Tuesday, 03-02-2015 — Friday, 06-02-2015.
Days 167 — 170.
At some point during the next four days, first Frankie, then Jackie, then Tom came down with sore throats and fevers. Of course, after reading about a first-hand account of Dengue Fever, we feared the worst—especially considering that our room at the hostel always seemed to contain one or two mosquitoes at any given time.
But other than being uncomfortable for a few days, none of us suffered too badly. The likley culprit was the intense air conditioning we were subjected to. Bangkok was hot (like 35°C hot—and this was winter) and humid, and everywhere we went, especially places that catered to tourists, blasted the air conditioning. So we were frequently moving from oppressive heat and humidity to near arctic temperatures and back.
Fortunately, medicine in Thailand is cheap and easy to get. a bottle of Children's Tylenol was $1.00, a box of 10 Sudafed-like medicine was also $1.00, and a blister pack of 10 doxycycline pills was $5.00—no prescription needed. There are pharmacies everywhere and the pharmacists can diagnose symptoms right on the spot. I'm sure the system is abused, but for travelers who need access to medicine, it's a great thing.
We did make a run to the post office again to send back even more things (and we're pleased to report that all boxes arrived in the U.S. with no trouble) and took a water taxi ride down to CentralWorld, the second-largest mall in Bangkok, to have a look around and have lunch at our last Din Tai Fung (at least until we get back to Los Angeles).
Although we had every intention of getting to Wat Pho and the Royal Palace, which were relatively close to the hostel, with one of us down with fever on any given day, we didn't get to either of them. Having a fever when it's 35°C outside isn't enjoyable, so we really didn't do anything notable for the next few days, and then it was time to go to Chiang Mai.
From the moment we got off the plane, we loved Chiang Mai, if for no other reason, because it wasn't as oppressively hot as Bangkok. In fact, in this city located 680 kilometers north of Bangkok, the temperatures were nearly perfect for us.
Chiang Mai was quite different from the perpetually busy Bangkok with its tall buildings of concrete and glass. Although Chiang Mai is the second-largest city in Thailand (with a population of nearly one million), it felt very much like a small town. I don't think there are any buildings over four of five stories. At times it reminded us a little of Ubud, Bali, but less pretentious.
We were staying at an Airbnb on the southern end of town, and our host arranged for us to be picked up at the airport, which was a nice bonus. It's always nice to not worry about how to get from the airport to your bed. On the short drive to the apartment, we stopped off at a market to pick up dinner and some other staples, which was another nice touch we really appreciated.
The three-bedroom apartment itself was very modern, very new, and very clean. It was inside a gated community that felt like it could have been in pretty much any suburb in the United States. New units were being built up all around the area.
But despite the newness of the place, just outside of the back gate to the complex there was a working farm (complete with a herd of cows), vacant lots with piles of trash, and plenty of stray dogs roaming the streets.
By the time we got settled in and ate dinner, it was starting to get dark. So we just took it easy for the evening, saving up our energy for the Chiang Mai Flower Festival the next day. Soon enough, we drifted off to sleep. Unlike Bangkok, where the noise never stopped, this was a very quiet neighborhood.