I am writing to you from The Dutch Guest House in Chiang Mai, Thailand. The time is 06:07 on January 17th. Jo and I have decided to post up here for a week, the Dutch Guest House, and so far things are turning out to be quite splendid. The owner is a Dutch gentleman, and his wife is Thai. Together they make a good team that maintains a vigilant front desk. The first hostel we went to in the city, which will forever remain nameless, had a plethora of workers cleaning and probably setting up breakfast, since that hostel has free breakfast. The sad fact remains however, that when we walked in at 07:00, they basically told us to fuck off and that no one would be at the desk until 10:00 (even though the sign said the desk opened at 7:30). Frustrated, we marched onward. It is noteworthy to add that we had a plan, as we had done some research on the 14 hour train ride from Ayutthaya to Chiang Mai. Dutch Guest House was always part of the plan, but we figured if we could cop free breakfast from the aforementioned nameless hostel it would turn out to be the better bet. Sometimes though, you gotta pay for hospitality, and as two hospitables ourselves that is what we have chosen to do.
We arrived to the Dutch Guest House after a short walk. From the train station we took a 50 Baht “taxi,” which was actually an overpriced Tuk-Tuk (which is actually just a fucking rickshaw) into town and laid low at the 24-hour Night Bazaar McDonalds in the city. The rickshaw driver kept asking us what hotel we were going to, and I said “no hotel, 24 hour McDonalds,” however that location repeatedly seemed lost on him and he dropped us off near the hotel of another patron sharing the rickshaw, a young lady who asked us to share the taxi in the first place, citing such a stifling low rate that I immediately became suspicious. When she was quoted the price of 50 baht she thought it could be split among patrons, but of course she was wrong. Thailand is one giant tourist trap forsure. The lady we shared the taxi with was very nice. I forget her name now, which is a shame, it was a very unique name. Jo and I told her to add us on Instagram, and I also gave her my email incase she was more comfortable with that mode of communication. She never hit us up. So anyway, she was from Spain, and she came with us to the 24 hour McDonalds to wait out the morning until she could check into her hostel. Apparently the idea of waiting out the night at a 24 hour establishment isn’t as popular in Europe, and actually, after discussing the topic with Jo, I gave thought that maybe waiting out the night at a 24 hour establishment is simply a Chris thing; an idea that hasn’t made the rounds in many places. Only time will tell. The Spaniard departed before us, but we soon followed suit. I forgot to mention the morning in Chiang Mai came with a welcomed chill, particularly after southern Thailand. I put my sweatpants on whist riding the train for the first time since Kolkata, and the second time wearing them in Thailand would be right now; I wear them as I type. The time is 06:27, and chill is extant. Still welcomed.
The mosquitoes are out, and I am not entirely happy about it. They come out at sunrise, and sunset. Guess what? They love hanging out in front of my computer screen. I have switched positions and am now writing with the computer on my lap. My back hurts often, and this morning it hurts from leaning over the table for the last half-hour. What to do today? What to do! Yesterday I wrote about how there was a change in the winds, and I’ll tell you it was not without merit. Jo has expressed increased interest in starting a YouTube channel, although I think we both don’t quite know where to start. After I wrote the article at Data-T, we returned to the Dutch Guest House for a short rest, which turned into a long rest as I read a chapter in my book Sapiens, and Jo killed time with two games of Tetris. Woe is the sad story of the creator of Tetris, I am sure you know it. Anyway; so we killed that time gaming and reading, and then we did a quick bit of research on where to have lunch. We found a place called Kat’s Cafe that has astounding reviews; 300 reviews maintaining a 4.7 on Google Maps. That’s impressive. So with a loose plan and open minds we took our leave of the Guest House and strolled into town, having a not-so-friendly conversation about the future on the way in. Two friends must pick up their swords now and then, otherwise how does one know their significance are remaining sharp?
We took a different route to the old city than we usually took, walking one street north of our previous choice. Many shops along the way, and many serving western food. We crossed the moat into the old city and found ourselves at Kat’s Cafe almost immediately after crossing. Crowd was there as well as price, so we decided to stay. By the time we left, the crowd had thinned significantly, so it turns out we arrived at the right time. We were seated
promptly and given time to view the large menu. Customer service is there as well, which is important to note because I found it few and far between in Bangkok. Slight discussion took place. The usual conversation of askingeach other what we might order, and then we ordered. Jo ordered the Chiang Mai Noodle and a Cantaloupe Smoothie, I ordered some kind of Curry that started with P and had peppers in the picture. We also ordered a Papaya Salad to share. The smoothie arrived first, followed by my dish, followed by the Papaya Salad, followed by Jo’s noodles. We dined, and we ate it all. Lunch of was good. Everything we ordered we were given the option of “spicy or medium,” and we ordered all three foods spicy (we were not given that option with the smoothie). My dish was the most spicy, followed by Jo’s noodles. With the Papaya Salad, I can’t describe that dish as spicy. When our food was finished we took our leave of Kat’s and walked across the street to a bookstore we had noticed while eating. Unknowingly, we walked into The Lost Bookstore. Oh boy.
Now, let it be known that the goods sold at this bookstore are of the kind I would expect to find back in North Beach, where long dead writers haunt the streets. Of course you can find classic novels on the shelves. You can find Kerouac too, and Burroughs. You can find books about drugs. You can go upstairs and find books in French, German, Dutch, and Spanish, or you can stay downstairs and find the small glass case of first editions and look through them, such as I did. You have a lot of options at The Lost Bookstore, and just based on their selection of books I am forced to call it one of the most, if not the most interesting bookstore I have ever stepped foot in. This bookstore I am speaking of is a necessity in this city. I would be unsurprised to speak with the keeper of time and have her tell me that TLBS is responsible for the direction Chiang Mai has developed. After all, the store has stood strong for 26 years. I know there is no such thing as coincidence, and although I am sure Chiang Mai was a cool place 26 years ago, it is most certainly more hip now. Make no mistake, TLBS has helped change the world. I saw it. I felt it. Okay, okay Chris we get it, you see all the cool stuff and we’re missing out by sitting at home! Ahh! but you haven’t even heard what’s best, is that I also meet all the cool people as well!
The gentleman who owns the bookstore struck me immediately with his character. I first asked him if he was the owner, following up with the question of could I film in the store.”As much as one can own anything in life,” he replied to the first question. It took me a second to soak in the statement fully. To the second question he said “no,” and specified his reason with respectable and necessary retort. I did not film, and honestly there is no reason to film. It’s books. Books change things. It’s what I am trying to do, in fact, and so to say I don’t understand the subtleties of a well written bit of text would be wrong. To say I sometimes forget my place, now that would be correct. So I didn’t film, but I did browse. I talked to the owner of the shop only little in the time I was there. He was busy, and it seemed wrong to disturb him. We did exchange a few words, and I was dumbfounded to find myself admitting that everything which left his mouth dripped with wisdom…so much so that in describing it, I am forced to be cliché. Jo and I spent a while in the shop, perusing both floors and eventually Jo decided to purchase one book. We went to the register. She paid. He departed us with a bit more wisdom, the most important piece…and then he gave me a fucking look. He gave me a look out of the corner of his eye the likes of which is burned into my retinas and I will not forget the look, much less the phrase. So after a morning where I had published an article citing my interests in moving onto the next step of things, I was forced to really think about what I am doing. I will leave it at that.
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