Saturday, July 16, 2016

Chiang Rai: Initial impressions by expats for a year

After breakfast and a round of cards this morning, we called a taxi to take us to the Central Plaza, the big mall in Chiang Rai.  We needed to get new phones or sim cards, and wanted to check out our new digs.  Lesson one for new arrivals to Thailand: when you go to get a cell phone, bring your passport and international driver's license.  We were all set to get our new phones, and learned that valuable lesson.  Now we have to return to the mall tomorrow...
After that, we toured the 3 story mall.  What we discovered was that all the prices of all the products were the same as in the U.S.  No deals on anything to be found.  On the bright side (I guess) the mall had everything you could imagine, including a ciniplex.   Now showing: The Bourne Something-or-Other, Through the Looking Glass, A Pet's Life, and a bunch of other titles I hadn't heard of.  Cost to see a film?  $3.50 USD.
After leaving the mall, we took a tuktuk (see what I did there?) down to the center of the city.  There is a large golden clock tower in a roundabout that is said to be a tourist attraction, though I don't get it.  To be honest, we were a little underwhelmed by the city of Chiang Rai.  It doesn't really differ from anywhere else we've been in Thailand.  It has a lot of small shops that sell a mishmash of plastic stuff, tons of coffee shops, a couple bars, massage parlors (of course), and the rest of it.  The side walks are all broken up, the streets have all the same smells, the traffic is bustling, the buildings are  in various states of disrepair.  Jess and I concluded that when people talk about how beautiful Chiang Rai is, they are referring to the area around the city: the mountains and temples, etc.  Therefore, we decided to rent a car tomorrow and drive out of town to see what we can see.  Oh! That reminds me:   lesson two for new arrivals:  have the hotel reception write down the name and address of your hotel in Thai so that you can show it to the taxi drivers.  No one seemed to know what we were saying when we tried to get back to the hotel, so we ended up in the wrong place and had to use that hotel's wifi to use google maps to show the driver where the hell our hotel was.
Anyway, we made it and are now trying in vain to force the children into a nap so we can break the cycle of waking before dawn.  It's not working.'s about 2 PM, we are all tired and cranky but can't nap, we are basically stuck here for the rest of the day until we walk to the market for dinner.  I wouldn't knock on this hotel door if I were you.

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