We wake to a much lighter day today. It’s overcast but not so dark we expect rain. A good day for a hike.
We’re up and leave the hotel before breakfast starts. Good thing we’ve got our own granola and milk. Then it’s up up and awayyyyyy…
We’re meeting the hiking group at the 700 year stadium. Yup, that’s the name of the football stadium that’s located outside of town. It’s not that bad temperature either and traffic is slow at seven in the morning on a Sunday.
There’s a good group today also, and several of our new friends. There’s first time hiker leaders today but the organize the transport and we drive off with five cars in total. We’ve parked our bike there as it’s a forty minutes drive to the walk out spot. We’re glad we did when we start climbing. It’s like the roads to Pai, as they wind their way up the mountain side.
The hike is supposedly easy today. We start out at 1400 meters altitude and the place is crawling with locals selling souvenirs and junk. We pass through them but do look at their box cars. You can rent them to go downhill the mountain. Right, that’s probably covered in our travel insurance.
The hike is nice, easy and offers a couple of beautiful view points. The view out over the valley with its farms with a backdrop of the mountains on the other side is hard to describe properly. It’s equally hard to catch on photos. But we try.
The hike ends with us going off track the last bit. We pass through a little vineyard where they grow grapes up here in the mountain. We are allowed inside and it’s cool to see it up close and personal. We continue through a little village on the way to the cars and see the backyards of the locals. Katja looks closer at a lady and her family sitting and handling flowers. Turns out they’re roses. Really fresh and red roses. Katja asks permission to take a photo and she’s rewarded with a yes, but also a rose. We try to pay for it, but the lady refuses and just smiles. A very nice ending to a nice hike with nice people.
Most of the hikers go together to a restaurant and have a light lunch. It’s located on top of a mountain and have a great view. We spend about an hour talking about this and that and concluding on nothing and everything.
Back at the stadium we say goodbye to Bruce who’s the first guy we spoke to when we joined the first hike weeks ago. We’ve been extremely well taken into the group and it’s with a heavy heart we know the last hike is over.
Back in the city we look to see if the man who’s making our sign is at his shop. No luck. We’re a half hour before agreed time, so we grab a coffee and relax. Then we remember we need go and get lime for Katja’s no poo project. Damn! I did it again, didn’t I? It’s not her project, it’s a family project.
We get info from the coffee guy about where to go to get limes and jump on the bike. Finger-language and smiles later and voila! we have limes. We pass by the sign maker once again, but it’s still not open. Are we being hustled?
We pick up the laundry and go to the room to shower, relax, make a new bag of laundry and get ready for the night market. When we go out the roads around the hotel are mostly closed because of the night market in town and we have to drive I opposite direction. We end up at another laundry that promises to finish it tonight, return the motorbike and walk up into the night market. It’s not night yet and it’s nice to slowly walk the streets while looking at the people setting up their stalls. The market here seems to be better than the one we attended outside of the old town, as there are more artists with their own products here. We pass by the sign maker and behold, he’s opened the shop. We get what we came for and pay our dues.
Katja is like a horse released on grass after a winter on the stable. Don’t tell me there’s no difference in men and women. At lunch in the mountain shopping was a subject and then men dreaded it more than hell itself while the women love it.
We get dinner and suddenly it’s time to pick up laundry and get ready for cabaret. Yup, we’re going to the infamous lady-boy cabaret. It’s supposedly hilarious, so we have high hopes.
Chiang Mai isn’t a big town, but it’s smaller than first expected. For the third time we run into the same tuk-tuk driver. She drove us the first time we tried to have pizza at By Hand Pizza, and she recognized us the other day. Today as well, Katja and she recognizes each other and then we have our driver.
When we go to the cabaret, which is located at the other night market, we meet the lady-boys outside. We get a picture of me with a couple of them. Glamour all the way, with me on the middle. The chubby one kept rubbing my back while Katja gave the other one a tip for the photo opportunity. Right. I’m not homophobic by a mile, so I’m cool with that. I’ve actually held hands with a two strangers from India at Bangkok airport, Katja reminded me. Not on this trip, but on an earlier tour. What I don’t do to please the ladies. Oops, sorry, the guys.
We grab a beer outside while waiting for the show to start. There’s people coming to see so we’ll not be alone in there. The “girls” are looking good from a distance, but up close and personal it’s a bit different. The dresses look better in dim lightning and the make up is of course excessive.
The seats fill up pretty good and the show starts on time. It’s hilarious. They lip sync through golden oldies as well as a few newer songs. Among the highlights were a fantastic version of Tina Turner’s “Simply the best”. Such a good job with the footwork and movements. Absolutely priceless. The most powerful was a boy stepping out of his dress and make up and into a suit while performing to “My way”. There was a lot of hidden messages in that one.
Even though lady-boys are common and relatively accepted here I believe it’s a lot of bad things happening to insecure boys. The sex industry in this country is enormous and it’s good to see sites like this where, hopefully, they’re safe and in a good environment.
This is the original Cabaret in town. It costs 200 Bath and include a free drink. There’s another show in town that charges 1000 Bath and is supposedly a rip off. Support who you like, but we vouch for this one.
After one too many beers we get a tuk-tuk to take us home and fall over in the bed. We’ll pack tomorrow before we leave for the airport.
“Being a Nice Guy, doesn’t mean you are a push over. It also doesn’t mean you are easy to manipulate or take advantage of. No, being a Nice Guy simply means you care, have no time to get mad at the small stuff, and you think of the world in larger terms than self. And despite living in the shadow of the bad guys and paying for mistakes you didn’t make, you hold on sometimes more than you should, but when you can no longer, you move on because it’s the right thing to do. “– Eugene Nathaniel Butler