After our time living in the lap of luxury in Bangkok, it was a bit of a shock to enter an area where almost nobody speaks English.  Even knowing I was in a foreign country, India had lulled us into a sense of language proficiency, and we were shown the reality within our first 12 hours of leaving Bangkok.  We bought a bus ticket to a little northern town called Lampang, but when we pulled into Kamphang we realized that we would have to be a little clearer in the future.  If only our ticket had ANY English printed on it we may have picked up on it a little earlier!  Oops.  Luckily we hadn’t gone out of our way much, and we still managed to make it to Lampang, which we now called LamBANG, by 7pm that night.  But I find myself really wishing I knew some better Thai here.

However, even with the intense language barrier, it still seems somehow less foreign here than it did in India – the streets are clean, the people are honest and friendly, and things just seems to move along at an easy, laid-back kind of pace.  There are lots of tourists, but after all of our ‘bonding’ time in India, it’s definitely great to socialize.  It’s funny, though, I think we’ve forgotten how normal social interaction works – last night we went to some guy’s room to ask if he wanted to go grab some dinner, and instead of being all cool and laid-back, Seth announced, “so, we’ve decided you are going to be our friend”.  I guess it worked though, considering he actually came out with us!  I’m sure we’ll remember how to be cool in few more days, but in the meantime we’ve met some bizarre people, including a man from the UK who thought he was Borat, and made his entire family do a 6-man pyramid in the middle of the pub we were at!

Lambang, once we actually arrived, has really been a wonderful start for our Thai experience.  We had a few beers, a great sleep, and a big coffee, and then decided we were ready for some exploration.  We saw some bikes on the street and asked the shop they were parked in front of if we could rent them.  The woman looked confused and said she had never rented bikes but seemed fairly open about the possibility.  Neither of us knew what we should pay for the service, and so Seth and I offered 60 baat for two, and she countered with 600.  It was really quite a friendly exchange, considering how much compromise was necessary, and we finally settled on 100.  (India has made Seth and I quite good bargainers) The bikes weren’t great quality, but they were purple and red and had baskets, so that made up for a lot!  We rode around town, checking out some temples, backroads, and stopping for a thai massage.  Or should I say….THAI TORTURE!  Really.  Now, everyone has told us that Thai massage is an ancient art that combines massage and accupressure and yadda yadda.  But I really wasn’t prepared to be almost crying for a whole hour and both Seth and I walked out of the massage centre feeling as if the two tiny Thai women had beaten us up. I actually could feel the bruises forming.  Maybe it isn’t so much something to help you relax, but rather to make you stronger in the face of pain.  I may give it another try when my bruises fade, perhaps not every Thai massage is as painful…

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Since then, Seth and I have discovered the beauty of bikes and motorbikes, and have been exploring the lush countryside.  I must say, it is sure easier to get up those hills on a motorbike, but we have lots of bicycling planned for the next few weeks.  We tried our best to organize a bike trip to the Thai province of Nan, but as we have been living day-to-day with our planning, we couldn’t get a bus there today, so we decided to head to Laos today and push off the Nan trip until later.  We are going to try to bicycle through most of Laos, taking buses where there are no options other than busy roads.  I can’t wait.  These last few days have been so wonderful and relaxing, that I am beginning to wish I could figure out how to slow down time….

I’ll leave you with a few thoughts I’ve been having while on long stretches of mountain road on the motorbike – good time for pondering things!

– Firstly, yesterday we saw some elephants who are in the guiness book of world records for painting.  their best painting (a 6metre by 6metre mural) sold for 1.5 million baat two years ago.  they really were pretty good painters, but they were definitely better dancers, and one could even play the harmonica.  i remembered how good it is to feel like a kid again and decided that i really like elephant shows, even if they are kind of touristy!

– I’ve decided that travellers all experience places differently, and that there are different ways to see and interact with new places.  And of all the ways, I’ve decided that I am a food lover first and foremost, with ecotourism and socializing not far behind.  It’s lucky that the latter two balance the first so that I don’t become a blimp while over here in the land of incredible food and drink!

– i forgot the other one (the most important one i think) – there really were three things when i began but our bus for laos is leaving pretty soon and i’m feeling like i should probably go….i’ll write it out in my journal and post it up next time! 


2 Responses to “LamBANG!”

  1. Conrad says:

    “I’ve decided you are going to be my friend!”

    Yes, I really have!! And no Claire, the massages do not get more gentle. An old Indonesian woman once almost ripped the meat off my leg bones determined to massage the inner part of any bones I might have in me.

    I think it’s a discipline exercise….

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