Monday, December 10, 2007

Ciao from Chiang Mai

Our last installment was posted in Sukhothai, the first capital of Thailand. Since then we've made our way further north to Chiang Mai, which is one of the larger, busier cities in Thailand.

As expected, I love it here. I always have a great time in cities with lots of stuff going on. There are loads of great restaurants and bars, good shopping, temples, you name it. It's also a good place to rent a motorbike and tool around outside the city, as we may do later this week.

For the time being, we've signed up for a thai cooking course. It starts tomorrow morning; they pick us up at our guest house and we go out to the country to help pick the vegetables for the meal. Then we learn how to make 5 or 6 different dishes, which we then get to eat. It costs about $27 per person which is insanely expensive compared to most things here, but it includes an awful lot of food, plus transportation and all the instruction.

Back to Chiang Mai. I could stay here for a month. More, even. But Liz gets a little bored in city settings like this... well, in any setting I suspect. We just have slightly different philosophies about traveling. Once I find a spot I enjoy, I don't like to budge until I feel ready. She would rather see more places.

It's true that there are lots of cool places to visit, and I've enjoyed each spot we've been so far. But the actual travel wears on me... long rides in rickety old vehicles through mountainous terrain stress me out.

At the moment it looks like we're going to compromise somewhat and stick around in Chiang Mai for a few more days, then head to a town called Pai for the weekend. After that, it's back to Chiang Mai and then up to the extreme north of Thailand, a town called Chang Kong (or something) where we can cross the border into Laos.

Hard to believe that our first 30 days here are almost up!

From there, we'll have 40 days or so combined for Laos, Vietnam and Cambodia. We'll only spend a few days in Cambodia though; most of those days are earmarked for Laos and Vietnam.

I've gotten a lot of feedback on the blog, and also some questions, so I'll take the time now to address a few things.

Photos

We've heard tons of compliments about the photos; thank you very much! But I have to mention that a great deal of the credit, certainly more than 50%, goes to Liz. She's taken many of the pictures that I consider my favorites. We've argued some about which ones to post here, of course, with my inclination being to only post my favorite shots (she would prefer to post some that aren't necessarily great photos, but help tell the story).

Budget

Strangely enough, we've met a lot of fellow travelers that are going the entire year, just like us. I've been curious about how they're paying their way (because our method is hardly orthodox), but I've refrained from asking so far.

Our budget is about $36,000, which is drawn from my poker winnings over the past 3 years. Ridiculous, I know, but true! I avoid mentioning this to most people because, as you might expect, I encounter a lot of skepticism.

In any case, we spent about $5,800 on plane tickets, not counting our East Coast jaunt which cost about another $1,000. With all the flights paid for, we can use the remaining money as we see fit. Of course we're trying not to spend the whole amount, but it's there if we need it. We did sell our house prior to departing, but we're not touching that money. We need to buy another house when we get back!

So far we're overspending by just a bit if we want the trip to last a full year. But that's mostly due to Italy (and Switzerland) being more expensive than we anticipated.

Of course the prices here are making up for it, but I'm still guessing that we may shorten the trip to 10 or 11 months instead of the full 12. We'll just play it by ear when we get there... the cost of living in Mexico and Argentina are wild cards at this point.

It also depends how many fake Rolexes I buy here in Thailand. Shiny things are tempting.

Well, that's enough Q&A for now. I'll try to make at least one more post before we head to Laos, hopefully with photos.

1 comment:

Hamster said...

Hi. If you are interested in Thai cooking try this website
www.thaifoodtonight.com
It's got about 30 recipes each one with a cooking video to go along
Good if you like to try cooking Thai food at home