Exactly one month ago, our family took a trip to Chiang Mai by way of daddy, Max, Mina, and the nanny hitching a ride with mommy on a business trip. Our driver was fast and polite, and since there are typically no seat belts in a Thai commuter van, we decided to leave the baby seats behind. This made for a very smooth and uneventful ride, just the way I like it.
I’ve written about other parts of the trip already, but I didn’t get around to posting (blurry) photos of one of the highlights, an impromptu night stroll from the center of downtown to our hotel. We went out as a group for dinner and to check out the night market, which was a big tourist trap / disappointment. By that time, we had joined up with Daisuke and some of his and Nam’s students… Dai had expressed a longing to drink on the grounds at Wat Chedi Luang, at the very center of town, because it was beautifully lit up at night and temples make such excellent chill out spots.
So Dai and I got dropped off at the main gate, and everybody else went back to the hotel in the van. So began our journey.
Since the front and side gates were already closed, we had to walk all the way around to find a rear way in. We found it, and weaved through various building to get to the chedi (stupa).
Unfortunately, the temple grounds were full of monks and followers walking around and looking at the illuminated stupa, just like us. We could have had beers while hidden in the shadows, but having other people around kind of killed the appeal of it. Instead, we decided to walk back to the hotel by walking out to the ring road (Chiang Mai has an inner and outer ring road, one running clockwise and the other counter-clockwise, just like Osaka’s nakakanjo and sotokanjo, but not elevated), and following it back. We made several stops at historic sites along the way, roughly fulfilling one of the main to-dos for visitors to CM: Visiting many temples.
After leaving the heart of the historical district, we came upon the first 7-11 and eventually instated the two beer rule: Two cans of Leo per person at every 7-11 passed
We ended up at an outdoor futsal stadium with two fields. Daisuke played in the minor soccer league in Japan, so he wanted to watch for a while. I had several beers and a pork bau from a cart outside the 7-11, so I didn’t care. It started getting chilly, though, so I got up and stood watching the khao tom store across the street for ten minutes. There was a deaf guy waiting on the tables who would bring out food to the customers and communicate with them by pointing at the menu and writing things down on the pad, but the cook insisted on shouting at him when orders were ready, very loudly, twice for everything. It made for some fairly hilarious happenings which would suck to relate in writing.
Eventually, we neared the ring road.
We passed an open jazz bar with too many skanky farangs hanging out, and resupplied at another 7-11.
More CD-stars. They might just be used as traffic reflectors, but the placement of some of them was off the road so they might be used to ward off dogs / cats / Christians.
We ended up on the ring road near a historic gate and in dire need of a place to pee, peed on it.
The rest of the night was fairly surreal. We had seafood noodles outside a car dealership. It was fairly late when I saw a red lantern way down a small street, and I was drawn to it. It turned out to be a Japanese izakaya that was closing. They initially refused to serve us, but I begged piteously and an old Japanese man drinking outside shared his bottle with us. He turned out to be just an average guy from Nagoya, who I naturally gave a lot of shit to even while partaking in his drink, just because I secretly look down on Nagoyans as a proud Osakan. The owner’s husband came around and he turned out to be an ex-coworker of Dai’s, so we extended our unwelcome at the closed bar even longer.
We eventually got home, but I don’t remember that part.
I’ve been wanting to post this video for some time now, but forgot where I put the link. It is, quite simply, brilliant:
For those who don’t know, Tobita Shinchi is one of the historical red light districts in Osaka. Located in Nishinari-ku, the brothels operate to this day, largely unaffected by anti-prostitution laws and the police. It is the largest brothel district in Kansai.
The equivalent of madames stand in the genkan (entryways) of their homes and beckon passers-by to come in with clapping and hand gestures, ostensibly “for a meal” where they might just happen to “hit it off” with one of the young women living there. This is how they skirt around the law.
Comparisons are often made between Tobita and Amsterdam, but I have to say that the former is not geared toward tourism – it’s scary walking down the small streets at night, and foreigners that hang around there are usually not up to any good. The safest way to check it out is by car, behind tinted windows. This often elicits the flashiest performances by the madames trying to get business.