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Cut yourself some slack

Merry Christmas from Chiang Mai, Thailand


View Winter Vacation 2008/2009 on agc_cwm's travel map.

“Cut your self some slack, in a hundred years, different people.” That’s what the sign nailed to the tree told me at the temple we went to this afternoon. Another sign also told me, “The water that makes a ship float also makes a ship shink[sic]” Shink? Shink? Is that a Buddhist term? It was a deep enough message until I came across this word. Then I realized that it was a typo. ”The water that makes a ship float also makes a ship sink” makes a whole lot more sense.
First thing this lovely snow-less Christmas morning required us to get a nice hearty, calorie-filled American style breakfast. The Big Bowl Breakfast at the Art Café. Hash browns, tomatoes, sausage, bacon, mushrooms, and scrambled eggs, all covered with cheese. Just the way to get the grease flowing through your veins. Very Smittys on a Sunday.
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We were moving slower after this meal. Oh, the stuff we didn’t eat was given to us to take back to our room. We have a snack for tonight if we want.
Instead of porting a full doggie-bag around Chiang Mai we had to stop back at our hotel. Both of us felt like taking a nap but powered on. We went to the coffee shop up the street to post the blog and make the first of a couple Christmas calls home.
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Then it was on the Chiang Mai Arts and Cultural Centre.
The Chiang Mai Arts and Cultural Centre is a museum that is done right. When this former government building was converted into the museum in 1997 they didn’t spare any expense. But they also did it right. The layout of the building is good, the English signage is 98% correct, and the displays are extremely well done. They also had audio tracks in each of the rooms which could be played in Thai, English, German, French, Chinese and Japan (one of these things is not like the other…) . We learned a lot about the history of Chiang Mai, from prehistory through to present day.
This was one of the few incorrect English signs. It was on the computer screen where you can scroll from one page to the next.
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These are some pictures of the displays.
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We were walking through recreations of various scenes of village life, complete with life-size human mannequins. They were disturbing, and I kept expecting one to lunge out of its display and attack me, or at least follow me around. Very “knight-in-a-haunted-castle”-esque. As we were walking into the final room of this exhibit, this cat jumped out of a basket in the display. Needless to say, we were sufficiently startled.
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By this time it was lunch time and the grease had passed through our systems. We had to locate the next feeding spot. Seeing it was Christmas we settled on Jerusalem Falafel. Actually, I think Court just wanted Middle Eastern food. We did some shopping on our way to the restaurant, without getting lost on the trip. We settled down to our own little table facing the street and flipped through the book of the menu.
Courtney was blown away by the selection. Pita, falafels, Greek salad, baba ghanouj, and more: basically everything she’s been craving for months. She was stuck, unsure what she wanted the most. We eventually settled on the meze set: pita bread with six different dips. We thought we may need more food, so Court ordered an extra plate of feta cheese and two extra pitas. It turns out we didn’t need the extra pitas. I powered through my two but Court wisely stopped after one pita. We again didn’t finish all of our food and were presented with another doggie bag to fill our fridge.
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This meal required us to stop at the hotel for a post feast nap. 45 minutes later I was back on my feet and ready to go. We decided to head out to Umon temple which is located about 3 clicks outside of Chiang Mai. This involved bartering with a tuk-tuk driver. The first guy we stopped, or more accurately he stopped to see if we needed a ride, wouldn’t go lower than 200 Baht round trip. We walked. Not to the temple but away from that tuk-tuk. 200 was too much to pay. We rounded the corner and found another tuk-tuk driver. I eventually haggled him down to 200 Baht and decided we didn’t want to waste any more time looking for a ride. He was happy because he spent the whole time trying to get us to go somewhere with him tomorrow. We declined any tours with him tomorrow.
We arrived at the Umon temple, located out in the woods, and started to wander.
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Monks built this temple in the 14th century and was abandoned for a while until the 1940’s. The monks were holding a service when we arrived; we wandered the grounds. Unfortunately we couldn’t go into the assembly hall because of the service. We still went up to see the chedi, the spire, which is built in a clearing in the forest.
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The monks converted some caves into a worshipping areas complete with little shrines. Most monks are a little shorter than me, so the tunnels were kind of on the small side of comfortable for walking upright.
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Our tuk-tuk driver brought us back to our hotel just in time for Christmas dinner. Yesterday we found an Irish pub that was offering Christmas dinner. We had a full feast: ham, turkey, potatoes, broccoli, cauliflower, mince pie, Christmas pudding, bread, and, those perennial holiday favourites, watermelon and pineapple. .
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What a feast. Not as good as a home-cooked meal, but we’ll take what we can get. We still felt the traditional tiredness post meal. Mmm turkey coma.
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There were two sittings, one at 6:30 and one at 9:30, and we were there for the early one. There were approximately 40 people at our sitting and 10 people at our table. There were three recent engineering grads from Australia, who are travelling around before they start work, and another Aussie who is teaching in Bangkok and wanted to escape Bangkok for Christmas, as well as two other couples. It was a lovely meal, not as good as spending It with family but nice to spend it with pleasant people.
Now we are the café again making more Christmas calls. Here are some other shots of a temple down the street from our hotel, and other sites in Chiang Mai.
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Before I forget, to everyone who is reading this, we wish you and your loved ones a very Merry Christmas.

Posted by agc_cwm 00:23 Archived in Thailand

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