Village Voice

Amy Salmon's E-Mail from Thailand (Part 4)

The food in Chiang Mai is fairly representative of northern Thailand in general, as far as I've been able to tell, with some regional differences from the central and southern regions.  Apparently they eat more beef in the south and we (or, really, they) eat more pork here in the north.  I'm not going to lie, I haven't been very adventurous when it comes to the food, but there is a fried noodle dish that I really like. 

By far the nastiest thing I have seen on display to eat in and around the city are...wait for it...the bugs.  As in insects.  Gross, gross, gross!  There are lots of food stands around all of the time, but especially on "walking street" days, which are markets that take over entire streets on Saturday and Sunday, where you can buy all manner of things ranging from t-shirts to lamps to ice cream to steamed crickets.  The first time I walked past an insect booth…, "Watch your face, watch your face, don't look disgusted," I'm muttering to myself.  There were these huge steaming piles of silkworms, cockroaches, crickets and cicadas.  And people were lined up to buy them!  I just got out of there as fast as possible.  Back to Pizza Hut for me, thanks.  The other day I even went to Subway.  It's just surreal to be in such different surroundings and yet have the same restaurants...except that this time the menu is in Thai and English.  As opposed to the McDonald's on Tenth Avenue near the Webster in New York where I used to go, where the menu was in Spanish and English.

I'm sorry I haven't been able to send you any pictures, but I haven't been able to buy a camera yet.  And I keep looking at postcards, hoping to see something representative of what my life is like, but they are mostly of all of the temples; no really good shots.  I did discover recently that there is a website for my apartment complex, though, which is kind of cool: .  There are a few pictures on it.  I can see the mountains from my balcony if I go out and crane my neck, but mostly my view is of the apartment building across from me and the Shell station down on the street in front.  Again, surreal!  

I've been pretty busy with teaching and proofreading, and spending time with my friends.  I've become good friends with Jenn, who if I haven't mentioned it is Canadian (from Vancouver), and there's a woman named Jaclyn who lives in my building who grew up in the neighborhood where I lived in L.A.  We teach together in the mornings, and the first day we got to talking we realized that we had lived literally five minutes apart and used to go to the same Little Caesar's pizza on the corner of Vineland and Magnolia in North Hollywood.  How random is that?  There are very few Americans around, I think I've met two, and that we would both have spent time in the same little corner of L.A. and have ended up in the same little school in Thailand is just bizarre.      

Jenn and I are doing the visa run together again on Friday the 12th.  Yes, I was nervous about the whole labor thing, but we had a plan: get to Chiang Rai as quickly as possible!  That will be the plan again this week, but we've decided to rent a car and go rather than risk the bumpy bus and have to kill three hours at the Tesco Lotus in Mae Sai again.  Tesco Lotus is Thailand's answer to Wal-Mart and is the only air-conditioned spot to hang out, and since it's 100 in the shade, that's the option while waiting for the bus back to Chiang Mai.  We did that last month and by the end of the day Jenn was really exhausted.  Driving means we can stop periodically and still have a shorter, easier day.  She's not actually due until June 10, but none of us want the baby to come early because the bus hits a pothole.  If I end up having to drive, it'll be interesting.  I'm still a little leery of the driving on the right side of the road thing...but out of the craziness of Chiang Mai traffic it should be a little easier.

After my visa run I'm taking a week off at the end of the summer sessions of classes and going to the beach in southern Thailand.  I'm flying from Chiang Mai to Phuket on Sunday the 14th and then I'm taking the bus from Phuket over to Krabi.  I'm staying the first night in Krabi at a place called the Ao Nang Buri resort in Krabi.  After that I'm not sure where I'm staying -- I want to get down there and see the lay of the land, and find a bungalow on one of the beaches where when I step out of the door there is sand.  It's the low season, so I've been assured that I'll have no trouble finding a place and getting a good deal.  I'm looking forward to it...three months in Asian heat without a nearby ocean is enough.  I'm flying back to Chiang Mai on the 21st.  I'll let you know where I end up when I'm down there; with any luck the postcards will be better at showing what it's like when it comes to the beach! 

Well, as usual my book is calling me to come on back to work, so I'll quit procrastinating and get some more pages done.  This particular book is a science-fiction novel that is being transcribed over from British English to American English and is very heavily edited, and the writing is still bad.  It's also the first book that I've worked on since I've been here that I'm going to have to send back to New York in its entirety along with the manuscript; so far I've either cold read or been a second reader, so I could send back only the pages with queries or corrections.  This time it's a mass market original and I'm the only proofreader, so it all has to go back.  This just after I worked out a deal with a guy in my building to scan the pages for me and compress them, so that I can email them back at a fraction of the cost.  It works well for 11 pages or even 40, not so much for 800.  Maybe next time!

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