Thursday, February 24, 2011

Run off my feet ... with work

I definitely feel like I've been living in Chiang Mai during the past month. I've done very little that a tourist might do. I would like to have spent a couple of days trekking, visited some of the "long neck" villages, and flown with the gibbons on the flying fox through the trees. Instead, I've been visiting the dentist at regular intervals and trying to stay on top of my workload without having a meltdown.

I was very lucky to end up staying here at PJ's Place, which is small and homely. I've enjoyed getting to know Peter and Jiab, and long-term residents Mike and Dom, a little. Dom has run with me around the moat in the early morning a few times. It was his birthday this week and he took us all out for dinner to Chilli Mango. I also enjoyed meeting a friend of theirs, David, who lives in New Jersey.

Dom and Mike headed in a hire car to Lampang today for a few days at a resort on a river near a national park. Dom has just got his car driver's licence and was designated driver. Mike called earlier to say they had arrived safely. He sat in the back of the car. I don't know if he wore the motorbike helmet he had planned to wear. Peter and Jiab also went out of town today, to a village near the Burmese border for the funeral of a young guy (25) who had previously worked here and died suddenly this week.

My friend of 33 years, Chris, and I have been talking all week about our plan to meet in Alice Springs, in Central Australia, in July for a bit of a bush bash/camping holiday in his 4WD. I've never been out that way. Looking forward to it.

Tomorrow I'm taking the train to Lampang, where on Sunday I'm taking part in a half marathon to raise funds for the Lampang Pony Foundation. Notice that I didn't write "compete in" or "race in". I'm so undertrained it's not funny, but I'll enjoy the time out from work.

I've been in Asia since mid-November, so it will be a complete change now to head for Europe, where it's just on the verge of spring, so still quite cold. I have lots of great things planned (as my dad says, planning is one-third of the fun), including meet-ups with some fabulous friends made since I started my travels last May.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Which wat's what?

I've been in Chiang Mai a week. I was last here in about 1989, but I have no memory of the old city, the 700-year-old centre of town. The area is a square, 2km along each side, with remnants of the old wall and moat. There are 100 or so wats (temples) in Chiang Mai, and they are stunning. This one is Wat Phra Sing, on the western edge of the square. I want to spend a day wandering through the area but haven't had a chance to do so yet.

I'm staying about 10 minutes' walk from the old city. My neighbours Mike and Dom, permanent residents here at Peter and Jiab's guesthouse, have taken me under their wing. Dom took me on his scooter to Chiang Mai University for a run yesterday afternoon. (I had a run near there a few days ago.) He ran a circuit with me, then I attempted to run another on my own but got hopelessly lost. We are planning to do a 6 am run around the moat on Thursday.

Tomorrow I'm having my first run – at Hua Tung Tao Reservoir – with a woman named Ann. A few days ago I emailed the local Hash House Harriers and asked if they knew of anyone training for a marathon or half marathon who might like company on training runs. I had a response that led me to the British Council, and through a guy there I was put in touch with Ann, who does triathlons.

Work has been very busy, so my sightseeing so far has been squeezed in around that and visits to a dentist for the first week of some intense dental work.