Bullitt's Bros

Monday, January 05, 2009

Chiang Mai Adventure, Part 2

So first, a word of explanation: i haven't blogged for the last few days because i've been on an island, koh lanta, with spotty, limited internet access. More important, though, the keyboard available is rubber. This means that it's really hard to type on. It also means that this post will probably have lots of orthographical and punctuation-errors. capitatlization, as you've no doubt noticed, will also fall by the wayside. so be it.

when we last left off, wife and i had just arrived at our home-base for our "flight of the gibbon adventure". today, we were scheduled to do ziplining and a home-stay, that is, to stay overnight in a dilapidated village with a host from the village.

the first thing to do was the ziplining. we were set up on the ziplining with a dutch family, the dufornees, consisting of a mom, a dad, and four teenage children--three boys and a girl. I was a bit worried about hanging out with three teenage boys, but as it turns out, they were amazingly well-behaved. that was nice.

our guides for the ziplining were "tiger" and "leo"--these were not their real names, but they were easy for us to pronounce, and they were named after local thai beers.

here's how the ziplining worked: you were strapped to a line via a harness, and part of your harness was a small wheel that rolled along the line. you were also given a brake in case you built up too much speed as you approached your destination. regardless of your speed, though, you had to raise your legs as you approached your destination so that you didn't bump your ankles on the wooden platform you sped towards. plus, you were given a helmet and a fifteen minute talk before hand about safety. the overall effect of everything was to worry you. you thought of two things: "make sure to apply the brake correctly" and "raise my getaway sticks so they don't get clobbered by wood."

wife and i courteously and fearfully let the dutch zipline first. no casualties. good sign! then i did it.

it was fairly nerve-wracking. i didn't look down, but i did hang, however briefly, over a pit filled with brush, trees, and brambles. i certainly would have broken something had i fallen, and i would have been very terrified. moreover, as i ziplined across the pit, i found myself spinning around, such that my back faced the platform i was speeding towards. this unnerved me, because i couldn't see if my legs were raised high enough. plus, right before setting off, leo screamed, "wait, wait!", giving me the impression i forgot something very important, like the anti-monkey repellent. But i hadn't. and overall, i didn't really 'speed" towards the platformed. more like a quick gambole (sp?). so it wasn't really that scary.

Also, as it turned out, leo was a nutty thai who screamed "wait, wait!" at least once during each ziplining session. It started out scary, then it got funny, then it got to be something you tune out.

i don't know how many ziplinings we did in total. maybe 10, maybe more. it was a nice experience, though. our guides spoke better english than the average thai, the dutch were nice, we got lots of pictures, and nothing was too scary.

then we got back to the village.

we were supposed to have dinner with our hosts that night. wife and my hosts were two older thais, mr. nong and arree. mr. nong and arree spoke no english. not even yes, no, and thank you. nothing. that was ok enough, though, because wife and i could point to things on the dinner table, raise our eyebrows questioningly, and wait for a forthcoming thai vocabulary word. i don't remember what we were told, but it passed the time.

truth be told, i was a little nervous before the dinner--in the village square, there was a butcher selling fresh meat. the thing is, the meat was not in any way cooled. it was just sitting out in the sun, while flies swarmed to it, batted away occasionally by the butcher. one guy bought a piece of raw meat and put it into his coat pocket. is that sanitary? moreover, what else do thais put in their pockets? anyway, this was enough to make mrs. dufornee swear off eating anything for dinner, and enough to worry me a bit.

what was a typical thai village dinner, you may ask? i of course dont know, but i can tell you what we had. let's see: two small, cold omelettes, a bowl of rice drenched in a sweet syrup, water, tea, two bowls of stew--one with ground up beef or pork along with something that tasted like a combination of water chestnuts and spinach, and one with ground up beef or pork along with something that looked like kale. there was also rice.

now, there's a thai custom where finishing your food is an insult to the chef, sort of. it shows that he didn't make enough food for you. so even if you want to finish it, you should refrain. with arree things were different. as soon as you got close to finishing your bowl of stuff, arree insisted you have more stuff. so in order not to insult her, you had to take a second portion and finish almost none of it. seems like a waste to me.

after we had dinner, we went to the town square to have drinks with the villagers and listen to them sing.

let me tell you, those guys get drunk. think american Indian reservation. and they sing. badly. and they ask you for money. for the village, they say.

after hanging out with them for a bit, one of the drunken villagers, "singh" (named, as always, after thai beer. i was starting to wonder, given their drinking habits, whether these were their real names), took us to see how tea was made.

it was somewhat interesting. they took lots of tea leaves, heated them, and rolled them up, tying them up afterwards in a misleadingly simple way with bamboo shoots. also, they did this while drunk. i tried to do it, but i couldn't. of course, i had velcro instead of shoelaces until i was 13, so a knotsman i am not.

whatever. as weird and, uh, strange, as things had been, it held no candles to what we would experience that night sleeping at arree and mr. nong's house.

the horror. the horror.

to be continued!

3 Comments:

  • really? a honeymoon cliffhanger?

    damn you!

    (no caps... for you!)

    By Blogger Joe, at 1:00 AM  

  • Sounds scary. Please be careful and do not eat anything that could make you sick. Are you enjoying any of this? Now I am really nervous about horror to come. Is Shawn actually liking this? I know i am repeating myself but that pit below waiting for you to break a leg is not appealing. Are you sure that you are not being tricked? Who is in charge of all this? Are you playing it by ear? is anyone in charge?

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 3:36 AM  

  • Don't wory, I am enjoying everything, as I am in charge.

    By Anonymous shawn, at 4:18 AM  

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