|Welcome to Chiang Mai, Thailand|
|Narita – Haneda airport transfer|
|Ebola or something reigns supreme in Japan—Stu says it's mainly paranoia|
|The beer machine in JAL's Sakura lounge|
|Maybe I should start collecting tailfins....|
|Ricksha driver and Mong Cycles|
|Beer delivery (Chang) at the neighborhood store|
|Neighborhood temple with early setting sun, glorified by gobs of pollution|
|Neighborhood scooter traffic, masked and unmasked|
|Stu and the Mongster on our ride on Easter Sunday|
|Three buddies ....|
|... a hundred pink flamingos ...|
|... and a dragon tamer, not slayer|
Off the bike, I have been spending my time in both mundane as well quite exciting ways. Stu's bike shop adventure has thrown him into the middle of a situation that requires pretty much all of his attention. He is trying to become the go-to shop here in Chiang Mai, if not the entire north of Thailand. He has fabulous ideas on how to do so (outstanding merchandise, above-average customer service, perfectly tune bikes, a coffee-and-juice bar, etc.), yet the reality is that he has two mechanics who no shit about working on bikes, the China-made bikes he receives are pieces of shit, and the subcontractors who were supposed to have finished his build-out of the shop never came through. in other words: He deals with a daily CF2 (a cubed clusterfuck!). So, once in a while my presence is welcome.
|An old quarry, Sunday's ride attraction|
The more exciting activities involve going to the market, watching the world go by, checking out temples, and most importantly, enjoying my daily massage. Oh, those massages. Unbelievably, for about $4.75 one can have a one-hour Thai massage; add another $2, and you'll enjoy the all-nekkid oil massage, which I prefer since I don't scream out in pain! Man, after riding the bike this is just unbelievable. I really should see whether I can fit one of those tiny women who can mutilate a man with their hands and elbows inside the duffel bag that I used to import some tools for Stu. A daily massage like this in Lubbock would be worth a few thousand baht, I say.
|You're on your own for the math: one US dollar is about 32 baht|
To close things down, today I went to a Thai cooking school. Best $30 I have ever spent! All day long we worked at individual wok stations and learned how to make authentic Thai dishes. Before the cooking part, we had gone to the market to learn about spices and herbs and veggies. I chose the dishes that I wanted to learn about based on what I perceived as an overlap with some of the ingredients we can find in Lubbock, and I think I hit it spot on. I can't wait to put my new skills to good use when I return.
|Spicy soup with chicken|
|Pad Thai (eat your heart out, Angela) and red curry with chicken—both à la Jürgen|
Of the ten students in the class, I was by far the oldest—but it was so much fun to talk to those globetrotting couples in their 20s who also took this class, during their sabatical from life, from Taiwan, France, or the UK. Good people. Ah, to be young again and have an entire lifetime ahead of me. Instead, I have to kick things into 6th gear and make sure that I continue to live large.
|It wasn't Jesus who appeared on Easter Sunday|
And to do that, I have decided to leave Chiang Mai on Wednesday for a three-day, two-night bike trip into the hinterlands. I just have this hankering to get out and see more countryside, all that pollution be damned. So, stay tuned for the next report.