Wednesday, 21 January 2015
Back in Chiang Mai with Feeling and Contrast
The weather itself is a significant change. We left a ‘warm’ Moscow at –8 and landed in +30 metric. The language barrier I experienced in Russia, shifted to Inga. She speaks perfect English, but eight months in Russia has her syntax structure messed up speaking English and then there is her accent. We were looking for a market locals go to in order to buy fresh groceries and Inga asked a traffic cop where the market was once we got in the general area. He blinked and furrowed his brow as he attempted to understand what she had asked. I repeated the question and he smiled in understanding, relief relaxing his brow he nodded and pointed down a side street. What is odd is, to me, Inga’s question sounded exactly like my question sounded. But to the cop it was the difference between understanding and not.
Home in Chiang Mai is one of Richard Katze’s properties and one I have stayed in before. Richard is a real gentleman and an invaluable resource for anyone wishing for an easy transition to Chiang Mai. The condo was again stocked with water and snacks and Richard welcomed us personally after his lovely wife and son welcomed us at the airport. This level of service is beyond cost, when you arrive tired and sore, even in a place you know. A drink and toast on the balcony had me wishing for a cigar as we watched planes stack up in the dark night sky for their own final approach to the “Land of Smiles.”
The contrast between the ever busy Moscow and the chaotically busy Chiang Mai was funny. People made way and smiled at us on the sidewalk as the scooters, motorbikes, tuk tuks, and cars threatened us with death on the roadways. I am taking creative license a little bit here but truthfully only a little. Crossing streets is probably one of the most dangerous things one does in this city. The people are kind and helpful, and the feel of the city is one of safety. Basic strategy for roadways is insuring the driver sees you, made difficult with tinted windows and left and right-hand drive cars, and then trust that once seen they won't hit you. It is hard but like Moscow drivers that somehow have a collective understanding of what each is trying to do, it comes with time. I doubt Inga will ever get comfortable with a scooter passing inches from her side, but then she does tend to surprise me at times.