Luang; and had a row over a restaurant scam at the night market where they tried to rip us off for 30 Baht (EUR 0.70!) - we won, naturally.

Today we visited Doi Suthep, a temple in the west of the city, 3500 ft above sea level (even Ben felt sick after the mountainous ascent in the sawngthaew) and were blessed by a monk and given a special bracelet. So cool!

Tomorrow we're hitting the road again for some fun in Pai. Thank god for Northern Thailand. It's such a beautiful culture - I'm thinking less and less about going home now, and more about the adventures still to come.

Debs and Ben

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