Cheeseburgers in Chiang Mai: A Savage Journey to the Heart of Thai New Year

“Jude, Jude, a-Jude, a-Jude, a-Judy, a-Judy, ow, wah-ow!!!” – Paul McCartney

I’m back from vacation and I’m not sure if I’m better off or worse.  I’m better off because I had a wonderful week away from my site with great friends and good food.  I’m worse because I’m now back to being alone at site surrounded by people who don’t turn on the air conditioning at the office until I’ve sweat through my polo shirt.

Erin and I left Khon Kaen for Chiang Mai Friday night on an overnight bus.  We arrived Saturday morning and Thailand threw a curveball at us – it was cold.  It was so cold on the ride to the guesthouse that my teeth were chattering.  I enjoyed it while it lasted.

Highlights of the week included a jungle zip lining tour, delicious birthday cake, throwing the water back on the Thais, eating delicious food that didn’t involve rice, a visit to the zoo, and fast-handed card games that almost erupted in violence.

First, the zip lining tour, known at Flight of the Gibbon.  Erin and I flew through a mountainous jungle about 40K outside of Chiang Mai.  The lines were anywhere from 20 meters to 350 in length.  It reminded me of an Ewok village from Return of the Jedi.  The platforms had no railings, but you were tied to the cables with two attachments for safety.  I would not recommend it if you’re afraid of heights.  I will post videos when we’re done editing them.

When I came to Thailand, I thought it was cool my birthday (April 13) landed on the Thai new year – not anymore.  Erin and I and four friends wanted to walk to a place called Love at First Bite for some birthday cake.  Unfortunately, the Thai New Year (songkran) parade was being held on the same road we had to walk down.  During songkran the Thais throw water at each other as a blessing for the new year.  Unfortunately, Chiang Mai during songkran is pretty much a big spring break party for drunken Europeans.  The Europeans aren’t blessing you with water.  They simply like having an excuse to shoot and throw water while drinking in the street.

Even though none of us were holding water guns or buckets, the Thais and Europeans didn’t hesitate to throw water on us.  They still didn’t when we told them we didn’t want to play.  After a while I began overturning anyone’s bucket of water whether they were trying to soak me or not.  On the walk back, Erin and I ganged up on a boy and turned his gun back on him.  We laughed.

As for the cake, it wasn’t just the best I’ve had in Thailand, but the best I’ve ever had.

Erin and I hit the Chiang Mai Zoo on Wednesday.  It was a decent zoo complete with panda bears and hippos, which surprised me as the zoo in Korat was not impressive.

We also filled a day touring a few large and beautiful temples within the city limits.

One evening during the new year celebrations, Erin and I wanted good food, but we didn’t want to be among the drunken Europeans, so we got two double cheeseburger meals from Mike’s Burgers and retreated to our guesthouse.  Those simple double cheeseburgers and fries were the highlight of our meals for the week.  They were nothing more than quality burgers, cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, and ketchup on a regular bun.  Good cheeseburgers are hard to come by over here and these were simply beautiful, especially washed down with root beer, Sprite followed by a few beers.  We even watched Law and Order on TV.  Throughout the week we went between that and Tom and Jerry and Looney Tunes cartoons.

During the weekend, when all of Europe seemed to be on the streets, Erin and I, as well as some friends down the hall, spent a lot of time in our rooms.  Erin and I stocked the fridge with Leo beer and played some card games she taught me.  Erin learned that weekend that alcohol, competition and Jeff Jackson don’t mix well.

There’s already talk of a return trip to Chiang Mai in October with the Jentlemen (a moniker bestowed upon myself, Josh and Joe.)

It was one of those vacations I kept thinking, There’s no way tomorrow will be better than today, but it was.

Click on photos to enlarge.

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1 thought on “Cheeseburgers in Chiang Mai: A Savage Journey to the Heart of Thai New Year

  1. Pingback: Flight of the Gibbon | Sa-wat-dii From Thailand

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