Then it was time for us to go Chiang Rai, a town north east of Chiang Mai. Along the way their we stayed in a small town, in a guest house called Cabbages and Condoms! haha. It is set by a Thai chairity that funds Thai people in need, and all of extra money made from the resturant/guest house goes to this foundation. There was a huge billboard that they had painted out front that consisted of personified condoms. When we were going the next morning we blew up condoms like ballons and took pictures with the 'ballons' and the billboard. As we were doing this a large double decker tour bus was pulling out of the parking lot. They stopped to take pictures of us being rediculus and waved at us! It was embarasing but hillarious. Along the way to chiang rai from here we stopped at a new wat that was all white with tinny mirros on the outside. It was very beautiful and had a grand apearance but very hard to look at. On the inside of the wat they were still painting it. The artisit who designed the wat was also the sole painter of the inside. The wall paintings were modern, with depictions of the twin towers going down, a guy from Xmen, superman, coca cola and things like that all mixed into a colage style painting which reminded me of my dads art. It was very impresive and only one wall was painted! In a near by building there was an art gallery containing the mans art. All of the paintings seemed very captivating, extreemly detailed and shocking in their beauty. We continued form here to and ended up in Chiang Rai that eveing, staying at a guest house where we had to wake up the man working their to get a room. We checked out the night market and saw a band consisting of all lady boys, so a waiter told us, but I would have never guessed. They perfromed the song "Beautiful Thailand"; it somehow seemed sad to me though, they looked so strained up there, in their rediculusly elaborate costumes. I kept wondering if they were also prostitutes and if they really thought that Thailand was am amazing place for them.
Ben left the next day for Laos and suddenly I found myself without a travel buddy which was strange but good at the same time. I quickly met more people at the new guest house though, the Chiang House. I was lying in a hamock reading a murder mystery book by Lawrence Sanders, unaware that I was in the hangout area of a group of friends that worked, visited and lived near and at the Chian House. Some of them started to gather at the chairs near by and a Thai guy brought over a few buckets of food, looked at me and said 'you eat some this food' smilling and pointing at the food. They are extreemly friendly at the Chian House, and in this area of Thailand in general. I didn't want to eat the food and left to read in a more quite area, still keeping an eye on the area so I could see what type of people were hainging out there. Later that evening I walked by the area and one of the Thai guys said "you, we caught fish, you come eat it with us". I decided that I felt like hanging out with people so I sat down and hung out with them for the night. The group consisted of people who went to this guest hosue every year around the same time for 1-6 months and met eachother there, an expat man (retired in Chiang Mai), and several local thai people who worked at the Chian House or lived near by. The travelers were older european men, a couple from sweden, a woman from sweden, a couple england with an adorable baby named manie, a brother and sister from england and a guy from england who lived there more than at england. Most of the local guys worked for the Chian House. These Thai men seemed very taken by me and to my great discomfort took up the habit of staring at me for long lengths of time when I was writting or talking or doing anything. Of course men are bad at picking up subtle hints so when I attempted to give a "stop staring at me look" they didn't pick up, which eventually stoped bugging me and then humored me. When I returned to the hang out spot from my room I sat down in a chair and they all looked at me funny and the Thai man said 'see what I tell you, very beautiful'. I went shifty eyed, red in the face, squirmed uncomfortably and squeeked out "ahahahahaha um thanks hahaha" in a high pitched quite voice. haha
The group of friends were very friendly and easy to hang out with. On the first night there I ate bbqed freshly caught fish with three of them and I made myself eat an eye ball. It was oily and fishy and not a sick I had anticipated it to be.
Over the next several days I was lazy and it was fantastic. I ate, layed in the hammock, swam in the pool, tanned, read and hung around. On my last night there we all went out to dinner at a korean cook house. We all went into one truck fitting sixteen people in it! The cook house had all of the tables outside and we shoved four together. How it works is at each table you have a cooking thing. The cooking thing works like oil defuser, with hot coals heating a protruding semi circle bbq and a moat around it. It is about a foot and a half in diameter and height and yuo would get all the food to cook on small plates from a buffet area. On the bbq part you put strips of seasoned meat and in the moat seasoned water and leafy teared up veggies to. You take off strips of cooked meat with chop sticks, dip it in sause and then eat some of the cooked veggies after, in rotation, while adding more veggies and meat. We had watermelon for desert and wisky with water to drink. It was a three hour afair and a very nice time.
The next moring I left for Chiang Mai and got a ride with the english couple with the adorable baby. He adorably pucked in the car and I felt car sick so it was a bearbale ride. Four nausiated hours later we arived in Chiang Maiand that is where I am now. Tomorrow I am going to Wat Dio Suthep to do my three week mediation retreat. I am exited and nervous, not so sure about what to expect.