My home in Chiang Mai was going to be Mah’s guesthouse 11Treasure in the Old City. I knew her address and that she was near Wat Chedi Luang and the Giant 2 Guesthouse, and I figured that was enough information for any cab driver to find his way. It turned out to be much more difficult than I expected.
Chiang Mai is a popular city for foreigners, and a lot of local Thai people speak excellent English. For some reason, even though cab drivers cater almost exclusively to travelers most have not cared to learn very much. This would be fine on its own, but they also have no idea how to read maps. This is an awful introduction to the city when you are tired and exhausted by traveling.
I was staying on one of the major roads in the city, and had a street number. You would think that worst case scenario they could start at one end and drive to the other and I could read the street numbers. It’s only about a 10 minute drive from end to end. But no, I sat in the car for five minutes while he grumbled and finally I said he could just leave me at Wat Chedi Luang.
After he let me off it took quite a bit of wandering, but eventually I lucked out when I spotted the Giant 2 Guesthouse. It’s the kind of place where you would expect all stoners to lodge at, and it happens to be covered in large graffiti art so it’s easy to find. With a little more effort I found my guesthouse across the street.
I was already an hour later than expected and Mah was waiting for me. She is a fashion designer/boutique shop proprieter turned guesthouse manager. She closed up her shop and only does custom designs now, but she rents out three rooms in the shop location and two in a little house just outside of the Old City. The merchandise is still out, so it’s pretty entertaining to sit in the living room and have people constantly peering in on you.
She settled me in to my cozy room upstairs but had to leave and grab dinner. My plan was to eat first and then I wanted to drink some whiskey in memory of my friend. I was awkwardly trying to figure out the lock on the front door, and noticed a man sitting on a bench in front chuckling at me. After a brief exchange I was about to leave when a motorbike – scooters count as motorbikes in the rest of the world – pulled up.
It turned out to be Mah’s long term tenant Isaias and his girlfriend Joanna who lives in Singapore. The man sitting on the bench was Bassil, whom they had met at the market that day, except for the coincidence that he had also stayed at Mah’s guesthouse before. They asked where I was off to, and I told them I needed a drink. Just my luck, they were having a vodka party at the Blue House and I was invited. I hopped on the back of Bassil’s motorbike and we were off.
The rest of the little party at The Blue House consisted of an Italian guest Matteo, his current lady-friend Anna (this lasted until the next day when she became “crazy”), Mah, and her good friend whose name I can’t spell. There was plenty of vodka and mixers, but unfortunately no whiskey. I poured myself some Hendricks and called it good enough.– at least it was a quality gin.
It felt good to immediately acquire some new acquaintances, but I didn’t want to stay out too late. Bassil gave me a ride back to the guesthouse and I went to bed feeling that Chiang Mai was off to a great start.