A regular day in Chiang Mai…and what the heck is a bum gun?
November 25, 2016
Not every day is filled with festivals and Wats. Some are just a regular day in Chiang Mai. I’ll get to the bum gun part later.
Errands on my own
Chiang Mai Photographic Group
I finally feel like I know my way around well enough to venture out on foot by myself. I walked a couple of km to the Chiang Mai Photographic Group on Wednesday night. There were about 15 members in attendance, mostly from Europe. All were men, except for Malonie, another new member from British Columbia, and me. We spent the first part of the evening watching some video tips on using Lightroom for photo editing. That is one of my winter projects already, so I was glad for the new ideas. There was also a little discussion on equipment. I can’t believe the number of lenses and cameras some of these people have. I have 1 body and 2 lenses but I’m still pretty new to this.
We spent the second half of the evening looking at photos that everyone had brought to share. They were on a large screen and a couple of the members led the discussion. The pictures were shot all over the world, including Thailand, and some of them were spectacular. There seems to be quite a lot of time spent editing to make the pictures perfect. They also commented on being past taking pictures of monks, wats and food buthat won’t deter me from continuing to take pictures of the things that make Chiang Mai interesting and unique to me.
I shared a shot of Moraine Lake from June and one of Mt. Assiniboine from July. The critiques had been pretty specific up to this point, but they didn’t have anything to say about either of them. The thing I liked was that both of my pictures had almost no editing done to them. I know how to take mountain pictures and they are such a good subject to work with. I will certainly learn a lot from this group as long as I keep an open mind and don’t take the feedback too personally.
Camera Lens Repair
I have had problems with my zoom lens recently. The auto-focus motor doesn’t always seem to turn the focus ring properly and it makes a terrible squeal. A club member suggested a repair place and had a name and address sent to me by facebook by the time I walked home. I looked it up on Maps and it seemed to be just over 2 km from here.
I am retired, after all, so I didn’t have anything more pressing to do. I headed off, armed with my hat, water bottle, sturdy shoes, money belt and camera-toting day pack. Most importantly, I had a small paper map and the location on Google Maps on my phone, as well as a screenshot of the route in Google Keep. Maps uses a lot of power and heats up my phone, but I had an extra charger pack which was useful later in the day.
It takes a lot of energy to walk in Chiang Mai. I will have some pictures on another day of all the things you find on the sidewalk here, but suffice it to say, sidewalks are not meant for pedestrians. Wheelchairs or walkers would be impossible. Almost everyone here travels by scooter. You often have to step onto the road to get around scooters and food carts parked on the sidewalk, or step into the traffic lane to get around a parked car next to the impassable sidewalk.
The pavement is uneven and the curbs are high. You see many tourists with bandages on their knees, me included. This happens when you start to look around too much and miss a high spot, a low spot, or a starfruit fallen from the tree hiding in the leaves.
Observations from my walk
Although walks here are not opportunities for reflection like they are on the walking trail at home, I did notice a few things.
- Scooter riders here look completely at ease, even when riding with a baby sitting on the driver’s shoulders with mom holding her in place from behind
- Some streets just have a row of tailors, working in rooms open to the street. Some of the hand work was done by people sitting on the floors
- Other streets have a row of hair dressers, one shop after another
- In Thailand you take your shoes off before entering a home. I saw a Ballroom and Latin Dance studio with a pair of shoes left outside. What do you dance in?
- Walking through lanes of cars stopped for a light is not only acceptable but recommended
- A man with a disfigured foot limping down the sidewalk had the biggest smile and hello for me
- Just when you realize you are the only white face in a neighborhood, someone will suddenly approach you in a red shirt with CANADA written across the front.
- The neighborhood around the mosque sold more headscarves and served halal food in the restaurants
- When you get lost and wander down a dead-end lane and end up in someone’s yard, no one seems concerned.
- There are some quiet boulevards that look like they are from any North American small town with traffic moving one way on each side with small stores alongside.
- The western style grocery stores will offer to check your other bags for you while you shop
- A fruit vendor with ice-cold bags of cut up papaya appears on a seemingly deserted street just when you need a little sustenance
AV Camera and Lens Repair
I overshot one street but did find the repair store. He tested the lens and declared he could fix it for about 1900 baht, or $70. That seemed a lot better than a new one. His assistant spoke a little more English and made up an invoice and wanted a phone number. I have a phone number here, but only a small credit on my plan to use it. I have unlimited data and wifi at the apartment so I asked her to email me when it was ready. After lots of Thai/English, Thai/Thai back and forth, I determined that the best way is to Facebook message them and they will use Facebook to let me know when it is ready, but I did record their phone number, just in case. I was glad I had the recommendation from the Photo club. It’s the kind of issue anyone in a new place must face when leaving their personal things with someone.
I returned a headset at the mall for Peter. It took 3 young clerks to understand my gestures that we had a computer with a single hole for headset/microphone and their headset had 2 separate plugs. I did apologize for not knowing more Thai. The service was wonderful. One of the staff took me to the customer service, offered me a chair and waited with me until the transaction was complete. Tourists are exempt from some of the VAT so I had to provide the picture of my passport as well to make sure the totals were correct.
After one more stop for milk and a Thanksgiving gift of a package of English White bread of only 4 slices in a package, I walked to a main street looking for transportation home. A tuk tuk was stopped at a red light so I ran across 3 lanes of traffic and piled in. He dropped me right at my gate for $3.78 or 100 baht.
Google Maps timeline
Here is a copy of my travels.
You can see where I got lost, the dead end lane and the journey in the tuk tuk. I actually walked a little farther than it shows, but the route is accurate. This feature is in the Google Maps app under timeline. You can see each day on a calendar. In a new place, it is great to see where you have been each day. Sometimes we forget names of places we want to return to and can find them on these maps. You can add notes of your own and confirm the places you were. There is a list below the map for each part of your journey. When I enter the locations I want, Maps gives me the distance in km so I’m not sure why this timeline map is only in miles. Fortunately, I am still bilingual in metric and imperial. Except for the overheating issue with Maps, I don’t know if I would feel so confident heading out on my own in a country that speaks a language not familiar to me. Many of the street signs are only in Thai so navigating with just a map would be so much more difficult
This is not related to my walk, but it is not really related to anything and it came up in our apartment Happy Hour group discussion yesterday. Take a look at the pictures from our apartment bathroom (and really any bathroom we have seen in Chiang Mai). See if you can guess how barbaric toilet paper is compared to this system.
Have you got it? After describing the squat toilets in China, and thinking that was going to be the way of toilets in all of Asia, we were pleasantly surprised to find this set up in our apartment. There is a sign on the elevator for newcomers that is very clear that toilet paper is not to be put into the toilet, at all. I had heard that before we left and wasn’t looking forward to having a garbage can open in our bathroom for that. We were also told to bring toilet paper with us since the apartment didn’t provide any. I did that, but still.
Once I saw these hoses in all the bathrooms here, I finally googled Thai toilet hose and got the instructions I needed. What a wonderful tool. In our apartment, only the shower has a hot water heater. All the other taps send out room temperature water. That is great for the bum gun here. I talked to a Californian who found one on Amazon under diaper sprayer and had it installed in their bathroom at home. I’m not sure I want the cold water of the North Saskatchewan coming through that hose at our house though. It would be a pretty quick rinse with some descriptive language I imagine.