Writing about Chiang Mai has got me thinking about how it felt to arrive there after India.
Roman and I had said our goodbyes at the airport the night before in Cochin (after being driven there by the slowest cab driver in all of India!). Cochin is pretty touristy and felt more insulated than many of the places we’d been in India. Even so, landing in Singapore for my early morning transfer felt like arriving at a different world.
It was still dark as we landed, and the view from the plane of hundreds of glittering ship lights on the pitch-black water, followed by seeing the city itself all lit up was incredible. I will admit, stepping into the pristine, quiet, massive airport felt a bit like arriving at a lush oasis after crossing a desert. 😉 I made a bee line to the nearest Starbucks for a soy latte and then spent the rest of my layover enjoying the glittering temple of consumerism just outside my gate, the cleanest bathrooms I’d seen since leaving Switzerland and chatting with a nice guy who’d been living in Zürich but was on his way to Bali to coach the national football team.
The flight north to Chiang Mai was quick and easy. I loved watching the landscape change beneath the plane, watching scruffy green hills emerge from the plains as we got closer to our destination.
The airport in Chiang Mai seemed relatively simple (especially after Singapore!) but the team of people from the cell phone company handing out free sim cards to all the newly arrived tourists was a first indication that I wasn’t in India any more, Toto. 🙂
The hotel had arranged pick up and I was escorted into a spotless, air-conditioned little Honda that still had the smell of new car. The driver barely said a word and it almost all felt too quiet to be true (perhaps especially after the chatty driver in Cochin who had stopped when the urge struck him to pick up chewing tobacco).
Other things that left an impression that day:
• how broad and clean the roads were (after India at least 😉 )
• the number of 7-11s we passed on the way to the hotel – they seem to be everywhere in Thailand!
• the large number of small trucks on the street (Apparently there is a tax in place that makes it more economic to buy a truck than a car.) which was funny to see after India, where for the most part the only trucks are the industrial-sized goods carriers
• how good everything smelled. That first day it seemed like everyone I passed by was wearing pleasant perfume, and the resort especially smelled great, especially all the linens. It cost a bomb to have laundry done there, but it was worth every cent for how amazingly good the clothes smelled when they came back. 🙂