April 4th 1984

posted in: The way back | 0

We were determined to move this morning.  We were finding our current place depressing + seedy, + our impromptu trip around Chiang Mai, if it had done nothing else, had shown us where a few of the other guest-houses were.  So, without even pausing to have some breakfast, we packed up + left.  We headed immediately to the area we’d seen last night, close to the night-market, but it wasn’t nearly as easy as we had imagined to change, since those places, we discovered, were appallingly expensive.  I had a look at one room, for interest sake; they wanted B100 for a dark, dank, airless little cell.  We were left in a bit of a quandary now, however, not knowing which way to direct our steps.  A becak driver must have sensed our indecision, + homed in on us as we were wandering aimlessly down the street.  He flashed a display of guest-houses’ business cards at us, + promised, for B5, to take us to a B50 place.  We generally ignore such pitches, but our bags were heavy, the sun was getting hotter, + we didn’t know where to go, so we said yes, + climbed aboard.

The place we arrived at was indeed very nice, with a big airy room + its own shower.  The problem came when we tried to check in, + the guy on the desk discovered we only wanted to stay for one night.  Obviously, he would have preferred longer-stayers (particularly as he would have to pay commission to the becak driver, but I was surprised when, after some deliberation, he decided not to let us the room – I’d have thought even a small sale would be better than none at all.  So out we went.

The becak driver, who naturally had been hanging around, then offered to take us to another place, “for free”, he kept shouting, “for free.”  So we climbed aboard once more.  Val went in to look at the next place – she wasn’t all that keen, + they wanted B60, so we said no, + started to lug our bags off the becak.  But once again, repeating his “for free” warcry, the driver wanted to take us to another place.  Presumably, he had his as yet unearned commission in mind, but one likes to think there was also  a little professional concern for our welfare mixed in there somewhere.  I was a little upset by this gallop around town, but our driver, + then Val, were able to see the funny side of things.  And there was a reasonably happy ending, since, 3rd time lucky, the next guest-house was alright.  And all’s well… as the man said.

We were finally able to have some breakfast now (I overate, as usual), +, thus replete, headed out on a shortish bus-ride to visit San Kanphang, the weaving village.  It was the use of the word village, in the tourist brochures etc which misled me.  I was expecting something similar to the tribal villages we had visited in the north, tho’ on a slightly more commercial basis.  What we found, in fact, was a small suburban town, a village only in the sense of not being very big.  There was weaving certainly, but this took place in factories.  We were, however, able to visit one of these, + it was interesting.  We both learned a lot about the making of silk.  That was, however, just about the only good point of the expedition.  I took the opportunity to buy myself a silk tie, however – a tie from Tieland.

We had passed thro’ the umbrella-making “village” on the way out (a village in just the same way) + I declined getting off on the return journey, as we had originally planned.  Val popped off, however, while I carried on back, + got stuck in to the washing – my turn.  We collected our photos from the developers – a pleasing collection they turned out to be too – + then we went to the night-market.  We’ve seen many better, + the meal I had was something of a dismal failure.  I had chicken, which was so-so (it looked much nicer than it was) with some perfectly revolting cooked vegetables.  The evening was salvaged gastronomically when we discovered a restaurant which served good + respectably-cheap ice-cream.  I had my perennial favourite, a banana split.  (I remember, when I worked at the casino, I used to make them for myself as a treat.  Whoppers too.  No wonder I got so fat.)

The usual problems when trying to do any sort of negotiated business. It did (and does) continue to get me down, but the clue is probably in attempting to maintain a good temper. And in the end we managed to find somewhere to stay.

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