Monday, 5 December 2011

Chiang Mai (Part III) - A'templing we go!

Team Taylor Deportation/Repatriation Countdown

Days left in Singapore: 18

Days left until arrival in the Queen City: 25

Three Kings of ancient Siam near the history museum.  Note
the flag flapping in the breeze - JT's got a knack for catching
flags at just the right time.  Well done, Muffin!
And a good evening to you from across the globe after another GREAT DAY in the Lion City.  First off, I am happy to report that Muffin Puffin has landed safely in Delhi and as I type this is exploring India's capital in all its chaotic glory.  As for the Bull, I'm settling back into the bachelor routine - 6 episodes from Season VIII of CSI are already in the books!  On the running front, the Bull logged 4 miles outside tonight at an easy clip (probably about 8:30-8:45 a mile).  I actually went for the same run outside yesterday, and both times it's felt really good.  I feel as though I'm definitely being truer to myself in terms of my stride and my pace, as the trick for me is to start slow and let my body gradually warm up (insert Miller saying, "Jabba the Hut also took about 18 miles to get started before he sprinted to the Sarlac Pit").  So far it's been working, and running is continuing to be fun for the first time in a good while.  Oh, and in a bit of SHOCKING news - I slept SEVEN HOURS last night!!!!!  WINNER WINNER CHICKEN DINNER!!!!

Back onto the running front, 2 good stories to report today:

1. Sergeant Sarah Smith achieved a goal yesterday, coming in under 1 hour for the Standard Chartered 10K.  And whilst we're proud of Sarah, that's not the good story.  The story (which she related to me, as she knows how vitriolic a critic I am of Singapore running event organization) is that, since this is really the ONLY RACE all year that people come out to watch, the Government and the sponsors print out instructions for the fans as to what is and is not appropriate to say.  The 3 highlights:

a.  Don't say, "Are you having fun?" to a total stranger if they are laboring or look distressed.  This will further distress them and affect their performance.

b.  Don't say, "You need to run faster" to people who are clearly suffering.  This does not help the runner to go faster.

c.  Don't say, "You're almost there!" when there is still 20K left in the race.  The runner will not appreciate the inaccurate information.

LOVE IT.  Just. Plain. AWESOME.

Side note:  "Sarah said that, right before the gun, the song "I would walk 500 miles came on."  Sarah thinks people interpreted this literally, as apparently EVERYONE ON THE STARTING LINE just started walking when the gun went off vs. jogging.  I heard multiple stories about people who signed up just for the shirt and planned to walk the 10K or 21K with NO training.  Seriously?  SERIOUSLY?  Only in the Sing, baby...

2.  I'm in the gym today stretching, when this dude walks in (in a GREAT outfit, for the record), does about 5 minutes of stretching on his WRISTS (literally just wiggling them), rolls his head around, and then jumps up and down for about 30 seconds.  Now I'm thinking that this guy is about to hit the weights, but OH NO - apparently stretching your wrists is far more affective for releasing shakras than STRETCHING YOUR LEGS BEFORE GETTING ON THE TREADMILL.  All the same, he gets on the treadmill, walks for about 30 seconds, and then decides he doesn't like that treadmill.  So he moves to the other one and commences walking again.  But then his wife (I'm assuming) comes in and gets on the treadmill beside him, and he goes APE SHIT.  Suddenly the dude stops his treadmill, begins pointing at her, and gesticulating as if he's in Speaker's Corner.  She snaps back, but homeboy will NOT be outdone.  And so eventually she leaves, staring daggers into him on her way out the door.  I would NOT like to be at their house for Christmas dinner...

A particularly cool temple - completely wooden.
But anyhoo, enough of life in SG (but can I just say that some dude is covering Lionel Ritchie's "All Night Long" outside my window and it is NAILS ON A CHALKBOARD TERRIBLE) - let's hop back to Chiang Mai for the day of a billion temples...and one REALLY cool wedding.

I will be honest, I awoke on Sunday morning still a bit rattled from the whitewater incident.  Again, I'm sure it was nowhere near as bad as the memory stored in my mind, but needless to say I was THRILLED that we weren't going anywhere near a body of water all day.  Instead the theme of the day was temples, as Chiang Mai has a BILLION of them, and each one is very unique.  As I mentioned in an earlier blog, the city is famous for its temples, and many tourists (and locals) will say that the temples and the people of CM are "more Thai" culturally than their Southern neighbors.  I would definitely agree, as the temples were all in use and seemed to be very much a part of the culture.  And given that each one was so different, we really had a great 3-4 hour tour around the city.

Outside one of the stupas - with a REALLY sweaty back...
As evidenced by the pictures, the weather was PERFECT - blue sky, ;uffy clouds, and even moments where it wasn't 17,000 degrees.  Team Taylor rolled through 11 temples on this day, and given that a) this blog is already pretty long, b) you've heard me talk about 47,683 temples already this year, and c) I don't remember the names of any of them anyway (let's call them Wats 1-11), I won't pontificate about each one in detail.  Instead, the photos below represent the images of the day, and (for me at least) demonstrate how unique each temple was. 

Ornamentation on a door into one of the temples.

Notice the position of the feet.  When you're in a temple, your feet should
never point at Buddha.  If you're like me and can't sit like those cats
OR in the lotus position, they do allow the "Ang Mo" special, where you just throw
your legs to one side.

Okay, this has NOTHING to do with temples.  But there was this pretty funny
setup near the history museum where they showed "boys from across the world."
They didn't have a "Redneck from the sticks" figure, so I tried to fill the void.

What was truly amazing was the fact that we were often the ONLY tourists
around.  It was like our own private photo shoot!

The featured temple (#12) was one that Jenny had loved during her previous visit with Yazz (Let's call it "Famouse Wat," or FM for short).  Jenny's most vivid memory of this temple was the wax sculpture of a 92 year old monk that looked so real you thought he would jump out at you at any second (as monks so often do in temples).  Consequently, I was really excited to see this cat, and we rolled over to check it out.

Check out homeslice rockin' up like Hannibal - this was AWESOME!  Such
an unexpected surprise.  I know, mom - the two luckiest people on earth! :-)
When we got there, however, the place was PACKED, and it was clear that a wedding was about to take place.  I wasn't happy about this, until suddenly, like Operation Shock & Awe, the gate of the church EXPLODED with fireworks.  It was like something out of a movie - bottle rockets and M-80's the likes of which you've NEVER seen.  And then, through the smoke-filled haze, there is a band of about 100 people drifting toward the church.  Jenny and I can see that they are pulling a float of some kind...wait, is that a GINORMOUS PLASTIC ELEPHANT WITH A DUDE ON IT?  Why, I think it is!

That's right, sports fans - like a scene from the British Raj, we've got a 20 year old kid in a bejeweled turban riding on a painted wooden elephant whilst his rock band walks behind him like something out of "I'm Gonna Get You, Sucka."  It was AWESOME.  I was hooked - we were gonna watch this guy go all the way to the aisle. 

As fate would have it, he doesn't go straight to the aisle, but we did watch him dismount and enter the church.  It was just spectacular, and a FANTASTIC way to kick off our final day of templing in Thailand (and Southeast Asia for that matter).  But there was still one last to-do we needed to cross off in CM - a full body massage at the women's prison.  YES.  You heard that right.  However, as it is a GREAT story in its own right and we didn't manage to get in on this day (but we did on Monday!), stay tuned for tomorrow's blog.  Trust me - it's worth tuning in. :-)

After being shot down at the Thai version of San Quinten, Team Taylor was DESPERATE for that massage.  Consequently, we settled on a spot offering 1 hour massages for $7.  We walked into the lobby, which looked SO COOL - very slick and modern, and we paid our whopping 200 baht a person, thinking that we'd be reclining in style.  But it was at that point that the guy said, "Upstairs please." 

And so Team Taylor goes up for the rubdown, at which point we get the ritual foot massage and then change into our outfits (as you always do).  The two ladies then set to work on us, but one gal's damn phone is ringing CONSTANTLY.  Finally she just leaves, at which point she's replaced by a much quieter lady (who is AWESOME) for the record.  I begin to relax again, now feeling better that we're not in a scene from Hostel 2.  But THAT, ladies and gentlemen, is when I hear this DAMN BIRD CRASH INTO THE ROOF AND GET STUFF IN THE ATTIC.  Seriously - it must have been a pteradactyl, as that critter was banging around like something out of Men In Black meets Super 8.  Needless to say, I was less than at peace.  Jenny, however, was TOTALLY CALM and one step shy of sleep.  Man, I hope the kids take after her...

Now I realize that it's a bit random to stop here in the middle of the day's tales, but it's gettin' late over here in Sing Sing, and I still need to knock off a few things before calling it a night.  Fret not, however, as I'll pick this up tomorrow and (FINALLY) wrap Chiang Mai, leaving us with only Railay left to bring us back to even.

Okay, that's all the news that's fit to print.  Chat tomorrow!


Sam and (safely down and checked into their hotel in Delhi, even if Lady Catherine gave the airport pickup the wrong flight number, meaning that they had to brave some local transport) Jenny (and Cath)

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